The Mainstreaming of White Pride

billboard-e1430750241422By Heidi Loney

After two months of silence, the Students for Western Civilisation (SWC), the same group behind the White Students Union on Toronto university campuses, have finally poked their head out. On a blog post dated October 19th, the same day as our federal election, they’ve revealed themselves to the world just a smidgen.

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The SWC white students union poster spotted at one of Toronto’s campuses

Back in mid-September, posters appeared on three Toronto university campuses: Ryerson, York and University of Toronto. With a hint of World War II propaganda, the posters depicted two young white men dressed in naval pea coats with the CN Tower established in the background and the words “White Students Union!” boldly printed in white stenciled font. The posters caused an uproar at the three schools and were torn down just as quickly as they had been put up (without detection, I might add). At the bottom of the poster, a url address identified the group: Students for Western Civilisation (Civilisation spelt with an “s”).

The Students for Western Civilisation (SWC) state on their most recent blog post that, “The response from the media and the universities only further underscores the assumptions upon which our organization stands, and therefore, vindicates our existence.” It seems pretty clear what they stand for and as the laws of free speech dictate, they are certainly entitled to voice their opinion.

But there are still limits to what they the SWC can do on Toronto campuses. They can argue that since our higher educational institutions are more than half funded by both the feds and the province, they should have the rights to form a club (which they never applied for), as distasteful as it may be, and poster wherever they like. But it doesn’t work that way. At York University, the Board of Governors oversees the policies at York while the University Secretariat administers these same policies. University of Toronto and Ryerson have similar policies.

York’s postering guidelines have been in place since 2005. From what I can tell, the Students for Western Civilisation broke two rules: postering when the SWC is not a recognized student club and organization AND postering outdoors on York University property. Furthermore, the policy states the University will remove the posters found outdoors.

In speaking with all representatives from all three campus newspapers, the Ryersonian at Ryerson University, the Varsity at University of Toronto and the Excalibur at York University, no one has an inkling who is behind the organisation. The most dumbfounded of them all is the Excalibur, who the Students for Western Civilisation have called out on their homepage of their website for failing to print, “York Needs A White Students Union!” The group signed off the letter with the phrase, Tentanda Via, York University’s Latin motto that translates as “The Way Must be Tried”.

Alex Kvaskov, Assistant News Editor at the Excalibur was unaware of any such submission but after speaking with his editor said, “I was told a guy came in to the office. I was not told the exact date, perhaps late 2013 or early 2014.” The Excalibur editor-in-chief at the time was Tamara Khandaker, currently an intern with Vice.

Despite the white student’s union posters appearing in September, the group registered the website two years before and their Facebook page (their only point of contact) in February of 2014. On the Students for Western Civilisation website, the persons behind it “are based out of Toronto and is (sic) composed primarily of students and alumni of Toronto universities”. Their recent blogpost confirms that the SWC “was formed at York University in 2014 as a platform for white/European students to challenge those arguments about the inherent illegitimacy of our civilisation’s existence.”

The Students for Western Civilisation website logo of Europa and the Bull

Europa and the Bull

With the site hidden behind a proxy, the Students for Western Civilisation creators have masked their identity, perhaps from fear of discipline from their prospective schools or threats from the public at large. Or maybe they’re just cowards. Like their professionally printed poster design, both the SWC website created in a Wix template and Facebook page look polished, but without the often-used symbols of white pride: Pretty blonde Nordic female, confederate flag and Celtic cross (or even puppies). Their messaging is more subtle. The SWC’s logo is Europa and the Bull, a semi-official symbol as personification of the European region[i]. Their motto is Historiam Facere, when translated from Latin means “To Make History” and their statement of principles are three fold: explore, organize (spelled with a “z”) and promote their cause. It’s clear that the creators are no dummies.

Sticking a feather in their tinfoil hats, the Students for Western Civilisation argue against “cultural Marxism”, an archaic term that the hard right have towed out of obscurity thanks to American paleo-conservatives William Lind and Pat Buchanan. The conspiracy theory that is “cultural Marxism” argues that a small group of mainly Jewish philosophers, originating from the Frankfurt School in Germany, were exiled to this side of the pond after World War II. Proponents of the theory argue that these “Marxists” set out to destroy and dismantle traditional western values by infiltrating our university campuses and places of higher learning. In turn, they are responsible for the growth of feminism, political correctness, multi-culturalism, gay rights, and atheism.

