Canada must confront its own white nationalism -

Canada must confront its own white nationalism

Charlottesville showed the world that white nationalism is on the rise in the U.S. But Canada is no safe haven, writes Janaya Khan.

(Photo courtesy Janaya Khan)

(Photo courtesy Janaya Khan)

White nationalism is on the rise across North America—and Canada is no exception. Recently in Charlottesville, VA, hundreds of white men and women took to the streets claiming to protest the removal of the statue of Robert E. Lee, a general from the Confederate army, a slaveholder and a racist icon.

Calling their march “Unite the Right,” they carried torches, wore swastikas, waved the Confederate flag, donned KKK cloaks, yelled “blood and soil,” and trapped a group of people and clergy in a church, including Cornel West and Reverend Dr. Traci Blackmon, who feared for their lives.

The next morning the white nationalists marched again, this time with guns and bats, beating up counter-protesters and anti-fascist groups who courageously stood up to bigotry. Later that afternoon, a white nationalist used his Dodge Charger to ram through a crowd of peaceful counter-protesters, injuring dozens and killing 32-year-old paralegal Heather Heyer.

Faith Goldy, a prominent voice for Rebel Media, a Canadian far-right online platform with extremist and white supremacist views, was there in Charlottesville that day. The 28-year-old Canadian’s usual brand of hateful speech was overshadowed by the absurdity of referring to the atrocities and violence by white nationalists in Charlottesville as a rising “white racial consciousness.”

The Rebel’s presence at the rally was enough to compel Brian Lilley, one of its co-founders, to announce on Monday that he’s leaving the conservative media website. In a message posted to Facebook he said he “no longer feel[s] comfortable being part of the group.” His reasons? “What may have started as a concern over the harsh tone taken on some subjects came to a head with this weekend’s events in Charlottesville, Virginia. What anyone from The Rebel was doing at a so-called ‘unite the right’ rally that was really an anti-Semitic white power rally is beyond me. Especially not a rally dedicated to keeping up a statue of Robert E. Lee, a man that whatever he stood for, also fought on the wrong side of history and the wrong side of America’s bloodiest conflict.”

The events in Charlottesville are disturbing and tragic, and the Trump Administration has emboldened racists throughout the U.S.—but Canada has a rising tide of white supremacists within its own borders that is growing in power.

Canadians have a deep investment in seeing themselves as more enlightened than their counterparts to the south, as if racism and bigotry suddenly stop at the U.S./Canada border. But the racial haven narrative of Canada is a myth, and the idea that anti-Semitism, racism, Islamophobia and anti-immigrant hatred is “not as bad” as in the States is a dangerous one.

Groups like the Proud Boys in Halifax, the Aryan Guard in Alberta, Blood and Honour Canada, the Canadian Nationalist Party and the Heritage Front are just some names in a wildly under-researched network of people in Canada who either fully identify as white supremacists or refer to themselves as white nationalists and the alt-right.

It is integral to note that white nationalism and the alt-right adopt white supremacist thinking, but deny white supremacist identities. This denial has allowed for the normalization of ideas that would be rejected or considered extremist in other contexts.

White nationalism has been so successful, in part, due to a lack of critical engagement of race relations in Canada. The inability to talk about racism, further complicated by the denial of its pervasiveness in the country, has created a void that made space for right-wing extremists to co-opt the language of the left—like the need for “white racial consciousness” and the term “conservative” being equated with “nigger”—because they don’t actually have experiences of racial or national oppression to draw from.

White men, in particular, have claimed that there is an attack on free speech—when in reality there is a deep desire to preserve and protect their code of hate speech—all the while expressing themselves in terms of being oppressed. In reality, the most consistently “oppressive” thing to happen to white men in Canada is political correctness.

Much white nationalist rhetoric is centred around the idea that white men are losing their voice. But the truth is that white men aren’t losing their voice; theirs just isn’t the only voice out there anymore. Across North America, women, people of colour, Muslims, immigrants, Black and Indigenous people are telling their stories, creating new platforms and challenging social norms.

