This past weekend, 11 people were killed in a synagogue in Pittsburgh by a Nazi.
A Nazi killed Jews, in America, in 2018.
In another event, a white man gunned down two black men when he was unable to enter a predominantly black church to carry out an attack.
After reading the news, I messaged a friend of mine who is Jewish to check in. I should have been flabbergasted that in 2018, Jews were being hunted by a Nazi. But I wasn’t, and neither was she. Because anti-semitism is still rampant. And because now, it’s allowed. It’s “protected” under free speech. Because we are being de-sensitized to hate and act of violence from hate due to its increasingly common occurrences.
White supremacism, no matter how much the far-right wants to argue, is on the rise. It continues to be on the rise because of a president who will not disavow it and governments who allow it to continue to be perpetuated. That very mentality continues to seep over into our own beautiful country, where we have also seen a rise in hate crimes, directed not just at minority communities, but at Jewish ones as well.
Acts against the Jewish communities were said to be at an all-time high for Canada in 2017 by Global News. Along with swastikas on post-it notes being placed on doors throughout an apartment building in Toronto, anti-Semitic hate-mail targeted synagogues in Toronto, Kingston, Montreal, and Hamilton, anti-Semitic graffiti at Toronto schools, and much more.
Acts of violence, aggression, and xenophobia towards Muslims, or anyone Canadians choose to perceive as Muslims, have also increased drastically. One group began spreading posters designed to foster hate and fear towards Muslims across the Danforth and planned to hold a rally about the “evils” of Muslims. There have been videos after videos emerging of people in the GTA and beyond literally telling anyone brown to get out of the country, that “if this were America, you’d be deported.”
In a recent report released by the CBC regarding the increase of right-wing extremist groups and the growth of hate crimes in Canada, it is cited that hate crimes have increased by 30 per cent since 2015, and right-wing extremist groups have grown to a minimum of 130 across the country. While that number may not sound large, keep in mind many of these groups will have chapters country-wide. The group is counted on the whole, not just as individual pockets. The most popular hate groups centre around hatred based on religion and race, with Anti-Muslim and Anti-Jewish groups existing in the highest numbers. From there, it filters down to “hate against immigrants, Indigenous people, women, LGBTQ communities and other minorities.”
Of the increased hate crimes, police data shows 43% qualified as violent offences in 2016, which includes assault, uttering threats, and criminal harassment. But that’s just what was reported. Data from Statistics Canada highlights that “two out of every three people who believed they were victims of hate crimes did not report these incidents to police.”
With the rise of Neo-Nazi groups in Canada, a large number are festered online, but some are still resorting to traditional methods. Earlier in October, an alt-right group put up posters in the Bathurst/St Clair area geared towards recruiting members.
In the article from CBC, Dr. Barbara Perry, an expert on hate crime, stated that while Canadians are slowly becoming more aware that alt-right groups exist in our own backyards, we remain mostly ignorant. “Canadians are very complacent. It’s worse [in America], but we can’t deny it here any longer, it’s just blatant.”
Nothing should be more telling than the fact that a white supremacist, one who promotes the idea that immigrants are responsible for “white genocide” not only ran for Mayor of Toronto, but managed to accumulate more than 25,000 votes. Even our premiere, Doug Ford, who is a fan-favourite of many of the far-right, eventually tweeted a lack of support for Faith Goldy, though it took some time for him to make the move.
In his tweet on September 26th, Ford wrote, “I have been clear. I condemn hate speech, anti-Semitism and racism in all forms – be it from Faith Goldy or anyone else.”
The world, not just us, has been complacent in the past when hate groups were on the rise and were empowered. And what has resulted are some of the worst moments in history. The Holocaust, the Crusades, the treatment of First Nations peoples, of blacks, of immigrants. This hate, when allowed to fester, always perpetuates action.
And when governments, cities, and towns are allowing these hate groups platforms, approving permits to hold their hate-filled rallies, they are telling them hate, Nazism, and White Supremacy are okay. That their ideas and spreading their goals of genocide, superiority, and harm are acceptable. That their platforms deserve equal weight.
The more we allow this, the more actual violence and destruction we will see. History repeats, but only because we let it.
It’s 2018. A generation of people who weren’t even around those directly affected by the last acts of complacency by our countries shouldn’t have to be the ones crying out for complacency to end.
It’s 2018. How in the hell does anyone still think Nazis are an acceptable group of civilians?
This column originally appeared in the November 1, 2018 edition of the Orangeville Citizen.