Norwegian mass shooter Anders Breivik twisted the “cultural Marxism” conspiracy theory to meet his own ideology. Breivik “killed young social democrats because he believed that their party was involved in a cultural Marxist plot to undermine traditional European values by means of mass immigration from the Islamic world.”[ii]

Meanwhile, another York University sanctioned student group called “The Order of Traditionalists” arrived on campus in 2012. The small group of students “seeks to expand the presence of the Traditionalist worldview at York University”. While largely inactive since May when the small group of members graduated from York, the group moderator (not sure who that is) continues to post on their Facebook page bizarre comments like, “For those who are here and watching…A Resurrection is coming….” They also recently posted on the SWC Facebook page (and how I came to know them). While it’s difficult to get a grasp on the groups values, based upon their Facebook posting, they likely follow one of two belief systems.

Belief system #1: Traditionalist Catholicism, a version of Catholic Fundamentalism that wants to revert the church to the old ways before Vatican II. (To give you some framework, Mel Gibson, known most recently for his anti-semitic drunken rants, is a Traditionalist Catholic). The Southern Poverty Law Centre states that, “‘radical traditionalist’ Catholics, who may make up the largest single group of serious anti-Semites in America, subscribe to an ideology that is rejected by the Vatican and some 70 million mainstream American Catholics. They also embrace extremely conservative social ideals with respect to women.”[iii]

Belief system #2: Perennialism or followers of the Traditionalist School. To get a better grasp of the concept, I offer historian Mark Sedgwick’s book, Against the Modern World. Sedgewick writes that the founder of the Traditionalist School, French author René Guénon opposes, “not the West but the modern world, and what he hopes for…is to ‘restore to the West to an appropriate traditional civilization’. In the absence of any real—that is, spiritual—foundations, Western civilization was in immediate danger of cataclysmic collapse into barbarism and consequent extinction through assimilation by more soundly based civilizations.”[iv] Guénon would have been horrified to know that his Traditionalist School influenced European fascism. So in other words, taking the words of a philosopher and twisting them for bad.

As the idiom goes, if it looks and quacks like a duck, then it’s probably a duck.

So is that what the Students for Western Civilisation are doing?

When VICE published an article A Group of White Supremacists Is Promoting Itself on Canadian University Campuses, commenters on the Students for Western Civilisation Facebook page suggested that the group should sue VICE for slander over staff writer Manisha Krishnan’s choice of words.

But using the Turing duck test (a test developed by mathematician Alan Turing to determine if the human beings in his life were actually ducks), Krishnan’s observations are accurate. Look no further than their mission statement which is also eerily similar to another U.S. organisation, the now defunct anti-multiculturalism and hard right-wing student group, Youth for Western Civilization. Their motto is “Defending the West on Campus” and their three-fold creed is to organize, educate and train. Heading farther into paleo-conservative territory, their website had stated, “Western Civilization is our civilization and in spite of the continual assault and hatred it endures from the radical left, we wish to revive the West, rather than see our civilization be sent to the graveyard of history.”

Conservative activist Kevin DeAnna, then a student at William & Mary College, solely founded the group back in 2006 and began actively organising in 2008, having local chapters on eight US university campuses.

In Justin Elliott’s Salon interview on YouTube , DeAnna defines Western Civilisation as a “cultural compound of Christian, classical…and folk traditions of Europe.” DeAnna adds that, “We don’t define it [western civilization] as democracy, law; these universal institutions. We say it’s a specific culture that comes from a specific cultural experience.” DeAnna admires the writings of Samuel Huntington, who famously authored the twenty year old essay and later book, The Clash of Civilizations? (Side note #1: The neoconservative John M. Olin Institute for Strategic studies, with whom Huntington was a director, paid for the procurement of this essay. The Institute is an extension of the John M. Olin foundation named for its president of the chemical and munitions company, the Olin Corporation, the same company that dumped shitloads of toxins for decades near Love Canal, Niagara Falls, NY.) In the essay, Huntington concludes that, “The survival of the West depends on Americans reaffirming their Western identity and Westerners accepting their civilization as unique not universal and uniting to renew and preserve it against challenges from non-Western societies”

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The flag of the National Fascist Party featuring the fasces

The Youth for Western Civilization’s black and white logo, depicts the weapon of Frankish leader Charles Martel (The Hammer), who during the Battle of Tours in 732 defeated the large invading Islamic army in Northern France, thus saving Europe from a Muslim invasion. The axe on their logo also closely resembles the fasces, a bundle of rods containing an ax with the blade projecting[v], and the symbol of the National Fascist Party under Mussolini in Italy.

