The Difference between Neo-Nazis and Incels

Why incels are a ‘real and present threat’ for Canadians

Canada’s excellent TV newsmagazine, The Fifth Estate, has a compelling story about Incels, (a shortened form of involuntarily celibate) a group largely composed of white males who literally can’t get a date. The result is they feel an overwhelming hatred towards all women and “Chads” (in Incel speak, those are the guys that get girls and are good-looking and physically fit).

As The Fifth Estate piece points out, this group of insecure white males (who number in the tens of thousands on the three main Internet forums where they can be found) is extremely dangerous. The article goes on to point out several very violent acts of murder committed by Incels, including an incident in Toronto last year when 10 people were mowed down by one of these destructive males in a van.

Incels believe women owe them sex, and in some cases, people active on incel forums advocate for government-sanctioned girlfriends and sexual encounters.

“[Incel] became a religion of sorts, and it’s a recent ideology,” Arntfield of Western University, said. “These are people who’ve found each other online and can ruminate over what they can do.”

As I was reading the piece, and other recent pieces that I’ve read about this group, I came to the conclusion that this group is actually much more dangerous than the neo-Nazis that like to parade around in places like Charlottesville, Virginia or Portland, Oregon or other groups of mostly white males who somehow feel society has left them behind.

Neo-Nazis, and similar white supremacist groups, largely bond together over their hatred of minorities and other religious groups like Jews. Neo-Nazis certainly can be violent but most of the time they just make a lot of noise. They want to be noticed. Law enforcement in both Canada and the United States don’t pay as much attention to these right-wing whack job groups as they should, but they do pay some attention and the result is if there have been any violent plots planned by neo-Nazis or similar white supremacist groups in the past few years, the FBI or the RCMP and other government agencies have largely sniff them out and arrested the concerned individuals before they had a chance to act.

Incels are different, however. They don’t like making a big noise, except when they commit murderous acts of violence. They don’t hold Incel parades, and there is no Imperial Grand Wizard of Incels. They aren’t asked for their opinions on political events nor are they likely to give speeches in public forums. Instead, they lurk on the web where they can share their insecurity and their hatred of women amongst each other. (It’s interesting to note the community was originally started by a woman back in the early 90s but it has morphed into the twisted group we see today.) If you walked up to a person on the street and asked them what they thought about Incels, the chances are most people (especially over the age of 30) wouldn’t have a clue what you’re talking about.

The one thing that Incels share with neo-Nazis is that they both absolutely believe in the supremacy of males, in particular white males.

Many of the Incels who have committed these horrible acts of violence are lionized by other members of their community. There seem to be very few checks on their attitude towards women and self-pity and they use these feelings of inadequacy to fuel each other to commit these horrible acts. It’s not that everyone who belongs to the Incel movement is a potential murderer or domestic terrorist. There are enough members of this group, however, who may be only one or two steps away from taking such incomprehensible steps.

One of the experts quoted in The Fifth Estate piece about this group said that it is useless to try to talk to them or change their minds. As a result, she said there needs to be increased police awareness about their activities.

I completely agree. If they aren’t doing so already I think it’s time for the authorities in both Canada and the United States to pay attention to a group that has committed so many acts of violence over the past decade. (It’s interesting to note that over the last 30 years in Canada over 120 acts of violence have been committed by right-wing groups – which are of course largely composed of white males – while there have been only seven acts of violence committed by Islamicist-inspired extremists.)

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Why I Quit Facebook

One thing I have is a lot of opinions (as you may have guessed). And as a columnist for 20 to 25 years, I could express those opinions on a regular basis, 3 times a week, sometimes as often as five times a week in the early days. But as I grew older, and moved away from daily journalism, I found that I was missing that little shot of adrenaline you received every time a column bearing your name appeared in print or online.

Not to mention I was a lot busier now. I didn’t have a full-time journalism job anymore and so I found work in other places. At that time, those jobs did not permit me to create and regularly update my own website. Besides, I found I had little appetite at that time for the 600- to 800-word daily opus ground out by columnists everywhere.

