Idle No More: Personal Attacks

“First they ignore you, then they ridicule you,
then they attack you, then you win.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi

Over the last few weeks, I’ve noticed how some people have been reacting to the Idle No More movement.  I’m not talking the vast majority of people who discuss the matter peripherally or in-depth, and who do so respectfully, with open minds and a willingness to exchange views and opinions.

I’m talking about people who, for reasons only they know, choose to step away from excellent debate and step into the realm of personal attacks.

There’s no reason for anyone to ridicule and attack someone with whom they disagree.  So why then do public figures such as Ezra Levant, a columnist for Sun Media, resort to this when discussing Chief Theresa Spence?

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Surely, as a 40-year-old broadcaster, author and columnist, he is able to discuss the Idle No More movement and those involved in the movement in a professional manner without resorting to name-calling and disparaging comments.

Surely the man that Maclean’s magazine says graduated “from the University of Alberta’s law school in 1997” and who  “headed to Ottawa to work for [Preston] Manning, directing Reform’s question-period strategy” is above firing off disrespectful uncalled-for insults at those whose politics he dislikes.

And surely others who read these personal attacks are likewise above sinking to such levels, are they not?  So why do they join in on these personal attacks?

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Why do those who follow Ezra Levant’s Twitter account take this to the next level and continue with the bullying and cyberbullying?

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As readers can see for themselves, Ezra Levant appears to have retweeted Stephen Taylor’s personal attack and the promotion of the inappropriate hashtag (Ezra Levant’s Twitter profile photo is third from the right in the Retweets/Favorites section of this tweet).

It saddens me to read personal attacks no matter what the reason.

In fairness, I also looked at the Twitter accounts of Chief Spence and the four founders of the Idle No More movement to see how they react to personal attacks on Chief Spence.

Guess what I didn’t see on any of those Twitter accounts?

No personal attacks by any of them towards anyone … not even against Ezra Levant.

Guess what I didn’t see on any of the Facebook accounts?

No personal attacks by any of them towards anyone … not even against Ezra Levant.

Eleanor Roosevelt was quoted as saying:  “Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.”

And while there will be some who will point a finger at this blog article and say, “But this is discussing people,” the meaning of Eleanor Roosevelt’s words are lost on such people as this is not about discussing people … it’s about discussing what has happened and wondering how the mentality that leads to personal attacks can be addressed and dealt with appropriately.

Elyse Bruce

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13 Responses to “Idle No More: Personal Attacks”

  1. The Rambler Says:

    Right on! I’m so glad to see someone calling out this behaviour. Cyber-bullying indeed. Also glad to see you make the comparison with the @ChiefTheresa account, where we see no such name-calling.

  2. villagerainbows Says:

    Thank you for your posts of this week, including your guest posts. Your blog has been a very important component in countering the malicious and incorrect items that have appeared in the media and on the internet regarding Idle No More and Chief Theresa Spence. It is nearly 40 years since I lived in and worked for First Nations communities in Saskatchewan as they continued to try to get the Government of Canada to honour the rights spelled out in Treaty 6. Sadly, subsequent Governments have chosen to take the slow track on these matters and the current government, with full support and clear direction from the large corporate world, have done all that they can to reverse any progress that could have been taken.
    I am grateful for Idle No More. Not only is it finding grassroots support among First Nations peoples, it is also resonating with Non-First nations folks who value the environment and our Mother Earth over corporate profits, and respect for fellow man over greed and prejudice.

    • Elyse Bruce Says:

      I and my guest blogger(s) do our best to present information in a calm, straight forward way that all readers can appreciate. That you value our efforts and have shared what is written on this blog with others is appreciated.

  3. John Breckenridge Says:

    Well written, thanks Elyse Bruce, thank You!

    • Elyse Bruce Says:

      Thank you for sharing this blog article with your online friends, John. Your support of the Idle No More movement means a lot to many as you continue to fight for the rights of others.

  4. Nancy Says:

    I also read a column in which Ezra Levant did some small minded name calling of Chief Theresa Spence, names such as “a blackmailer, a terrorist, and essentially a selfish chief “. I found that people who have to resort to name calling have very low self esteem and we must pray for this people as well, because as Onkewhonkwe persons we must practice our seven grandfather teachings, including, bravery, honesty, humility, respect, truth, wisdom, and love. therefore I must say, “I love you, I just don’t like your behaviours right now”. Nia Weh.

    • Elyse Bruce Says:

      “I love you, I just don’t like your behaviours right now” is something I have said one more than one occasion and always to let the other person know that there is always opportunity to change the behaviours. Only Ezra Levant knows why he does what he does the way he does it and only Ezra Levant can change that behaviour. Hopefully, he will choose change instead of continuing with calling people with whom he disagrees belittling names.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts here on the blog, Nancy.

  5. Linda Says:

    Ezra Levant is a cyber bully, doesn’t he know to get better educated against cyber bullying?….wasn’t there a girl who committed suicide over what Ezra Levant is doing? (cyber bullying) shame on that man, he should be a role model instead of belittling natives and fearing the unknown, doesn’t he know that in the future his children’s children will want fresh water instead of polluted water or the environment that will have toxins and poisons?? disappointed in that man.

    • Elyse Bruce Says:

      It’s always disappointing when someone with some public presence decides to opt for personal attacks when they disagree with another person’s actions or point of view, Linda. Thanks for your comments.

  6. renaissanzelady Says:

    What has happened to respect in our society (North America)??

    In our small mid west city, there has been some controversy about our city council voting raises for itself even though this is allowed by law. Some of the letters to the Newspaper Editor and online discussions have been really hateful and offensive, casting aspersions on the character of our mayor and council. Our mayor wrote a brief well though out letter to the Editor asking for people to be respectful and not personally attack himself and council members, rather to disagree politely with the issues. This was followed by more nasty letters to the editor, and a very few from people including me asking for respect to be give to our council and mayor as people even if we disagree with some decisions they make. I don’t know how it will end,
    But those in government, including Chief Spence, make a handy target.

    Some years ago I served as a member of a church board that used Roberts Rules of Order as one of it’s guidelines for procedures in the operation of the board, meetings etc.
    One of the bases for conducting meetings was that we were free to disagree with some one’s stated ideas BUT not attack the person’s personally nor hypothesize as to what their motives were.
    This seems like a civilized method to follow in many areas of life,

    • Elyse Bruce Says:

      It appears that there are times when no amount of politeness will resolve the argument if even one person feels entitled to launch personal attacks against others with whom they disagree. Thanks for sharing these two stories. And thank you for voicing your opinion on this subject.

  7. Idle No More: Personal Attacks Continue « Elyse Bruce Says:

    […] Last month, one of the articles I wrote had to do with personal attacks. […]


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