The Southern Poverty Law Centre, an American legal advocacy organization specializing in civil rights and public interest litigation, found that the “campus group has a history of associating with racist leaders, [and] espousing racist beliefs”.[vi] In a 2011 investigation into the Youth for Western Civilization, the SPLC reported that while the right-wing group asserted that they were not racist, their findings concluded:

“The group has allowed a notorious white supremacist organization to raise funds for it; one of its top officials was arrested in a violent racist attack; and its officials have invited racist extremists to speak and in turn addressed hate groups themselves. At least one YWC member has met with and spoken to right-wing extremist groups overseas.”

White Student Union
Matthew Heimbach’s recent Facebook image of taken at Towson University

Former student Matthew Heimbach founded one of seven campus chapters at Towson University near Baltimore, Maryland. In an article for the YWC website, in defending his organisations right to exist, Heimbach hurled insults at the “radical left-wing elements” of the “terrorist front organizations like the Muslim Student Association, ferociously angry gay groups of “tolerance” like the Queer Student Union, and the disease ridden degenerates also known as Occupy Towson”, “left-wing Stalinists”, “campus Marxists”, and the “rabid multicultural organization…the Center for Student Diversity”.

His chapter eventually lost its status back in 2012 when the group “chalked messages that included the words ‘White Pride’ at several locations on campus, including the Student Union and Freedom Square”.[vii] Heimbach didn’t see the problem with the chalking, a long held tradition on the campus, arguing that “White pride is no different than gay pride or black pride.”

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Facebook image of Kevin DeAnna with the Wolves of Vinland

In 2012, Kevin DeAnna announced that he was leaving YWC, perhaps from the accusations of racism (not surprising, considering DeAnna almost started a riot when he invited honorary chairman and Colorado Representative Tom Tancredo and White Nationalist Richard Spencer to speak at YWC chapters) or because he was having difficulty getting new chapters approved.

After taking job opportunities at WorldNetDaily and Leadership Institute, DeAnna converted to Ásatrú, a type of Norse paganism. DeAnna was last seen in 2014 down in Virginia with a “Fight Club” folkish group, the Wolves of Vinland with two more white nationalists, Vinland founder Paul Waggener and men’s rights activist and anti-gay culture author Jack Donovan. Perhaps they are preparing for the eventual clash of civilization. (Side note #2: National Anarchist (?) Kevin O’Keeffe scrubbed Donovan’s Wikipedia page clean on October 19th. All traces of Donovan’s satanic past – he was an ordained priest in the Church of Satan for several years – and associations with white nationalists are gone.)

The “Little Führer” gets more radical

Back at Towson University, Matthew Heimbach started a White Student’s Union, stating in a VICE documentary that, “you’re never going to get anywhere in America waving a swastika banner.” Heimbach believes his white intellect and IQ falls below that of Jews, who he understands are intellectually superior. Heimbach invited racist Jared Taylor to the Towson campus, who I shit you not, lectures on this very subject.

As depicted in the VICE documentary, Heimbach drives his silver Toyota Corolla festooned with the bumper stickers “No Amnesty” and Ron Paul and a 13 star US flag (after having a few beers) before doing campus patrols to protect Towson students from “black on white” campus crime. (This despite Towson University being the safest university in the state of Maryland). After a night of patrols, back at the pub, Heimbach digs into a brownie dessert joking, “See? The big, bad racists can’t be all the bad. We eat ice cream just like everybody else.”

https://crushzion.k0nsl.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Matthew-Heimbach-trad-youth-6-million-holocaust-shoah-jew.jpg
White Nationalist Matthew Heimbach at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC.

The Southern Poverty Law Centre thinks Heimbach is no laughing matter. They currently lists him under their extremist files on their website, stating that he is “considered by many to be the face of a new generation of white nationalists.” This is not surprising, given Heimbach’s most recent trip to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum where he shows his denial of the holocaust. In one photo, while standing under the quote from Elie Wiesel, “For the dead and the living, we must bear witness,” a fully bearded Heimbach grins at the camera while holding up white cardstock with the following statement scribbled in black Sharpie: “6 million? More like 271,301* Int. Red Cross”

Along with a host of homegrown and foreign neo-nazi types like London, Ontario’s Tomasz Winnicki, Heimbach posted a comment on September 22nd on the Students for Western Civilisation Facebook page, “Keep up the fight comrades”. Most recently, hacktivist group Anonymous listed Heimbach as a current member of the KKK.