And that’s when I found Facebook.

Here was a way I could express my opinions in a public forum to a relatively large group of people in a very quick fashion. I had about 500 friends and acquaintances that I could reach through Facebook and I was happy expressing my opinions to them. I knew they frequently passed them onto a larger audience. I joined a Facebook group devoted to political conversation. My views got me kicked off once but my fellow group members made such a racket the moderators were forced to return me to the group. I truly was very humbled by their actions.

Even better, Facebook was allowing me to have those little jolts of satisfaction that I used to get from column writing.

Facebook was really the only form of social media I used. I had abandoned Twitter several years ago because to me Twitter is just a place where idiots go to sound stupid. If everybody could use twitter like Alex Ocasio-Cortez, I might feel differently. Alas, people don’t use it that way, as is shown by the drivel produced by our president on a daily basis. Besides, I had more to say then you could put into 140 or now 280 characters.

I loved the way Facebook allowed me to reach out and touch my friends and other family members in faraway places. I reconnected with many people I had not seen or heard from in decades. I enjoyed the news articles posted on Facebook by media organizations of all stripes.

So why did I quit?

Facebook is like a drug. And the people that operate Facebook lie to you, use you for their own purposes, and they say they’ll do things differently in the future when they don’t. Not to mention what a particular danger to democracy Facebook has turned out to be.

And Zuckerberg, well, all he really cares about is the Benjamins. He can appear in front of Congress, do a little dance, baffle them with bullshit, and move on without really changing anything. Oh sure, Facebook made a few cosmetic changes, perhaps a few less Russian trolls will be able to use Facebook. But what about what they’re doing with all your private information, the way they are using it, the way they’re selling it, often in ways they told you that they wouldn’t?

I’m not a Luddite I had my first Internet account in 1992. I put the first newspaper on the web in Canada in 1993/94. I helped build the original website of the Christian Science Monitor in 1995/96. I was the executive director of the Online News Association for several years. I won an award for my contributions to the development of online media.

I love technology. I just don’t love it when it’s used in the wrong ways.

As the trickle of negative stories about Facebook became a tsunami, I found myself increasingly uneasy about using it. Like a person who smokes too much, several times I told myself, well, I’ll stop soon. But just like any drug addict, I kept right on going.

Then one day, in the midst of a Facebook post, I stopped and thought “What the hell am I doing? I think these Facebook people are scum. Why am I supporting these sleazy, lying creeps?”

And that was it. The dam was broken. I informed my Facebook friends that I was leaving, collected email addresses from those folks I want to stay in touch with, announced a date for my departure. And when that date arrived, I left.

It’s been just over a month. I won’t lie, there are days when I see a story that tweaks my interest and I wish I could just jump online and expound about it at length. When I told one of my friends that I was leaving she said “Oh you’ll be back. I don’t know anybody who has left who hasn’t come back.”

Maybe. But there will have to be new ownership. And have much more rigorous protections around privacy. It’ll have to be run by a group of people care more about democracy than care about profit. I just don’t see that happening any time soon, if ever

In the meanwhile, I’m doing this. I know I don’t have the same number of people reading this as I did reading my daily Facebook posts but I really don’t care. I realized in the end that I was just doing it for myself anyways. And you’d be surprised how much free time you have when you are no longer doing Facebook, constantly checking it, constantly posting comments and stories.

I feel pretty good about walking away from Facebook. This must be what it feels like when someone kicks cigarettes or some other drug habit. A tiny sense of regret, a large dose of relief.

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A Confederacy of Morons

Never argue with stupid people. They will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.
– Mark Twain

“We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid.”
– Benjamin Franklin

It’s hard to be astonished anymore during the era of Trump. It seems that you barely have time to grasp one amazingly ridiculous proposal, dubious policy, outrageous statement or incredibly inept blunder before another one smacks you right in the gob. I never understood news fatigue until the election of our current president. I have heard talking heads say this is part of some brilliant plan, that the Trump team wants to so overwhelm us with idiotic actions that we become numb to the reality of just what they are doing.

