Is the restaurant industry more sexist now? In short, I think so.

Restaurant waitressThe restaurant dress code has made the news once again and it is shocking that in 2016 this is even an issue.

This is a bit of a personal issue for me and here is why. While I was in college, I worked as a server for several years at a few independent and chain restaurants and bars. It’s always going to be murky waters when you couple a largely male dominated industry with alcohol and the general public. Lucky for me, I worked for some really great owners, who had in place a set of practices that protected me (for the most part) against harassment. The difficulty arose when the owners and operators themselves behaved badly.

I had my armour about me at all times. It took me some time to build it up, though. At the beginning, when I was young and somewhat “innocent”, I’d left myself vulnerable in a loose and sexually suggestive culture. As I started to see the way things were, I eventually guarded myself from guests (that’s what we called them) and management. Sadly, I’d learned my lesson the hard way: I’d encountered a few aggressive customers that harassed me at work and I was blamed for leading on the customers, suggesting that by serving them food, I somehow wanted more. I’d even had a couple of ugly encounters with a few regulars (a pseudonym for alcoholics).

So my coping mechanism was to develop a policy that stated I would not date customers. It made it easy to let a customer down without coming across as mean spirited. How could they, anyone,  argue with my policy when it seemed so reasonable and well thought out? Some bars actually had their own policy of staff not fraternizing with the customers or drinking after work. At the time I might have found it harsh, but looking back it might have been a good one.

In the end, what I thought was unfair is that I had to have a policy to begin with. Shouldn’t customers know that just because I was smiling while slinging beer, it didn’t mean that I wanted their phone number? I’d even had my share of being chased around the desk and inappropriate comments from management (sometimes even from woman) about my appearance. It made me feel like shit.

There has been a pervasive and sexist nature in this industry for decades and likely it has failed to get with the times. I suppose it hearkens back to the days of gentlemen clubs with their dimly lit smoky rooms and leather studded wing-back chairs. A place for men to discuss business over cigars and neat scotch. A place unsuitable for women.

My father brought me to one of these clubs back in the seventies. I was allowed to enter in his company, just a peek through the curtain. In the stuffy club dining room, the all male staff, from what I remember, were dressed in neatly pressed black and white uniforms, like a valet or a butler of sorts. The dress code tradition remains.

The one tool I had in my kit of protection was the dress code. It was always reasonable and also flexible. It was usually something like this: Dress shirt, staff shirt or staff t-shirt, jeans or black pants or black dress pants OR skirt OR shorts (for summer), and black non-slip, closed toed shoes or boots and apron and hair up if below the shoulders (for hygiene reasons and never in any suggested style). The host/hostess had a similar dress code.

What this meant is that I could dress for the most part from my closet and for comfort, especially on the days when I was working a 12 hour split-shift. It also meant easy turn-around for the days that I worked back-to-back shifts. But the most important aspect is that I could dress without being sexualized and(in most cases)no different from the male servers. (There were only two instances when it was a set uniform that was different from the men, but in that case they were merely ugly).

So how is it that in our current year, that in service environments like Moxie’s, Earls, Jack Astor’s, Bier Market and Joey Restaurants, they have a dress code that is sexually explicit and demeaning – high heels, low cut dresses, and short skirts? This dress code has nothing to do with doing one’s job and everything about titillating the male clientele. In other words, more bucks.

In a recent case where an employee’s feet were left bleeding after a training session that involved her wearing high heels, as stated in their dress code, the restaurant Joey’s went on the defensive arguing that it wasn’t actually their policy after being called out on social media. Meanwhile, the CBC obtained a copy of the training manual stating that female employees must wear 1” heels but no higher than 3”. This was a complete contradiction to their own statement (and manual) claiming the employee could wear flats or wedges.

Earls did agree to change their dress code policy after a recent CBC’s Marketplace investigation highlighting their sexist practice. Meanwhile, Joey didn’t, even though they are both owned by the Vancouver based Fuller family business. I honestly cannot fathom why the other chain restaurants have not fallen on their own swords, backed down from their outdated policies and apologized already. You can’t tell me that these forced dress codes can possibly be worth the boycotts and bad publicity, not to mention the many human rights complaints they are facing at the moment from former staff. I haven’t even touched on the rumour of their hiring practices, which if they are true are equally egregious and sexist.

A restaurant dystopia. A restaurant culture in the spirit of Mad Men, except without the irony.

 

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Food Insecurity in the North – A Canadian Crisis

Food Insecurity in the North – A Canadian Crisis

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A few months back, while I was working with Syrian newcomers in the GTA, a friendly Inuit man from Gjoa Haven, a small island hamlet around the 69th parallel, introduced himself to our Facebook group. The community group that I volunteered at were giving out warm winter coats and boots to Syrian refugees, while his family was in need too. It’s understandable that he would feel forgotten. The media pays little attention to their situation while all of the news coverage of the refugee crisis, while tremendously desperate and horrible in itself, does not negate the plight that my new friend’s community faces.

With the exception of the odd news item, I admit that I am just as ignorant as the next person when it comes to our northern Inuit population and the challenges that they face on a day-to-day basis. Most of us are just as ignorant about the amount of poverty, sometimes third world in nature, that these people live in despite Canada being one of the richest first nations in the world.