The Southern Poverty Law Centre also lists white nationalist Richard B. Spencer, a kind of Alex P. Keaton of white supremacy, under their extremist files. Spencer, “advocates for an Aryan homeland for the supposedly dispossessed white race and calls for “peaceful ethnic cleansing” to halt the “deconstruction” of European culture.”[viii] A few weeks after the SWC white student union posters were torn down, Spencer wrote a hasty blogpost on Radix Journal stating “Toronto’s Students For Western Civilization blows away the imposters and the losers. I only wish this was going on while I was living in the city.”

So why the concern north of the Border?

The Missouri based the Council of Conservative Citizens, a rabid hate group who advocates for white nationalism and separatism, inspired Dylann Roof’s alleged shooting at a Charleston church in June 2015, who now faces hate crime charges in the killing of nine African Americans and the wounding of three others. Roof had read “pages upon pages of these brutal black on White murders,” on the Council of Conservative Citizens website. Roof had hoped to start a race war.

Mississauga’s Paul Fromm is the international director of the Council of Conservative Citizens. Fromm is “a disgraced former teacher who was fired from the Ontario College of Teachers in 1997 for links to neo-Nazi groups”[ix]. He earned a master’s degree in English from the University of Toronto in the seventies and co-founded the ultra-conservative, anti-communist on-campus student group Edmund Burke Society (EBS). By their own account, the group had said of their violent clashes with the campus leftists in ‘71, “Our members distinguished themselves as true sons of Western civilization. When attacked, Strike Back! None of the cowardly turn-the-other-cheek rubbish thrown at us by liberal moralists of today. It’s amazing what a beating the reds took.”[x]

In 2014, Canadian professor, York University graduate and SWC mentor Ricardo Duchesne founded the blog Council of European Canadians. While Duchense was born in Puerto Rico and himself an immigrant, he is also a critic of multi-culturalism and political correctness.

See Duchense discussing the conspiracy theory “cultural Marxism” with former U of T journalism student, Shawn Dalton.

On Duchense’s blog dated September 19th, contributor Obimbola Chibuzo (most likely a pseudonym) defends the SWC’s white student union stating, “Ryerson, York, University of Toronto were all created by Whites; in fact, universities are a singularly Western invention and all the disciplines taught at them, physics, chemistry, history, anthropology, biology, sociology, philosophy etc. — are fields of research invented by Whites.”

Chibuzo concludes the article with this: “Once Whites are educated properly to see through the fog of ignorance and anti-White teaching at our universities, they will see that forming White or Eurocanadian unions, groups and associations, even political parties, is consistent with the principles of liberalism, free association and freedom of speech. It is also consistent with our natural disposition to prefer our own ethnic groups and race”. The same article was reblogged a week later on Fromm’s site, the Canadian Association for Free Expression.

In a Global News report, The Canadian connection to the ‘white supremacist’ group that influenced Dylann Roof, Alan Dutton, the national director of the Canadian Anti-racism Education and Research Society, states that he is “critical of how Canada regards right-wing hate groups and the way in which the legal system deals with them.”

“‘We don’t address it in terms of radicalization’… The government has focused on ‘one aspect of domestic terrorism and radicalization of youth’ — activity motivated or inspired by Islamist groups such as ISIS or al-Shabab — and isn’t ‘looking at the broader picture that has been developing for generations.’”

And thanks to Prime Minster Harper (or no thanks) with the repeal of Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act in 2013, the part that covers hate speech, (and fought so hard against by strange bedfellows Ezra Levant and Paul Fromm) there’s little chance that even the most hard-core white supremacist will ever be charged with internet hate crime anytime soon. That is unless our new government restores it to its rightful place.

The lady doth protest too much, me thinks

The Students for Western Civilisation, while arguing on the one hand that they are not a racist group, endorse the motives of white supremacists and neo-nazis by not responding or deleting the posts on their Facebook page. Furthermore, the SWC have borrowed heavily from their southern US counterparts with their chosen name, union, motto and their chosen language while keeping silent in the face of hate groups and individuals supporting their cause.