Well, I can’t disagree with the idea that Trump is devious. Nor that he is a greasy, cheap, egotistical serial liar. I think, however, that his greatest attribute is that he is cunning. But not like Dick Cheney was cunning or Lee Atwater was cunning or Henry Kissinger was cunning. There was intelligence behind these examples of cunning, albeit a dark, dangerous intelligence.

There is no intelligence behind Trump’s cunning. There is the street smarts of the greasy snake oil salesman who makes a lot of noise upon his entry into a rural town, peddles his wares and then slides away in the middle of the night before the rubes can realize he’s fleeced them.

He reminds me of the Duke in Huckleberry Finn. One devoutly wishes that Trump could share the same fate.

It would be bad enough if we only had to deal with this intellectual vacuum in the president. Sadly, he has surrounded himself with people who, like him, seem to be as dumb as a bag of hammers.

Take for example the recent comments of Commerce Sec. Wilbur Ross, another billionaire of dubious integrity in the Trump administration. While appearing on CNBC Ross said that he was puzzled by stories about federal workers needing to turn to food banks and other forms of relief in order to tide themselves and their families over while waiting for the government to send them their paychecks. “They should just be able to obtain bridge loans to tide them over,” Ross burbled on.

Only a man who is lived most of his life in the 1% could fail to understand why people, many of whom must live paycheck to paycheck, need to seek relief from food banks and other organizations. To label it as the statement of spoiled, out-of-touch asshole is an insult to assholes everywhere.

Then you have the human circus that is Rudy Giuliani. Seldom has one man done so much to undermine his employer then Rudy has recently. Not only has he raised serious questions about Trump’s actions during the 2016 election campaign, he successfully knocked the news about Robert Muller’s team publicly disagreeing with the Buzzfeed story about Trump instructing Michael Cohen to lie to Congress off the front pages, airwaves, and computer screens of media outlets across the country.

Giuliani is Mini-Me to Trump’s Dr. Evil. Very much like him in every way except so much “smaller.”

Nor can we forget KellyAnne Conway, one of the official designated liars of the Trump administration (an appointment she shares with press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders). Conway, who invented the unforgettable term “alternative facts,” and make sure she uses them every chance she gets, reminds me of what Dandy Don Meredith once said about a running back in the NFL – she’s slippery than a watermelon seed.

I always used to think Conway was at least somewhat intelligent. But the revelations this week contained in the book Team of Vipers by former White House aide Cliff Sims has caused me to reconsider my evaluation of Conway.

Sims writes in the book about the time he was asked to write an official statement denouncing accusations that Conway was one of the sources leaking information to the media from the White House. Conway lent Sims her Mac Book to write the statement. Meanwhile, Conway went into a corner and started using her smartphone.

What she didn’t realize was that every tweet she was sending was also appearing on her computer, now being used by Sims. Sims watched as she tweeted back and forth with several journalists from media outlets like CNN, the Washington Post, and Politico, bashing other officials in the Trump administration like Jared Kushner and the then Chief-of-Staff Reince Priebus. Sims notes that the irony of him writing a statement about her not leaking to journalists as she leaked to journalists was not lost on him.

Sims writes that Conway reminded him of a cartoon villain brought to life. But it appears that like all cartoon villains, she is not quite as smart as she thought she was.

Oh, you can write for days about the imbecility on display every day at the White House. But one only has so much time. I leave you with the unforgettable words of Forrest Gump…

Stupid is as stupid does.

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On Being a Boston Sports Fan

It was the best of times… And has kind of stayed the best times, to be honest.

I am among the most despised of human beings. I am a Boston sports fan. I love the Red Sox and the Bruins and cheer for the Patriots and the Celtics.

For me, there is only one sport that really counts and that’s baseball and as a Canadian, I grew up loving the Montréal Expos. (Although I always have always despised the Toronto Blue Jays.) In my youth, I flirted with being a Yankees’ fan. This was largely due to the fact the first movie I ever saw was 1962’s Safe at Home, a story about a kid who loves the Yankees so much that he runs away to join the team.

