anti racism tracking

Book Review: Graphic Novel "Christie Pits"

Christie Pits
Written by Jamie Michaels
Illustrated by Doug Fedrau
Dirty Water Comics

I realize book reviews are a bit of a departure for ARC, but occasionally a book comes along that captures important moments in Canada's history of racism and antisemitism earning itself a spotlight here. Christie Pits, which tells the story of the lead up to, and events of, Canada's "largest single eruption of ethnic violence in Post-Confederation Canadian history" (Michaels, 2019), on August 16th 1933, is one such book.

For those unaware, the riot began after a baseball game in Toronto's Christie Pits Park when a local "swastika club" called The Pit Gang provoked a Jewish and Italian baseball team after a game. Once reinforcements arrived, the brawl swelled to an estimated 10,000 people and spilled over into neighbouring streets. It lasted most of the night and resulted in numerous injuries, as well as property damage to Jewish shops. Fortunately, no one was killed. In the aftermath, Mayor William James Stewart forbade the display of the swastika in the city.

In some ways, I feel unqualified to talk about Christie Pits because I'm not Jewish, nor am I particularly well-read in the graphic novel genre. However, I also feel I'm exactly the sort of person writer Jamie Michaels and illustrator Doug Fedrau are trying to reach with this newly-launched work. In his introduction, writer and historian Irving Abella states that "the format of this book ... is compelling and makes an uncomfortable story more accessible." I believe this is true. And beyond accessibility, a graphic novel combines the slow pace of a book with visuals allowing the reader to sit with both and take them in, contemplate the meaning, and let the emotional connection fully develop.

It is also worth noting that the choice to use this visual medium, with a simple, relatable, Tintin inspired style, was very deliberate. Michaels explained to the CBC that Jewish writers are well-represented in both comic books and graphic novels, paving the way for both writers and readers to engage without the same history of antisemitism found in other genres. "There's a lot of these anti-Semitic tropes embedded in literature and that's the unique thing about comics is, because it's got such Jewish origins, it's kind of one of the first modern mainstream mediums to be free of those stereotypes," he said.

In the lead-up to the riot, readers get to know a group of affable young Jewish men who easily pull you into their world. They're worried about their families, they go to work and school, enjoy sports, particularly boxing and baseball, and they take risks to find love, even if that means approaching someone different from themselves. In many ways, they'd be no different than many you'd meet in Toronto today. As Michaels said in one interview, “when you read a novel you can kind of immerse into a worldview that will give you a better understanding as a human being as opposed to being a historian.”
While the riot is extensively researched and incredibly well-illustrated, it, in fact, only takes up 18 pages of the book. The weight of the story is in developing the characters, as well as adding important context about the state of antisemitism in that era, which humanizes and personalizes the unimaginable for those who were not there. Conceiving of 10,000 people brawling on the streets of Toronto is impossible otherwise. 

Experiencing the riot from a personal point of view is powerful, but what affected me the most is the illustration of the day-to-day antisemitism Jews experienced in Canada in the '30s, while Hitler's shadow loomed large. It is deeply humbling as a current-day activist to understand, even in a small way, how hate and discrimination can limit a person's life and create an undercurrent of fear that impacts every activity from school, to work, to making dinner and relaxing at home.

My favourite line is spoken not by a character in the story, but by Michaels himself in the postscript. He says "history never repeats itself, but it often rhymes." Christie Pits holds up a mirror for us to see an ugly past reflected in our present. As many nations in the West, including Canada, lean in to right-wing populism, we are increasingly putting our rights and relative safety at risk, and vulnerable communities will bear the brunt of voters' astonishingly poor choices. This book, as Michaels says, is "depressingly relevant." However, it contains many important lessons, not just on the dangers of hate, but on the value of ally-ship, the importance of community, and that there is always hope for change.

[All comic images from Dirty Water Comics. Christie Pits riot photo originally from the Globe and Mail, now Wikicommons. It is the only known photo of the riot to be preserved. Plaque from Toronto's Historical Plaques.]