Further reading:

Students For Western Civilization: Trolls, But Still Interesting (Part I)

White Student Union Facebook Hoax

The New Neo-Nazis: How Matthew Heimbach is Building a Racist Network Across the US

[i] http://www.thenewfederalist.eu/Europa-and-the-bull-The-significance-of-the-myth-in-modern-Europe

[ii] http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jan/19/cultural-marxism-a-uniting-theory-for-rightwingers-who-love-to-play-the-victim

[iii] ttps://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/ideology/radical-traditional-catholicism

[iv] Mark Sedgwick, Against the Modern Age, Pgs. 25, 26 (Oxford University Press, Inc. 2004)

[v] http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/fasces

[vi] https://www.splcenter.org/news/2011/06/16/splc-report-campus-group-has-history-associating-racist-leaders-espousing-racist-beliefs

[vii] http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2012-03-09/news/bs-md-towson-protest-20120309-22_1_student-group-towson-university-student-white-pride

[viii] https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/individual/richard-bertrand-spencer-0

[ix] http://www.canada.com/topics/news/story.html?id=d9f6d50d-6882-4756-80fd-55c57fccef3e

[x] Stanley Barret, Is God a Racist? The Right Wing in Canada, (University of Toronto Press, 1987)

The history of the (almost) short-lived conservative campus rag

Linda Frum
Linda Frum handing out issues of the McGill University Magazine

By Heidi Loney

Comedian Sarah Silverman recently said in speaking of progressives at university, “They lead the revolution. They’re pretty much on the right side of history.”

Student-run campus university papers have long been a tradition – the voice of the socially active progressives – with many of these young journalists carving out successful careers upon graduation. In the mid-eighties, a handful of ultra-conservative student-run newspapers cropped up on Canadian University campuses with funding from a US conservative public policy organization.

How they got into Canada

It was in September of 1983 when the first of seven campus papers, the debut issue of McGill University Magazine would first appear.

Dating back to 1911, McGill University already had an official student run newspaper called the McGill Daily. Like many campus newspapers, it was left-leaning, covering highly politicized issues of the day such as the anti-apartheid movement and the contras in Nicaragua. The paper reflected the ongoing protests on campus.

This was something that McGill third year arts student and young conservative Linda Frum, long before becoming a journalist with the National Post and conservative Canadian Senator, wanted to counter what she referred to as McGill Daily’s “self-indulgent politics”.[i]

Linda Frum is the daughter of the late CBC darling Barbara Frum, former host of The Journal. Linda is sister to David Frum, the former speechwriter for George W. Bush who coined the infamous term “Axis of Evil”. Linda wanted to offer a neoconservative alternative and like many of her contemporaries, Reagan’s and Thatcher’s domestic and foreign policies greatly influenced her.

The result was The McGill University Magazine, with 6500 copies of the first issue launched in September 1983, with Linda at the helm of its masthead. Sometime just after the turn of the last century, the McGill faculty had published the original McGill University Magazine, and this is what got Frum into trouble. Without asking for permission from the University administration and the Board of Governors, Frum had in essence violated copyright of the words “McGill” and “McGill University” as well as making her student paper appear official, which of course it was not. Even with a stern warning from administrators and without fear of some kind of reprimand, Frum plowed ahead with her premier issue.[ii]

It was unclear where the money was coming from to pay for the costs of printing her independent magazine, but Frum said that she’d financed the first issue of the McGill Magazine with “private donors” and just one advertiser, the Bank of Montreal. At the time, all Canadian universities had signed a South African boycott that prevented university-campus newpapers from selling ads to Canadian banks that loaned money to the apartheid nation. When the editors at the University of Toronto student paper the Varsity asked Frum if she knew why other student papers boycotted the Bank of Montreal, Frum answered, “I don’t know and I don’t care.”[iii]

Clearly Frum thought she was above the rules.

It would be over the course of the following term that more of these papers would appear across the country. Carleton University launched the Carleton Canuck while the University of Victoria John Galt, named for the male protagonist in the Ayn Rand libertarian bible, Atlas Shrugged. But it was Queen’s University right-wing paper Libertas and the University of Toronto’s University of Toronto Magazine that caused the most stir at Ontario campuses, and with good reason.

Each magazine, while staffed with its own editorial team and packaged with its own layout and covers, had conspicuously similar editorials. In their own editorial, the Varsity had lamented the need for another “alternative” magazine, considering the school already had a dozen or so college or faculty based papers. The Varsity suspected that the University Of Toronto Magazine, due to its “attractive look and handsome design work” must have also had a private or parental funding source.

Wright had told the Varsity writer Adam Corelli that it was his paper’s staff who’d contributed the $765 toward the $1000 cost of the first issue and denied family financial support, saying that his family didn’t share in his politics. He said that his staff and a friend who started a graphic design firm called Graphically Speaking just after leaving school, had come up with the look of the premier issue “over beer and pizza”.[iv]

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Digital Photo of the U of T Magazine Source: University of Toronto Archives

In February 1984, the first of five issues of the University of Toronto Magazine launched its premier issue, featuring a smartly designed blue tinted front page illustration of a grand staircase. The Toronto Sun‘s Andy Donato had donated the editorial cartoon, also in blue, accenting the back cover after Wright asked Donato for his help.

