The Canadian roots of white supremacist Richard Spencer

Avery Haines of CityNews interviews white supremacist Spencer and research by Barbara Perry on white suprematism in Canada:

So what does Richard Spencer’s ideal world look like? “I hope that one day all Europeans can be united. That we could revive something like the Roman Empire. Having a state that is for us, that is always going to be for us. Jews have such a state. It’s called Israel. There are many Muslims who are attempting to build such a state, a caliphate. We really need to think of ourselves as a civilization and a people.”

Spencer says it was on a TTC bus, when he lived in Toronto, that he looked around and realized he was the only white person. “It’s not the kind of place I want to live. I don’t want my child or my grandchild to be in a situation where they feel alone, where they feel that everyone around them doesn’t trust them. Being a minority is very difficult. We have recognized this when we look at other minorities, and yet we, as white people, seem to want to become minorities in our own homeland. It’s a very odd thing.”

Profile pieces on Richard Spencer come under criticism for mentioning his looks and his charm. But, like many notorious leaders of the past, he possesses a disarming charisma that can normalize his beliefs.

Barbara Perry has conducted one of the only large-scale research papers on the white supremacist movement in Canada. She says Richard Spencer is the new-and-improved white supremacist, the kind who has a charm that is dangerous. “There is not much difference in the rhetoric or ideologies. The difference is how they present that in a way that appeals to more people and isn’t as frightening as the black-booted neo-Nazis. They carry that same thread of white nationalism, very often anti-Semitism, homophobia. The difference is they are couching that in a much more professional presentation.”

Perry’s research, conducted through the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, has identified more than 100 hate groups operating in Canada, most of them in Quebec and Ontario. But she says the strength of the movement isn’t from the size of the rally, but the online hits. “We saw much more online chatter leading up to and after the election. Newcomers [are asking] what are these people saying, what is the message they are sending, do you they have answers for why my life seems to have gone awry?”

Perry says the legitimizing of the alt-right south of the border has definitely migrated north. “It’s really facing us head-on now. It’s spilled over. It’s a porous border. Especially when we are talking about language and speech.” Perry believes it’s important to shine a light on these views and to talk about them. Her research students are doing workshops in schools right now to educate teens about right wing extremism. “The students are lapping it up. They are appalled and shocked but also very engaged and want to know what can they do.”

Richard Spencer and I Skype for about half an hour. He talks about how he wakes up in the morning feeling not hateful toward others, but hopeful for his “big dream.” He claims not to incite violence and believes it is the immigration policies of the U.S., U.K. and Canada that will lead to “blood and tears.” “I have no problem dealing with individuals,” he says. “But do we really trust each other? Do we really love one another? I am afraid the answer is no.”

I ask him what his mum and dad, who are somewhere in the house getting ready for the Thanksgiving holiday, think about his views. He pauses and says: “They think I’m a bit crazy, just like the rest of the world, right? They are okay with it, in the sense they are not going to reject me. I’m sure they, like the rest of the world, are saying, “Oh, what is Richard doing?”

Source: The Canadian roots of white supremacist Richard Spencer – Macleans.ca

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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