Commentary | Confession of a member of the QPIRG board

I applaud Michael Hunziker’s recent article (“Why the left should opt out of campus PIRGs,” Commentary, January 20). His rhetorical strategy is smart. In an effort to convince McGill students to opt out, Hunziker contends that even “the left” should opt out of QPIRG. Why? Because he alleges a group within QPIRG supports Hezbollah. And as Hunziker informs us, “There is nothing progressive or ‘left-wing’ about Hezbollah.” Too true, Hunziker, too true.

Evidently, the author knows how to strike lefties at their Achilles heel: undermine their moral superiority on questions of oppression and social justice and you leave them stunned, flat-footed and tongue-tied.

Hunziker shows off more rhetorical prowess with this query: “What is left-wing about advocating for an armed militia that murders civilians?” His answer is that leftists will support Hezbollah simply due to its “suitably anti-Western bent,” and furthermore “any crimes that it commits can be forgiven on the basis that Western hegemony is the root cause of anything bad that happens in the world.” And Hunziker keeps on going.

In the article’s conclusion, he pronounces that, “until we hear from [the QPIRG leaders] a full-throated commitment to the right of everyone to live in freedom, equality and peace – Israelis and Americans included – they are not entitled to carry the flag of social justice activism.” In case that wasn’t clear, Hunziker is insinuating that, beyond just supporting Hezbollah, the “leaders” of QPIRG likely oppose freedom, equality, and peace for Americans and Israelis.

Going for the jugular like that is impressive; I feel obliged to give him that much. But next time Hunziker should think twice before embarking on cavalier rants with offensive and outlandish claims about people he doesn’t know. Next time he should ask questions before licentiously speaking on behalf of “leftists” or “QPIRG leaders.”

Nonetheless, I do applaud him, because his shameless allegations give me no other choice than to come out with it. As a QPIRG board member, I’d like to finally make the confession conservatives, masked or otherwise, have all been waiting for: QPIRG and Tadamon! in fact… (drum roll) …DON’T support Hezbollah!

Surprised?

It’s true, Tadamon! has campaigned to de-list Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. But not because they support Hezbollah, its racism, or its militarism; nor do they advocate raising money in Canada for their military activities (despite what Hunziker would like to imply). If Hunziker cared to do some research, he’d have learned that  Tadamon!’s de-listing campaign – now defunct – was based in part on the views that the terror list is both diplomatically unhelpful and the source of racial profiling in Canada. Are these beliefs contentious? Yes. Does this mean QPIRG and Tadamon! support Hezbollah or apologize for their crimes? Nope. Not even close. Suggesting so is libellous and a bold-faced lie to McGill students.

I know, I know – the nuanced difference between on the one hand supporting Hezbollah, and on the other opposing Canada’s diplomatic strategy regarding Hezbollah is probably too tricky for a doctoral student like Hunziker to wrap their head around…

The reality is probably much more sinister. Hunziker’s article shows how campus conservative opportunists are hijacking the very existence of nuanced political thought on the left in order to do what they do best: misrepresent, misrepresent, misrepresent.

Thanks, Hunziker, for illustrating to McGill students how fancy rhetoric can mask mendacious lines of reasoning.

Sebastian Ronderos-Morgan is a U3 Political Science, former VP External of SSMU, and a current member of the QPIRG Board of Directors. The views expressed here are his own. He can be reached at sebastian.ronderos-morgan@mail.mcgill.ca.


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