Weekend Read: Cuban asylum seekers detained in Louisiana

Southern Poverty Law Center - Fri, 04/19/2019 - 08:12
Every day, tens of thousands of immigrants are locked behind bars in the United States. Many are detained for months, even years, far from their loved ones and communities. 

Stalking Mosques and Trading Information, Back Woods Survivalist Squad Merges Anti-Islam Fever With Militia Tactics

Southern Poverty Law Center - Thu, 04/18/2019 - 11:52
Back Woods Survivalist Squad (BWSS), a group of Patriot movement extremists, has been using Facebook to coordinate surveillance on mosques around the country, a Hatewatch investigation reveals.

What the Supreme Court ruling could mean for civil asset forfeiture

Southern Poverty Law Center - Tue, 04/16/2019 - 09:34
As the U.S. Supreme Court pointed out on Feb. 20, the constitutional clause that protects Americans from having to pay “excessive fines” traces its lineage to the Magna Carta, which set forth certain rights in England more than 800 years ago.

Fire Guts Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris: Islamophobes Blame Muslims

The first time I visited Notre-Dame in my early 30s I didn't have the words to express the awe I felt simply standing before the 800 year cathedral. Entering the medieval gothic building simply added to my sense of smallness, but also left me with a feeling of being connected across centuries with the millions of people who had come to worship or visit. I was born a Roman Catholic and though I had fallen away from the Church by this point one couldn't help but feel some sort of connection with the divine whether one thinks of it as a sky god with a furrowed brow and white hair or the universe itself.

I have always counted myself fortunate to have been able to experience Notre-Dame and I spent much of the afternoon looking at my old photos of my time spent there. I looked at these photos with sadness now because of the horrible event that occurred today:

This isn't just a loss for France. It is a loss for the entire human family. 
Tragedies like this -- and thankfully there was no human life lost -- bring out the best and worst in people. The people who I who remember include the Parisians who in photos and videos are comforting each other; who state that they will rebuild a great monument to human achievement. These Parisians represent the cross section of the modern, multi-cultural, city; white, African, Arab, Asian. I want to remember the heroism of the firefighters determined to save the cathedral putting their own lives on the line in the process.
Unfortunately, we can't ignore that it also brings out the worst in some who, perversely giddy with excitement, are using the tragedy to stoke fear and hatred:
Unless there are some serious changes in the horizon, none of which I can see, this problem is only going to get worse.— Mack Lamoureux (@MackLamoureux) April 15, 2019

At this point no one is certain what caused the fire though most experts are suggesting that it was likely the result of an accident related to renovations the cathedral was undergoing. This hasn't stopped hate groups and Islamophobes from using this tragedy as an excuse to attack Muslims specifically and immigrants in general. In a sense this didn't surprise me since these people often invoke Muslims as a scapegoat, such as the forest fires in BC and Alberta:
United we roll is about pipelines..... oh, and sharing bullshit from infowars. #yellowvestscanada #cdnpoli#cdnmedia— Yellow Vests Canada Exposed (@VestsCanada) April 15, 2019
In Canada one of the first to jump on this bandwagon was Faith Goldy:

Goldy is infamous for this kind of race baiting. She suggested that the Quebec mosque massacre was perpetrated by Muslims (it wasn't), that the van attack in Toronto last spring was the action of a jihadist (it wasn't), that laws in Alberta have been re-written so Muslims don't need to have their picture take for a firearms license (not true as it is old legislation and was focused on the Christian Hutterite community), and that Syrian children were attacking "Canadian" children in Halifax elementary schools (not true). While these stories have been debunked they continue to spread by the people and groups this blog covers who believe Goldy's lies -- and she is a liar -- and share the lies on social media as truth.
I've collected a small sample of screen shots. Truth be told I was unsure if I should republish them since I am worried about giving these people a platform. However I think it is important to highlight not only the Islamophobia, but also the antisemitism and racism found in these groups because too many people want to stick their heads in the sand to the reality of how toxic things have become:Read more »

