Op-ed: #FreedomConvoy and the link between misogyny and white supremacy

Extreme misogyny and white supremacy aren’t just related, they’re entangled – both see increased demands for equality coming at the expense of white privilege

I learned about fascism at my father’s knee. He explained to me that he was not a pacifist because some forces in the world have to be fought. Fascism is one such force. He enlisted to fight in the Second World War because of it. 

He was wounded on a beach in France, earning a Purple Heart from the U.S. Army. My father was not a man who glorified his memories of the war. But he did teach us that like the swastika, the “goose step” march of the Nazis was something to deplore.

Extreme male rage was also a feature of my childhood. In reacting to it, I learned to be vigilant and walk on eggshells around a father who could storm about so as not to provoke his out-of-control behaviour.

And so, as I watched the “Freedom Convoy” roll into Ottawa with Confederate flags and Nazi symbols, I was alarmed and frightened not only as a Jewish person but as a woman. 

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, “the alt-right is a set of far-right ideologies, groups, and individuals whose core belief is that white identity is under attack.”

Their impact is growing. The views they espouse and their actions are reminiscent of the early seeds of fascism in Nazi Germany, an unsafe place for Jews, women, homosexuals, disabled persons and anyone thought to be different.

While I do not normally walk down the street in fear, now they are not far away and have descended on our seat of government.

The alt-right is not just an American or European phenomenon. There are 6,660 right-wing extremist channels, pages, groups and accounts across social media platforms operating in Canada. They use the internet to construct collective identities that are reinforced and mirrored by others of like mind.

There has been an increasing number of hate crimes in Canada, linked to far-right ideologies that demonize Muslims and Jews, as well as immigrants, Indigenous people, women, LGBTQ communities and other minority groups. The alt-right glorifies misogyny, sexism and racism. The linkages between misogyny and the alt-right are worth exploring.

Extreme misogyny and white supremacy aren’t just analogous, they’re entangled. Both see increased demands for equality, whether it’s Black Lives Matter or the #MeToo movement, as coming at the deadly expense of the privileged group — white people or men. 

Violent extremism can’t be addressed without first dealing with the misogyny in our culture that feeds white supremacy. 

The expression of male rage on the streets of Ottawa evoked strong feelings. Like many, I felt a bodily fear watching the protestors. The protestors in Ottawa have not, so far, erupted into violent action. But there have been many examples of aggressive behaviour reported by Ottawa residents.

We must come together to make the alt-right less attractive to people who feel disenfranchised. A new collective politics must be forged if we are to dismantle and effectively thwart the far-right from gaining further ground now that it has grabbed national attention. The first step is naming this insidious ideology wherever it appears. 

Miriam Edelson is a researcher and writer living in Toronto. The Swirl in my Burl, her forthcoming collection of essays, will be published in April 2022.   

@nowtoronto

I learned about fascism at my father’s knee. He explained to me that he was not a pacifist because some forces in the world have to be fought. Fascism is one such force. He enlisted to fight in the Second World War because of it. 

Extreme male rage was also a feature of my childhood. In reacting to it, I learned to be vigilant and walk on eggshells around a father who could storm about so as not to provoke his out-of-control behaviour.

He was wounded on a beach in France, earning a Purple Heart from the U.S. Army. My father was not a man who glorified his memories of the war. But he did teach us that like the swastika, the “goose step” march of the Nazis was something to deplore.

And so, as I watched the “Freedom Convoy” roll into Ottawa with Confederate flags and Nazi symbols, I was alarmed and frightened not only as a Jewish person but as a woman. 

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, “the alt-right is a set of far-right ideologies, groups, and individuals whose core belief is that white identity is under attack.”

Their impact is growing. The views they espouse and their actions are reminiscent of the early seeds of fascism in Nazi Germany, an unsafe place for Jews, women, homosexuals, disabled persons and anyone thought to be different.

While I do not normally walk down the street in fear, now they are not far away and have descended on our seat of government.

The alt-right is not just an American or European phenomenon. There are 6,660 right-wing extremist channels, pages, groups and accounts across social media platforms operating in Canada. They use the internet to construct collective identities that are reinforced and mirrored by others of like mind.

There has been an increasing number of hate crimes in Canada, linked to far-right ideologies that demonize Muslims and Jews, as well as immigrants, Indigenous people, women, LGBTQ communities and other minority groups. The alt-right glorifies misogyny, sexism and racism. The linkages between misogyny and the alt-right are worth exploring.

Extreme misogyny and white supremacy aren’t just analogous, they’re entangled. Both see increased demands for equality, whether it’s Black Lives Matter or the #MeToo movement, as coming at the deadly expense of the privileged group — white people or men. 

Violent extremism can’t be addressed without first dealing with the misogyny in our culture that feeds white supremacy. 

The expression of male rage on the streets of Ottawa evoked strong feelings. Like many, I felt a bodily fear watching the protestors. The protestors in Ottawa have not, so far, erupted into violent action. But there have been many examples of aggressive behaviour reported by Ottawa residents.

We must come together to make the alt-right less attractive to people who feel disenfranchised. A new collective politics must be forged if we are to dismantle and effectively thwart the far-right from gaining further ground now that it has grabbed national attention. The first step is naming this insidious ideology wherever it appears. 

Miriam Edelson is a researcher and writer living in Toronto. The Swirl in my Burl, her forthcoming collection of essays, will be published in April 2022.   

@nowtoronto

Published by medelson64

Miriam Edelson is a neurodivergent social activist, settler, writer and mother living in Toronto, Canada. Her literary non-fiction, personal essays and commentaries have appeared in The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, various literary journals including Dreamers Magazine, Collective Unrest, Writing Disorder, Palabras, Wilderness House Literary Review and on CBC Radio. She was a finalist in the Pen 2 Paper nonfiction contest, the Women on Writing contest, the Fiction Literary Review and Writers Digest contest. Her first book, “My Journey with Jake: A Memoir of Parenting and Disability” was published in April 2000. “Battle Cries: Justice for Kids with Special Needs” appeared in late 2005. She completed a doctorate in 2016 at University of Toronto focused upon Mental Health in the Workplace. “The Swirl in my Burl”, her collection of essays, is forthcoming in April 2022.

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