How violent U.S. rally outed key players in Montreal’s alt-right

Good long read (abridged here):

They didn’t want to show up to the white nationalist rally empty-handed.

The Unite the Right march in Virginia would be the largest white supremacist gathering in a generation and the small, militant crew of Quebecers were eager to make an impression.

A few days before the long drive south, one of their leaders logged onto an American alt-right forum with a request.

“We are about 20 guys driving through the border from Canada and we obviously will not be able to bring protective gear like shields and so on through the border agents,” wrote Date, a prominent Montreal white nationalist. “If you’ve got extra ones, some of our members are interested in buying them from you over there.”

The following night, on Aug. 10, 2017, one of the group members withdrew $850 in Bitcoin to help cover expenses. Activists in the alt-right use the online currency because it’s unregulated and difficult to trace.

They left for Charlottesville a few hours later.

On Aug. 11, the Montrealers would participate in a torch march through Charlottesville, blending into a crowd that chanted “Blood and soil” and “Jews will not replace us.”

The next day, they faced off with a crowd of anti-fascists in the southern college town. As the rally wound down, a white supremacist drove his car into a mass of counter-protesters, killing 32-year-old Charlottesville resident Heather Heyer.

Within an hour of the attack, users of an encrypted white supremacist chat room in Montreal began posting memes congratulating the attacker and describing his vehicle as a “car of peace.”

Last month, the Montreal Gazette obtained roughly 12,000 closed messages from the closed “Montreal Storm” server on Discord, an encrypted chat service. Those documents, combined with information from sources close to the group, indicate that the initial thrill of Charlottesville quickly gave way to a culture of paranoia within the group.

Those days in Charlottesville were meant to be a sort of coming-out party for the alt-right. The torch march, the shields, the clubs, the guns, the beatings — these were meant to show the world that the white nationalist movement was a force to be reckoned with. Charlottesville was going to be their Kristallnacht.

It didn’t go as planned.

In the backlash that followed Heyer’s death, the alt-right began to implode. Waves of men who participated had their identities revealed, lost their jobs and friends, and dropped out of the movement.

….

The evolution of Generation Identity Canada’s branding is reflective of a shift in strategy for various alt-right groups. As the term “alt-right” became toxic after the violence in Charlottesville, the groups which organized under its umbrella attempted to rebrand.

The switch from Generation Identity to ID Canada reflects the push, exemplified by Andrew Anglin of the Daily Stormer, for groups to adopt “patriotic” positions as cover for their white supremacist ideology.

ID Canada, whose membership seems to be mostly drawn from the Montreal Storm crew, appears to be an attempt to bring such a strategy to life. The group refers to itself as “identitarian,” drawing on the European far-right theory. They frame their actions specifically in the language of patriotism, and reverence for (white) Canadian history.

On its frequently asked questions page, ID Canada even denies harbouring racist views. “We do not see ourselves as superior to others on the simple basis of our skin colour. … We are an identitarian movement that seeks to preserve our culture, customs, traditions and values etc.”

One of the lasting effects of the violence in Charlottesville was its blow to the far-right’s ability to raise money and spread propaganda online. In late August 2017, PayPal began cracking down on groups that use its site to fund hate groups. The Daily Stormer, one of the largest white nationalist news sites on the internet, was kicked off American, Chinese and Russian servers before being pushed onto the dark web, a network of websites that are only accessible through a special internet browser.

“Charlottesville marked the beginning of a sharp downturn for the [far-right],” Balgord said. “Their ability to move money around was severely constrained. Their ability to operate on social media and use chat platforms was severely constrained.”

Shutting down the alt-right’s main platforms of communication hampered its ability to recruit, spread propaganda and radicalize new people, Balgord said.

“By exposing them, we contain them. By driving them off these platforms, we contain them. They never fully go away but we minimize the damage they do.”

Source: How violent U.S. rally outed key players in Montreal’s alt-right

Why do so many jihadis have engineering degrees?