In a short period of time, I learned that everything is very expensive in many of the remote communities in Nunavut, especially fresh food. While the causes of poverty are much more complex than I can state in this brief article, there are two main reasons I can ascertain why the food crisis is the way it is: lack of country food and the enormously high food costs in local co-ops and grocery stores.

I contacted Leesee Papatsie, a mother of 5 from the Iqaluit, Nunavut, to help break it all down for me. About 4 and a half years ago,  she created the Feeding my Family Facebook group to protest the rising costs of food.  She says in an interview, “I wanted to organize a protest on the high cost of food in the north. Earlier before, some people wanted to have a protest on the high cost of food and on rotten food being sold.”

Nunavut

Papatsie says that Facebook is a common tool in the north since social media is a much cheaper option than travel and long-distance phone calls. The Facebook group easily swelled to over 24, 000 members, but Papatsie did encounter some resistance at the onset.

It was hard at first, because in the past, Inuit had to work together to survive in our harsh climate, everyone had to live in harmony, no one going against the grain. In the beginning, we got a lot of ‘this is not the Inuit way, why are you doing this?’

Her motivations were clear: kids in the north go hungry because of the high costs of food and “there are families that may go and eat at another family members because they don’t have an food in the fridge.” Papatsie explains what food insecurity is:

In the north, there are people who cannot afford to buy food, or a meal. We have heard that mothers will not eat meals so their kids can eat. We have heard mothers will feed babies canned carnation milk because they cannot afford to buy powered milk (e.g. Similac) or regular milk.

It is very common for lower income families to go without meals, they may be lucky to have a meal that day. Because food is so expensive, some people will buy what we call ‘stomach fillers’, such as KD, spaghetti, rice.

When you have to pay for 5 dollars for a loaf of bread, between 4 to 5 dollars for frozen Minute Maid concentrated juice, and something like 3 dollars for one box of KD, lower income families cannot afford that.

In most communities there are only 2 stores, and generally they are not a big in-size stores. You get what is brought in and you pay for what they sell it for. We don’t have a lot of choices in the north.

And yet, she tells me that there is no starvation. “Traditionally Inuit have shared their food… share their country food (harvested wildlife like caribou, seal, rabbit, birds, etc)”

Food insecurity isn’t the only issue facing our northern neighbours. Lack of housing and overcrowding are a common issue all over the north. With the high cost of living for rent and utilities, it is not uncommon for 5 to 9 family members to live in one house. She tells me, “Couch surfing is really a nice put words, it is more, is there floor place where I can sleep tonight?”

Because there are no roads leading to the northern communities, supplies and food have to be flown in during the winter, a very costly form of transportation, or brought in by sea barge in the summer.

Papatsie says that one of the biggest misunderstanding that southerners have about the north is that the solution to food insecurity is to hunt like their ancestors. In reality, the issue is much more complex than that because the high cost of food is merely a symptom of the extraordinary cost of living in Nunavut Territory. Hunting is expensive – for fuel and equipment – and not everyone is a trained hunter. Also, the Inuit were once nomadic and followed the animals while most northerners were forced to settle in one community. She says, “To be forced to live in one spot, automatically creates hardship to find wildlife and to find food.”

People of the south, people like me who live in large cities and towns across the country wonder why would these people choose to stay when to our way of thinking, with the high costs of importing food and the high costs of heating their homes and running their vehicles, they just wouldn’t move more south.

Papatsie explains in her own words:

Move? This is our home. We are connected to the land, it is our being. We live in a place where there is no noise; there is, but not like in a city. There is hardly any traffic, no big buildings. And in most places down south, people don’t look at each other and smile. To me that is a hostile environment. We are proud of where we live and who we are. If I had to move to [the] south, I think I would slowly die, eating me away slowly. It must be hard to live in a place where you are not connected to the place, where you don’t have a feeling of a sense of belonging. By choice, this is not an option for me.

Hear CBC Radio DNTO interview with Leesee Papatsie

I have kept in touch with my new friend and his family in Gjoa Haven, chatting often on Facebook and offering some help where I can while the family continue to struggle. My friend has just completed school and is awaiting a mining job that he hopes begins in April. In the mean time, it’s unbearable to me that a family would have to go hungry with empty cupboards and empty tummies. My friend reiterates what Papatsie has told me, that its their way to feed the children first, even if that means that the parents and the grandparents go without food for a day or two.

I believed that I could help in some small way. I wrote a letter to Nunavut’s federal MP Hunter Tattoo and contacted a lawyer in Iqaluit to help my new friend with some legal trouble his father was having. Nothing came of it. I also felt embarrassed at my own arrogance in thinking that I could change things when I know nothing of their way of life. I came to that realisation while I was speaking to a very soft spoken Inuit man, a contact that I made at the co-op in Gjoa Haven. How strange I must have come across, this southerner from Toronto trying to assert herself into their lives. I could feel my loudness, my dominance with him on the phone, a people who have been in Canada for about 800 years.

