Photo by: Sasan Rashtipour on Unsplash
The rise of white supremacy is real, and it’s here in Niagara. On Nov. 13, I went to my favourite hiking spot, Beamer Memorial Conservation Area, in my hometown of Grimsby, Ontario. While I was expecting to go on a refreshing hike, I was instead faced with Neo-Nazi propaganda.
Said propaganda was in the form of three large stickers placed on the main entrance sign; one with a swastika-esque symbol and the words “FOLK NATION CULTURE TRADITION HERITAGE FAMILY,” one with a picture of a shocked-looking man with the writing “normies after watching ‘Europe – The Last Battle,” and perhaps most shocking, one with a photo of Hitler giving a speech with the words “our patience has its limits.”
Based on the second sticker, which featured reference to the “film” Europa – The Last Battle, it appears as though the stickers were produced by the white supremacist, Holocaust-denying organization of the same name. Said organization has ties with well-known white supremacists like Ken O’Keefe, who is not only prominently featured in the organization’s propaganda film but is also said to have a close friendship with former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, David Duke.
This example of anti-semitic hate is nothing short of horrific, yet unsurprising. According to B’Nai Brith, Canada’s oldest independent Jewish Human Rights organization, anti-semitic hate has seen a sharp rise over the past few years. In their 2021 audit, B’Nai Brith found a 7.2 per cent rise in antisemitic incidents and a shocking 733 per cent increase in violent anti-semitic crimes over just one year.
Where is this rise in hate coming from? While there’s a plethora of motivators, from Kanye West’s recent anti-semitic comments to Islamic fringe groups, one of the least talked about causes is the serious rise in conspiracy-based far-right radical groups like the one behind the stickers at the conservation area I visited.
Beyond just anti-semitic focuses, these far-right conspiracy groups have been on the rise in Canada for some time, with COVID-19 acting as a catalyst in some respects. The most obvious example that comes to mind here is the “freedom convoy,” whose founder had admitted connections to US-based conspiracy groups like QAnon.
What adds fuel to this fire is Canada’s current conservative party politics. The recently-elected Conservative Party of Canada leader Pierre Poilievre — who has gained much popularity amongst conservative voters across the country — has managed to gain the endorsement of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, the infamous InfoWars star who was recently ordered to pay almost $1 billion in defamation fees over claims that the Sandy Hook shooting didn’t occur.
Despite the proven ties of the truckers convoy to far-right conspiracy groups that promote harmful, racist analogies, Poilievre has continued to show his support for the protestors.
“I support those peaceful and law-abiding protesters, who demonstrated for their lives and livelihoods and liberties, while condemning any individual who broke laws, behaved badly, or blockaded critical infrastructure,” said Poilievre to reporters.
This type of political rhetoric is harmful and responsible for normalizing hate speech in North America. This rhetoric is also reminiscent of Donald J. Trump stating that there were “some very fine people on both sides,” after the “Unite the Right” Charlottesville rally in 2017, insinuating that the white supremacists present at said “rally” were equivalent belligerents to the anti-hate counter-protestors.
Because of this rise in white supremacy and white supremacist supporters, it’s important for Niagara citizens to call out white supremacy and other forms of hate when they see it.
Upon seeing the stickers, I reported the incident to B’Nai Brith through their anti-hate hotline, Jeff Jordan who is the Mayor of Grimsby, and Lianne Vardy who is the councillor for the ward where the conservation area is located. After quick responses from all, a police report was filed and Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority was contacted to ensure that all stickers were fully removed.
Still, there’s only so much an after-the-fact clean up can accomplish when the issue is now trickling down from the rhetoric of federal level politicians and multi-media superstars. It’s a matter of education and nipping white supremacy in the bud when it takes the embryonic form of patently silly conspiracies.
If you sense hate in your community, do something about it.
See anti-semitic propaganda? Contact the B’Nai Brith 24/7 anti-hate hotline and the local authorities.