Modern hate groups run 'silent and deep'
Extremism abounds, anti-racism educator says
BY STEPHEN HUME, VANCOUVER SUN AUGUST 10, 2011
A recent column argued that, unlike Europe, right-wing extremism in Canada has actually waned since white supremacists, neo-Nazis, violent Christian fundamentalists and Holocaust deniers commanded centre stage 20 years ago.
After all, Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel was jailed for inciting hatred; Jim Keegstra's dismissal from the Alberta school system for teaching anti-Semitic nonsense was upheld by the courts; Ron Gostick, one of Keegstra's mentors, is dead; and Terry Long, who burned crosses for the Aryan Nations, has dropped off the map.
Alan Dutton of the Canadian Anti-racism Education and Research Society begs to differ.
Dutton monitors extreme right-wing and neo-Nazi organizations. He has advised governments on the hate groups who target Jews, Muslims, Roman Catholics, progressive Protestants, visible minorities, big government, big business, big unions, immigrants, first nations and so on.
Dutton says in a letter the extreme right only appears quiescent.
It has a new strategy, one for which National Post (and former Vancouver Sun) reporter Stewart Bell's recent story about White Nationalist Front leader Kevin Goudreau provides an apt metaphor. (The Sun published the article Aug. 8 under the headline "Diminished, yet still full of hate".) Goudreau buttons his shirt right up to the collar, Bell observed. His chest is tattooed with a huge flaming swastika adorned by "SS" lightning bolts, surmounted by what looks like a double-barrelled shotgun and a wolf, or maybe it's a wildcat.
Goudreau's tattoo is there, Bell notes, for everyone to see on the Internet. But he doesn't display the Nazi iconography in public, where it would invite negative reaction.
Dutton, who has watched the sinister antics of neo-fascist organizations seeking to become lightning rods for Canada's cruel undercurrent of racist, antiimmigrant, anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim sentiment, says rightwing extremism's new strategy is keeping a low public profile while recruiting among angry, marginalized and disaffected youth online.
Assuming the extreme right is in retreat is a big error.
"You underplay probably the central tenet of modern hate groups," he says. "Many groups have learned that it is important to 'run silent and run deep'."
Canada's human rights law has hurt high-profile hate-mongers, particularly here in B.C. where one recently fled to the U.S., Dutton says, but rightwing extremists are learning to avoid publicity while recruiting clandestinely.
"This is not to say that all groups espouse or have adopted a stealth approach," Dutton says. "Aryan Guard in Calgary, for example, threw caution to the wind and attracted many, many new young adherents and some of the older leaders ... but other groups like Blood and Honour, etc., have gone more or less underground. In fact, a number of former leaders of hate groups based in B.C moved to Alberta to seek anonymity.
"As a result, hate group activity is not as readily visible as it once was. This does not mean that hate groups don't exist, or aren't recruiting. Online recruiting is now, more than ever, part of the 'run silent, run deep' strategy," Dutton says.
The activist worries that cuts to social services in Canada damage the capacity of community groups to counteract the recruitment of disaffected young people to hate campaigns and argues that governments cannot afford to ignore the phenomenon, "as Norway and many other countries are fast discovering."
"While anti-Semitism is still very prevalent in Canada, I believe the mainstreaming of Islamophobia is much more virulent and widespread," Dutton says. "In fact, we can see anti-Islamic comments in virtually all media almost every day.
"Yet, there is very little attention or help directed at the Muslim community as a whole. However, notwithstanding anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, institutionalized hate and prejudice concerning first nations, Metis [and] Inuit is Canada's worse shame. Just ask your neighbours their opinions on first nation land title in B.C., missing women and fisheries."
Dutton's point is persuasive. It certainly gains authority from the frequency of recent attacks directed at synagogues, mosques, gays and lesbians, and visible minorities in Quebec, Alberta, New Brunswick, B.C. and Ontario.
I stand corrected.
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