PEPE AND THE PROF

If you think white supremacy or the alt-right doesn’t exist in N.B., you’re not looking in the right places.



An August episode of a conservative satirical podcast reported that a rock in the shape of Pepe the Frog exists in New Brunswick.

The Anti-Defamation League declared Pepe a hate symbol in 2016, as the cartoon character has increasingly become associated with white supremacist groups.

The podcast creators joked that they were thinking of painting the rock green and described it as an alt-right mecca.

In an interview, one of the creators said some of their listeners got the joke, but others took it really seriously, wanted directions and envisioned the rock as an “alt-right pilgrimage.”
“It’s kind of funny, because when you do things like that, it pulls the people out of the woodwork,” said one of the creators of the podcast.
The podcasters heard about the rock from a friend, but have not visited it themselves.
Attempts to find the amphibian-shaped rock proved futile. No New Brunswickers on alt-right message boards responded to requests for directions, while people who know the UNB Woodlot in Fredericton, where it’s alleged to reside, say they’ve never come across it. But finding alt-right and white supremacists in New Brunswick in another matter. The rock may just be a myth, but the hateful ideas behind it flare up in acts of vandalism, like the defaming of posters for an Indigenous conference at St. Thomas University, the attacks on Syrian students in Moncton, and on websites and private Facebook groups.


Discriminatory acts in N.B.

Jacqueline McKnight, a member of No One is Illegal Fredericton, said there’s always a fear that these smaller acts could grow into something like Charlottesville, where a unite-the-right” rally erupted in violence that ended in the murder of a counter-protester.

“No, we don’t really have … like 500 people that are ready to march tomorrow in a white supremacist rally like we did see in Charlottesville,” McKnight said.

“These more covert and kind of less visible acts — so I’m talking about putting those posters up, I’m talking about people posting things on Facebook that are really, -really inflammatory, using social media as a way to gain traction — those things are really, really dangerous and they’re things we need to not dismiss as some kind of innocuous thing. This is how that starts.”

In the early hours of Sept. 28, three white supremacist posters were taped onto a Maliseet welcome sign on St. Thomas’ campus during a week of conferences toward Indigenization.

One poster read “Equality is a false God.” Another poster pictured an Aryan man and a woman with the words “We have a right to exist,” accompanied by a web address for a white supremacist blog.

The third poster was of a man with a “big brother” label across his eyes. The poster also said: “Critical thought is a crime” at the top and “Free speech is a fundamental Canadian right. Help us defeat cultural Marxism” at the bottom of the poster.

There was a QR scan code and link in the bottom right corner, directing people to a website, edited by American white supremacist Richard Spencer .

There have been other acts throughout New Brunswick as well.

A group called the Nationalist Socialist Canadian Labour Revival Party has also sprung up and attempted to recruit people in Fredericton recently. In August, a man was asked to stop flying the confederate flag at the flea market in Sussex; on Sept. 30, several people held an anti-immigrant protest in Odell Park; and in October, racial slurs and water bottles were thrown at Syrian students at a Moncton high school football game.

Joanne Owuor Larocque, an immigrant herself, is director of settlement services for children and youth and community at the Multicultural Association of Fredericton. The organization has seen a rise in outright racist attacks on newcomers in recent years.

“We worry that we’re going to continue to see more issues,” she said, adding that they’ve already seen incidents of name calling, physical assaults and vandalism.

“We hear from some of the youth, who are the victims of a lot of these outright racial acts, and they say, ‘You do not know how terrifying it is. You don’t know who the person is that hates you. You don’t know why they hate you. You don’t know where you might be attacked from and that’s our life every single day.’”

“‘You don’t know why they hate you. You don’t know where you might be attacked from and that’s our life every single day.'”                                                                        Joanne Owuor Larocque


A professor’s website

Ricardo Duchesne, a sociology professor at the University of New Brunswick, is the creator and one of the moderators for a website called the Canadian Council of Europeans (CCE), which claims to be a platform for people “dissatisfied with political correctness and mass immigration.”

Ricardo Duchesne is a sociology professor at the University of New Brunswick. (CBC)

White supremacist posters referencing Duchesne’s website have been pasted up in other parts of the country, including one that directly references one of his books, Canada in Decay: Mass Immigration, Diversity and the Ethnocide of Euro-Canadians.

Duchesne who’s looks like a slightly more meticulous version of Steve Bannon, the chairman of the alt-right news site Breitbart – insists he doesn’t endorse Neo-Nazism or white nationalism.
“In Germany, [there is] we have the AfD party as you know and they had many gains in the election [in Germany], and that’s the people I identify with,” he said.
Supporters of the AfD, which became the third largest party in the Bundestag after elections this fall, have shown racist, Islamophobic and anti-Semitic tendencies connected to Neo-Nazism.
Duchesne describes himself as a member of the “alt-lite.”
The Anti-Defamation League states, “Like the alt-right, the alt-lite is largely populated by young people, and has a prolific online presence, using blogs and podcasts to broadcast dissatisfaction with the media and what they sweepingly refer to as ‘globalization.’… There are a number of people and groups who walk the line between alt-right and alt-lite, to the extent that it’s not always easy — or even possible — to tell which side they’re on.”

“There are a number of people and groups who walk the line between alt-right and alt-lite, to the extent that it’s not always easy — or even possible — to tell which side they’re on.”

The Anti-Defamation League
Duchesne says the CCE advocates for civic and ethnic nationalism.
“By civic we mean a Canada that adheres to Western values and a Canada in which people who come assimilate to Western values. But then, paradoxically, we also recognize that humans have a strong need to identify with people who are closer to the way they are,” Duchesne said.
His website states, “We are against an establishment that is determined to destroy European Canada through fanatical immigration, imposition of a diversity curriculum, affirmative action in favour of non-Europeans and promotion of white guilt.”
The CCE has Facebook groups for New Brunswick, Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba and Ontario. All of the provincial groups are private. The New Brunswick group has 39 members.
Duchesne started the website three years ago and said the numbers of people seeing it and subscribing to it were “consistently going up.”
The stated goal is “to build a national organization in Canada with an excellent media venue that may become a Canadian version of the influential and professional Breitbart.”
The University of New Brunswick defended Duchesne’s his right to express his opinions. They stated in an email that they support “academic freedom” and did not answer follow up questions.
“At UNB, we endeavour to promote respectful discourse, and that includes respectful disagreement. While we fully support academic freedom, we have a duty and a responsibility to provide a respectful environment for the debate of topics, which can sometimes be controversial,” said UNB communications officer Heather Campbell in an email.

One is too many

But those close to the ground with the province’s immigrant community, like Owuor Larocque at MCAF, fear the views expressed on Duchesne’s website, and on other social media platforms, could influence others.

“You’ve also got these social media conversations that are not necessarily accurate or truly expressing what the lived realities of many newcomers are. And you don’t get the chance to correct that misinformation,” she said.
“Much of this is being driven by individuals who are not aware of their own biases.”
McKnight agrees.
“Here in New Brunswick, Fredericton, visibly what we’ve seen the most in terms of people coming out, actually showing up to stuff, has been relatively minimal … [but] they could totally get traction, if they want to. If they organize well enough,” she said.
Although there may not be swaths of Neo-Nazis caring Tiki Torches down the street or even alt-right pilgrims looking for meme-shaped rocks, there’s always the fear that some event or charismatic politician could provide a spark that would allow these discriminatory ideologies to spread and grow.
“There are so many people that are just right in this middle ground that could be swayed either way with enough convincing … But one person with these views is too many.”

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