Long but interesting article on why so many radicalized individuals have an engineering background:

That takes Hertog and Gambetta (the researchers who conducted the study)  to the thorny question of “mindsets for extremists.” Different types of people are attracted to different kinds of extremism—engineers mostly on one side, social scientists and humanities grads on the other—and the authors went in search of traits found in both secular and jihadi extremists as well as among engineers. Three stand out among conservatives in general in recent psychological research: disgust (or the felt need to keep one’s environment pure, which can underpin everything from homophobia to xenophobia); the “need for cognitive closure” (a preference for order and certainty that can support authoritarianism); a very high in-group/out-group distinction.

These are present in particularly high concentration among Nazis and Salafists alike, while European surveys show engineers to be consistently more conservative than other students: moderately right-wing, anti-immigration and tough on crime. Whether the discipline makes the man—it’s worth noting engineering, like the virtually women-free world of right-wing extremists, is male-dominated—or the man seeks the discipline, Hertog is not prepared to say, but the correlation is undeniable. And so is what it points to: contrary to what seems obvious, religious faith does not so much drive Islamist terror as provide its cover.

http://www.macleans.ca/news/world/why-do-so-many-jihadis-have-engineering-degrees/

The angry, radical right: Martin Patriquin

Just as many pundits noted “Harper derangement syndrome” on the left, we now have “Trudeau (the younger) derangement syndrome” on the right following the election.

Ironic, given that the Conservative Party, now in opposition, has been running away from some of the policies and practices it implemented (e.g., cancellation of the Census, refusal to have an enquiry on murdered aboriginal women, the sale of LAVs to Saudi Arabia).

There will always be fringes on both sides of the political spectrum and the question is whether this will remain on the fringes or be picked up in some form by mainstream political parties (as arguably happened with the Conservatives’ use of identity politics with respect to Canadian Muslims during the election):

The RCMP, meanwhile, has seen an uptick in threats against Trudeau, according to police sources. “It’s somewhat expected, because Trudeau is anathema to right-wing extremists, and right-wing extremists tend to be the most explicit and reckless of those who make these kinds of threats,” says a former member of the RCMP’s threat-assessment group, a national security unit that safeguards domestic and visiting political leaders, and who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he remains a member of the RCMP.

Much of the rhetoric comes from a range of online groups whose ideologies vary as much as their popularity. Pegida Canada and Canadian Defence League, for example, are offshoots of European anti-Islamic groups. Others, including Separation of Alberta from the Liberal East, have specific Canadian political goals. Others still are Zionist in nature, including the Jewish Defence League and Christians United For Israel. With its 25,000 followers, Never Again Canada looms large.

The Never Again Canada Facebook page first appeared in mid-2014. The group, such as it is, bills itself as an “organization dedicated to fighting anti-Semitism, propaganda, terror and Jew hatred in Canada . . . Hatred is like cancer, the more you don’t treat it and ignore it, the worse it gets.” Its page, often updated several times an hour, is almost uniquely dedicated to criticism of Justin Trudeau—sometimes referred to as “Justine”—and Islam. (“Never Again” is an apparent reference to the slogan of the Jewish Defence League, the U.S.-based militant Zionist organization, which has a chapter in Canada.)

The commentators on Never Again are a hodgepodge of Zionists, former and current military, Christian militants, the occasional white nationalist—an irony, given that the white nationalist movement isn’t typically very charitable toward Jews—and many anti-Muslim types like Witko and Larry Langenauer. A 67-year-old small business owner, Langenauer says he began posting on Never Again’s Facebook page four months ago.

On Dec. 10 Langenauer wrote that “the most convincing non-confidence statement” against Trudeau would be to shoot him. He has made similar threats about the Saudi-born Liberal MP Omar Alghabra, who was recently appointed parliamentary secretary to the minister of foreign affairs. (In Canada, uttering threats is an offence punishable by up to five years in jail. Committing hate speech is punishable by up to two years in jail.)

“I guess anyone that feels that way is probably thinking that [Trudeau] is the man who almost single-handedly, with the people in office with him, has enabled violent immigrants,” Langenauer said in a recent telephone interview from his Montreal home. “It’s their responsibility. Why would Canada be exempt from this type of behaviour by the radical Islamic immigrants? They say they’re refugees, they’re not really refugees. People are going to resent it, and eventually they will act upon it toward the people whom they feel are responsible.”

Source: The angry, radical right – Macleans.ca