Regular magazine contributors included the campus’ who’s who on the political right including current federal cabinet minister Tony Clement, at the time a former U of T law student and politically active young Tory. Other writers included Linda Frum and Will Falk. They were fellow Trinity college students and Wright had used Linda’s Frum’s experience with her own paper, the McGill Magazine. Linda’s brother David Frum, who was also a good friend of Nigel Wright, held a meeting at his home. Wright, Clement and other politically conservative students from the Toronto campus attended the meeting to discuss the project.[v]

Other notable contributors included journalist Malcom Gladwell, who at the time was Nigel Wright’s classmate, and Guy Giorno, former Chief of Staff in the PMO of Prime Minister Stephen Harper before Wright succeeded him. Strangely, a letter to the editor from Giorno appeared in the second issue of the University of Toronto Magazine before his own article appears in the third issue. The letter reads:

Dear Sir,

I am fully supportive of the concept behind the University of Toronto Magazine; this campus is definitely in need of an alternative to the Varsity’s left leaning journalism.

Thank you very much,

G.W. Giorno.

It is likely that Wright and company would have had further help from David Frum’s future wife, Danielle Crittenden. Crittenden’s late father, Max Crittenden, had been the editor of the now defunct conservative daily, the Toronto (Evening) Telegram, the same place her late step father Peter Worthington and Andy Donato began their journalism careers. Worthington later became the founding editor of the tabloid paper the Toronto Sun in the same year that the Toronto Telegram owner, John Basset, shut down the paper because of company losses. Upon high school graduation, the Toronto Sun employed Crittenden as a reporter and feature writer until she left 1984.

After only five issues, Wright would leave the paper by year end to work in the Policy and Legislative Unit of the Prime Minister’s office, writing in a letter to readers,” I am comfortable in the knowledge that the Magazine has been left in able hands and in the hope that widespread support for it continues.” Wright handed the reigns of editor to Ingrid van Weert, his fellow law student and frequent U of T Magazine contributor.[vi]

Nigel Wright eventually served as the thirteenth Chief of Staff of the Office of the Prime Minister of Canada, later resigning from his position in 2013 after it came to light that Wright had written a check for just over 90K to cover the cost of Senator Mike Duffy improperly claimed residency expenses.

The money had to come from somewhere

Just as Nigel Wright was taking his new position at the PMO’s office, two student journalists – Albert Nerenberg and Howard Goldenthal – would collaborate on a series of articles in the McGill Daily. Printed over the course of a week in late 1984, Nerenberg and Goldenthal exposed the source of income for three ultra-conservative student-run papers at Canadian universities.

In the eighties, documentary filmmaker Nerenberg was the former editor at the McGill Daily and English Drama Student. Howard Goldenthal was a Ryerson journalism student at Ryerson Polytechnic Institute (now Ryerson University) and a regular Ryersonian contributor. Goldenthal’s investigative report on the Institute of Educational Affairs (IEA) was the first in his career. He would go on to work at CBC’s the Fifth Estate for 16 years and later as producer at The Current.

While Nerenberg reported that the Varsity had suspected US financing but had no proof, Nerenberg and Goldenthal were tipped off when a piece ran in the Carleton Canuck. The interview between McGill student Francis Williers and Carleton University student, Dalton Saunders, also the editor of Libertas, Queen’s University ultra-conservative rag, suggested that the money for the chain of ultra-conservative papers came from the US. Williers later admitted being behind the clone papers and that he’d received a grant for the Libertas from the US organisation, the Institute of Educational Affairs (IEA). It’s also interesting to note that Nigel Wright and McGill Magazine editor Mark Proudman eventually distanced themselves from Williers, Wright saying, “The PCs don’t want to be associated with that kind of trash.”[vii]

After contacting an IEA official, student journalism coordinator Jonathan Cohn, Nerenberg and Goldenthal were able to confirm that a “powerful American organization with ties to the Republican party” was behind the private donor money that financed McGill Magazine, the University of Toronto Magazine and Libertas. They learned that McGill Magazine had earned a $3000 grant from the IEA (that would be about $6200 today). While Nigel Wright admitted to getting grant money from the IEA while editor of the U of T Mag, he wouldn’t reveal the amount. He was probably still pissed that the “official voice” of the U of T was the Varsity, who according to an aside in his own paper, collected $1.25 from each student in 1984, with a 125% increase on the way to restore the Varsity’s financial health.[viii]

