Sappani: Politicians should be guided by victims of terrorism, not their killers

Of note, some valid points regarding political considerations:

Four Muslim names spanning three generations slain by an act of terror in London, Ont., now also belong to those we memorialize on the National Day of Remembrance for Victims of Terrorism this June 23. Sixteen years since it was first enacted, the list of victims continues to grow longer. Surprisingly, this is happening in one of the safest countries in the world, despite Air India Flight 182’s bombing in 1985 and the 2014 attack on Parliament Hill.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s statement on this occasion takes note of the horrific events in 1985, yet the measure of actions taken to confront extremism remains a project of politics, not national security.

The 1985 terrorist attack on Air India, killing 280 Canadian citizens, should have catalyzed the creation of a top-tier security system. The attack constituted the biggest aviation terror event until 9/11, and today, 38 years after the tragedy and more than a decade after the John Major report, Canada still seems incapable of confronting extremism.

Hard questions have to be asked.  What has been learned since 1985? Do security professionals have the mandate to do their jobs, or do politics prevail over the security of Canadians?

A 2018 CSIS report explicitly described Sikh radicalism, Islamic radicalism, and far-right fanaticism, as among the top five terror threats to Canada. The report created an uproar in certain segments of the Indo-Canadian diaspora, resulting in it being watered down – not due to new facts or errors, but under political pressure from vote banks decrying discrimination. Indeed, Canadian politicians interfering with national security reports is the natural product of decades of growing identity politics.

Despite the Air India bombing, the Canadian terrorists behind the attack continue to be hailed as heroes at parades in Canada, widely attended by elected Canadian representatives. Canadian politicians also happily attend events glorifying the banned LTTE terrorist group pandering for votes in Tamil communities.

Identity-based vote banks play a significant role in partisan politics. Politicians prioritize their own ambitions over the values of our nation and at the expense of fallen victims, elevating these brokers of extremist ideologies. A select few of our national leaders refuse to compromise on these values, like Bob Rae during the 2006 Liberal leadership race. Yet they too, often, learn the hard lessons of the extent to which extremist agendas dominate Canadian politics.

At times, pandering to diverging extremes produces dark comedy. All of Canada’s national leaders rightfully condemned Islamophobia after the London terror attack, while contradicting themselves by refusing to condemn the naked Islamophobia of Quebec’s Bill C-21.

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh is a case in point. In delivering a thundering speech – in English – on Canada as a “racist country,” he failed to deliver the same sentiment – in French – to the Quebec legislature. He is unfortunately also known for his controversies in describing Khalistani separatism.

The Conservatives are also experiencing their own issues, having rejected MP Derek Sloan for associating with far-right extremists. One can also point to Alberta MP Garnett Genuis, who is the party’s self-appointed champion of Punjab – read: Khalistan – independence.

Even today, the majority of politicians in Greater Vancouver and Toronto will not openly condemn banned terrorist organizations in Canada, fearing reprisals from extremist vote banks. Extremists groups have learned to exploit membership-driven nomination processes, even as our security agencies fail to confront these metastasizing threats.

On this 16th National Day of Remembrance for Victims of Terrorism, it is not the victims whose memory are guiding our national debate, but the agendas of the extremists who killed them. The victims themselves are often immigrants, from the Air India bombing to our murdered Muslim family, leaving one us to wonder why these murders slip so easily from national memory.

In elections to come, politicians would be wise to discover courage in going beyond the platitudes of unprincipled pandering and explicitly refuse to platform extremism. It would be refreshing to see Canadian leaders whose political outreach is more informed by terrorism’s victims, than those who celebrate their murderers.

Source: Politicians should be guided by victims of terrorism, not their killers

How Extremists Weaponize Irony To Spread Hate

Of interest, and no “just joking” is no excuse:

On a recent episode of his livestreamed show, the 22-year-old extremist Nick Fuentes repeated a formula that has won him a following with some of the youngest members of the far right. He went on an extended, violent and misogynistic rant, only to turn to the camera and add with a smirk, “Just joking!”