Old Is New Again: Some Members of Far-Right Attempt To Have Ideological Opponents, Media, and Politicians Jailed

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the "apex" of far-right "patriot" journalism in Canada:

Yep, this is a clip of a drunken Rick Boswick, Derek Storie, and Corey/Kory.... Something-or-Other (I genuinely can't be bothered to look up his last name) defaming a journalist who has already been assaulted by the far-right, complaining about the violence they claim to be subjected to, and talking about bringing paintball guns loaded with glass marbles to shoot at counter-protesters.

Not a good look gentlemen. Not a good look at all.

In any case, the boys here have been rather busy. On weekends they organize Poorly attended Yellow Vest protests on an overpass outside Toronto. They also found themselves the focus of a national news story when, in their Yellow Vest attire, they heckled PM Justin Trudeau and Toronto mayor John Tory during a news conference concerning affordable housing:

As a bit of an aside, I'm not sure complaining about being called white supremacists then going ton to complain about minorities and the persecution of white people (in addition to the New World Order conspiracy theories) really help your case much:

However, the Pegida protest in Toronto on March 23 is what has Boswick and Storie all riled up, especially this tweet from John Tory:

It should be noted that the Pegida Canada rally came hot on the heels of the murder of 50 Muslim worshipers in Christchurch, New Zealand. A couple of days prior to the Pegida Canada rally in Toronto, Faith Goldy and her drones appeared at an anti-racism rally and memorial for the Christchurch victims intent on antagonizing the attendees; Bowswick and Storie came after Goldy's group left.
In fact, both the Pegida Canada rally and the harassment of the memorial were discussed when Goldy interviewed both Boswick and Storie.
Before I post this though, a brief open letter to Faith Goldy.
Hi Faith. May I call you Faith?  You and I need to talk about life choices. For example, you went from someone who interviewed the now leader of Her Majesty's Official Opposition and, perhaps, future Prime Minister of Canada to being kicked off most social media platforms as a white nationalist and interviewing two unemployed drifters during one of their moments of sobriety while they ranted on about New World Order conspiracy theories. In the dark hours of the evening, and you experience the Dark Night of the Soul when you can't sleep and find yourself staring at the ceiling, do you ever wonder where it all went wrong Faith?

Boswick and Storie present a narrative of the Pegida members being the victims of unprovoked attacks on March 23. While it certainly was a raucous event with Pegida members outnumbered by 10 to 1, the story isn't really quite as clear cut as the two make it out to be:

Still, this particular bug has really gotten up their butts.

In the they posted where they are heckling Trudeau and Tory, you probably heard Boswick, Storie, or both talking about some sort of legal challenge. They discuss it in slightly more detail at one point:

That's right. They think they can prosecute Tory for a tweet and destroy "antifa" because.... freedom I guess:

Read more »

Four Things to Know About Next Week's 'Patriotism Over Socialism' Rally in Arizona

Southern Poverty Law Center - Fri, 04/12/2019 - 13:09
A U.S. congressman and the chairwoman of the Arizona Republican Party are both listed as speakers at an event that will also be attended by multiple hate groups.

Weekend Read: Alabama’s illegal - and deadly - prison system

Southern Poverty Law Center - Fri, 04/12/2019 - 11:52
We’ve been locked in a legal battle with the state of Alabama for the past five years over the sickening mistreatment of people in its prisons who have medical and mental health needs.

Suspect in Church Burnings Influenced by 'Black Metal' Music, Police Say, But Not All Black Metal is the Same

Southern Poverty Law Center - Fri, 04/12/2019 - 11:02
Holden Matthews, the 21-year-old man accused of burning three historically black churches in Louisiana, was influenced by “black metal,” police say – a music genre sometimes tied to organized hate.

