Hate groups are growing in size and number throughout Canada as they are in the United States and the countries of Western and Eastern Europe. The members of the most violent and extreme groups are easy to recognize with their bald or nearly bald heads, camouflage pants and Doc Martin Boots. When these groups parade with nazi flags and bear signs advocating violence against immigrants, their motives are hard to misinterpret. But other equally extreme groups have learned to blend with the mainstream. They meet in libraries and universities under the ruse of "defending" free speech or promoting "responsible" immigration policy and foreign aid reform. These groups claim they are not racist but are just concerned with preserving European culture and "ethnic balance". They are not against "traditional" immigration but are concerned that new immigrants take away jobs, are a drain on the public purse and are responsible for drugs, crime and the destruction of Canadian values. They argue that life-boat Canada is in danger of being "swamped" by "non-traditional" immigrants and their new cultures. Calling themselves Canadian "patriots" or "friends of freedom", they claim they are not fascist but think that Hitler was a hero who received unfair treatment in the media. They claim that the Holocaust is just a "racket" to extract sympathy and money for a sinister world-wide plot to ruin western European culture and religion. They claim they are "not racist" but "just love their own race". They are not racist but "racialists". They are not violent but want to protect themselves and their families from the disease ridden "hordes" of the world.
The rise of the extreme right in Canada can not be blamed on economic restructuring and the decline of the family farm, fishing and forest industries alone. The paranoid and vicious style of political rhetoric has provided a welcoming climate for racism and sometimes violent intolerance. Some mainstream political parties have claimed, in fact, that the recognition of First Nations legal rights is race-based and that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms should be suspended in order that refugee claimants can be more easily deported. Recent news reports referring to unfortunate migrants from China as "boat people" reinforce the racist right depiction of immigrants "swamping" life-boat Canada. In this climate of extreme rhetoric, hate groups look like part of the mainstream, particularly when newspapers parade leaders of racist groups as experts on freedom of expression and immigration policy.
Mistrust, fear and resentment are the weapons used by the racist right to recruit otherwise bright articulate university educated students, among others. It is this new cadre of bright young men and women that racist groups now rely on to promote a "softer image" for public consumption. In private, however, racist groups continue to celebrate Hitler's birthday, sing National Socialist songs, and support racist skinheads. In public they market racist and pro-Hitler books under the guise of freedom of expression and flood the Internet and meeting halls with a stream of paranoid, delusionary, hate filled rhetoric that can only result in serious violence to the targets of their hatred and contempt.
What can be done about well-financed racist and fascist groups that present themselves as part of the mainstream using libraries and other public facilities at tax-payers expense? What can be done when racist skinheads parade in downtown Vancouver, Winnipeg and Toronto yelling "White pride!", "White power!"? What can be done when young white Canadian youth make a business out of selling white power bands like the BC-based Odin's Law or the Ontario-based RAHOWA (the acronym for Racial Holy War), or when the Knights of Ku Klux Klan begin to recruit youth in your town or neighbourhood? What can be done when newspaper columnists argue that 500 racist skinheads in Canada are no cause for alarm and that better hate crime laws are not needed? What can be done when even mainstream newspapers promote anti-semitism and cite racists as "authorities"?
Sun Tzu, a sage writing in China 2,500 years ago, recommended that: "Plan for what is difficult while it is easy, do what is great while it is small. The most difficult things in the world must be done while they are still easy, the greatest things in the world must be done while they are still small. For this reason sages never do what is great, and this is why they can achieve that greatness." While we might not adopt every recommendation made in Sun Tzu's great work, it is as true today as it was then: the key to success in any endeavour is to tackle problems as soon as they emerge. To ignore a problem - to try and appease racist groups by letting them meet in public facilities at tax payers expense and to allow them air time to express their hatred - can only lead to disaster both for leaders, for victims of hate and for society as a whole. Racism and hatred effect everyone. The advice of this manual is to not try and deny racism but, as Helmut-Harry Loewen of the Western Anti-racist Network in Winnipeg Manitoba argues, expose and oppose it where ever and when ever it appears. Tolerating racism and bigotry will lead only to a totalitarian society that denies everyone their human and civil rights.
By exposing and opposing hate groups, their activities are brought to light, community-based coalitions can be formed to support the targets of hatred and the recruitment of youth can be halted. But as much as we would like, there is no blueprint, no "cookie cutter" approach, to effective community organizing. Effective organizing against hate groups must take into account particular situations; what may be successful in a small rural community at one point in time may not be at all successful in a large metropolitan city and vice versa. Nor would a strategy that works well in an urban setting automatically work for aboriginal people on reserve land. How a particular community responds to hate group activity depends on the resources that can be mobilized, the public perception of the problem and how public attention can be focused on the negative consequences of anti-democratic forces for all Canadians.
Contrary to popular opinion and what is usually presented in the mainstream media racism and hate groups did not disappear after the Second World War. Racism may have taken different forms, but virulent hate group activity is still with us and young people are still being recruited to commit violence for a planned "racial holy war". The guidelines for successful organizing against this kind of hatred and contempt presented in the following pages are based on years of exposing and opposing hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan and Aryan Nations in both small communities and large urban cities throughout Canada.
The argument of the manual is not that legal remedies and law enforcement agencies are not needed. The reverse is true: good laws, the political will to use them and effective law enforcement are urgently needed throughout Canada. Nor do we argue that education is useless. What we argue after years of organizing in communities against hatred is that effective long-term successful opposition to hate group activity is based on community driven practical grass-roots initiatives. We have had the good fortune of finding and working with partners in government, human rights, educational institutions and law enforcement who have supported grass-roots initiatives. But there have been far more instances when suspicion and fear have hampered work and Canadian society has suffered. Government, law enforcement agencies and educational institutions need to understand and actively support the initiatives and recommendations presented in the following pages instead of denying the problem or trying to avoid dealing with racism and hate group activity.
REPORT HATE & BIAS ACTIVITY
Victims of racism and hate crime should be encouraged to file a report online at WWW.antiracist.com or fax the particulars to 604.687.7389. Mail can be sent to CAERS at POB 2783, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada V6A 1T3; Regina, Saskatchewan; Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Victims of anti-semitism and hate crime are also encouraged to contact the Bnai B'rith hotline at 1.800 and the BC Hate Crime Team at 604.660.
We encourage everyone to "observe, record and report" hate crime, hate symbols and any other manifestations of hate activity. Use the accompanying from or e-mail the particulars of hate incidents to WWW.antiracist.com
(INCIDENT REPORT FORM HERE )
The manual is divided into six parts. The first debunks a number of powerful myths that have prevented Canadians from understanding the growth of hate groups and the recruitment of youth and from taking action. The second presents guidelines for successful community organizing against hate groups and a summary of a number of important community driven initiatives that were critical in preventing hate. The full case studies of those and other successful community driven initiatives are presented in Organizing Rules previously published by the Canadian Anti-racism Educational and Research Society. The third part presents security guidelines and a checklist of precautions to ensure public safety when organizing. Part four presents a brief examination of how youth are recruited into hate groups and what helps re-integration into society. Part five examines hate group warning signs. Part six examines the legal remedies available for fighting hate in Canada and examples of successful court cases and human rights complaints. Part seven provides important community resources for combating hate: the definition of important concepts contact groups that can provide help to communities and a list of resources for further study.
Readers are cautioned that the information provided in this manual is not meant as legal advice. A lawyer should be consulted on legal matters and community based organization with a proven track record should be consulted about effective non-violent solutions to dealing with hate groups, security issues and hate group recruitment. A list of groups and contacts that can provide help is presented the appendices.