Mother always said never let down true old friends to chase after false new friends waiting to let you down.

Either the fine people at REAL Women of Canada missed that particular memo with its deeply conservative emphasis on constancy and prudence, or they suffered a temporary lapse in memory before issuing a terribly wrong-headed media release last week.

Minister of Foreign Affairs, John Baird. Photo: Andrew Rusk,


The release publicly criticized Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird for his public criticism of Russia's abuse of a) the basic human rights of homosexual people, and b) by extension, the basic human rights of all people.

The statement from REAL Women also rebuked Baird for granting a Ugandan human rights group $200,000 to fight that country's persecution of homosexuals and violent violations of their basic human rights.

It then went further and accused the minister of abandoning conservative principles to advance his personal agenda at the expense of Canadian taxpayers. The clear implication was that he has a personal interest in Uganda homosexuality. At best, that would be the great unreported allegation of our time. At worst, it is ad hominem untrue innuendo unworthy of REAL Women and its ever-stalwart president, Gwen Landolt.

Naturally, media uproar ensued, as media uproars will whenever a soft target opens wide the opportunity for slothful repetition of moralizing banalities about fashionable causes. Naturally, too, the press panjandrums who pounced upon REAL Women's erroneous release, and who have spent the past week in preening castigation of its purported wickedness, took zero time to look in the mirror at their own faults.

Though they posture as champions of human rights when issues involving homosexual rights arise, for example, they are persistent pipsqueaks when it comes to less voguish mundanities such as the routine imprisonment, torture, and slaughter of Christians around the world.

Did I call them pipsqueaks? Sorry. I meant mutes. A pip, by definition, at least squeaks. But from the Canadian media? When it comes to the grotesque global trampling of the human rights of Christians? Not a peep.

As Conrad Black, who knows media like few among us, says pointedly in the new issue of Convivium magazine: "I cannot possibly be the only person in the room who thinks it is absolutely scandalous how little our media take note of the persecution of Christians. I believe, and the Vatican is my authority for this, 200,000 Christians on average have been persecuted to death each year for at least the last five years. That's a million people. This is a shocking thing. Yet it gets very little recognition."

Yet this is also the very reason REAL Women acted so counterproductively last week. For while the media shred the air with their obsessive-compulsive ululations over human rights for homosexuals, one of the ministers in the Harper government who has stepped up to protest mistreatment of Christians and, indeed, all religious believers is John Baird.

He it was who launched the office of religious freedom and housed it safely in his ministry last February. He it was who not only appointed Andrew Bennett to head the office, but gave him ambassadorial status. He it was who has used his ministerial reach to make religious persecution a mainstream concern.

To criticize him for speaking out about persecution of homosexuals without granting his laudable work on behalf of the religiously persecuted is either an embarrassing oversight or pure churlishness. If the latter, it is a misguided strain of conservatism that REAL women's real friends would have warned them about before the release was made public. Here's why.

By undertaking promotion of religious freedom and homosexual rights simultaneously, Baird is effectively countering the unthinking triage of human rights; i.e., the very process by which an au courant cause such as gay rights get automatic media attention while the execution of a million Christians goes scandalously unremarked. That is good thinking, and good news, for everyone.

It is especially so for conservatives: those of us who have been retrofitted with the rhetorical tags of "hater" and "bigot" merely for warning, no matter how charitably, about massive and rapid shifts in the social order toward what seems imprudent inconstancy. The minister's efforts, then, can be seen as true gestures of political friendship rather than cause for maligning him as a conservative outcast. Supporting him in those efforts is both consistent with conservative ideals, and far preferable to chasing after newfound friends such as Vladimir Putin in Russia and whatever thugs are running Uganda these days.

Listen to mother.