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It’s easy to forget that the firestorm engulfing America over Charlottesville began when a democratically elected local council, after full public debate, voted to remove a Confederate monument.
In response, fully armed Nazis, KKK, other fringe groups and right wing militias descended on the small city in a "Unite the Right" rally. They came in a show of force to confront, defy and overwhelm the democratic process, and to terrify elected representatives everywhere.
Their long parade of torches, their brandished weapons, their chants of "Seig Heil" outside a synagogue and “Blood and Soil” on parade weren’t just theatrical symbols. They were a direct challenge to state authority and the rule of law.
The worst thing about Nazis and the KKK isn't just their white supremacy, but their fierce carnal brutality. The Nazi reign of terror, drenched in the blood of millions, still throws its long shadow from one century to the next.
The so-called "sides" of the Charlottesville confrontation included the democratically elected local government, local law enforcement, local citizens, all under seige by an invasion of extremists and opportunists.
The Rebel's bizarre cameo
It’s in this context that Canadians turn their attention to the home front, and the bizarre cameo played in this affair by The Rebel. The online publication currently plying the rancid sewers of racial hatred has been the darling of the Conservative Party from its inception over two years ago.
Virtually every leadership candidate beat a path to its door, seeking its audience.
On Saturday, The Rebel found itself smack in the midst of the Charlottesville melee, and today its fairweather friends are nowhere to be found.
Turns out that Rebel host Faith Goldy was in Charlottesville, babbling a running commentary supporting the "Unite the Right" movement when her camera caught the Nazi terrorist’s car at the exact moment it struck a crowd of counter-protesters, killing Heather Heyer.
Goldy later retweeted white supremacist Richard Spencer, and praised a statement by him as well thought out, talked about the “JQ” (for Jewish Question). Then she posted a five minute monologue video in which she denied being a "damn neo-Nazi" and defended her views that she is observing a "rise in white racial consciousness." In the video, Goldy also criticized other media outlets for "condemning the Alt Right" and for protecting anti-racist protesters.
Her monologue was retweeted on Tuesday by David Duke, famed former leader of the KKK.
Like Claude Rains in Casablanca, Conservatives were suddenly shocked, shocked to find white supremacy going on inside their clubby little online site of choice.
Too bad we all saw whose bed their boots were under when the lights came on.
The thing is, nothing about the Charlottesville episode is remotely out of character for The Rebel, which has been stoking racial hatred and playing footsie with the most dubious online characters and ludicrous conspiracy sites from the get-go.
No matter how disgusting its content, prominent Conservative politicians and writers still rushed to appear on the platform and at their rallies. Their presence legitimized the worst instincts of the right.
None of them uttered a peep when Ezra Levant hired the radical provocateur Jack Posobiec as The Rebel’s "Washington bureau chief."
This was after Posobiec was caught holding up a RAPE MELANIA sign to frame Trump protesters.
And after he was caught promoting Alex Jones' ludicrous Pizzagate conspiracy theory that Hillary Clinton and her campaign were caught up in a child sex trafficking ring run out of a DC pizzeria. It was all fun and games until an online reader showed up with an assault rifle at the pizza parlour and started shooting it up.
Not a problem for supporters of The Rebel.
And not a peep came from Conservatives when Faith Goldy spent days investigating why the mainstream media was covering up the real story of the Quebec mosque terror attack. To this day the name of a Muslim man remains posted on The Rebel under a cloud of suspicion, but that didn't stop the steady stream of leadership hopefuls eager for an audience.
Likewise, not a peep when Rebel commentator Gavin McInnes, founder of the hard-right Proud Boys, authorized the formation of a military wing to confront the left at protests.
Nothing to say when a group of McInnes’s Proud Boys, off-duty members of the Canadian navy, confronted an Indigenous woman conducting a ceremony at a colonial monument in Halifax.
Or his interviews with Richard Spencer and other white supremacists, or his execrable posting bearing the original title “Ten Things I Hate About Jews” (subsequently re-titled). Or that Rebel personalities became the main draw in Berkeley when Ann Coulter’s appearance was cancelled.
10 Things I Hate About Jews
Or the Gavin McInnes Twitter feed.
Or that, despite McInnes withdrawing early from the Charlottesville "Unite the Right" rally, it was still one of his Proud Boys, Jason Kessler, who organized it in the first place.
Not even founder Ezra Levant appearing with Alex Jones on his infamous conspiracy website Infowars moved the dial a millimetre. I could go on, because the material just doesn't quit.
Former interim Conservative Party leader Rona Ambrose said that people at a December protest organized by Rebel Media were "idiots" for chanting about throwing Alberta Premier Rachel Notley in jail.
But with the exception of Ambrose and a small handful of public figures, notably Chris Alexander, the Conservative mainstream has failed to register any serious objection.
Some other federal Tory MPs have started to distance themselves from the far right website this week. But the only thing that finally shocked them into shunning The Rebel was the sudden risk to their own political hides.
Someone should have told them that the best time to show your honour is before you sell it.