“IT IS AN IRON LAW OF HISTORY that those who will be caught up in the great movements determining the course of their own times always fail to recognize them in their early stages.” —Stefan Zweig, The World of Yesterday
The writer of that quote was an exiled Austrian Jew who died in 1942, without ever learning about the Holocaust.
Kellie Leitch, Chris Alexander, and two other Conservative leadership candidates have no such excuse today. As refugees pour from conflict zones in search of sanctuary, and racist hatred dominates world headlines, these candidates have used it all to pry open a treacherous Pandora’s Box of evil.
They've done it for the media and the votes. Mouthing lip-synced bromides about immigration, “values” and freedom of speech, they peddle the universal decoder rings of hate. And they've made a Faustian bargain with Ezra Levant, publisher of Rebel Media, Canada's pre-eminent purveyor of racist hatred and rancid bovine excrement.
Things came to a head on Monday, when The Rebel published a video bearing the headline “10 Things I Hate About Jews.”
For background, read this excellent Walrus piece by Michael Coren, as I won’t link to the original video. The title has since been changed, but not before it was tweeted out by the infamous neo-Nazi Richard Spencer and former KKK grand wizard David Duke.
This, while Jewish community centres receive bomb threats and children are evacuated in Calgary, London, Toronto and Vancouver.
That video might well have been bought and paid for with funds raised at Rebel events featuring Leitch, Alexander and other Conservative Party leadership candidates.
So let’s not dwell on Levant, let’s talk about the Conservative handmaid and horsemen who sped his slithering descent into the sewers of the Internet.
Because the truth is that Levant would be nowhere without his political enablers. For months Leitch and Alexander, both former ministers of the Crown, and MP Brad Trost used their names and influence to legitimize and draw both crowds and media to Rebel sponsored events.
Kellie Leitch financially supports the Rebel with heavy advertising on its pages, as below.
Just as Breitbart needed a politician to embolden the rise of hatred in America, the Rebel needs the succor of political candidates vying for the mantle of Stephen Harper. It needs the oxygen of controversy and national media attention.
It needs a fight.
Without politicians to draw media, legitimacy and money, the Rebel could barely pull off a bake sale.
For instance, when the hapless group tried to organize a national boycott of Tim Hortons over oil pipelines, some 28,000 purportedly signed a petition in support. Yet according to Global TV, only about 15 people came out to their launch protest at a Tim Hortons in Calgary.
But once Donald Trump’s hate-train got under way, Leitch, Levant and Co were all too ready to climb aboard.
It was far too rich a jackpot for third-rate political talents and bottom-feeding websites to ignore. Racial division is political pay dirt and always has been, for anyone low enough to mine it.
The Rebel offered an audience and platform to a lacklustre talent list of Conservative leadership candidates who couldn’t draw much on their own. For their part, the candidates—all present or former MPs and cabinet ministers—brought their presence, lending quasi-official support and affirmation to the cause.
At one event Chris Alexander appeared to lead the crowd in a "Lock Her Up" chant, referring to Alberta premier Rachel Notley. In fairness, he claims he was trying to divert the chant to "Vote Her Out," but at no point did he confront the crowd's hate. Indeed, he smiled when the chant broke out, and waved his finger like a conductor, in time to the rhythm of the mob.
That combination attracted national media coverage, and helped the Rebel grow beyond its tiny base to a voice of influence on the right.
Together they whipped up crowds and created scenes. Media gold, which the Rebel then amplified like a flame-thrower across the country through talk radio, political commentary, and social media.
All of which raised funds and profile for the Rebel and built national name recognition for candidates sorely in need of it.
Today, six respected Canadian immigrant fathers lie dead in the ground, murdered in cold blood by a white supremacist driven to hate in Quebec. Countless others, including pregnant minority women and mothers with young children, have been attacked in the streets, or walk in fear in their own neighbourhoods.
And in a grotesque replay of the Sandy Hook conspiracy theory, the Rebel still posts videos asking whether Quebec City police and mainstream media ignored the possibility that Islamic terrorists were really behind that terrorist attack.
Naturally, the page links to a donation page so readers can fund the Rebel’s deep investigation of this potential cover-up.
Anyone with an ounce of common sense would have been stopped in their tracks by Quebec massacre, and look for ways to calm the waters and reassure anxious Canadians. Certainly any one of dozens of eminent Conservative heavyweights from previous governments would say the same.
No nation is or can be immune from the global trauma of the massive refugee migration.
This is a moment for calm leadership and carefully measured international statecraft. All federal parties of the left or right have always understood this. Opportunism and exploitation of public fear is the cheapest political coin of the realm. It can only lead to disaster, and possibly already has.
Alexander, for his part, tweets that he won’t attend future Rebel events, though it took Monday's shocking anti-Semitism to bring him to that decision. Leitch's ads still appear on the site.
Yet if the Rebel has become a force for unleashing hatred in Canada, you can thank Kellie Leitch, Chris Alexander, and Brad Trost.
They made the Rebel what it is today.