It has been 73 years since the end of the Second World War, a war in which both of my grandfathers volunteered to fight the spread of fascism throughout the world. These men knew they had to stand up to evil in the world and volunteered to lay down their lives for the good of the world and the benefit of the future. They fought to protect us from the rise of fascism, and to bring down the terrifying horrors of Nazism and the German war machine.
Today, we are once again seeing the rise of fascism throughout the world. This is apparent in the election of Donald Trump, in the rise of Marine Le Pen in France, and in the influence of Nigel Farage and the British National Party in the Brexit vote. In conservative movements across the globe, the politics of scapegoating, hatred, and ethnic nationalism are replacing the values of small government, individual freedom, and personal responsibility.
It has become incumbent on the entire political establishment to fight this menace before it corrodes our democracy. We cannot risk the loss of the peace, order, and good government that we as Canadians enjoy, and we cannot allow the sacrifices of our forefathers in the gruesome horrors of war to be forgotten.
Recently, we have seen Jason Kenney and the United Conservative Party denounce far-right groups after they attended party functions. Nomination candidate Lance Coulter was disqualified after defending the group’s attendance and withholding information to the party. In the disqualification letter addressed to Coulter, United Conservative Party executive director Janice Harrington wrote, “(We) strongly disagree with your seemingly sympathetic assessment of Soldiers of Odin and are frankly disturbed with your cavalier attitude taken to a hate group attending a United Conservative Party (UCP) event.”
Alt-right extremist groups, such as the now disbanded Edmonton branch of the Soldiers of Odin and the Proud Boys have appropriated and invaded the politics of the right. They’re an angry mob of young men, self-radicalized on Internet sites, and organized against the traditions and best interests of the mainstream Canadian political establishment.
Groups like the Soldiers of Odin were known to patrol streets, deface local businesses, and create a false narrative of “protection”. On Sept. 11, the group held a candlelight vigil called “Infidels against Islam” outside Commonwealth Stadium, not a city-approved event.
When I consider what my grandfathers were prepared to do to stop the spread of toxic, dangerous, and violent ideology, and think of what they risked so that we could all be free, it is the least I can do to oppose these groups. Especially since, in my opinion, the Edmonton Police Service isn’t doing enough to stop them.
There is no corner of this community where hate groups can be allowed to feel safe. They must be confronted and compelled to leave. This work is dangerous, risky, and challenging, but we must be brave in the face of these degenerates, remembering what our forefathers sacrificed so that we could be free. This community will do everything within our power to stop these street thugs, and we will defend our institutions, neighbours, and public spaces with every resource at our disposal.
These shameless individuals do not take responsibility for their own actions, and blame their failure and ineptitude on powers beyond their control. Scapegoating your neighbour is an easy explanation, devoid of self-examination, personal responsibility, or character integrity.
As General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the 34th president of the United States said, “The search for a scapegoat is the easiest of all hunting expeditions.”
These are weak, fragile men who would rather blame someone else than take responsibility for their own failed lives.
I would encourage everyone of every colour, creed, occupation, and political affiliation to confront fascism wherever they encounter it. Each and every one of us, in our own way, must summon our bravery and confront people spouting fascist ideology and tell them it is unwelcome and unacceptable and that they cannot be allowed to patrol our community with impunity.
Governments around the world are being influenced by fascist ideologies, and every Canadian citizen is responsible to ensure it doesn’t infiltrate ours. The incredible sacrifices of our forefathers at war must not be forgotten, and we must remain eternally vigilant to ensure that the beast they conquered so long ago does not rise again.
We must never forget.
Featured Image: A Soldiers of Odin sign on the McDonald’s on 112 Avenue and 82 Street. | Adam Millie