By Jonathon Van Maren
Scanning the news today, I see that my friend Andrew Lawton, a popular former radio host on London’s AM980, is under attack. As many of you will know, he was appointed the Progressive Conservative candidate for London West by PC leader Doug Ford just over a week ago, and since then the progressive puritans at Press Progress and the Liberal hatchet-men have been combing his hundreds (if not thousands) of hours on air, his tweets, his columns, and his blogs.
Anyone who has met Andrew will tell you that he is a wonderful, fun-loving guy without a mean bone in his body. He’s had everybody on his radio show—Stephen Harper, Justin Trudeau, and even Premier Kathleen Wynne has dropped by a few times. They all seemed to have a good time chatting with him. But if you listen to the screeching coming from a handful of activists who have probably never even met Andrew, he is a racist, a homophobe, and a laundry list of other unsavory things.
Andrew Lawton is not a racist, or a “homophobe,” or a “phobe” of any kind, for that matter. It says something profoundly depressing about political discourse when ill-advised jokes from years ago are used as “evidence” that someone nurtures genuine hatred towards some group in their hearts, especially considering the fact that the outrage is generally just disingenuous sanctimony conjured up for the cameras for explicitly political purposes. In the age of social media, nearly everyone has said something dumb enough that they can be embarrassed when it is retrieved and brandished, out of context, as evidence that they are a terrible person. The next generation of politicians will have been on multiple platforms since the time they were in diapers, so I expect that this sort of thing is only going to get worse.
The fact is that this really has nothing to do with Andrew, and everything to do with politics. It’s just a game. Activists with axes to grind try to hunt down something that might be perceived as offensive by a certain group, and then send the screenshot of a tweet or what-have-you to said group with a request for outrage, and that group then dutifully sends out an outraged press release while others stir the pot on Twitter, a place where reason, nuance, and context die in the dark. Everyone then piles onto the target, lays into their reputation like it’s the Ides of March, and then retreats panting bloodily once that person appears to have ceased moving.
These accusations are often just lies. One news outlet actually published these lines, courtesy of a delusional man named Nawaz Tahir, the chair of a London Muslim advocacy group called Hikma: “In 2016, Lawton published an op-ed for the Toronto Sun which Tahir said praises a controversial book America Alone that called for the ethnic cleansing of Muslims. ‘Not only did he praise the book, but he went further and suggested that the author, the infamous Mark Steyn, should get a Nobel Peace Prize for this work,’ said Tahir. ‘It is incomprehensible how someone that praises a call for ethnic cleansing could be hand-picked by someone who wants to be the leader of this province.’”
This is just malevolent and slanderous garbage. To claim that Mark Steyn’s America Alone calls for ethnic cleansing is a defamation that Mr. Steyn should consider taking legal action over, and indicates that the person making the claim did not read the book (I’ve read it a couple of times), is almost entirely illiterate, or is attempting to twist words out of context in order to smear someone for political purposes. In this case, it appears to be the latter. Andrew can get hammered over a few jokes or unpopular opinions—but his opponents can falsely accuse an author of advocating for ethnic cleansing and apparently get away with it. That, in my opinion, is disgusting.
Andrew Lawton is a good man who has been through much, and he would bring valuable life experience as well as empathy and compassion to Queen’s Park. Based on the lies and vitriol of his adversaries, those are characteristics in short supply these days.
For anyone interested, my books: The Culture War, Seeing is Believing: Why Our Culture Must Face the Victims of Abortion, and How To Discuss Assisted Suicide, are available for sale here.