Inuit in the last 100 hundred years have gone through a huge cultural shock. We completely lived out on the land, now we have a totally different life style. Historically we did not have formal education, did not have formal work Monday to Friday, we did not have internet or TV and this life style, historically is something totally new to us. This is a whole different culture and custom to us Inuit. I do know one thing, Inuit have always been good at adaptations, we are going to find a way to adapt to this lifestyle while keeping our culture.

So despite my feelings on ignorance and arrogance and a little bit of hopelessness at the enormous task, I think I am on the right path when Papatsie offers ideas on how we can help:

Talk about this, to your family, to your friends, let me them know what is happening in the north. Write to your MP about what is happening in the north. What can you do? What do you have as a skill that can be useful to help the north? Use your imagination, creativity and just do what is right in your heart. You can’t go wrong with that.

Papatsie thinks that there is no reasonable reason why some items are so expensive and she would like to see the cost of food in the north come down (although she knows some items will remain expensive) She hopes, “more Inuit speak out, and as I mentioned, traditionally we had to live in harmony and work together to survive. I am seeing this slowly and it is happening. I would like to see other Inuit to speak up when something is not right. I want to see us Inuit, survive in success in this new culture and keeping who we are live.”

 

New Years resolution for 2016: purging the comment section

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Last summer, Canadian expat Barbara Haynes tweeted “#DonaldTrump is like if a Comments Section ran for office.” That pretty much summed up what most of us have thought all along – that the trolls and the radicals are controlling the comment section.

I have been toiling with the idea of abandoning the comment section of late. I’m not sure for me what purpose it really has except for my fellow Canadian’s to exercise their free speech with their right to offend me – something they pretty much did on a daily basis. I already have my own personal outlet on my blog, and I can have meaningful dialogue with others on Twitter and Facebook. So how is the comment section relevant to me any longer?

It also been a popular viewpoint that perhaps the days of comments, the freely open marketplace of absurdity and free flowing thought by mostly anonymous posters, should have an expiration date. Many news outfits have even made the decision, well ahead of a mass exodus on the comment section, and since 2012, killed the comments for good.

Popular Science was one of the first major publications to do son back in 2013. In an on-line statement titled, Why We’re Shutting Off Our Comments, Suzanne LaBarre, online content director of Popular Science explained why (in part):

Comments can be bad for science. That’s why, here at PopularScience.com, we’re shutting them off.

It wasn’t a decision we made lightly. As the news arm of a 141-year-old science and technology magazine, we are as committed to fostering lively, intellectual debate as we are to spreading the word of science far and wide. The problem is when trolls and spambots overwhelm the former, diminishing our ability to do the latter.

That is not to suggest that we are the only website in the world that attracts vexing commenters. Far from it. Nor is it to suggest that all, or even close to all, of our commenters are shrill, boorish specimens of the lower internet phyla. We have many delightful, thought-provoking commenters.

US outlets The Chicago Sun Times, Reuters and Bloomberg quickly followed suit.

Back the Great White North, two Canadian on-line news sites that have recently put a kybosh on comments are the Toronto Star and the Toronto Sun. In September, James Wallace Vice-President, Editorial at the Toronto Sun ran a statement (in part):

…the increasing use of Sun comment boards for anonymous, negative, even malicious personal attacks, albeit by a minority, has led us to conclude our current commenting system is not serving the interests of the majority of our readers.

Therefore we have decided, for the time being, to no longer allow commenting on most online articles until we sort out a better and more accountable way for our readers to interact with us and each other.

And then, in December, The Toronto Star followed suit. Their statement (in part) read:

We have turned off commenting on thestar.com effective Wednesday, Dec. 16 and instead we’ll be promoting and showcasing the comments our readers share across social media and in their letters and emails to our editors.

So on New Years Day, I will have my morning cup of joe while reading the news on-line, feeling just a little bit lighter by shedding the comment section dead weight.

Happy New Year!

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The Hateful Eight is not just a Quentin Tarantino Movie

Hateful-Eight

By Heidi Loney

Last month, I penned an article called The Mainstreaming of White Pride in which I outlined the reasons why I believed that both the Students for Western Civilisation and in turn, Toronto’s white student union are innately racist. At the beginning of December, VICE interviewed well known white supremacist and Alex P. Keaton look-alike Richard Spencer in the piece, We Asked a White Supremacist What He Thinks of Donald Trump (catchy title, huh?). Spencer used doublespeak to disguise his true beliefs:

…he [Spencer] prefers the terms “alternative right” and “identitarianist” over “racist” or “white supremacist.” To be an identitarian, Spencer says, is to say, “Identity is the most important question to answer. Who are we racially? Who are we historically? Who are we in terms of our experience? Who are we in terms of our community?” This is a fancy way of saying that he is a racist.

British professor Matthew Feldman shows why Richard Spencer might choose to use euphemisms in Feldman’s essay, Doublespeak: Radical Right Rhetoric Today:

…separation between “hardcore” fascists and “the public” was influentially posited in Cas Mudde’s landmark study from 2000, The Ideology of the Extreme Right, claiming that such groups typically have a more “moderate ‘frontstage’” intended for public consumption and “a radical ‘back-stage’” targeted at neo-fascist activists…For the radical right will not simply show the same face, with the same jackboots and salutes and manifestos of old. They too know their history.

