The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/m/mcvay.ken/press/Ottawa_Citizen.9511



Ottawa Citizen, Nov. 14, 1995, p. C3

"Fighting High-Tech Hate,"
by Leonard Stern

PROFILE; Feature
Sixteen hours a day, Ken McVay sits at his computer
patrolling cyberspace. The 55-year-old Vancouver man -- tall,
ponytailed and rake-thin -- is looking for Nazis. Sometimes they try
to hide, but McVay, a former United States marine, ferrets them out.
And when he does he squashes them.

     McVay was in Ottawa recently to meet with government officials
about his work fighting racism on the Internet. Singlehandedly, this
intense, somewhat eccentric grandfather of six has become one of the
world leaders in the battle against anti-Semites, racists and others
who use computer bulletin boards to spread hatred.

     Often when people learn that McVay tracks and responds to every
hate message that surfaces on the Internet, they politely tell him
he's wasting his time. What is the point, they say, of responding to
the crackpot from Ottawa who sends out messages suggesting hundreds
of children reported missing each year have been abducted by Jews
who use their blood to make bread? Or what purpose does it serve to
debate the anonymous user flooding the Internet with his theory
arguing that Europeans never slaughtered aboriginal people in the
New World and that historians who say they did are perpetuating a
hoax?

     ''You have to understand that I'm not trying to change the minds of

these guys,'' said McVay in an interview at Ottawa's Jewish
Community Centre on Chapel Street. ''They're not going to change
their minds because they don't even believe what they're saying.
They know it's lies, but it's a recruiting tool for them. But by
exposing them we're slowing down the recruiting.''

     McVay explains that racist groups know that thousands of users --
especially young people -- are surfing the Internet at any given
time, communicating with one another in electronic discussion groups
organized by topic ranging from poetry to car mechanics.
     Although there are discussion groups designed specifically for
racists, the hatemongers will send messages to an unrelated bulletin
board in the hope of attracting new followers. Using a sophisticated
computer program designed at Stanford University in California,
McVay is able to track these rogue postings and respond to them.

     Not only will he refute the message, but he'll include some
background information on the originator of the message so that
everyone in that particular discussion group knows that they have
been infiltrated by a hard-core racist. (Usually when they first
penetrate a new group, the racists temper their message so that the
hosts might think the stranger is a legitimate historian rather than
a hatemonger.)

     Like disembodied gladiators, the hatemongers and McVay do battle
while thousands of spectators watch silently from their individual
terminals around the world. Eventually McVay draws out and exposes
the uninvited guests for what they are. ''I know we're winning when
angry messages begin to appear from other users telling (the racist)
to give it up and stop lying.'' When the racists, now frustrated,
leave for other news groups, McVay follows. ''They can't hide. We
don't let them get lost on the Internet.''

     Recently he was awarded the Order of British Columbia, the highest
award that province can bestow upon a citizen. The citation
acknowledges him as Canada's resident expert on electronic hate
literature and praises his effort to ensure ''impressionable
first-time users (of the Internet) are provided with a positive
counter-balance to the hate propaganda they will find there.''
McVay's efforts at refuting Holocaust deniers were cited in this
year's Antisemitism World Report, published in London, England.

     McVay is uncomfortable talking about himself, and seems embarrassed

with his new-found notoriety. There is, however, a reason why he
guards his private life: Death threats. ''These guys get dangerous
from time to time,'' he acknowledged. He changes his phone number
every six months.

     This much he'll reveal: He served in the marines and worked as a
police officer in Oregon before he moved to Canada in 1967. In
Canada he owned a computer consulting business which went under in
late 1991. Unemployed and restless, he was browsing the Internet in
January, 1992, when he came across messages from an anti-Semite whowas
saying, among other things, that the Holocaust was a hoax.

     Now nearly four years later, McVay, with the help of about 200
volunteers from around the globe, operates the largest Holocaust
resource site on the internet. The electronic archive is called the
Nizkor Project -- Nizkor means ''we remember'' in Hebrew -- and
contains thousands of files on fascism and the Holocaust which are
regularly accessed for scholarly research.

     McVay is not Jewish or a member of any other vulnerable minority.
Joking, he points to his light hair and blue eyes and says, ''Yup,
I'm an Aryan.'' He says one doesn't have to be Jewish or black or
native to recognize that racism corrodes all of society. As he puts
it, ''These (racists) are like a virus.''

     McVay says he supports himself and his work through public
donations. In the beginning a Christian philanthropist in British
Columbia supplied him with much of the computer equipment, and since
then Jewish and other groups involved in anti-racism work have
funded the Nizkor Project.

     Still, it's still very much a hand-to-mouth operation. ''I'm
basically financially secure for the next three months,'' he said.

     ''I think what Ken has done is great,'' said friend and supporter
Rubin Friedman of B'nai Brith Canada. ''The Internet is an agent of
both good and evil. Ken's work emphasizes the importance of public
education, of showing people how to reject hate.''
     Last week Friedman and McVay met with representatives from Canadian

Heritage and the Canadian Human Rights Commission to discuss the
problem of electronic hate. Although it was revealed this month that
the justice department is considering a law that would make it
illegal to post hate messages on the Internet, McVay is skeptical
that such legislation could be enforced. Often it is impossible to
trace the originator of any given message, he said. Rather than
trying to censor hatred, McVay said the government should use its
resources to provide electronic information countering what the
racists say.

     The Nizkor Web site is at: http://www.almanac.bc.ca
CAPTIONS:  John Major, Citizen/ Ken McVay is considered Canada's
resident
expert on electronic hate literature. He operates the largest Holocaust
resource site on the Internet.; The WWW site of Ernst Zundel,
Holocaust-denier; A portion of the Ku Klux Klan's World Wide Web home
page
    Copyright Ottawa Citizen 1995


Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.