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Alexandria Fanjoy Silver

Trudeau’s Useful Idiocy

One of the most scathing descriptions of how supposedly-intelligent people prop up and support systems of terror is that of the “useful idiot.” I associate this the most with Joseph Stalin, who encouraged the work of Walter Durant, a described “useful idiot” who was happy to toe the line on Soviet propaganda regarding the politically- and ethnically-motivated famine in 1920s and early 1930s Ukraine. Able to go where no one else was, he gained access to the Ukraine to write press reports disputing the famine. Despite seeing the desperation of peasants and bodies lying close to the tracks the further he pushed into the sealed-off country, his reporting continued to downplay the famine and the rumours of its mounting death toll. His work even went so far as to encourage FDR to recognize the Soviet Union and remove political support for an independent Ukraine. Happy to support the propaganda agenda of a totalitarian leader, Walter Duranty’s reputation suffered a serious hit when Stalinism was seen with a less rosy eye. 

And how ironic for us in today’s age that we are led by one of the best of them, who multiple times in the last six months has demonstrated this. I’m going to harken back to September 2023 (a date that now feels years, not months, away), when our useful idiots handed Vladimir Putin the single greatest propaganda coup of the current war in Ukraine to that time. Remember when Putin invaded Russia? (Again, was that last century or in the last two years?) He did so ostensibly due to the need for “denazification” of the Ukrainian state. Enter Justin Trudeau (and his since-departed Speaker of the House, Rota) who brought Zelenskyy to Canada and promptly associated resistance to Russia with a member of the Waffen-SS. That’s right, one Yaroslav Hunka received a standing ovation in the House Parliament building, as a “Ukrainian resistance fighter” in the Second World War. Who then went on to give credibility to Putin’s point.

While perhaps useful idiots will always be available for hire, a greater idiocy is the lack of historical literacy demonstrated by everyone in the room. To have an entire Parliamentary body fail to understand immediately that any Ukrainian formally “fighting for independence” in the Second World War against Russia – whom we were allied with – were unquestionably therefore fighting with the Nazis? And that “independence” he was fighting for? An illusory promise by the Nazis in exchange for cooperation with the mass murder of civilians. While I imagine that Vladimir Putin rarely overly concerns himself with the Canadian people, I’m sure he was all smiles about us that week. After all, we handed him the best picture he could have ever hoped for: a whole Western government, and Zelenskyy himself, cheering for a Ukrainian Nazi in front of the world.

But Trudeau did not, apparently, learn his lesson. Now, I need to be clear about something here: I believe that to be pro-Israel is also to be pro-Palestinian in many ways, because they’re both being terrorized by the same group, Hamas. Hamas, who cares nothing for a peace process, encourages the death of their own civilians, and is an internationally recognized terrorist group — and one who has repeatedly promised to keep attacking Israel until it’s destroyed. Despite the fact that Hamas was still allied to a ceasefire on October 6th, Trudeau abandoned the traditional Canadian position of not supporting a terrorist group’s political and military ambitions, and voted in favour of a non-binding ceasefire that is unrealistic at best. Can you imagine if we Canadians went on a rampage into the United States, killed 1200+ people, brought hundreds of hostages back to be tortured and raped and psychologically destroyed — would the United States have operated any differently? Flip the positions (although that’s hilarious considering our relative military might), would Canadians want their government to shrug their shoulders, declare that terrorism on our Southern border is something we should all just learn to live with, and also — oh, you’re never getting your people back either. Said commitment to a ceasefire didn’t call for the return of hostages, for the removal of Hamas from power, it placed the blame for this war solely on the Israeli government and military and called on them to stop trying to remove a genocidal organization from power. Now, I’ll give it to the Trudeau government, they did attempt to add a clause to this resolution that “unequivocally rejects and condemns the terrorist attacks by Hamas that took place in Israel starting on 7 October 2023, and the taking of hostages …” although, being the UN, it was voted down immediately. Can’t have those terrorists getting in trouble, particularly in an organization where Iran is the head of the Human Rights Council. But even without that condemnation, they voted to support a ceasefire that would simply leave Hamas in position to commit a promised repeat of the massacre. And what did Canada get in response? A thank you from Hamas! Literally. Hamas literally thanked Canada and the Trudeau government. The useful idiot, on display again. 

What was perhaps most interesting about this though is that this was, for the first time, perhaps just a bit too far for Trudeau’s Liberal party. Applauding an SS member? Just erase the records of it, it’s all fine. Wrongfully accuse a party in the destruction of a hospital? Understandable. Vote for a ceasefire that hands all of the power back to a terrorist group? Kosher. But to be actually thanked by that group is just too far. Perhaps not helped by Trudeau’s next move, where he argued that to CBC that Israel’s war is “actually putting at risk the long-term safety and even support for a Jewish state into the future.” And oh has the panic engulfed the party. Lest people actually think that the Canadian government turns into a supporter of terrorism, panicked ministers — including the Minister of Foreign Affairs who refused to acknowledge or condemn the use of sexual violence in the pogrom, started reiterating publicly that they recognize Hamas to be terrorists that “don’t represent the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinians.”  One Yaa’ra Saks said that Hamas had to lay down its arms in order for a ceasefire to happen. 

It’s clear that the line in the sand has been drawn, and his party is actively seeking to control the damage. I think the big lesson that we all need to take away is how much many of these people need to go back to history class. They have apparently forgotten a great number of things — that Hamas has never abided by a ceasefire that they have signed on to, that this “occupied” land in Gaza hasn’t been occupied in 17 years (oh and also, that it was stolen by Egypt first, but those are inconvenient facts), or even who we were allied with in the Second World War, one of the most studied and venerated historical eras in our society. Hint: it wasn’t the Nazis! You’re making the rest of us look ignorant on the world stage. While we all appreciate the fact that your party finally no longer wanted a reincarnated Walter Durant having the only platform on such complicated things, I think it behoves you to all get a refresher in history. After all, per Margaret Atwood, history doesn’t repeat, but it rhymes. Perhaps you’ve forgotten that. Don’t worry, you’re welcome in my class anytime. 

About the Author
Dr. Alexandria Fanjoy Silver has a B.A. from Queen's University, an MA/ MA from Brandeis and a PhD from the University of Toronto (all in history and education). She lives in Toronto with her husband and three children, and works at TanenbaumCHAT as a Jewish history teacher.
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