Radical right

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Richard Spencer: Sears model or white nationalist? You decide.

(Interesting side note: Richard Spencer and fellow white nationalist Matthew Heimbach, while their ideologies are similar, do disagree on something. Heimbach is against gay rights in any any or form, while one of Spencer’s colleague Jack Donovan identifies as an androphile [Alt-right doublespeak for gay], a man who is attracted to other men. Because of this wedge, Heimbach has been forbidden to speak at any functions hosted by Spencer, since Jack Donovan is a regular speaker for the National Policy Institute. See more on this in Queer Fascism: Why white nationalists are trying to drop homophobia)

So we can no longer rely on the symbols of old to know when we are facing hatred: the days of the white hood, swastikas and heavily tattooed Nazi skinheads, while not completely gone, are now replaced by the serene images of ancient western civilization, Odinism, and Viking lore.

Hate looks like the boy next door

Throw away your stereotypical back woods inbreeds and stupid rednecks. The new face of hate looks something like this –  squeaky clean looking boys; the kind you would gladly hire to mow your lawn or have walk your dog. They’re clean cut, intelligent and well educated.  Alan Dutton, the national director of the Canadian Anti-racism Education and Research Society tells me in an interview that,

the stereotype is that white supremacists are just low IQ, working class, alienated men is totally inaccurate. The recruitment of young Canadian men and women into white supremacist groups on campus goes back a long time.

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Manly man and author of “The Way of Men”, androphile Jack Donovan

Along with their education, these young men do have other things in common: They all seem to love JRR Tolkien, Viking and Norse culture and anti-feminist author and former Satanist Jack Donovan. They also differ on some things. But what they all are is hard right, racist extremists – some more radical than others.

But what is surpising is that they do not all follow the same ideology – this group is a jumble of Third Positionists, Indentitarians, Alternative Right (Alt-Right) and Radical Traditionalists. There might even be a bit of Dark Enlightenment or Neoreacationary (NRx) thrown in for good measure (here’s a highly detailed explanation of this anti-democratic movement at Slate Star Codex). There are so many sections and subsections of these movements that it’s enough to make your head spin.

A year ago, Generation Indentity – Canada created their facebook group and website. According to Wikipedia, the Indentitarian movement, of which Richard Spencer identifies, is a largely anti-immigrant youth movement that began in 2002 in France and derived from the French Nouvelle Droite Génération Identitaire. The movement uses the upper case Greek letter Lamda for their symbol, which was used as a shield pattern by the Spartan Army who were greatly outnumbered by the Persians during the Battle of Thermopylae. (for the Hollywood version, you can always watch their adaptation of Frank Miller’s 300)

The logo for Generation Identity – Canada from the groups’ Facebook page.

But what all these movements are in a nutshell, with the exception of Third Positionists (which is a bizarre mashup of right and left) are ultra-hard-right, like further right than even neo-conservative and paleo-conservative movements, or the politics of David Frum and Pat Buchanan respectively. You know, if Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump moved into murkier, shark infested waters –  where his administration puts a full stop on immigration of Muslims and Mexicans – and they gather them all up and put them in camps or even repatriate them back to the “old country”, even if they were born in the U.S. of A.

But this bandy of racists doesn’t just hate on race and culture. They hate on women too (especially feminists) and women’s reproductive rights, science (many anti-vaxers are hard right), homosexuals, and the disabled. Some of them even hate on the 1% and corporations. Even more strange, some in the movement are radical environmentalists and conspiracy theorists with cultural Marxism (I explain this and traditionalism in my article: The Mainstreaming of White Pride), the Cathedral and the New World Order conspiracy.

The Students for Western Civilisation use cultural Marxist theory in their essay: York Needs A White Students Union! He/they write:

The doctrine in which York liberal arts students are programmed is called neo-Marxism or “cultural Marxism”. Neo-Marxism is an illiberal ideology which looks at identity politics in terms of “oppressors” and “the oppressed”. The three broad categories of identity include gender, sexuality and, the category that receives the most attention: ethnicity…

So, in order to address this situation, we propose the formation of a white students’ union. A white students’ union would serve multiple purposes. It would serve to promote and celebrate the culture of Western Civilisation. It would serve as a platform to promote and advance the political interests of Western peoples. And most importantly, it would serve as a venue to explore those perspectives on ethnic politics that our Marxist indoctrinators seek to suppress and ignore, thereby giving to York a taste of that intellectual “diversity” which it purports to value.

But Alan Dutton begs to differ. He tells me in an interview:

To organize a group based on white skin, or European heritage, raises many questions. Black student unions and Chinese [student unions] and others serve a function in a society where there is institutionalized and organized racism. I see little to justify a white union other than as a means of recruitment into extremists groups and ideology. History has shown that white unions have not been the bastions of human rights and freedoms, but have served as yet another basis for advocating far right ideology.

While I cannot confirm the identity of the author of the essay posted on the Students for Western Civilisation homepage, I can confirm that Toronto’s white student union does exist and is not actually a hoax. On the neo-nazi internet forum Stormfront, I discovered a posting by member “the Knights Templar” about Toronto’s white student union in a conversation with “devoid”. In September 2015, “devoid” wrote:

I spoke to this fella who created this group, the guy is a cuck, what a surprise.
I told him how Jews were responsible for DIEversity…. told me I was schizophrenic.
What a disgrace.

