Why is it that for any demonstration on behalf of a “left wing” cause, the same mob of hoodlums shows up? David Dooley explains.
Rent-a-mob is a term used by Peter Simple, the pseudonym of a London (England) Telegraph columnist. For any demonstration on behalf of a “left wing” cause – be it against nuclear power stations or in favour of animal rights or vegetarianism – he says that the same mob of hoodlums turns up. Of course there is a slight difference between what happens in England and what happened at the recent Human Life International Conference in Montreal. The Canadian Abortion Rights Action League (CARAL) had no need to pay good money to its own members or to those vociferous demonstrators or ACT UP, Queer nation and other groups who turned up; hatred was sufficient motivation for them.
Well warned by CARAL before the event, the media expected the worst, as did the Montreal police. The latter declared that eth American terrorists who were planning to attend the meetings were well known and would be stopped at the border. The media gave the impression that a radical American group was invading Canada – as if HLI had not had a Canadian presence and an Ottawa office for a good many years. The media were ignorant as well of the fact that a previous Montreal conference had been entirely peaceful, as had other conferences in both East and West coasts and in Toronto and Winnipeg.
On the other hand a conference in Ottawa was not entirely peaceful, but the newspaper, radio and television reports gave no impression of why it wasn’t – or that it had even taken place. As a candlelight procession wound its way up to Parliament Hill a mob of hoodlums following it tried to drown out its prayers with lewd songs, curses, and blasphemies. As one wag put it, it was probably the first time many of these people had ever taken part in a religious procession. But their disturbance of the peace did not make the headlines; it rarely does.
The Montreal police, prepared to keep HLI violence in check with their own riot squads, if not several companies of the Royal 22e Regiment brought up from Valcartier, might have consulted their Toronto confreres as to what to expect. Instead of guarding Montreal from HLI, they could have been told, they would wind up guarding HLI itself.
When the Save the Planet’s People conference took place in Toronto three years ago, its Campaign Life Coalition organizers worked out a very clever plan of deception with the Toronto constabulary. Cardinal O’Connor was coming from New York to be the chief celebrant at a Mass and to be the featured speaker at the closing banquet.
Protestors were coming in force; they were summoned into action by a poster dripping with red ink on which the Cardinal and Joe Scheidler were accused of being responsible for 250,000 deaths a year from illegal abortions. Naturally it was expected that the Cardinal would say Mass in St. Michael’s Cathedral. The demonstrators who went to the cathedral, however, were completely fooled; when participants at the conference filed out of the hotel at which it was held, instead of walking a few blocks east towards the Cathedral they went a few blocks west to St. Patrick’s Church, with police protecting barriers at strategic places along the way.
After Mass, the procession returned to the hotel, but went in the back entrance instead of the front; the howling mob assembled at the front, kept from entering the hotel by the police, had no enemies to attack, but howled away fruitlessly – except for threatening violence to a bishop who came in the front entrance, and thought he was in the vestibule of hell.
Media coverage before the Montreal conference was as slanted as one would have expected. For example, that peace-loving and philanthropic abortionist Henry Morgentaler was asked what he thought about the forthcoming meeting, and gave a predictable response: the inflammatory language of those people leads to such violence as the recent attacks on abortionists in the U.S. and Canada. Television coverage of the HLI march through Montreal streets to Notre Dame Basilica made it very clear which was the violent group – which side was throwing eggs, tomatoes, and bottles, and which was merely saying its prayers.
Still, some of the television commentators tried to make it appear that the mob, rented or unrented, was only responding to undue provocation. No matter how the truth was distorted, the right-to-life side must be shown to be in the wrong.
But, after all, if you support violence done to unborn babies, why shouldn’t you support violence, against adults, children, and babies in arms?
Will the media never learn this lesson?