The results were underwhelming:
The organizers did receive laudatory comments regarding the demonstration, but there was also some level of despondency as well:
In some ways this should cause us some degree of optimism. PEGIDA Canada’s coming out party in Toronto was tiny and dwarfed by a much larger contingency of anti-fascists and progressives who opposed them (thus earning “antifa” the antipathy of PEGIDA Canada from that point on). Their subsequent two “flash” demonstrations have been pathetically small and even by their own accounts opposed by most of the people who came across them. Still, the violent rhetoric of groups like PEGIDA Canada and other similar anti-Muslim, anti-refugee, and anti-government groups is still of concern because of their online support. In the case of PEGIDA Canada at the time of the writing of this article the group has been “liked” by a little over 10,000 individuals:
That number, 10,135, may include people such as ourselves who are monitoring the group as well as some who were merely curious. It may also include individuals who are concerned about the refugee crisis but who don’t actually look at the group page and are unaware of the toxicity of the rhetoric of PEGIDA as well as those who actively support it, though we are perhaps being kind. However, even the in the best case scenario, this number indicates that there are a number of people who may be and already have been radicalized by PEGIDA Canada’s (and like-minded movements) message.
We understand that this term has been used almost exclusively when referring to Muslims radicalized by extremist interpretations of Islam, but it hold true for the individuals who have been fed a steady diet of fear and loathing directed at Muslims, be they Canadian born, immigrants, refugees, or Muslims living outside the country as well. They have been convinced to distrust any contrary information that does not conform to their pre-existing prejudices and those prejudices have been reinforced in an echo chamber that demonizes and dehumanizes Muslims and/or any who doesn’t view Muslims with hatred. Once this happens, anything is justified as evidenced by some of the screen shots we’ve taken from PEGIDA Canada’s Facebook page over the past number of months:
The danger of PEGIDA Canada and like-minded groups is in their ability (inadvertently or consciously) to inspire acts of violence against the targets of their invectives, the proof of which may be found in the reaction by like-minded individuals to the physical attacks on Muslims that have taken place in the country as well as the vandalism that took place in Calgary late last year
For a long time ARC Canada and groups with a similar perspective have been among the few to be sounding the warning about the dangers of these groups towards minorities and the government, however at least some in the msn are now taking this threat much more seriously:
January 21, 2016
We should disclose that we had been in contact with Mr. Patriquin prior to the publication of his article and provided some background information to assist in his efforts. The article is very solid and highlights PEGIDA Canada and another group we started following (Never Again Canada) due to their nature of the rhetoric that is being used.
One of the individuals Patriquin interviewed, Lawrence Witko, is a frequent poster in a number of sites with similar messages. When asked about the violent nature of the posts, Witko responded to Patriquin:
“I hate violence, period. I don’t want to have to be ranting on like this,” Witko says….
Though Lawrence Witko says Trudeau is a dangerous nuisance who should be removed “by any means necessary,” as he has written, he says he is too old to do anything himself. “Let’s put it this way. If [Trudeau’s] plane went down, I would probably be doing the happy dance.” An assassination, he says, “would take balls. I’m too old for that. I’m 65, with a herniated disk and a bum ticker.”
Instead, his plan is to move north to live in the bush, well away from an Internet connection and the governing Liberal elites. He recently applied for a firearms acquisition certificate. A man’s got to eat, after all.
Witko had been a figure of interest to us as well based on his posts, including the following on his own Facebook page:
|Forgetting his habit of superimposing target sites on his subjects, Witko rectifies his error in the next post.|
The day the MacLean’s article was published in which he expressed his antipathy towards violence, Wiko posted this:
Witko also isn’t shy about sharing his views on the politics south of the border:
On the one hand Lawrence Wiko can be seen as a blowhard online tough guy. On the other, he and people like him give those who put the violent rhetoric into action both tacit and overt support, thus contributing to the perpetuation of violence against those dehumanized and demonized:
Martin Patriquin’s article has already resulted in discussion on a few of the Facebook groups we monitor. Some see the article and note that other groups feel the same way they do and thus justifying their hatred:
Others are concerned enough to suggest toning down the violent rhetoric, though others who respond seem to revel in being thought of as bigots:
Never Again Canada, one of the subjects of Patriquin’s article, responded thusly:
So far PEGIDA Canada hasn’t commented on the article which may suggest they don’t yet know about it since they seem to proudly promote any news story in which PEGIDA is mentioned (though those news stories are mostly from Europe).
But on since we’re on the subject of radicalization, we’ll return to the PEGIDA Canada “flash demo” that we began this article with. Among those commenting on the video were individuals who are known neo-Nazis such as Kirk Delmo:
He and others who are familiar to our readers have been much more active on social media of late as they find common cause with the Islamophobes of PEGIDA Canada, but there are others who have come on to our radar as well:
Murray Ardell, above, posted the following in response to the PEGIDA Canada demonstration:
We notice that the administrator responded directly to Ardell and instead of taking a stand against the homophobic language he used, simply states that they will try to encourage more participation…. presumably from other fine and upstanding gents as Ardell. When someone did challenge the language Ardell used, his concerns were summarily dismissed as “politically correct”:
Murray Ardell provides further information about the type of character attracted to PEGIDA Canada’s views on his own page:
I addition to the membership, PEGIDA Canada has begun promoting a website that is overtly racist and antisemitic with no apparent disapproval despite their claims to be supportive of Israel and Jews:
When we took a quick look at the article PEGIDA provided the link to, we noticed some interesting links and comments:
In looking at the other articles, we noticed that they promoted the views of former KKK leader David Duke, American Nazi leader George Lincoln Rockwell, Holocaust deniers, and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion:
So, what we are seeing is already aggrieved group of people furious about the loss of political power and encouraged by folks like Ezra Levant to be even angrier about “the other” now in their midst who they have been convinced are trying to change their country gravitating to groups like PEGIDA Canada. These groups feed them a continual stream of hatred and bile directed towards “the other” who is presented as evil and inhuman.
They are encouraged to do something to “take back their country” from “those people” who may be liberals, moderates, Muslims, refugees, etc. And in this echo chamber when the targets of their invectives are harmed the reaction is not revulsion and self-examination, but celebration and a desire to see more such actions.
Seems like radicalization to us.