In this case, from the April 22 edition of Fuentes’ show, America First, a viewer wrote in to ask Fuentes for advice on how to “punish” his wife for “getting out of line.”

Fuentes responded, “Why don’t you smack her across the face?”

The rant continued for minutes.

“Why don’t you give her a vicious and forceful backhanded slap with your knuckles right across her face — disrespectfully — and make it hurt?” Fuentes went on. At one point, he pantomimed punching a woman in the face.

He then added, “No, I’m kidding, of course. Just kidding. Just a joke.”

Fuentes was following a playbook popular among domestic extremists: using irony and claims of “just joking” to spread their message, while deflecting criticism.

Researchers who track domestic extremism say the tactic, while not new, has helped several groups mask their danger, avoid consequences and draw younger people into their movements.

Irony as “cover” for extremism

Fuentes is best known for using cartoonish memes to spread white supremacist propaganda. His followers refer to themselves as “Groypers” — a reference to a mutated version of the Pepe the Frogcartoon that was co-opted by the far right. Though Fuentes exists on the fringes of the extreme right, Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., spoke at a political conference that Fuentes hosted, drawing widespread criticism.

But Fuentes has said himself that he uses irony and “jokes” to communicate his message without consequences.

“Irony is so important for giving a lot of cover and plausible deniability for our views,” Fuentes said in a 2020 video. He specifically cited Holocaust denial — or what he termed Holocaust “revision” — as a topic that is too fraught to discuss earnestly, even on the far right.

Far-right extremist Nick Fuentes, seen here in a screenshot from his livestreamed show, has said he uses irony because it provides “plausible deniability” and cover for some of his most incendiary statements.

“When it comes to a lot of these issues, you need a little bit of maneuverability that irony gives you,” Fuentes said.

And, in fact, after Fuentes questioned the death toll from the Holocaust in one rant, he later claimed to The Washington Post that it was just a “lampoon.”

Researchers who track domestic extremism say Fuentes is not the only figure to adopt these tactics, particularly among far-right content creators, who encourage their audiences to follow suit.

“A lot of these content creators will tell the audience explicitly, ‘When people say you’re racist for liking this or thinking this, just laugh at them. They can’t handle it — they’re sensitive babies,’ ” said Jared Holt, a resident fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab.

Concern on campus

In early 2020, Oona Flood started getting more and more worried about a classmate at the University of California, Los Angeles.

The classmate, a 22-year-old named Christian Secor, was already well-known for his self-proclaimed “love” of guns. Around that time, he was also posting racist and antisemitic memes and tweets, attacking immigrants online and publicly supporting Fuentes. Often, Secor adopted the kind of “trolling” style that’s prevalent on the internet.

When one student called Secor out for a tweet that the student found offensive, Secor responded that he was using “post irony.”

“It’s called a joke and the fact that you think that these posts are anything more than that is telling,” added Secor.

Flood, who is Japanese American, said they wanted to speak up.

“I definitely felt that sense of threat,” Flood told NPR recently. “And, like, I really hate to say, [because] it sounds so much like, overblown, ‘snowflake,’ that we’re just overreacting, you know?”

And throughout 2020, students told NPR, UCLA took no action against Secor despite his escalating rhetoric, likely because of free speech concerns. (As a public university, UCLA is legally bound to follow the First Amendment, which protects hate speech.)

In retrospect, Flood’s concern does not seem like an overreaction.

Secor is currently facing federal criminal charges for allegedly storming the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Prosecutors have cited his support for Fuentes in charging documents. Secor has pleaded not guilty.

In addition to Fuentes and his followers, other experts point to the extremist group known as the Proud Boys, which has embraced outlandish rituals. The group’s name was inspired by a song from the Broadway version of Disney’s Aladdin, and one of the group’s initiation rites involves members listing breakfast cereals while they get lightly punched in the stomach. Yet that same group is known for its involvement in violent street fights. At least 25 members of the group are facing federal criminal charges related to the Capitol riot, including, in some cases, conspiracy.