To which “The Knights Templar” responded:

I met the man in person (this fella who created this group) and he seems more rational than half the posters on this site. He introduced me to the rest of the group, all highly educated and presentable men. I analyzed the whole group, listened to them speak amongst each other, they definitely don’t seem like cucks to me. Perhaps you shouldn’t divide the movement further, by labeling all those who don’t share the same views as you, as cucks. People like you are the reason why we can’t get anywhere.

This further angers “devoid” who lashes out with:

People like me are the reason why we won’t go anywhere? You cannot be serious, are you actually serious?

Ok cuck, enjoy participating in these circle jerk groups who refuse to point out that Jews are behind white genocide. I am not dividing anything. You’re either pro-white, or you’re a cuck, it’s very simple. This useless group will achieve nothing.

The dude who created this group called me a schizophrenic for trying to point out that cultural marxism is jewish.

What does that tell you?

White people in Canada are completely done for. Why do we have to be delusional about everything? Can’t we just say things for what they are?

Only Eastern European countries have very strong resistance, and they will most likely be the only white countries left in the world. Eastern Europeans have their heads screwed on properly.

Not only are White Canadians completely done for, they’ve been indoctrinated so bad, they believe their OWN genocide is a progressive and wonderful thing!

Look it’s better to fight than do nothing, however, people have to realize when we’ve lost, we’ve lost.

Countries that already are gone: Sweden, Canada
Most likely gone: Britain, Germany, France

Who are these boys?

On a recent blog post Students For Western Civilization: Trolls, But Still Interesting (Part II), the website anti-racist Canada identified a group of radicalized Ontario boys meeting on-line but also in person. Anti-racist Canada identified Ottawa resident and Algonquin College student [redacted], a self-described Third Positionist, as the founder of the on-line Facebook group and VK group (Russia’s own social networking site), the now defunct Fatherland Front. According to anti-racist Canada, “[redacted] in particular, would post pseudo-intellectual comments on matters of ethnicity, antisemitism, and what they believed to be ‘traditional’ society.”

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Nick Prokhorovych, 1996

Ottawa residents Nick Prokhorovych (and fellow Algonquin college student) and Markoslav (Mark) Mikhailovych Makevsky (using Russianized names) appeared to both be regular contributors to the same group. Written when they were teens, here are some Christian fundamentalist/neo-Nazi pearls of wisdom (taken from screengrabs on the Fatherland Front Facebook page):

On gay rights:

Skinheads in Russia are doing the right thing, creating an unsafe environment for faggots, immigrants from 3rd world countries and leftists. Keep up the good work fellas.

Whoever calls himself a Christian and is pro-gay, cannot call himself a Christian. The two do not belong together. Either you are with the devil (pro-gay), or you with God (Christian).

-Nick.

On feminism:

The whole point of feminism is to ensure that the liberal state and the Jew assume the function of the man, in which women only conform to it.

-[redacted]

On immigration:

I must at times remind my nationalist friends that the mass invasion of our lands by third world immigrants is not the essence of the problem. The true cause of our problems is the failure of our leftist policies that have been in place since the Second World War. Third world immigration is a symptom not the cause. We must purge the leftist traitors within our ranks first and foremost.

-Mark

On racism:

When anyone calls me a racist after I point out the negative qualities of black people, liberals start defending them like loyal dogs. I simply say that there is no such thing as a non-racist person. You take any “non-racist” and place him in an all-black neighborhood for a month. Shortly, after a week, he will beg to move back to a white neighborhood after being insulted, mugged, beaten up, or maybe even gang raped. Suddenly, the nigger lover will become a nigger hater in a matter of [a] few days.

-Nick

Hating on special needs students:

So called ‘special needs’ students are put into special education classes with at least 1 qualified educator per every 2 students. These drooling imbeciles who rely upon the state for the sustenance get not only equal but preferential treatment. Lets stop this nonsense and allocate our qualified educators to students who actually have a chance to improve the lot of our folk and nation. It is an insult when good students have 1 teacher per 30 students while the imbeciles have 1 teacher for every 2 students.

-Mark

And finally, some seriously anti-sematic, hateful nonsense:

The Jew is a blessing to the Aryan, for he strengthens us in an attempt to destroy us. He challenges the very fabric of the latter by targeting the Aryan’s weak spots, who responds by improving upon them –thereby speeding up Aryan evolution in a journey to form a new man.

The Jew may or may not realise this, but he is prolonging the means to his own end.

Sometimes cancer cannot be treated but must be removed.

We will not ‘remove’ the general population, for they are destroying themselves. We are to build civilization over their remains.

Multiply Dachau by fourfold. Should do the trick!