What happened in Charlottesville will act as a blueprint to white nationalists across the globe feeling empowered by acts of violence and chaos. White Canadians who believe in justice have got to show up and push back against white supremacy as fervently as those far more vulnerable do every day.

When it comes to fighting against white supremacy, it’s not just what you stand for, it’s who you sit with. Conversations need to be happening in homes, at work, in schools and in churches on equity, liberation and how important it is to fight against hatred and bigotry when it shows itself.

Canada has an opportunity to embody the narrative of being different that was claimed but never earned. White nationalism will either be a chapter of Canadian history denounced for its hatred, or it will build on a history of denial and white supremacy already a part of the national narrative.

Janaya Khan is a lecturer, author and co-founder of Black Lives Matter – Toronto.


Canada must confront its own white nationalism

  1. People don’t seem to know what the words mean anymore.

    Ezra Levant…..Jewish, with Jewish kids….and here he’s supporting Nazis!

  2. As in the children’s fable, the boy who cried wolf, the lefts attempt to intimidate with vitriolic labels has lost all importance.

    Criticizing the actions of Israel and Zionism doesn’t make anyone a nazi.

    Opposing the murder of abortion doesn’t make anyone a misogynist or zealot.

    Criticizing the waste of time and money on failed aboriginal welfare communities doesn’t make anyone a colonial.

    Recognizing the disproportionate representation of blacks in the correctional system doesn’t make anyone a racist.

    Neither does putting all these truths together make a monster to be demonized.

    You don’t get to label me at all, but if you still feel the need to lash out make a label for me from this.

    I value truth.

    • You and that big fat liar DT …. hahahaha … FOAD

      • The useful idiot exposed his hateful ugliness for all to see.

        Gotta love free speech.

  3. I’ve never read such distorted tripe!!
    There were 4 groups involved in the awful, out of control mess in Virginia. Two were peaceful demonstrating groups and two weren’t. One of the peaceful groups wanted to preserve American history and keep confederate statues; the other didn’t because of the link to slavery.. Then the violent groups engaged. From the left was a group primarily made up of a black supremacist group-Black Lives Matter and Anti-fa-a violent anti fascist group. They came armed with shields, clubs, bottles of urine and anti conservative and anti police posters. On the right side, and equally vile, were the white supremacists, also armed and carrying and chanting racist slurs.
    Of course what the left MSM covers is the white supremacists. The violent left group has been responsible for 90% of the violent riots and protests since Trump beat their Hillary. Both the extreme left and right are disgusting but you hear little about the the left. It appears the MSM supports them. Shameful!!

    • Those “two peaceful groups {who} wanted to preserve American history and keep confederate soldiers were carrying lit torches which are reminiscent of a time when white nationalists (supremacists) lynched their African American brothers. They also were using the Nazi salute and chanting Nazi slogans. Even Ezra Levant doesn’t buy that it was behavior that engendered peaceful discourse. It was behavior geared at inciting a violent reaction from protestors who didn’t want these people in their city or their park. It turns out a few of these white nationalists came from Quebec. They were not locals and their actions do not invite peace by any stretch of the imagination. As to claims that left leaning protestors doen’t get any coverage, that is tripe. They do get covered even by people like Bill Maher and the ACLU who defended free speech and called out censorship. The truth is that many groups that lean either to the far left or the far right share many things in common. They both support ideas of economic isolationism. These ideas which are what Trump ran on, are not good for our Canadian economy and not good for consumers, American, Canadian or Mexican.

      • There were two peaceful groups involved-one on each side of the issue. And then there were two VIOLENT groups-one on each side- with clubs and rocks. On the left was Anti-fa-a violent group against ALL on the right and Black Lives Matter-now morphed into a black supremacist group. Both of those groups were vile and violent. 67% of Americans agreed with the peaceful group on the right who wanted to keep the statues as is.