Gavin McInnes, the group’s founder, said in an email that the media, including NPR, “willfully ignores” jokes to paint the group in a more negative light. The Proud Boys are “funny dudes, not Nazis,” McInnes wrote.

But Cassie Miller of the Southern Poverty Law Center said the group’s use of “jokes” is strategic. “It distracts from what their actual political ideology is and from their violence,” said Miller. “Because if you point it out, it’s, like, ‘well, they’re so goofy.’ ”

Similarly, the far-right, pro-Trump conspiracy theorist Alex Jones is often so over the top on his InfoWars broadcasts that his own attorney likened him to a “performance artist” during a court hearing about Jones’ divorce.

The appeal to young people

Humor has always been crucial to building social movements, experts say, because it serves to define the people who are “in on the joke” and those who “just don’t get it.”

And online extremists have adopted irony because it is, in many ways, the native language of the internet.

“I’m speaking the language of other zoomers,” said Fuentes in 2020. “If you’re a young person online, I mean, this is the language of our generation.”

“Every kid naturally wants to push away from their parents,” said Joanna Schroeder, a writer based in California.

Schroeder was troubled when she saw a pro-Hitler meme pop up in one of her kids’ Instagram feeds. Memes that merely pushed boundaries were mixed in alongside outright racist and antisemitic content.

“The problem is that all of this kind of trolling behavior, some of it is harmless and goofy,” said Schroeder, “and others of it is designed to look harmless and goofy but will drive our kids’ social media and YouTube algorithms toward alt-right and even more extremist content.”

Schroeder has since collaborated with the Western States Center to develop a guide for parents who see their kids share online extremist content.

Historic parallels

Violent domestic extremism in America long predates the internet, however, and so does the tactical use of irony.

Historians have documented how the early iterations of the Ku Klux Klan were portrayed by group members and their allies as outlandish, rather than as a dangerous terrorist group. The KKK put on racist minstrel shows and created its own songs.

This drawing from 1868 depicts early members of the Ku Klux Klan. Historians have documented how the group used absurdity to mock its opponents and to try to mask the seriousness of the KKK’s atrocities.

Descriptions of attacks by men in hoods, who had titles like “dragon,” “ghoul,” and “wizard,” were often seen by white Americans as tall tales and ghost stories. Newspapers that supported the KKK played up those aspects of the group and mocked their opponents for supposedly taking the KKK too seriously, said Elaine Frantz, a historian at Kent State University.

Pro-KKK newspaper editors would often “talk jokingly about what the klan has done,” said Frantz, “in order to be deniable.”

And at first it seemed to work. Frantz cites the testimony of a Georgia congressman who tried to play down klan murders and other racist atrocities.

“Sometimes, mischievous boys who want to have some fun go on a masquerading frolic to scare the negroes,” testified U.S. Rep. John H. Christy of Georgia in the early 1870s. Christy insisted that stories of klan attacks were “exaggerated.” In fact, he claimed, the group did not exist at all. Frantz said there were also documented instances in the Reconstruction era of white Northerners dressing up in klan robes as a supposedly boundary-pushing “joke.”

But eventually, Frantz said, the testimony of Black Americans who witnessed these atrocities — published widely by newspaper reporters and in government investigations — so thoroughly demonstrated the KKK’s campaign of lynchings and assassinations that it became undeniable. They pulled back the klan hood to see the terrorism and violence it masked.

Source: How Extremists Weaponize Irony To Spread Hate

Exploring the danger behind Quebec’s anti-mask conspiracy theorists

Of concern:

Late one Tuesday night in May, while most of Quebec was still under lockdown orders, the phone rang in Premier François Legault’s riding office.

In a calm but firm voice, a man left a message saying he regretted voting for Legault, and then warned the premier that his days were numbered.

A few hours later, at 3:16 a.m., the man called back and left another message. This time he was screaming and swearing about Quebec’s top public health official, Dr. Horacio Arruda.