-[redacted]

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A selfie of pimply faced Tyler (Marc) Malenfant just coming out of his teen years, February, 2012

According to anti-racist Canada, after removing the Fatherland Front from both Facebook, [redacted] replaced the Fatherland Front on VK with Regnum Arya (loosely translated as noble kingdom) – his VK page described as defenders of the Aryan realm. Anti-racist Canada was able to connect Tyler (Marc) Malenfant, a communications and design student at Ryerson University in Toronto by not only his VK profile but also because of his other on-line posts. Here is but a snippet of Malenfant’s postings on Aljezeera back in April 2015:

As a Christian, I can say the #1 dumbest thing in western society was to adopt secularism. The separation of church and state is a lie. The Jews will use these same lies to destroy Islam in the same way they destroyed Christianity. Any true Muslim will NEVER allow secularism. Secularism=atheism=Satanism.

…you so called “anti-racists”are killing me with your retrdedness [sic] and stupidity 😄 YOUR [sic] ALL JUST CALLING JUSTIN NAMES!!!!! Your [sic] all a bunch of idiots who think your [sic] “inspirational” or “enlightened” when in reality your [sic] all just dumb asses who are repeating what I hear on Shalom TV 24/7 365 Days a year.

And in the comment section of a VICE article, Malenfant indicates that he has ties to white nationalist Matthew Heimbach and the Trad Youth Network:

I’m fully aware of who created this group (mathew heimbach) and im also aware that there are jews in his original orgonization [sic], not anymore though since he started the traditionalist youth network. but if a jew wants to help us out and become one of us then thats [sic] great, but sadly most are liberal marxists who hate whites…. i know this from personal exprience [sic] because my mother’s side of the family is jewish.

im fb friends with mathew heimbach loolll and other members of that group, im simply just surprised that the group has finally moved into Canada

…there’s A LOT more nationalists in toronto than you would think….. this is only the begining [sic]

Patrick Jolin_White Students Union
Patrick Anthony Jolin sporting the same haircut as the boys from the white students union poster.

Marc Malenfant, clearly a zealously hateful young man, is also Facebook friends with both [redacted] and another notable young bigot named Patrick Anthony Jolin. According to Jolin’s twitter profile which featured a profile picture of him aiming his hunting rifle, the Montreal native and University of Guelph student is 21 years old, alt-right, a traditionalist identarian and an EMTP (a Myers-Briggs personality type meaning “visionary”). But mostly, like his “visionary” trait states, he is really just full of himself.

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Screengrab Paddy’s Deleted Twitter Account

You can find some hints into what makes a racist like Jolin tick. It’s not as much from his Tumblr page, which features images of western civilisation, Old-English folklore mixed into a montage of war images and semi-automatic weapons. I actually feel icky looking at it.

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Screengrab of Paddy’s now deleted Tumblr page

What’s more telling (and more than slightly sad) is Jolin’s WordPress blog, from what I can tell he created while still in high school. In a post called, Who am I? (and since Paddy has scrubbed the internet) here is what he wrote in case you missed it:

I aim for success, I aim for the best. Second place is not for me.
I constantly live in a state of self improvement. I focus on the body, the mind, and the soul
I work out, I read, and I exercise my soul, through the art of Drama
I have learned many things in life, and I am proud to say that I am blessed with motivation, passion, and ambition.
However, I was not always like this.
It all started when I met a particular man in the Summer of 2010. Late August.
I have him to thank for my recent lifestyle.

He doesn’t think much of women, happily endorsing the pick-up artist blogpost, The Sixteen Commandments of Poon (slang for vagina) under his online moniker RichterSturmgeist:

Sixteen Commandment of Poon screengrab

It’s interesting to note that Jolin was reading blogs of this ilk, written by white nationalist and men’s rights advocate James C. Weidmann (under the blog name Chateau Heartiste) at the tender young age of 16 or 17. More recently, Jolin posted on the VICE story, A Group of White Supremacists Is Promoting Itself on Canadian University Campuses:

I love the fact the only people opposing this are sheltered, self loathing, white middle classed liberal-progressives who’ve never struggled a day in their lives. Too bad. We’re not going to apologize. The more these radical marxist social justice warriors continue to spit on us, the more conscious the Euro-Canadian identity will become in the minds of our youth. They’re only proving these people correct by reacting with hostility. The logic is really quite simple: Don’t pretend you’re an egalitarian or believe in classical liberal values if you’re going to hypocritically deny a group the right to work to their own collective benefit on the basis of race when you allow it for everybody else.

Rounding out this “Hateful Eight” are fellow racists Andrew Beland of Ottawa and Montrealers Gabriel Alexander Paradis-Knee and Bryan Sturmangriff Mons. Anti racist Canada documented a meeting two years ago in a Facebook screen grab showing the group gathered in real life for a New Years Eve celebration.

Group photo - Dec 31, 2013 (uploaded January 3, 2014) - FB - 1
Some of the members from the “Hateful Eight” New Years Eve, December 31, 2013

And no brood would be complete without a father figure

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A recent Facebook image of William Cooke, December 2015

What connects this group of a dozen or so boys from universities and colleges across the province is Toronto resident William Cooke. Cooke’s Facebook profile states that he is a former assistant professor at the University of Guelph and currently works as an English Glossarian at the Records of Early English Drama at U of T since 1995. However, the REED Project Manager informed me that Cooke has not done any freelance work for over a year.

