Facing the right-wing extremists

Sunday, September 10, 2017
Romans 13:8-14
Matthew 18:15-20
If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone.
We’re a pretty open and accepting bunch, especially here in the United Church.
But Jesus reminds us in these words that there are things that we MUST speak up about.
And Paul, in Romans, reminds us that everything we do, including speaking up, must be done in love.
Love - not just for the person with whom we speak, but love for all of our neighbours.
We sit here in Canada, in our cultural mosaic, and we watch and we shudder as we see things unfold in the United States.
We cringe when we hear about what happened in Charlottesville, Virginia.
We shake our heads at the words of a president which sound racist and sexist in nature.
We pause as we consider the words on the Statue of Liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” and wonder whether they have any meaning in the face of the rise of the KKK, neo-nazis and the alt-right.
And, often, we feel smug.  Because we’re in Canada, after all.
Recently, an individual at a Jagmeet Singh leadership event for the NDP heckled him about the Moslem Brotherhood and Sharia law - which does not seem to make sense, as he is Sikh and not even Moslem.  But, in any case, it shows the freedom some feel to show, to yell, their beliefs that certainly appear racist.
(Ottawa Citizen - )
Erin Tolley, an associate professor at the University of Toronto, said the incident is a reminder that although Canada promotes multiculturalism, racist views are still prevalent.
"I think one danger in Canada is we become very congratulatory about our multiculturalism ... but to some extent that conceals the number of Canadians that harbour racist sentiments," she said.
Tolley said studies have shown about 30 per cent of Canadians hold racist opinions and while they may not all be vocal about their views, it does influence how they vote.
But surely that is just individuals with no organization like the neo-Nazis and KKK and other fascist organizations.....  
Let us continue to look at Canada:
Travis Patron of Redvers, Sask.   Leader of the  newly-formed right-wing Canadian Nationalist Party (CNP), 
“We oppose globalism, we oppose homosexuality, we oppose transgenderism and we oppose the Islamification of our country.”
The CNP calls for an end to the “psychotic ideology of mass immigration,” according to a video the party posted on Facebook. The party has also expressed concern that those of European ethnicity will become a minority in their own country. The party’s website has a 21-point platform, with other policies listed including the formation of a national citizen militia. 
The website says his party represents “the revival of the Canadian identity” and a return to true ethnic heritage.
Well, we can pick at what he says.  Indeed, we must pick at what he says, take it apart, because then it loses power even more than just dismissing it.
“We oppose globalism, we oppose homosexuality, we oppose transgenderism and we oppose the Islamification of our country.”
This is the alt-Right.  And it is here in Canada.  As people have noted, Trump’s stance is not “USA First”, but “USA only.”  That is the same view as this party espouses - that is what “we oppose globalism” is about.  Ignore the rest of the world.  We just need to look after ourselves.  
Well, such an attitude is a) unrealistic in our highly interconnected modern world; and b) un-Christian.
Opposing homosexuality - We’ve had that discussion.  We have learned that homosexuality as an orientation is a given.  So what does this man want all the homosexuals to do?  Go to the gas chambers as in Nazi Germany?  He won’t say that.  But what does he really want?
Oppose the Islamification of our country.  Fear is a wonderful force to unite people.  Make people afraid of something, declare yourself to be the one with the solution, and Voila, you have lots of power.  The Islamification of our country.  I’m sorry, but I don’t expect that too many of us have had to do anything at all, personally, or change our personal lives in any way, though some of us chose to visit the mosque in Dorion.  Maybe I’m an exception - I purchased Hallal hotdogs and Hallal chicken and made sure that some of our Mr Noodles at home were vegetarian,  and therefore Hallal, because of a friend of Sam’s who comes to our home to visit from time to time.  That is the extent of Islamification.  Is it really such a scary thing?  Oh, yes, the hotdogs were on special for 99 cents for a dozen.
Do not let fear unite us.  Faith, hope and love unite us.
Take his words apart:
He expresses a fear that those of European ethnicity will become a minority in Canada.  Well, not sure that will ever be true.  But, if 100 years from now it is.....  well, our ethnicity is a part of who we are, but, fundamentally, whatever our ethnicity, we are Canadian, so WHAT is the relevance of this thing?  If we are, first, Canadian, then the percentages of various ethnic heritage becomes an interesting and non-threatening ingredient.  
And he speaks of “a return to true ethnic heritage”.  To me, lacking in history somewhat, this smacks of an echo of the quest for an arian race under Hitler.  Really, if we wanted to return to ‘true ethnic heritage’, then all of us of European ancestry would need to move out to some other country so that the original ethnic heritage could dominate once again - the ethnic heritage of our First Nations Peoples.  Instead, his is a muted echo of the “white genocide” fear propagated by such people as Jason Kessler, an extremely racist US blogger. ===»»»»
We have to, we absolutely have to take apart the words of those who threaten the fabric of our nation with their neo-Nazi, alt-right, white supremacist thoughts, especially when they half-hide what they are with words that may sometimes sound good to start, and especially when they try to use fear to unite.
Now, I speak of half-hiding things.
Because sometimes these folk use words that sound right.
For example, they tell us, we want to have a rally for free speech.
Well, of course we want free speech.  We celebrate the fact that we live in a country where there is free speech.   What a wonderful thing.
Except.  Except these folk want free speech to be so free that they can spread hatred of others who are not like them, distrust of others who are not like them, racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia and all the rest.
There is some limitation on free speech in Canada - fortunately.
Sections 318, 319, and 320 of the Criminal Code forbid hate propaganda.[3] "Hate propaganda" means "any writing, sign or visible representation that advocates or promotes genocide, that is the destruction of an identifiable group, or a communication which incites hatred against any identifiable group where such incitement is likely to lead to a breach of the peace - for example, violence, vandalism, arson and so on.
But we have to be alert beyond that.
What the leader of the Canadian Nationalist Party (CNP), says is - probably very carefully - apparently not actionable under the Criminal Code.  
But it is actionable by us who live under the Law of Love.
So - what do we do?
Well, I’m going to quote two writers.  The first, Timothy Snyder, the author of “On Tyranny” gives us advice - advice which falls broadly into four categories::
• Be careful of language because it is a powerful tool for deception and harm, with patriotic-sounding words often being particularly treacherous.
• Forge relationships with people outside your immediate circles of friends and colleagues and learn from them and their experiences.
• Defend institutions including the media and the courts because “institutions do not defend themselves and are often the first to fall to dictators.”
• Take responsibility for what is happening around you and don’t just follow the crowd.
And I would also like to quote  Rachel Gleese, writing in Chatelaine
Change starts with listening and learning, with investigating and owning up to your own biases and ignorance. If you don’t know what Black Lives Matter is all about, go to its American and Toronto chapter’s websites. Read news stories and opinion pieces on issues of race and racism by people of colour, immigrants and people from religious minority groups. Study Canada’s history of residential schools, slavery, the Chinese Exclusion Act and Japanese internment camps.
Have conversations with your family about racism. Confront and challenge racist jokes and slurs. Report hateful content on Twitter and Facebook.
Acting in love means dissecting the words of those who would foster hatred and a whole pack of “isms” and phobias of other people.
Acting in love means speaking up. 
Acting in love means walking in Christ’s footsteps 
with always expanding compassion.