In July 2019, Rafael Zaki was expelled from the Max Rady College of Medicine in Manitoba for refusing to change views he expressed about gun ownership and abortion on his personal Facebook page. According to the university, these posts constituted non-academic misconduct. Zaki, a Coptic Christian with strong pro-life views, emigrated from Egypt with his family to escape religious persecution. The students who complained about Zaki did so anonymously and said that he had made them feel “unsafe” on campus. Given the choice between sanctimonious tattle-tales and religious-minority refugees, the latter group likely has a better handle on how being unsafe truly feels.
Nonetheless, the university encouraged Zaki to write apology notes without allowing him to read the complaints himself. He was led to believe that this had resolved the matter. The university subsequently launched a formal investigation without Zaki’s knowledge, depriving him of the information necessary to defend himself. The University Discipline Committee, headed by Dr. Ira Ripstein, Associate Dean of Undergraduate Medical Education, found that Zaki had committed non-academic misconduct because his behavior was “misogynistic and hostile towards women” and had “a negative impact on the learning and work environment” at the university. No evidence for these claims was provided, beyond the complaints which Zaki was prevented from seeing. To satisfy the professional standards of the University Discipline Committee, Zaki would have had to change his beliefs to align with those of his pro-choice classmates.
One has to wonder whether the anti-Christian sentiment evinced at Max Rady College is not a bug but rather a feature of higher education in Canada. Other Christian students have recently been discriminated against after similar complaints have been leveled against them and their faith. In June 2020, Jonathan Bradley lost his job writing for his university’s paper because his Catholic faith made other students feel “unsafe.” Bradley wrote for The Eyeopener for three years while attending Ryerson University in Toronto. He was consistently praised by its editors, who recognized his potential as a promising journalist. Bradley received similar recognition elsewhere after being published in nationally circulated papers like the Financial Post and the National Post. In 2019, he was invited to participate in an episode of the long-running current affairs program “The Agenda with Steve Paikin.”
Bradley’s early success should have been praised by his employer. Instead, he was censured and excluded. Former editor-in-chief Sarah Krichel disinvited Bradley from the paper’s pub-nights, after he wrote about discrimination by equity, diversity, and inclusion offices, lest members of the community be “triggered” by his presence. On 3 June 2020, one of Bradley’s former classmates shared screenshots from a private conversation in 2017, where the two had discussed Catholic beliefs about topics including homosexuality and transgenderism. In a series of posts directed at The Eyeopener’s social media account, the classmate publicly denounced Bradley as a bigot, homophobe, and transphobe. Less than one-week later, Bradley received an e-mail from Catherine Abes, current editor-in-chief, informing him that his position as a contributing journalist was being terminated. Members of the community would feel “unsafe,” Bradley was told, by his continued association with the paper.
Consider, for a moment, the malevolence required to preserve a record of a private conversation for years, with the intention of using it to ruin a classmate’s career and reputation. Consider, also, the cowardice of an employer who endorses such behavior.
Like Max Rady College, The Eyeopener has tried to obscure its anti-Christian attitude by feigning concern for vulnerable students. Ironically, they have also questioned the objectivity of Bradley’s reporting. The record indicates that The Eyeopener is not concerned about the presence of bias, but rather about an absence of the right kind of bias. The Eyeopener has published anti-Semitic articles; articles which slander Ryerson professors and students as hateful, racist and sexist; articles which denigrate freedom of speech; and attack ads about conservative politicians. The Eyeopener is not any more concerned about protecting students than is Max Rady College. Both are concerned about protecting an ideology which, while couched in progressive platitudes, is hateful and dogmatic.
Zaki was told that to be pro-life is to be a misogynist. Bradley was told that it makes people uncomfortable to learn that he is a practicing Catholic. Should other Christian students be concerned? Should we wear disguises as we travel to and from Mass, just in case a classmate sees us enter a church? Should we be made to sign a student code of conduct where we indicate that our views on abortion, sexuality, gun ownership, climate change, immigration, et cetera, conform with what ivory tower ideologues consider “safe?” Perhaps we should emulate Joe Biden, Justin Trudeau, and their ilk, who first consult Leftist politics before deciding which Church teachings to embrace and which to discard. We know from recent events the lengths to which our institutions will go to keep us “safe.” And where Christianity is considered to be unsafe, Zaki and Bradley give us an idea of what the vaccine will look like: ideological conformity, or social and institutional rejection.
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