But that flirtation vanished the moment the Expos appeared. When the Expos finally died in the mid-90s and the franchise was moved to Washington (I like but really do not care for the Nationals) I happened to be living in Boston and so my affiliation drifted to the Red Sox. In those days the Red Sox, well, stunk. Better days were ahead but in 1994 the Sox were the perennial disappointment they had always been.

I loved the Bruins because of father’s and uncle’s affiliation with the team. In the 50s, before hockey became unionized, players’ salaries were nothing to write home about. Therefore professional teams would do barnstorming tours across Canada. My dad and my uncle arranged for the Bruins to do such a tour in Nova Scotia in the late 50s. As a result, my wall was plastered with pictures of Milt Schmidt, Bronco Horvath and John Bucyk (who remain my favorite player until he retired in the late 70s). In my books, the greatest hockey player ever is Bobbie Orr, not Wayne Gretzky. I can remember lying in my bed at night with my little transistor radio when we lived in Saint John, New Brunswick, tuning the radio so I can hear a distant and scratchy broadcast of the Bruins games.

I’m not much of a football fan, but I kind of fell into liking the Patriots because I lived in Boston and they were the Boston team. Growing up I had been an Ottawa Roughriders fan and I really didn’t care much about the NFL and truth be told, I still don’t. For instance, I haven’t seen the last few appearances of the Patriots in the Super Bowl (there have been so many it’s hard to remember which ones in particular) because I was busy doing things with my family. I was glad when the Patriots won but it wasn’t super important to me. Not like the Red Sox.

Which brings me to the past 20 years. As an Expos fan and then as a Red Sox fan I was familiar with losing, sometimes in heartbreaking fashion. (Damn you Rick Monday!) But when the Pats won in 2001, 2003 and 2004 and then the Red Sox broke the curse in 2004 (although coming back from three down to the Yankees was perhaps the best moment) it’s been nothing but gravy.

I would’ve been happy with the World Series victory over the Dodgers this year. But it looks as if fate has decided that it’s necessary for a Boston team to beat a Los Angeles team in a championship game once again this sports calendar.

Several years ago, a friend who worked for ESPN told me that after the Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 2011, ESPN the magazine had planned to feature a story abut how many championships the Boston teams had collected over the previous decade. The picture that the magazine originally wanted to use on the cover showed a fist with the middle finger erect and on that finger a championship ring of each of the four Boston teams. While I cannot think of a better picture that describes the attitude of Boston fans towards the rest of the country than that one, ESPN decided to just use a regular fist with four fingers erected with a ring on each finger.

It was the best of times…And it will probably stay that way for a while yet.

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Mueller’s Non-Denial Denial

Michael Cohen (Photo by IowaPolitics.com)

Many years I ago I took a sabbatical from my job at the Halifax Daily News to finish my degree. I took a course in advanced composition from a battleship of a woman named Patricia Monk, who was maybe the best teacher I ever had. Prof. Monk knew I was a journalist and worked me hard because she expected more from me. I remember when we studied “dirty word” (because in Prof. Monk’s world, dirty words were just as good as regular ones). She would write words on the blackboard that would make a sailor blush but I learned the difference between profanity, obscenity, and scatology. She knew the professor who next used the room was a bit of a prude so she would not erase the words at the end of class.

Prof. Monk drilled one lesson into us again and again. If you know how to use words, they can never be used against you.

Which brings me to the present moment. Robert Mueller knows how to use words. So when I read his statement about the Buzzfeed story alleging that President Trump instructed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress, I paid close attention to language. At no point in the story did Mueller and his team say the story was “wrong.”

“BuzzFeed’s description of specific statements to the special counsel’s office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen’s congressional testimony are not accurate,” the statement from the Mueller team read.

Not accurate. Hmmm. That’s the kind of language you use when someone is close to the mark but not quite on target. If something is wrong, then just say it’s wrong or that that story is not true. Not accurate is a completely different kettle of fish.