        • I left out that the right side violent group were white supremacists. They are even more racially vile than BLM. Had NEITHER of the violent extreme groups on either side of this issue shown up there would have just been two peaceful groups with different views about the retention of these statues being expressed.

  4. Could we start by not having a KFC advertisement right next to this story?

  5. “The 28-year-old Canadian’s usual brand of hateful speech was overshadowed by the absurdity of referring to the atrocities and violence by white nationalists in Charlottesville as a rising “white racial consciousness.”” (Faith Goldy).

    And she specifically said that, that the killing of the young woman was an example of white racial consciousness? You’d have to show me the video that actually said a killing like that was an act of raising consciousness.

    The author of this piece needs to be more careful with her words.

  6. As a society, we have crossed a very important line and are now clearly in fascist territory.

    The Supreme Court has ruled in a hate case that the truth is no defence.

    That means that the alt left can accuse anyone of the crime of hatred and that person has no defence. If the judge agrees it’s hatred, it doesn’t matter if it’s the truth. You’re a criminal to the state and your crime is you told the truth.

    So much for, the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. It is AWOL from our legal system.

    The line has been crossed. I can see a few people from the right taking exception to that.

    Know what side you’re on.

    • Oh please….when Donald Trump tweets a meme of himself beating up a CNN reporter or a Trump train running over a CNN reporter, freedom of hate speech is great. When Kathy Gibson posts a fake head meant to be Trump, free hate speech is not to be tolerated by his base, which considers themselves, the right. The right and the left are both okay with hate speech except when it is directed at one of their own, then they want government intervention. The Supreme Court of Canada initially intervened with hate speech laws when a school teacher in Alberta was teaching a social studies curriculum that contained Holocaust denial. We taxpayers sent the students to one of the most famous Nazi death camps in Europe in order to de-program them because their parents couldn’t convince them their teacher was wrong. If one is going to suggest that the truth is no longer sufficient defence in the Supreme Court of Canada, one will have to provide a source.

      • Here is the reference for your information.

        It is illegal to review the science and history of the holocaust. Only repeating the official story is allowed here and in many countries in Europe.

        Any who dare to bring science or logic to the discussion are tried and convicted of hate crimes. The new heresy. Truth is no defence.

        Truth is very compelling once heard. Unlike lies, it cannot be refuted.

  7. I started reading this article and thought the author was making some good points. Then I thought she was starting to paint all white males with the same brush. Then I read the author is the co-founder of Black Lives Matter Toronto. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black! (I don’t mean anything racist by this old saying)
    She writes how important it is to fight against hatred and bigotry. OMG! BLM espouses just as much hate as Neo Nazi groups and it’s members call for the murder of police officers!
    I am shocked that Maclean’s would give a podium for a member of a hate group like BLM. What’s next? Is Maclean’s going to start publishing articles written by David Duke? You can’t fight hate with more hate.
    Grow up and do something more productive with your life!

    • You’re right: this author inadvertently illustrates the fact that race is a stupid concept that facilitates bigotry because of it’s extreme simple mindedness. Of all of the attributes of a human being one might focus on, skin color is surely of no consequence. The stupidity of the race concept manifests in the conflation of politics and morality with race – pretty soon ‘white racist’ becomes normalized where ‘white’ becomes synonymous with ‘racist’. However, Canada has its own history of racism which, among other sources, is a legacy of British colonialism which has had a large effect on Canadian society because it was able to translate British racism and class structure into colonial government policy and legislation; that, along with a colonial representation of history, has embedded these unpalatable aspects of British colonialism into Canadian society. On the positive side, Canada has only existed independent of colonial status since 1983; moreover, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms has only had preeminence for a similar short period and, based on the frequency of successful challenges to government policies and legislation, has yet to be fully adopted into Canadian society. Certainly, we have a substantial cohort that goes well beyond racism to the extent of equating positive values with ethnicity. We need to try to learn from the past rather than trying to relive it.