March 30, 2019 Hate Rally: Video of Racist Groups Prove They Were the Aggressors

On March 30, the second day of what Joey Deluca claimed would be a 72 hour "patriot rally" in Edmonton occurred. Much like the previous day, the hate groups which included the Worldwide Coalition Against Islam (WCAI), Canadian Combat Coalition (CCC), Northern Guard, Soldiers of Odin (SoO), and a smattering of Yellow Vesters were outnumbered by 100s of counter-protesters. Unlike the previous day, the hate groups headed to Churchill Square to reorganize and headed back to the Legislature. Most of the counter-protesters had left by that point but the 40+ members of the various hate groups were still met by more than a dozen counter-protesters who learned that they were returning. In the end the hate groups spent a short time at the Legislature before leaving once again.
Things became tense though when members of the Northern Guard, SoO, and others affiliated with these hate groups were met by anti-fascists as they walked down the road. The resulting confrontation resulted in one counter-protester being assaulted and a member of the SoO being taken into custody though more were involved in the assault.
Since then, the narrative being told by the hate groups which has been disseminated on social media is that it was the hate groups who were the victims claiming that the person who was assaulted had attacked a woman with the flag pole being carried by the SoO member who was ultimately taken into custody. 
Actual video evidence however proves that they were the aggressors, the woman in question was not assaulted by the victim of the attacks by the hate groups, and that there was a premeditated plan to attack counter-protesters:
It took some time, but we finally got our hands on a compilation of clips that illustrates the assault that took place on March 30th, 2019, in Edmonton, Alberta.

It's slightly more than half an hour long, so brace yourself or break it up as you see fit!— EdmontonAgainstFascism (@EdmontonAgainst) April 10, 2019
None of this is surprising since it has become standard for these hate groups to assault people with some degree of impunity then claim to be the victim. During the first rally on Saturday when the WCAI, SoO, Northern Guard, and others were outnumbered by 100s, no one was harmed despite the tired claim that "antifa" attack "patriots" when they are outnumbered. It was only when the members of the hate groups were in greater number than the counter-protesters that people were attacked.
The fact that hate groups are on the streets in numbers and carrying out premeditated attacks should be national news - and there's video proof. @alexboutilier @IreneGentle @MackLamoureux @CBCTheNational @RalphGoodale @cafreeland @kinsellawarren @JesseBrown @OmarMosleh— Canadian Anti-Hate Network (@antihateca) April 10, 2019

White Supremacist Chris Cantwell Takes Hiatus to Avoid 'Another Crying Nazi Moment'

Southern Poverty Law Center - Wed, 04/10/2019 - 13:22
Christopher Cantwell, a prolific white supremacist radio host, put his broadcasting work on hiatus, citing “serious personal problems” as the reason behind his decision in a post on his website.

Vicious Facebook Posts and the Man Accused of Threatening to Kill Rep. Ilhan Omar

Southern Poverty Law Center - Wed, 04/10/2019 - 12:26
About three-and-a-half years ago, a man named Patrick Carlineo joined a brand-new Facebook group called “No Syrian refugees for NY.”

Cuban men thrown into Louisiana prisons despite legal asylum requests

Southern Poverty Law Center - Wed, 04/10/2019 - 08:56
Suicide. Self-harm. Medical neglect. Isolated in segregation. Quarantined and left without legal counsel.

Goldy Drone Teaches Scouts to Shoot Guns

ARC would like you to meet Darik Horn. Here he is getting settled in at a Canadian Anti-Hate Network event in Newmarket, Ontario this week:

Darik has a lot going for him compared to many of his colleagues. For one thing, he's book smart. Or should I say, computer smart. According to his LinkedIn profile, he has a Bachelor of Mathematics degree in Computer Science from the University of Waterloo with a Minor in Information Systems, Business, Economics and Human Resources from Wilfrid Laurier University. His recent work history is a bit patchy, but he spent 4 years at Navtech, now NAVBLUE, a company that specializes in aviation operations software. He's also been with BrightBlock, and appears to be the brains behind DBAN (Darik's Boot and Nuke), a very well respected open-source project that securely wipes hard drives.