The man said he could get access to a gun and wanted to shoot Arruda.

A member of Legault’s office staff who heard the message alerted Quebec provincial police. Their investigation quickly turned international.

The calls were traced to a 47-year-old trucker from Quebec City, Philippe Côté. A tracking device on his truck indicated Côté was in Texas, not far from a gun shop, when he phoned Legault’s office.

Canadian border guards were placed on alert. When Côté crossed back into Canada on May 16, they spent three hours searching his truck.

The border guards didn’t find any weapons, but they did uncover evidence of a different threat, one that also crosses borders and has the potential for violence.

“Several bits of paper were found on which were written different political conspiracy theories,” reads a description of the incident contained in court documents.

Côté was allowed to re-enter the country, but was arrested by provincial police a short time later. On May 21, he pleaded guilty to two counts of uttering death threats, and will be sentenced later this month.Côté’s lawyer, Olivier Morin, told reporters back in May that his client had been emotionally distraught by the pandemic and the rules he had to follow as a trucker.

“He was mixed up. He wanted answers and he went on conspiracy websites,” Morin said.

Since May, provincial police in Quebec have arrested at least four other people for allegedly making online threats against politicians and other public figures. Police have interviewed several more about their online activities following complaints from the public.

The suspects all have Facebook accounts that promote conspiracy theories about COVID-19, including some that originate from QAnon, a conspiracy movement that began in the U.S. and is now considered a national security threat by the FBI.

Experts who monitor extremist groups in Quebec are concerned about the role conspiracy theories are playing in radicalizing online behaviour, and the possibility it could turn into real-world violence.

“We’ve seen it before, and it was called Alexandre Bissonnette,” said Martin Geoffroy, who heads an anti-radicalization research centre at Cégep Édouard-Montpetit, a public francophone college in Longueuil.Geoffroy was referring to the man who killed six people at a Quebec City mosque in 2017.

“QAnon is ravaging the mainstream population right now,” Geoffroy said. “This is part of the collateral damage of the pandemic.”

Conspiracy theories take root in pandemic

Conspiracy theories shape the way a significant number of Quebecers think about the pandemic.

A poll conducted last month for Montreal’s La Presse newspaper suggested 35 per cent of the population believe mainstream media outlets are spreading false information about COVID-19; 18 per cent believe the pandemic is a tool created by governments to control them.

Those findings echo a survey done in June by the province’s public health research institute (INSPQ), which found 23 per cent of Quebecers believe that COVID-19 was fabricated in a laboratory — a theory rejected by scientists who have studied the genetic code of the virus and determined it was not manipulated.

Among the most popular purveyors of conspiracy theories in the province is Alexis Cossette-Trudel, the son of two convicted FLQ terrorists, who broadcasts his views on social media under the moniker Radio-Québec.His YouTube channel has more than 110,000 subscribers. Analytics show that number has nearly quadrupled since the pandemic hit Quebec in March.

Cossette-Trudel openly expresses support for QAnon, which holds, among other claims, that U.S. President Donald Trump is waging a battle against an international cabal of high-profile liberals who are Satan-worshipping pedophiles operating a child sex-trafficking ring.

In one recent video, Cossette-Trudel said Legault was exaggerating the risks of COVID-19 as part of a global plot to ruin the economy and prevent Trump from being re-elected.

This strain of conspiracy thinking is a visible component in the ongoing anti-mask demonstrations in Quebec.

At a protest last Saturday in Montreal, which attracted several thousand people, there were dozens of posters and T-shirts inspired by QAnon symbols and slogans.

Many participants said they thought the pandemic was “over” or “fake” and that the government was lying about the deadliness of the disease.”At first I thought Radio-Québec was too extreme, but then with time I realized they are right,” said Marie-Josée Bernard, a mother of three who took part in Saturday’s demonstration.

Arrests for alleged threats

Conspiracy theories, though, are not only contributing to anti-mask protests in Quebec, they also appear to be playing a role in violent online behaviour.