Then you have Rudy G’s statement made on the talking head shows yesterday that maybe Trump did speak to Cohen before he testified to Congress about him but “So what?” In Rudy’s world, if Trump really did shoot someone on 5th Avenue, Rudy would go on CNN and say “So what?” (Jonathan Swan of Axios explains why it’s not a “so what?” thing.) We already know that after months of Rudy telling us that Trump made no attempt to do business with Russia during the campaign, he now admits that, well, they did talk about it until November of 2016.

Marcia Wheeler of Empty Wheel has a great piece on why Mueller had to make the statement in order to preserve Cohen’s ability to testify in a trail.

I would also argue that Mueller did Trump no favors, especially after Trump then tweeted Mueller his thanks for making the statement about the Buzzfeed story. It’s going to be hard now for Trump to keep crying “WITCH HUNT!!!” It will give the Mueller report much more street cred when it finally comes out.

Meanwhile, Buzzfeed continues to stand behind the story.

And that’s why words matter.

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I Smell Impeachment in the Air

President Trump Directed His Attorney Michael Cohen To Lie To Congress About The Moscow Tower Project

So Mueller knows that Trump ordered Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about his business dealings with Russia. And Mueller has emails and testimony to back it up. Maybe this is why Rudy G. has thrown everybody overboard except the president.

“The special counsel’s office learned about Trump’s directive for Cohen to lie to Congress through interviews with multiple witnesses from the Trump Organization and internal company emails, text messages, and a cache of other documents. Cohen then acknowledged those instructions during his interviews with that office.”

If the report backs this up, I see no way that the House cannot begin impeachment proceedings against Trump. It will be then very difficult for GOP senators to not convict Trump with such a blatant example of him ordering his subordinates to lie to Congress.

I think the endgame is starting.

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Canada Sticks Its Finger in Saudi Arabia’s Eye… Again

Young Woman Who Fled Saudi Arabia Arrives In Canada As Refugee

A young Saudi Arabian girl who hid in a hotel room in Bangkok and told the world that she was afraid to return home because of what her male relatives would do to her, is now safely in Canada. After many countries in the world hummed and hawed about accepting her as a refugee, Canada stepped forward to offer her asylum. When the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) needs a place to send people in trouble, they know that Canada is one of the best places to turn.

Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun almost immediately declared that she would no longer refer to herself by her last name. Instead, she would be called Rahaf Mohammed.

This is not the first time Canada has acted against Saudi Arabia for its treatment of women. A few months ago Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland criticized Saudi Arabia for jailing two women activists. Saudi Arabia threw a temper tantrum and expelled the Canadian ambassador in response, as well as recalling its ambassador from Ottawa along with other moves. One Saudi diplomat even tweeted a 9/11 style threat against Canada. That does not seem to have deterred Canada, however, particularly when it comes to the Saudi Arabian treatment of its citizens abroad and of women in particular.

All of this is just fine by me and shows once again how a little nation like Canada is not afraid to stand up to a global bully like Saudi Arabia while its American neighbor tugs at its forelock and refuses to blame the Saudi royal family for murder.

There are reasons for this of course. Canada has oil of its own. And Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took a real shellacking in the media and on social media for selling the Saudis military vehicles. I really don’t care about the reasons why Canada did this I’m just glad they did.

As Mr. Trudeau said during the first altercation with the Saudis, Canada will always speak strongly on questions of human rights.

Finally, I wish Ms. Mohammed a safe and peaceful time in Canada. But as this article from the New Yorker shows, no Saudi citizen living abroad who has dared to criticize Saudi Arabia’s treatment of its citizens or of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is safe from pressure to be quiet or even worse retaliation, as we know all too well from the case of Jamal Khashoggi.

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No Low Too Low for Trump and Health Care Lies from Rand Paul

Trump invokes one of the worst Native American massacres to mock Elizabeth Warren

By now, the vast majority of Americans have accepted the fact that our president is a crude racist. There is nothing presidential about Donald Trump, not in any way, shape, or form – which makes the fact that he is president so hard to accept even two years after his election.