Cooke was born in England, an active member of the Anglican church, has a fondness for the writings of Conrad Black and appears to be a both a traditionalist and a monarchist. I can’t confirm if this is the man that Patrick Jolin met back in his teens, but it is clear that he is influential in not just his life through his on-line posts, but in the lives of many of these young men.

It is also slightly creepy, that this man who appears to be well into his fifties, is schooling these young lads in the ways of tradition. From some of his posts, he comes across fatherly and kind and careful in what he says. And it’s also clear from Jolin’s post on Cooke’s Facebook wall, that Jolin greatly admires the man:

This is not my argument, but mark my words. When you tangle with this man’s brain, you’re going to lose.

It’s difficult to know if Cooke is just a hard-right conservative (given that he is careful in the wording of his on-line posts) or something more sinister. But despite his Gandalf style, slightly know-it-all qualities, his protégés might be more radical than he is.

In the mean time, we’ll be monitoring.

Quentin Tarantino

Further reading:“`

‘Cuckservative’ – the conservative insult of the month, explained

Editor’s note, January 20th, 2017:

I was contacted by one of the persons mentioned in this piece who asked me to either remove their name from the article or take down the piece entirely because they no longer ascribe to hate and that person was a minor at the time. Given the recent occurrences on school campuses, I believe that this subject is still relevant, Therefore, after removing this piece from my blog, I have redacted their name and reposted the article.

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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.”

Kevin_DeAnna
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)

What’s the BIGGY about HOV?

hov_lanes.jpg.size.xxlarge.promoToronto traffic has always been a bone of contention with commuters, but never more so since the introduction of HOV lanes or high occupancy vehicles lanes. So much so, that it has dominated Toronto airways, news outlets and overshadowed the Pam Am games over the last few weeks.

As someone who doesn’t drive and has taken public transit for the better part of my adult life, I find the whole argument absurd. Seriously, there are plenty of other things in this world to bitch about, and this one seems to be about a 2 out of 10.

But what I have made a few observations from this whole thing:

1. There are a lot of commuters coming in from great distances within the GTA to work in downtown Toronto.
2. Very few drivers carpool.
3. Drivers have a very negative perception of public transit, even if they have actually rarely or never taken it.

According to a recent Metro article, writer Jessica Smith Cross and two compatriots attempted a commute from 1 Yonge Street and up the DVP to Fairview Mall on Sheppard Avenue East. Not surprising, the HOV commute took only 18 minutes while their colleague’s commute as a solo driver took 43 minutes. Smith Cross observed as their car “held a steady clip of 80 to 90 km/h on nearly the entire length of the Don Valley Parkway” that it’s “a stunning reminder of how many people drive to work and back alone”.

My family drove up to Orillia to drop my son off at camp on Monday afternoon. The only spot that we encountered HOV lanes were on the Don Valley Parkway, which we could use since we had four in the car. I was also surprised to find that there were so many solo drivers. But after that stretch, where we entered the 401 and the 400, we were just like any other driver without any special lanes at our disposal. The traffic was pretty clear all the way north, but upon the return trip, the 401 was heavily congested, because, it was rush hour.

HOV2Globe and Mail writer Darren McGee did a two-part comparison between driving to work in downtown Toronto from his home in Clarington, ON and taking the Go train. He titled the first installment HOV horror: One long, frustrating drive on the highway to Pan Am Hell. From the title, it’s obvious that McGee has a penchant for exaggeration either because he is a man-baby or he thinks it makes good copy. One commenter named K. Leicht wrote, ” Nightmare? Really? Nightmare!? What a blissfully joyful life you must live for your long, uneventful commute to be considered a nightmare. Makes a mockery of #firstworldproblems”.

HOVAt any rate, McGee complains that it took him 112 minutes to get to the Globe office during rush hour traffic (regular commute during rush hour takes about 55 to 80 minutes), with most of that time spent on the Don Valley. So, it took him 32 minutes longer on a bad commute day and an hour longer than his best commute time.

Sounds bad I know, but he did this test on the very first day the 3 person HOV lanes were opened – lending to a greater deal of confusion – AND there was an accident on the Don Valley that morning, which added to the lengthier proportion of time spent on that route.

The next day, he compared his previous day drive with a go at GO Transit, in the aptly titled: All aboard GO Transit for Day 2 of the Pan Am Games travel nightmare. He’s not one for concise titles. McGee complains while sitting in the quiet zone of the Go train, that a man with a bad cold and a woman who drinks her coffee too loudly surrounds him, while another woman applies her makeup, he might add, too heavily. The trip takes 108 minutes from door to door, 4 minutes shorter than the previous day’s drive.

Port Credit Guy tells McGee in the comment section, “If you brought your laptop or a book or something (or even the G&M), you wouldn’t even notice the make-up people and coffee slurpers, and you would actually get something done, which you can’t do in the car. Sounds like you need some time management training.” Definitely, man-baby.

Finally, I can’t wrap up this post until I mention that according to the Toronto Sun, our former mayor and current sitting Toronto city councillor Rob Ford has openly disobeyed the traffic laws. Recently recovering from abdominal surgery, he admitted to driving as a single occupant in the HOV lane and bragged about to the media.

