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Shofar FTP Archive File: people/m/mcvay.ken/press/Montreal_Gazette.9704



Montreal Gazette, April 08, 1997, p. B4

"Ken McVay leads the fight against hatred on the Net,"
by Barry Lazar

For the past five years, often for 18 hours a day, Ken McVay
has searched the Internet, finding hate.

     I don't have to give you examples. You know the words you don't
want your children to say. If you are like me, your stomach probably
does a quick churn when you see a racist message painted on a wall.
McVay sees it all the time.

     In 1992, McVay was an assistant manager at a Vancouver convenience
store and one of a small group of hobbyists who looked at the world
through the unique lens of the Internet.

     He started noticing hate messages from Nazi groups. A lot of people

saw those messages and did nothing. McVay responded, countering lies
about Jews and the Holocaust with facts and research.

     Before long, McVay, who emphasizes that he is not Jewish, was
targeted by Ernst Zundel and other hate mongers. He didn't back off.
He and others set up a Web site, www.nizkor.org, to counter hate
material and Nazi propaganda.

     McVay understands the Internet's impact. ''For $10 or $20 a month
you can have a potential audience of tens of millions of people.
There was a time when these folks were stuck surreptitiously putting
fliers under your windshield wiper. Now they are taking that same
material and putting it out on the Internet.''

     McVay says the Holocaust is used as a test when hate-mongering
groups recruit new members. ''They don't care about the Jews. It's
just a nice scapegoat.... If you can swallow that, that the
Holocaust was a monumental hoax, then you would believe anything.
Then they owned you body and soul. So this is not about the Jews. It
is really about shucking and jiving to a point where they own you.''

     McVay's concerns go further. ''I find it revolting that North
Americans did nothing about what was allegedly going on in Bosnia.
We had massive instances of population cleansing, which is exactly
what Hitler wanted to do with the Russians and Poles. We sit back
and we watch it happen over and over again.''

     ''We are doing the Nizkor Project for ourselves, for our society,
to wake people up and say, 'Look folks, we've got to change our
mindset' and say that if someone attacks the Jewish community or
thefrancophone community for that matter, the rest of us cannot sit
back and say 'Well, it is not my problem.' The Net is the best
vehicle for this that mankind has ever had.''

     McVay is in town today. He is speaking at several CEGEPs. He hopes
students will come and meet him. So do I.

     - - -

     This is the last time stories about Montreal's communities appear
on these pages, and consequently, the last time I'm writing here.
     If this column had required a title, I would have called it
''Building Bridges.'' In spite of our bitching, there are people
who, each day, in different ways, preach understanding.

     People like Ken McVay; like the Russian artists collective Blick;
like Carrie Taylor, a native artist and storyteller; like Kash the
Sikh bagel baker; like Open City 2002; like the Yellow Door; like
Christine Johnson, who helps Quebecers adopt children from other
countries; like Harriet Solloway, a Montreal lawyer still working in
Rwanda for the International Criminal Tribunal; like Trevor
Williams, whose basketball camp gives kids a chance in Little
Burgundy; and plenty of others.

     Like them, I believe that we can build bridges between communities
and cross over them and meet.

     Writing this column was a privilege but it was not done alone. My
editor, Cecelia McGuire, respected my opinions. Bill Stewart-Smith
and many editors marshalled my copy and corrected my errors. Many
readers wrote or phoned or E-mailed comments and ideas. Thank you
all.
    Copyright Montreal Gazette 1997



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