In an interview, Wright told Nerenberg and Goldenthal that, “We are happy to have the help of the Americans. They have more experience in setting up alternative papers.”[ix]

Mark Proudman had downplayed the funding from the IEA, telling the Montreal Gazette in November of 1984 that the McGill Daily IEA story was “much ado about nothing” and that McGill’s official student paper was “left of Trotsky.” McGill Daily editor Neremberg had argued that “disclosure of the funding is important because it lets students know ‘these conservative papers – these example of free enterprise – are part of an international network of neo-conservative ideology'”. [x]

In the same Gazette article, IEA president Phillip Marcus confirmed that the IEA had provided start-up grants to the three papers: “$3000 to McGill Magazine, $2700 to University of Toronto Magazine and $2000 to Libertas.”

The “who” behind the funding

What was the most disturbing about the funding was its actual source. The people behind the organisation were powerful, highly connected, and well financed. The Institute for Educational Affairs (later Madison Center for Educational Affairs) was a New York based, non-profit public policy organization founded in 1978 by William E. Simon and Irving Kristol. In the seventies, Director William Simon was Secretary of the Treasury during the Nixon administration. Beginning in 1977, he served as president of the John M. Olin Foundation, one of the IEA’s chief sources of financing. Many consider co-founder and journalist Irving Kristol the godfather of the neoconservative movement.

And the John M. Olin Foundation didn’t just help fund the IEA. In a Varsity journalistic piece authored by University of Toronto graduate student Patricia (Ellie) Perkins, she explored how the Olin Foundation penetrated Canadian higher learning institutes by funding, “a lecture series on ‘American political culture’ which is administered by the Political Science Department.”

Perkins, now a Professor at York University in Environmental and Ecological Economics, was highly critical of the selection committee asking, “Why has the committee to select invitees been limited since its inception 3 years ago to just four of the more than 45 members of the Political Science Faculty?”

Two of the University of Toronto professors on the committee were Clifford Orwin and Thomas Lee Pangle, both followers of Straussian political philosophy. After originally being denied tenure at Yale University for his Straussian beliefs, Thomas Pangle was eventually offered a tenured position at the University of Toronto. Orwin studied under conservative Harvard University professor Harvey Mansfield, also one of the guest speakers. [i]

Harvey Mansfield founded the Madison Center in 1988, merging with the IEA to form the Madison Center for Educational Affairs. When it eventually folded, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute assumed sponsorship for the Collegiate Network in 1995, which like its predecessor provides “editorial and financial outreach to conservative and libertarian student journalists.”[ii] The Collegiate Network names Ann Coulter and Laura Ingraham as prominent alumni.

The Collegiate Network’s American style neoconservative predecessor, the Institute of Educational Affairs, had a history of funding ultra-conservative campus newspapers. Old-right conservative Frank Chodorov and conservative author William F. Buckley, Jr., founded the Intercollegiate Studies Institute back in 1953.

Where we are today

The Ryersonian operates through Ryerson’s School of Journalism by its professors and its staff drawn from a pool of journalism students as part of their course credits. Excalibur, the autonomous newspaper of York University, is exclusively student-run and funded through York’s student union. Journalism grad student Peter Goffin is one of four managing editors at the Ryersonian. In a phone interview he says that his paper has no specific slant and that managing editors, rotated every 4 weeks, must be “on-board” with all editorial decisions. As well, the Ryersonian welcomes input from all viewpoints in both their opinion section and on-line comments. Goffin says that the paper has yet to turn down a single opinion this year and with the exception of some hard right student groups, doesn’t sense any negativity on campus.

The Varsity editor-in-chief Alec Wilson concurs. While the paper has its slant, he says that U of T students can express their different viewpoints through the editorial and paper’s comment section. And like the Ryersonian, Wilson says that they’ve had no complaints.

But in February 2011, a group of conservative university students, feeling ostracized by the political perspectives represented on Montreal’s McGill campus, founded the Prince Arthur Herald, a bilingual neoliberal student publication. Certainly much more economical without printing fees, the publication began with just $150 with an additional $17,000 raised through fundraising; the money paid for the costs of incorporation and web design. As an “alternative” voice to the McGill Daily, McGill, Queens’ and Ottawa University students make up the conservative team of writers and editors. In her weekly column, National Post Barbara Kay refers to the students of the publication as “the [National] Post’s journalistic farm team.”[iii] Barbara Kay is also a member of the Herald’s Board of Governors and a regular contributor to the publication, so perhaps the Herald has become the farm team for the National Post.