  • On July 28, a 26-year-old man was arrested for allegedly making online threats against a journalist. His Facebook page has links to conspiracy videos about the pandemic, and content from QAnon supporters.
  • On July 30, a 27-year-old man was charged with intimidation, obstructing an officer and three counts of uttering threats against Legault, Arruda and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. His Facebook page features links to far-right content, videos by Radio-Québec and various other conspiracy videos about the pandemic.
  • On August 4, a man in his 60s was arrested for allegedly making online threats against both Legault and Arruda. The arrest came shortly after a Facebook account that circulates QAnon conspiracies published Arruda’s home address.
  • On Aug. 7, a 45-year old man from Drummondville was charged with intimidation and two counts of uttering threats, reportedly against Arruda. Along with posting conspiracies about the pandemic, his Facebook page also features racist and anti-Semitic content.

Along with the arrests, Quebec provincial police have also met with several other individuals about threats associated with their social media accounts, at least three of which indicated support for Radio-Québec.

Cossette-Trudel did not respond to a request for comment.

‘We don’t want to wait until it’s too late’

In the U.S., conspiracy theories in general, and those associated with QAnon in particular, have contributed to the radicalization of several people who have committed acts of violence.

recent study published by West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center concluded that the “increasing frequency of criminal or violent acts by QAnon supporters seems possible, even likely” in the months to come.

Experts in Quebec have similar fears that online violence could move offline.

“We’re speaking with police to help with prevention. We don’t want to wait until it’s too late,” said Roxane Martel-Perron, who heads education efforts for Montreal’s Centre for the Prevention of Radicalization Leading to Violence.

The issue, said Martel-Perron, is not that people would question the government’s handling of the pandemic. It’s that the answers they are receiving — about shadowy plots out to control them — can be used to justify extreme acts.

“What we’re worried about is the violent means that might be taken in response to these perceived grievances,” she said.

Quebec politicians have signalled their growing concern, as well.

On Tuesday, the first day of the fall legislative session, independent MNA Catherine Fournier introduced a motion calling on the National Assembly to “recognize that the rise of conspiracy theories in Quebec is alarming and requires concerted action from civil society and public authorities.”

The motion passed unanimously.

Source: Exploring the danger behind Quebec’s anti-mask conspiracy theorists

‘A Perfect Storm’: Extremists Look For Ways To Exploit Coronavirus Pandemic

As they seek to exploit all issues:

For months, authorities say, 36-year-old white supremacist Timothy Wilson amassed bomb-making supplies and talked about attacking a synagogue, a mosque or a majority-black elementary school.

Then the coronavirus hit the United States, giving Wilson a new target — and a deadline. The FBI says Wilson planned to bomb a Missouri hospital with COVID-19 patients inside, and he wanted to do it before Kansas City’s stay-at-home order took effect at midnight on March 24.

“Wilson considered various targets and ultimately settled on an area hospital in an attempt to harm many people, targeting a facility that is providing critical medical care in today’s environment,” the FBI said in a statement.

The attack never happened. Wilson died in a shootout March 24 when federal agents moved to arrest him after a six-month investigation. It was an extraordinary domestic terrorism case, yet it got lost in the nonstop flood of news about the coronavirus pandemic. Extremism researchers warn against overlooking such episodes; they worry the Missouri example is a harbinger as far-right militants look for ways to exploit the crisis.

Already, monitoring groups have recorded a swell of hatred — including cases of physical violence — toward Asian Americans. Dehumanizing memes blame Jews for the virus. Conspiracy theories abound about causes and cures, while encrypted chats talk about spreading infection to people of color. And there is the rise of “Zoombombing” — racists crashing private videoconferences to send hateful images and comments.

“We know from our work in the trenches against white nationalism, antisemitism, and racism that where there is fear, there is someone organizing hate,” Eric Ward, executive director of the Western States Center, said in a statement. The Oregon-based monitoring group recorded about 100 bias-motivated incidents in the two weeks after the alleged Missouri plot was foiled.