Ford said, “Me? I’ve gone on the HOV lanes. Absolutely, I have. I have to get down here sometimes.” He added that, “these HOV lanes are a complete disaster. I know I see people just going down the HOV lanes and saying, ‘OK.’ Basically catch me if they can. There were a lot of people I saw that were by themselves.”

This coming from the same guy who smokes crack cocaine. Our current mayor John Tory has yet to comment. Perhaps he is too classy to even bother.

This Week In Entertainment – Double Standard Edition

double-standards

Two things happened this week in show business that caught my eye. One was a kiss between Madonna and Drake, the other an SNL sketch about statutory rape. You might be wondering why I’d choose to combine both of these stories together in one blog post. Besides living in the world of entertainment, what do they really have in common?

Well they do in fact have a common denominator. They both involve deep seated stereotypes and double standards, enough so that a very large group of fans and non-fans alike, were morally outraged, disgusted, horrified, concerned and the list goes on.

The first stereotype: Old women, like, in their fifties old, can be hot no more. In fact, women in their fifties and beyond are disgusting to the eyes of their youthful successors. It doesn’t matter if they work their asses off keeping in shape, using every possible resource that money can buy at their disposal, all of the best spa treatments and mud wraps and cosmetic enhancements. It doesn’t matter that they have access to wardrobe stylists and makeup artist and colourists that make them look like a million bucks. They are practically grandmothers; they should act their age, show some class, and be positive role models for their children.

Stereotype number two: Young men, teen boys, high school juniors will always be ready, anytime, anyhow, anywhere if a hot teacher makes herself available to him. Even if he doesn’t want it. Even if he has a girlfriend already. And no girl, no teen girl, no young woman, would ever want said advancements from her own young and attractive teacher. She’s only sixteen, and no sixteen year old girl could possibly know what she’s doing if she enters into a sexual relationship with a man that is in a position of power. That’s like, ten years older. Maybe even fifteen. It would always be his fault. He is in a position of authority, you know.

Now as for the two actions. Are they inappropriate? Are they just both completely out of touch? I’m not going to debate that part. Most people feel very strongly one way or the other. I’d like to think that I’m in the, “who cares?” camp.

Take Madonna’s kiss for example. Personally, I believe it was all planned. Perhaps Madonna pushed it farther than it was intended to go, which is why we got a genuine reaction from Drake. First and foremost, these folks are entertainers, a completely different breed of human being. My husband always comments, after both of us worked in entertainment for years, that he could never do what performers do. Because sometimes their job requires them to do things so uncomfortable, so embarrassing, that the average person would never be able to stomach it.

And what is the ultimate reaction to such stunts? Wardrobe malfunctions and make-out sessions, deisgned to get your attention, bring about media hype, create more hash tags and social media re-tweets and like and follows. That’s it. Just a media machine.

So what disturbs me is when John Q. Public uses these opportunities, and they often do through social media, to spread their vile hatred, to behave just as badly if not more so. Since Madonna’s kiss, words to describe Madonna include: nasty, old, elderly, disgusting, vile, putrid, slut, whore, has been, irrelevant, disease riddled, rancid and the list goes on.

Some have called it sexual assault and that if a man had done this, he would be charged. I beg to differ, again, because of the double standard. First of all, it wouldn’t be just some old grandpa doing the kissing. No one as old and nasty as Keith Richards or Steven Tyler (see, I can do it too). It would have to be someone of equal fame and fortune and handsomeness, like a George Clooney, Lenny Kravitz or Jon Bon Jovi, who are all in their fifties. Even Pierce Brosnan, an astoundingly gorgeous 60 year old.

The kissed could be someone like Rhianna, similar in age to Drake, and equal to him in attractiveness and fame. I don’t think the reaction would be the same, at all. Certainly, no one would be saying that they are long past their best-before date, or that they are setting a bad example for their children. No one would be calling them a cougar or a slut or a whore – because to my knowledge, there’s no male equivalent to it. That’s the double standard.

As far as the SNL skit, which to my mind was satire, or parody, I personally don’t take issue with it. I rarely watch the show anymore myself, and I’m certainly not worried that my children might see it since they’re usually in bed before 11:30 pm on a Saturday (it is adult programming folks).

Also, satire is not the same thing as condoning. It is placing the taboo, in this case the rape trial, under the microscope, creating some controversy and getting the conversation going. There is a double standard for boys and stat rape, and I personally believe that’s what the SNL skit is pointing out.

Some critics have said that SNL wouldn’t dare parody a young woman in the same boat. Yet, they parodied the Lolita of Long Island, Amy Fisher, who at 17 took up with Joey Buttafuoco, age 36 and later shot his wife. Not exactly the same thing but you see where I’m going with this.

Again, SNL critics and haters have called the show irrelevant and past its prime, similar sentiments to Madonna – both who have enjoyed success for the last 30 years – but not without their hurdles and controversy.

As a first world problem, I realise this isn’t the greatest challenge facing mankind. Famine, war, genocide, and climate change are far bigger issues of the day. But in the underbelly of society we still hold on to our attitudes of old – sexism and ageism – and I fear that sentiment will linger on.