Darik tries to be a helpful guy both online and off, and he looks out for his friends, like Paul Fromm

Despite giving this advice in October 2018,  Fromm has yet to fix the problem. It's quite possible he doesn't understand it as you can't teach an old dog new tricks and all that.
Last year, Darik was quite taken with Faith Goldy, who was just banned from Facebook and Instagram. During her mayoral election campaign, he followed her around and was very concerned that she was barred from debates:

He also canvassed with her, and is pictured here with other campaign volunteers outside Queen's Park:

Needless to say, he felt she'd make a top-notch mayor who would do away with pesky bike lanes, stop making pro-lifers feel like second class citizens, and other such lovely things:
Since the end of Goldy's mayoral campaign, he's jumped on Team Bernier with a vengeance. He spent significant time volunteering for Robert Geurts, the PPC candidate in the recent York-Simcoe by-election. Again, he focused on being, above all else, helpful, and insanely law-abiding. He volunteered to carpool PPC supporters to a rally, and was very concerned about someone removing campaign signs. He followed them, but refused to jaywalk: 
Most recently, he was concerned about the MAGA hat dude at the PEGIDA rally in Toronto in late March, which he evidently attended. You can read a bit about the rally here, and PEGIDA's recent legal troubles here.

With such a helpful attitude, and concern for others, I suppose it's not a complete surprise that he would want to help children as well. His LinkedIn profile shows he's been a Colony Leader with Scouts Canada, Shining Waters Council, South Lake Simcoe, for over three-and-a-half years: 

This past Christmas, he marched in the Newmarket Santa Claus Parade with his Scout group:

Note that this Tweet was liked by Scouts Canada, Battlefields Council, which is a Scouts collective for Hamilton and other towns in Niagara Region, and the City of Newmarket.
Just last week, it appears he took a Cubs group to a woodworking workshop:

Oh yeah, and because he's so helpful, he also organized an event at the Aurora Gun Club on November 7th, 2018, for the older boys, and volunteered to do more of the same:

Wait, what was that last thing? Yeah, he was really, really, really interested in teaching boys to shoot:
 Read more »

SPLC launches digital initiative to promote honest discussion of Confederate history

Southern Poverty Law Center - Tue, 04/09/2019 - 14:22
The SPLC launched a digital initiative this month that seeks to correct the false narratives of the “Lost Cause” mythology, which idolizes people who fought against the United States in order to preserve slavery.

Judge temporarily blocks Trump administration from forcing asylum seekers to wait in Mexico

Southern Poverty Law Center - Mon, 04/08/2019 - 19:08
A federal judge today ordered the Trump administration to immediately stop forcing asylum seekers to return to Mexico and wait there for their hearings in immigration court.

Alabama city holds 'Amnesty Week,' part of SPLC settlement of federal lawsuit over private probation scheme

Southern Poverty Law Center - Mon, 04/08/2019 - 15:38
The city of Gardendale, Alabama, today began a week in which it will allow people who are facing municipal offenses to clear their cases, without being arrested.

Alabama city holds “Amnesty Week,” part of SPLC settlement of federal lawsuit over private probation scheme

Southern Poverty Law Center - Mon, 04/08/2019 - 15:38
The city of Gardendale, Alabama, today began a week in which it will allow people who are facing municipal offenses to clear their cases, without being arrested.

White Professors of African Studies Targeted With Death Threats

Southern Poverty Law Center - Sun, 04/07/2019 - 19:44
Ten professors, who are white or presumed to be white, have received death threats from a black nationalist organization that accuses them of “desecrating the tombs of Gods and Goddesses.”

Twitter locked me out of my account for reporting on extremists

Southern Poverty Law Center - Fri, 04/05/2019 - 13:30
Twitter temporarily suspended my account this week after I posted a tweet that opposed far-right extremism.