He’s really little better than a schoolyard bully, especially when it comes to the way that he responds to any real or imagined adversary or critic. I know Trump doesn’t like Elizabeth Warren and the fact that he calls her Pocahontas is bad enough but to tie that vile remark to little Big Horn is just one of those things that leaves you speechless. There does not seem to be any bottom for Trump, no crude remark he leaves unsaid, no racist thought he keeps quiet.

On the other hand, watching him lately tells me he’s worried. He knows his time is up and that all of his lies and racism and under the table dealings with Putin and laundered Russian money and his obstruction of justice are about to rain down on him like a monsoon.

I hope he gets soaked.

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul is going to Canada for surgery

Twenty-eight years ago, my mother-in-law came to visit us in Windsor, Nova Scotia, Canada to have hip replacement surgery. We had a very good midsize hospital just outside Windsor. Therefore my mother-in-law, who was more or less on a fixed income, knew that the hip replacement surgery costs in Canada, even with American healthcare (what there is of it) were substantially lower than those in the United States. So she came to have it done there.

The key is why they these costs so much lower. With universal healthcare in Canada, administrative costs are reduced, everyone pays into the system through taxes and as a result, the overall cost to purchase healthcare in Canada is substantially less than in the United States for someone who is not a Canadian. Basically, Canadians subsidize the cost of foreigners purchasing their healthcare in Canada.

So Rand Paul is going to Canada for a hernia operation as the result of the attack by his neighbor a couple of years ago. But Rand Paul says he’s not really going to Canada for “healthcare.” He compared the idea of universal healthcare to “slavery” a few years ago. So far be it from him now to seek out the care that he needs in Canada because of “socialized” medicine.

Rand Paul is one of America’s worst senators, who consistently talks the talk, but inevitably fails to walk the walk. A promise from Rand Paul to take a tough stand and two dollars will help you by a latte but you’ll still need $0.75.

Mr. Paul should thank his lucky stars that Canada has universal healthcare or else be paying through the nose just like he would if he were in the United States. What a phony.

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Travails of the Children of the 1%

A Canadian “pom-pom” hat, also known as a toque.

Wealthy NY School Begs Kids to Leave Home $350 Moncler Hats

In Canada, we call “pom-pom” hats “toques.” You can pick up a decent one at Canadian Tire for, oh, $25 Canadian. But apparently at this New York Middle School “fashion is “very important” to the children of the 1%. So they are paying $350 US for a fancy toque-like hat. And apparently losing them, which has led to much sturm and drang.

“We understand that fashion is very important to our middle schoolers,” administrators at Great Neck North Middle School wrote in a letter to parents obtained by the New York Post.

Which only goes to prove two things: 1) A fool and his or her money are soon parted and 2) George Carlin was right when he said if you stuck together two things that have never been stuck together before, some schmuck will buy it.

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Republicans Stand Behind Muslim Party Official in Texas

Texas County GOP Rejects Push to Oust Vice-Chairman Shahid Shafi Over His Muslim Faith

I actually find this story very encouraging. The fact that a group of Republicans wanted to remove Shadid Shafi from his position as the Vice Chairman of local Republican organization in the state’s third largest county because he is a Muslim is horrendous. The fact that he received so much support from fellow Republicans when the vote was held was wonderful. The effort to oust him failed miserably-139 votes for him and 49 against.

The argument used by his detractors was ridiculous. They argued that because he was a Muslim he could not represent all of the members of the Republican Party in the county. This is one step below these people arguing that you can’t elect Muslims to public office because they don’t represent all the people in their constituency. The problem with this argument, of course, is that it is too easy to turn on his head. Using their misguided, bigoted logic, you could then argue that anyone – Christian, Muslim, Jew, Hindu, you name it – could not be elected to a position in the Republican party because they don’t represent everybody.

If you put Mr. Shafi and me in a room and asked us to state our political positions, we probably wouldn’t find that much in common. But I totally support his right as an American citizen to take part in the political process, regardless of his religious beliefs.

And kudos to Republicans in Texas for doing the right thing.

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