Kitchener is plagued with fascism

An image of Kyle McKee, co-founder of the Aryan Guard, leader of the Calgary branch of Blood & Honour, which this author claims was chased out of Kitchener by anti-fascist organizers.

And resistance has always been the cure

by Julian Ichim

A first person account on the history of fascism and anti-fascist resistance in Kitchener in the last two decades.  This piece is an edited version of a commentary made by the author on his blog .

Photo by Tyx via Wikimedia. Taken from ImmiGroup website.

Photo by Tyx via Wikimedia. Taken from ImmiGroup website.

“Congratulations, Kitchener-Waterloo, you are the hate crime capital of Canada! Despite hosting two universities and a massive tech company campus, the Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge tri-city area experiences a high per capita rate of verbal and physical assaults on ethnic, religious and gay minorities… Kitchener has inherited the mantle from the previous main offender, Calgary.”

This quote is pulled from a recent article by the Immigration law firm, Immigroup , which listed Kitchener as the second worst immigration destination in the country. Despite a drop in hate crimes, Kitchener still has twice the instances of hate crime over the national average.

To those of us who have lived and organized in Kitchener for some time, this comes as no surprise.  We have fascist and racist groups ranging from Blood and Honour to Orange Order-type loyalists, racist anti-native organizations, the English Defense League, the Canadian Defense League, and the list goes on.

As a kid growing up in Kitchener, one of the first groups I joined was Anti-Racist Action (ARA), and not because of any grandiose desire to change the world at the time.  I was an armchair marxist at the time.  But after a violent assault I experienced at the hands of Nazis in front of my school, my views changed. The teachers and so-called authority figures did nothing as I was beat senseless. I joined the ARA because that beating taught me that sitting on the sidelines and ignoring these fascists wouldn’t make them go away.  If agents of the State would do nothing against this fascist violence, then it was up to us to defend ourselves.

I think that I was 14 when this happened.  Since then I have been an active organizer and have learned quite a bit over the years.  And from my experience, fascism and racist violence is not something that grows out of a vacuum: it is nurtured and harnessed by the Canadian state and corporate media everyday.

I am not just referring to the collusion between fascists and security forces which has been well demonstrated, from the use of these organizations to attacks and firebomb Marxist Leninist Bookshops in the ‘70s and ‘80s in Kitchener to the Grant Bristol Affair where CSIS took a bunch of drunken anti-social elements, armed and trained them, and unleashed them throughout Canada as the Heritage Front.  All this while boneheads have been always deployed to target organizers such as myself, with our drop in centre in Kitchener getting attacked, its organizers receiving death threats, beatings, and the targeting of family members.

The Canadian state and the media create the conditions and ideology that gives birth to all these racist organizations and their activities. From the anti-immigration policies and rhetoric from the Federal government, to Tamil refugees fleeing genocide being labelled as terrorists, to the promotion of reactionary ideologues like Christie Blatchford and the like who glorify people like Gary McHale who deny basic rights of self-determination to the land of the original peoples — everyday we can see the the ideological conditions for fascists to emerge. When the murderer of the Sudanese youth John James in Kitchener gets $2000 bail and is out the next day , only to beat the charges later they are creating the conditions; when they say the economic crisis that we are facing is not because of the greed of the capitalists who have closed Ar. Kaufman, Arrow and other factories in our area only to exploit third world workers, but instead the fault of immigrants, they are creating the conditions for fascist violence.

When anti-fascist Monna Zentner’s house was firebombed in Kitchener in November 1992 with no consequence and fascists are allowed to run neighbourhoods, selling drugs to finance their activities, with the police doing nothing, they are creating the conditions for fascism.

The racism we see on our streets is part and parcel of the racism fostered when not directly sponsored by the state, a state that continues its colonial and genocidal project against the original peoples.  This violence is akin to the violence Canada promotes in places like Haiti, Venezuela, Ukraine and elsewhere to advance its imperialist aims.

As long as the state teaches us that colonialism and imperialism is acceptable and marginalize people on the basis of nationhood treating people as second class if not non citizens, then there jackals and lackeys who will carry out such racist acts of violence as we’ve seen in Kitchener over the years, because they know that they will be met with impunity for their actions.

The state not only turns a blind eye to all this, which is in there interest, but targets those who expose and oppose this behaviour.

When the anti-terrorist unit was created, the police stated in The Record (the newspaper for Kitchener and surrounding areas) that it was there to fight neo-Nazi’s and their left wing counterparts (us), pushing the idea that we are two sides of the same coin, and the role of the police and the state is simply to shut down both “extremes”.

But it wasn’t the state that shut down Heritage Front, nor was it the state that shut down the neo-Nazi group the Canadian Ethnic Cleansing, and a slew of other fascist groups. Rather it was us by mobilising the community and meeting force-with-force in the process of defending our right to exist and our right to resist.

An image of Kyle McKee, co-founder of the Aryan Guard, leader of the Calgary branch of Blood & Honour, which this author claims was chased out of Kitchener by anti-fascist organizers.

An image of Kyle McKee, co-founder of the Aryan Guard, leader of the Calgary branch of Blood & Honour, which this author claims was chased out of Kitchener by anti-fascist organizers.

It was not the state that drove fascist Blood and Honour leader Kyle McKee out of town , but it was the state that defended him as they laid charges against anti-fascists whose only crime was opposing his fascist activities.  It is not the state that’s fighting the alphabet soup of fascists formations, but us.  Yes Kitchener has a history of fascism, but it also has a history of resistance in the streets, and like we have beat back these fascists in the past we will do it again and win whenever necessary.