Rex Murphy: Toronto School Board’s deeply ignorant rejection of book club event with Nobel Prize winner

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Nadia Murad at age 14 kidnapped by ISIS, the vicious terrorist mob, and taken into sexual slavery

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Marie Henein is a highly regarded criminal defense lawyer. His success is all the more remarkable since it was achieved in the resolutely competitive profession of law. Between the UFC and the legal profession, the latter is the fiercest.

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For those who are looking for models for girls and young women, Henein is the ideal solution. She is a featured presence in Toronto. How curious then that the Toronto District School Board, at times indefatigably stupid and imperishablely awake, decides not to promote to its students a monthly book club meeting with Henein for teenage girls because, like the Globe and Mail reported , the “school board’s fairness department felt the lawyer would send the wrong message.”

Oh yes. The wrong message. And who could dispute that? A professional woman from the city where the school board is located with impeccable credentials, professional success, articulate and confident: she is precisely the kind of person that an equity service concerned with inspiring young girls does not want go to a book club. For those with a cynical mind – and of course I am exempt from this failure – one might conclude that equity departments actually exist for the sole purpose of contradicting their own purpose. And, in particular, school board members have honed this skill to heavenly perfection.

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When this perfectly cooked madness made the news, one of the spokespersons of the board of directors added a nice watermark to the saga, saying – I guess without a shadow of a laugh at his magnificent joke – that “it is important to note that this is not about the author, who is a prominent Canadian lawyer and whom students could benefit from by hearing her story.” Well, there is relief. The spokesperson, however, did not identify the person in question. Just that it wasn’t Marie Henein who was supposed to discuss Marie Henein’s book with the Girls’ Book Club, and the same Marie Henein whose TDSB actions department determined she would “send the wrong message.”

It certainly wasn’t her. (Could it have been “My Kettle?” “Madonna?” “Marie Curries’ little niece?” Eager Torontonians want to know.)

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It is a wonderful thing that the schools in Toronto have such an alert school board and such stimulating equity departments. Otherwise, who knows who might sneak into the youth book clubs?

For example, during that same enlightened moment, there was another female writer considered by the same superintendent of the board of directors to be inappropriate. This author was herself a young woman, who lived and survived an ordeal comparable to anything a human mind can see in horror. These were Nadia Murad, 2018 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and her book, The Last Girl: My Captive Story and My Fight Against Islamic State.

Here is a paragraph from his Nobel Prize conference :

“As a little girl, I dreamed of finishing high school. It was my dream to have a beauty salon in our village and to live near my family in Sinjar. But this dream has turned into a nightmare. Unexpected things happened. The genocide has taken place. As a result, I lost my mother, six of my brothers and the children of my brothers. Each Yazidi family has a similar story, one more horrific than the other because of this genocide.

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Here is another one:

“In the 21st century, in the age of globalization and human rights, more than 6,500 Yazidi children and women have become captive and have been sold, bought and sexually and psychologically abused. Despite our daily appeals since 2014, the fate of more than 3,000 children and women in the grip of ISIS is still unknown. Young girls in their prime are sold, bought, detained and raped every day. It is inconceivable that the conscience of the leaders of 195 countries around the world is not mobilized to free these girls.

Nadia Murad at the age of 14 was kidnapped by ISIS, the vicious terrorist mob, and taken into sexual slavery. From this abyss of hell, she has incredibly found the personal resources to escape, champion the cause of brutalized young women everywhere and climb the ladder to the world’s highest honor, the Nobel Prize. This information has been just a click away on any laptop for three years. Yet the TDSB intended to prevent students in its jurisdiction from being exposed to such a real heroine. The actions department feared that it would fuel Islamophobia!

The affair with Marie Heinen could, I should stress, be dismissed simply as deeply awkward. The case of Nadia Murad mixes determined ignorance and deep insult.

It must be such comfort from parents with children as students under the deep protection of the Toronto District School Board that the board has such an exquisite set of standards that it eschews two of these models.

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