By Ian Pattison
As news goes, a story from across the lake this week stands with the most chilling in recent times. The FBI foiled a plot to storm the Michigan state capitol with 200 men, kidnap the governor and put her on trial for “uncontrolled power.”
Thirteen men were arrested with ties to the white supremacist movement that has grown in size and audacity in the four years since Donald Trump became president, signalling that they are his allies. In April, Trump tweeted, “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!” The FBI began its investigation shortly after.
Right-wing groups in the state have been chafing at Democratic Gov. Gretchen Wilson’s restrictions on normal activities to try and stem the coronavirus. The arrests came in the same week that a report from the Department of Homeland Security warned that white supremacy is now the “most persistent and lethal threat in the homeland.” The United States is not alone.
Corey Hurren is the Manitoba resident who drove to Ottawa this summer and, armed to the teeth, smashed his pickup truck through the iron gates of the Rideau Hall grounds where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his family live.
In a two-page manifesto, Hurren raved that Trudeau was turning Canada into a “Communist country.” Foreign Policy magazine called this the “most high-profile action inspired by QAnon.”
Q is an alleged U.S. government insider who appeared on the underground 4chan platform in 2017 with claims that Satanic forces within the Democratic party were attempting to overthrow the Trump administration. Q found an eager audience and the QAnon movement has since drawn a following in Canada, including the military which brings a fear all its own.
Hurren was a member of the Canadian Rangers. Investigations have uncovered numerous soldiers who are members of far-right groups like the Three Percenters and Soldiers of Odin who recently marched with several hundred anti-mask and anti-vaccine advocates and QAnon members in a Vancouver “March for Freedom.”
During his 2018 bid to lead the Conservative Party of Canada, Maxime Bernier shared a video that featured a QAnon poster. He later tweeted about a “future world government” — a favourite Q doctrine — that would “destroy Canada.”
This summer, Conservative MP Kerry-Lynne Findlay referenced a video showing a 2009 conversation between Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland and investor and philanthropist George Soros, seen by QAnon and some mainstream conservatives as the leading sponsor of this future world government.
“The closeness of these two should alarm every Canadian,” Findlay wrote in a post that was retweeted by Pierre Poilievre, the perpetually-angry Conservative finance critic.
This week a multi-faith coalition urged Prime Minister Trudeau to develop a plan to dismantle white supremacist groups across the country following the country’s latest hate crime.
Guilherme "William" Von Neutegem, who has shared online content from a satanic neo-Nazi group, is charged with first-degree murder in the stabbing of Mohamed-Aslim Zafis outside a Toronto mosque last month.
Thunder Bay has known its share of racial violence against its aboriginal population that has forced a reckoning among civic leaders, the police and the community at large.
With so much going on in terms of coronavirus, social and economic disruption and climate emergencies it is easy to set aside concerns that don’t directly touch our own circles. But the longer extremism is allowed to fester on the fringes of society, the closer it is coming to impact the lives of all of us.
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VICE-PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE POST-SCRIPT:
Mike Pence and Kamala Harris went at it Wednesday night in a debate that sounded like one, unlike the Donald Trump shouting match earlier. Both were guilty of ignoring questions and reverting to talking points but there was one key difference this time. While Pence followed his boss’s lead, interrupting and monopolizing the 90 minutes, Harris was much more the respectful moderate one in the room, a fact not lost on voters seeking an alternative to the cacophony in the White House.
In the final analysis, Pence lost ‘bigly’ on two key points:
He insulted every woman watching by ignoring and talking over the urgings of the female moderator to, in effect, shut the hell up. Pence repeatedly ignored the time clock reminders that Susan Page ruefully attempted to impose, as his female opponent looked on with bemusement. As Pence did his best to play the alpha male, Page should have been more forceful. Maybe now, the idea of the moderator controlling the microphone switch will gain favour ahead of the next presidential debate.
Pence stoutly ignored the science on climate change and the growing realization and abject fear of its effects by pushing fossil fuels solely over renewable energy alternatives -- and their enormous opportunity for new jobs -- that Harris and Joe Biden are proposing.
Some other Pence misstatements:
-- Trump has paid tens of millions in “payroll taxes, property taxes.” No mention of income taxes which is what the courts are seeking over evidence he hasn’t paid nearly his share.
-- “You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.” Pardon? The loyal enabler of the biggest liar in modern political history has the nerve to accuse Harris of not being factual?
-- “It was an outdoor event which all of our scientists regularly, routinely advise,” Pence said of the close-knit mostly maskless party to announce the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. In fact, the crowd moved from the Rose Garden inside the White House for cocktails which is probably where most of the dozen-or-so infected attendees, including Trump, got COVID-19.
There’s a meme online that sums up the way many people feel about the current occupants of the White House. It shows a fly speaking into a microphone, mimicking Trumps’ infamous recorded boasts about coming onto women: “I moved on him like a bitch. I didn’t even wait. And when you’re a fly, they let you do it. You can do anything.”
The black house fly that landed on the snow-white head of Mike Pence under the bright studio lights Wednesday would have elicited empathy in almost any other person. But because Pence is such a cheap Trump sycophant, he is the subject of ridicule, a pathetic excuse for a leader whose own political ambitions are deader than doornails on the soiled coattails of the liar-in-chief.
Ian Pattison is retired as editorial page editor of The Chronicle-Journal, but still shares his thoughts on current affairs.