Opinion Column

THE DUEL

Make fascism unacceptable again

By Garth Mullins, The Duel

Logo used on Facebook for Vancouver far right rally venerates the car that killed Heather Heyer in Charlottesville. (Facebook)

Logo used on Facebook for Vancouver far right rally venerates the car that killed Heather Heyer in Charlottesville. (Facebook)

This week's question: Should both the extreme right and extreme left share blame for the Charlottesville tragedy?

Either you’re with the fascists or you’re against them. There’s no middle ground. The right must ask itself which side are they on. From the Reform Party (precursor to Stephen Harper’s Conservatives) to alt-right Rebel Media (Canada’s Breitbart), the right has always sheltered the far right.

A Rebel Media director managed Andrew Scheer’s successful Conservative leadership campaign. Twenty-five per cent of Tory MPs have appeared on the channel. Some Conservatives are now distancing themselves. Rats are departing the sinking Rebel ship.

Charlottesville shone a spotlight on Nazis when one allegedly rammed his car into anti-racist protesters, killing Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others. Hundreds of armed, organized fascists chanted “Jews will not replace us” and “blood and soil” - a policy of Adolf Hitler.

Many Nazis celebrated Heyer’s murderincluding organizers of Saturday’s planned far right rally in Vancouver. Leading fascist propagandist Christopher Cantwell told Vice: “I think it was justified ... a lot more people are going to die before we’re done here.”

Read Brent Stafford's column here.

But U.S. President Donald Trump blamed both fascists and anti-fascists. He appointed white nationalists to senior posts, scapegoated Mexicans and attempted to ban Muslims. Trump’s not just sympathetic, he’s committed.

From the streets to the highest offices, a worldwide far right revolution is brewing. Often, we hear a soft sell in coded language - love of western civilization and free speech or “concern” about immigration and Islam. But uniforms, stiff-armed sieg heils and automatic weapons usually aren’t far off.

We must deny fascists the space to organize, march and speak. Their speech is not debate but incitement to violence and murder. They seek to build what Cantwell called a “white ethnic state.”

On Saturday, the far right tried to rally in Vancouver but 4,000 anti-racist protesters eclipsed them. Same thing in Boston. This is how we win.

Nazis are not new to Vancouver. We’ve fought fascism here for decades, marching against the White Aryan Resistance, the skinhead killers of Surrey Sikh temple caretaker Nirmal Singh Gill, fascist band Odin’s Law, KKK flyers, Nazi attacks on Pride and numerous assaults, including when they lit a man on fire.

Nazis thrive in welcoming conservative spaces. They also thrive when we don’t take notice, allowing their ideas to quietly become normalized. They’ll deny what they are. We need to keep building a broad anti-fascist movement in our unions, communities, schools and places of worship.

As splits fracture the alt-right after Charlottesville, we should put in the crow bar and break that movement apart for good.

Garth Mullins is a broadcaster, activist, writer, musician and trade unionist. He’s at www.garthmullins.com or @garthmullins