Here are some areas extremism trackers are watching as the pandemic unfolds:

Hate crimes

A March FBI assessment predicted “hate crime incidents against Asian Americans likely will surge across the United States, due to the spread of coronavirus disease,” according to an intelligence report obtained by ABC News.

The report, prepared by the FBI’s Houston office and issued to law enforcement agencies nationwide, warned that “a portion of the U.S. public will associate COVID-19 with China and Asian American populations.” That idea has been reinforced by political leaders including President Trump, who has referred to the “Chinese virus” and variations that reference China or Wuhan rather than the clinical terms used by health officials.

Asian Americans say they have experienced hostility, with a dramatic increase in reports of racist incidents. A handful of them were violent attacks that are under investigation as hate crimes. For example, federal authorities say hatred motivated a 19-year-old Texas man who was arrested in a stabbing attack that targeted an Asian-American family at a Sam’s Club. The suspect told authorities that he thought the family was spreading the coronavirus.

Some Asian Americans have expressed fears that violence could increase once stay-at-home orders are lifted. A coalition of advocacy groups has appealed to Congress to denounce racism and xenophobia linked to the pandemic.

“This is a global emergency that should be met with both urgency and also cultural awareness that Covid-19 is not isolated to a single ethnic population,” Jeffrey Caballero, executive director of the Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations, said in a statement. “Xenophobic attacks and discrimination towards Asian American communities are unacceptable.”

Recruiting out-of-school kids

Millions of young Americans are home from school, bored, and scrolling through social media sites for hours every day. To white supremacist recruiters, they’re prey.

Cynthia Miller-Idriss, an American University professor who writes extensively about far-right extremism, said the increase in unsupervised screen time at a time of crisis creates “a perfect storm for recruitment and radicalization.” PERIL, the extremism research lab Miller-Idriss runs on campus, is scrambling for “rapid response” grants to develop an awareness campaign and toolkit for parents and caregivers about the risks of online radicalization in the coronavirus era.

“For extremists, this is an ideal time to exploit youth grievances about their lack of agency, their families’ economic distress, and their intense sense of disorientation, confusion, fear and anxiety,” Miller-Idriss said. Without the usual social support from trusted adults such as coaches and teachers, she said, “youth become easy targets for the far right.”

Anti-government flashpoints

Militias and self-described “constitutionalist” factions, categorized by federal authorities as anti-government extremists, are making noise about stay-at-home orders. Some armed groups reject the measures outright, calling them unconstitutional or overreaching. Another subset is openly defiant, as if daring authorities to use force and turn the issue into a high-stakes standoff.

Over Easter weekend, Ammon Bundy, who led an armed occupation of a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon in 2016, held a service that drew some 200 people to a warehouse in Idaho. Photos showed worshippers, including children, unmasked and sitting in close quarters.

If the perceived constitutional infringements worsen, Bundy has told his supporters, then “physically stand in defense in whatever way we need to.” That kind of provocation could turn ugly quickly, warn monitors of the anti-government movement.

Calls for violence

Extremism monitors are keeping tabs on so-called accelerationists, a subset of the racist right that believes in using violence to sow chaos in order to collapse society and replace it with a white nationalist model.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, an extremism watchdog group, has said, “Accelerationists consider themselves the revolutionary vanguard of the white supremacist movement.” In chat forums, they’ve discussed using the virus to infect people of color, staging attacks on medical centers and other forms of violence they hope will trigger a domino effect leading to the breakdown of society.

“These far-right extremists are arguing that the pandemic, which has thrown into question the federal government’s ability to steer the nation through a crisis, supports their argument that modern society is headed toward collapse,” wrote Cassie Miller of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Miller wrote that, for now, the fallout is already so chaotic that the accelerationists are content to watch, reckoning, “the situation seems to be escalating on its own, requiring no additional involvement on their part.”

Miller cited a white supremacist podcaster who told his followers: “It seems to be going plenty fast, thanks.”

Source: ‘A Perfect Storm’: Extremists Look For Ways To Exploit Coronavirus Pandemic

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