The Prince Arthur Herald
Screen grab or the conservative digital publication, the Prince Arthur Herald

As a private off-campus publication, the Prince Arthur Herald has no requirement to reveal their funding sources. What’s unknown is where the $17,000 came from. The Collegiate Network, a Delaware based charity that provides financial support to conservative and libertarian student publications, names the Prince Arthur Herald, the only Canadian student publication on the member publication page of their website.

Jacob Lane, Managing Director of the Collegiate Network for the Intercollegiate Studies Institute was not available for comment.

None of this surprises the McGill Daily editor and political science major, Cem Ertekin, considering the timing. In Quebec, a series of student protest stemmed from an increase of student tuition fees highlighted the issues. Ertekin says that during the 2011/2012 academic year at McGill University, a small group of students created the Mod Squad (short for Moderate Squad), a smallish on-campus group that sought to “empower the McGill student body by restoring the voice of the average student.” The McGill Daily stated that “the group”, who later changed its name to the Moderate Political Action Committee (ModPAC), “formed as a result of a Facebook event that started during the five-day occupation” of the sixth floor of the James Administration building at McGill.

According to a Maclean’s article in what would become known as the 6Party movement, “Students took over the building on Tuesday when about 60 showed up to protest the administration’s decision to not honour a referendum over the continuation of funding for two campus groups.” On the sixth day, the protest ending without incident when police and security asked the occupiers to leave. The ModPAC’s facebook page, website and twitter page petered out.

Unlike the Toronto campus papers, Ertekin states that his paper cannot possibly be non-partisan when in their own statement of principles (SOP) it says: “Within this optic, The Daily recognizes that all events and issues are inherently political, involving relations of social and economic power and privilege. Further, we recognize that power is unevenly distributed, especially – but not solely – on the basis of gender, age, social class, race, sexuality, religion, ability, and cultural identity…To help correct these inequities, to the best of its ability, The Daily should depict and analyze power relations accurately in its coverage.” Ertekin adds that much of what he sees from the right is reactionary to the progressive movement rather than rightist activism in itself.

Ertekin believes that given that the Prince Arthur Herald is merely an on-line outlet, it doesn’t factor in at McGill University.

Okay, so (maybe) nothing to worry about there. But we still have the men’s rights groups and white supremacist groups trying to assert their rights on Canada’s campuses. Most recently, the Students for Western Civilization, a white supremacist group “composed primarily of students and alumni of Toronto universities” claim that Excalibur refused to publish: York Needs A White Students Union! In September, the group whose members are unknown, plastered their “White Student’s Union” posters without detection on York, Ryerson and U of T campuses.

20120613-white
One of the WSU posters discovered on Toronto University Campuses

The Students for a Western Civilization movement created their Facebook early in 2104, attracting a bounty of comments from neo-nazis across North America. No one at Excalibur knows about the submission or who is behind both of these hate groups. For all we know, someone anonymously slipped the letter under the editor’s door. Both the Ryersonian and Excalibur are investigating, hopefully with some results.

[i] Right-wing Olin foundation funding sympathetic lectures, The Varsity Vol 109, No 29 Jan 17, 1985

[ii] Beer, Jeremy; Jeffrey, Nelson; Frohnen, Bruce, American Conservatism: An Encyclopedia, May 20, 2014

[iii] Barbara Kay, Giving conservative students a voice, The National Post, Wednesday September 7th, 2011

[i] The Varsity Volume 104, No 15 October 14, 1983

[ii] McGill 25 Years Later: The McGill University Magazine Controversy: http://www.alumnilive365.mcgill.ca/2009/10/05/mcgill-25-years-later-the-mcgill-university-magazine-controversy/

[iii] The Varsity Vol 104, No 15 October 14, 1983

[iv] The Varsity Vol 104, No 53 February 10, 1984

[v] The Varsity Vol 104, No 43 January 18, 1984

[vi] University of Toronto Magazine Vol 2, No 2 December 1984

[vii] Seven ultra-conservative campus papers surface, The McGill Daily Vol 74, No 31 November 21, 1984

[viii] University of Toronto Magazine, Volume 1, No 2 February 1984

[ix] U.S. Institute behind Canadian Magazine, The McGill Daily Vol 74, No 30 November 19, 1984

[x] McGill students feuding over US grants, The Montreal Gazette, November 29, 1984