Photo by Cindy Cui / Photo Editor 

cw: white supremacy, hate speech

Hamilton is the hate capital of Canada. Even if you're not from Hamilton, as a McMaster University student, this is the place where you've chosen to pursue your education. This is where you are preparing for your future. This beautiful, vibrant city that is full of artists and music also has the highest rate of reported hate crimes in the country. 

After the Hamilton Council updated a trespass bylaw in response to the hate seen at City Hall, Councillor Sam Merulla said that the counter-protestors have given a small group of right-wing extremists a platform and that the city’s focus on hate issues have manufactured” this problem. If you’re reading this, councillor, how dare you? How dare you ignore the systemic hatred in our city? 

Council passes updated trespass bylaw related to cracking down on hate activities at #Hamont city hall, etc. A feisty Coun. Sam Merulla suggests city's focus on hate issue is giving "six morons" a national platform. "We have manufactured a problem in this city."

— Matthew Van Dongen (@Mattatthespec) October 23, 2019

For months now, several hate groups, including the so-called Yellow Vests, have been protesting outside City Hall on Saturdays. This far-right hate group has co-opted the name of a French movement protesting rising fuel prices and calling for changes to economic policy and taxation. The Yellow Vests’ activity has attracted other far-right groups, such as the Soldiers of Odin and the Proud Boys

These groups have been appearing more frequently and are much more aggressive towards the counter-protestors. When they first appeared they came in a large group, walking purposefully towards us and through us. I was with fellow counter-protestors that day, yet I felt so frightened that I started sobbing, and I couldn’t stop.

On October 6, the organizers of the Gandhi Peace Festival invited the Yellow Vests to attend the event. People associated with a group that carries signs such as “Make Canada Holy and Righteous Again” or “No Immigration, Legal or Illegal” were invited to take part in a festival that is supposed to celebrate peace and acceptance. They even spoke with the mayor. While I recognize that the invitation was intended to foster a sense of community, it did just the opposite. This invitation made it seem like the Yellow Vests were accepted by the community, giving them an opportunity to validate their harmful rhetoric and portray counter-protestors’ efforts as unreasonable and violent. 

This invitation made it seem like the Yellow Vests were accepted by the community, giving them an opportunity to validate their harmful rhetoric and portray counter-protestors’ efforts as unreasonable and violent. 

The Yellow Vest protests are not an isolated incident. This violence and hatred spreads through our city like a virus — but instead of addressing this hate, some city councillors have remained silent on the issue or in the case of Merulla, have blamed the people who are trying to right this wrong.

It hurts. It hurts to see these hate groups spewing their harmful rhetoric every week. But I am white, cisgender and middle-class, and it is my responsibility to stand up for the people who aren’t safe or comfortable being there. It is my privilege that I can stand in the City Hall forecourt on Saturday afternoons to counter-protest. But even with all that, I feel apprehensive. I am frightened. When the midday sun is shining down on me in the heart of the city where I have lived my whole life, I feel afraid. And that is unacceptable.

When the midday sun is shining down on me in the heart of the city where I have lived my whole life, I feel afraid. And that is unacceptable.

It hurts to see hundreds of people filling the streets for a climate strike, while only around 20 people appear regularly to protest against the Yellow Vests on weekends. Yes, striking for the climate is a vital cause and it fills me with joy to see revolutionary action on such a scale, but I can’t help but feel bitter. Where are those numbers every week outside of City Hall? Where are those numbers when counter-protestors are arrested?

This article is by no means blaming people for not attending the counter protests. It is not safe for everyone to attend and I know that. But the lack of knowledge about what's happening in this city is not okay. Nothing will change if we don’t change. Please, my heart can’t take this anymore.

And to the counter-protesters: you have my wordless gratitude. Thank you for persevering. Thank you.

 

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Sun News has the potential to stir up the political malaise that has stricken this country.

Ryan Mallough

Silhouette Staff

 

We feared it when we heard it was coming. It was like the water shaking in the glass as the T-Rex approaches in Jurassic Park. “Fox News North”. Hide your kids, hide your wife. The crazy conservatives were coming.

While a successful letter campaign to the CRTC ensured that the network would not be recognized as a category one and made mandatory on the airwaves like other news stations are, on April 18, 2011 a bikini-clad Krista Erickson welcomed Canada to the Sun News Network.

The network has stumbled out of the gate. With Krista Erickson’s mal-informed tongue-lashing of interpretive dancer Margie Gillis, hosting a fake citizenship reaffirmation ceremony, and accusing the CBC of using public funding to secure pornography, Sun News has made almost as much news almost as it has reported. While full of conservative rhetoric, Sun News has so far failed to capture an audience like their American compatriots Fox News. But it can, and while those on the left may fear it, it may actually be one of the best things that can happen.

Many people, especially those outside the United States or north of the Mason-Dixon Line, like to scoff at the Fox News Network’s brand of “infotainment” and relish in polls that demonstrate Fox News viewers are among the least informed persons in the country when it comes to news and current events. But what is often missed by the upturned and often snobbish liberal viewpoint is the very real and very influential presence and contribution that Fox provides to America’s political dialogue. The Tea Party is the beacon of this contribution.

While at its heart it is a grassroots enterprise made up of people simply fed up with their government, the Tea Party would have remained just another fringe movement were it not for Fox News, who became the Party’s early champion, covering the Party’s growth from its small beginnings in February 2009, to today where the Tea Party has its own recognized candidates within the Republican Party, its own caucus, and forms its own response to the State of the Union address. It is highly unlikely that any of this would have been possible were it not for the platform that the Fox News Network provided the movement, particularly by providing daily air time to Glenn Beck.

Beck, who has since left Fox, was the poster boy for leftist exasperation, Jon Stewart’s cannon fodder and what liberals point to as everything that is wrong with conservative America. He was one of the brashest and most brazen of Tea Party supporters, and it is hard to deny that much of what he said was hyper-charged rhetoric, frequently full of falsehoods, and at times bordered on insanity; however, Beck breathed fire into the movement and helped to organize the Tea Party (something the left-wing Occupy movement is sorely lacking) and solidify their national status.

The movement is not only here to stay, but it is getting stronger.

The Tea Party currently has 62 members of the House of Representatives and 4 senators making up its caucus, and has a very realistic chance of splitting the Republican Party in two. The highly conservative anti-spend, anti-government involvement Tea Party on one side, and a more moderate-conservative new Republican Party on the other; the Tea Party has the potential to achieve what dozens of other political movements have failed to do in America’s almost 250 year history: break up the two party system. Fox’s role is undeniable.

While the opinions propagated by Fox News may make leftists cringe, it is important to remember that they also represent the sentiments of roughly half of the population of the most powerful nation in the world. Those are opinions that, however unseemly to some, must be heard and considered.  After all, the mob is fully entitled to participate in democracy.

Our Conservative government likes to say that Canada is becoming a more conservative place, that Conservative values are Canadian values. The last four elections tell us that they are not wrong – the Conservatives captured 40 per cent of the popular vote en route to their majority government, a number that has increased in every election since Stephen Harper became party leader.

If conservative supporters want a network that puts a conservative slant on stories, then let them have it. We should all, left or right, embrace Sun News and the dialogue it can create, if for no other reason than that it will fuel the dormant leftist passion that has been lacking in recent years.

If Sun News can get its act together, the conversations and debates will benefit and our political society will be better for it.

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