Current Manifestations of Anti-Semitism in Canada
Hate Propaganda and Racism
Hate propaganda is unabashedly racist. It portrays selected groups as inferior, as less than human, while at the same time undermining the norms and values of a society. The targets of racist hate propaganda are the traditional objects of prejudice and stereotyping, who are often characterized as taking advantage of the rest of society and posing a threat that must be removed.
Hate mongering, now as always, finds its most receptive audience among those who are looking for someone to blame for their problems. Difficult economic times inevitably lead to this pattern of scapegoating, and any identifiable minority group is at risk. At such risk are many Canadians today.
As we have seen, Jews have been the traditional scapegoats throughout the history of the Western world. Indeed, anti- Semitism can be considered the prototype of racism. Denied citizenship, the vote, land ownership, housing, and employment, Jews have been blamed for the Plague, for partnership with the Devil, for ritual murder, for international economic and political conspiracy, and for every form of economic, social, and political upheaval.
The proliferation of hate propaganda, in the form of speeches, pamphlets, brochures, and stereotyped cartoons and 'jokes,' was usually the prelude to pogroms or expulsions. The most dramatic example of the impact of hate propaganda was, of course, the Holocaust. The Nazi dissemination of hate propaganda and the promotion of hatred against Jews was so successful that many peoples across Europe participated enthusiastically in the - Nazi attempts to systematically murder them.
There are more subtle implications. Hate propaganda promotes a negative self-image in members of the targeted group, often to the point of self-hatred and feelings of worthlessness. Individuals may try to assimilate and 'disappear' as an identifiable group, though hate mongers would suggest that this is impossible. According to avowed racists and white supremacists, the minority traits always remain as a contaminant of the society or pure race, and must therefore be eliminated to whatever extent possible.
How well individuals and groups tolerate such abuse depends on the strength of one's self-image and on the group support available. But the effect of singling out the group from the rest of society achieves the hate monger's goal, regardless of the personal effects on the group and its members. As Ian Kagedan (1991) has pointed out, even when the audience is unreceptive, hate propaganda can do damage by playing on people's doubts and fears, feeding on misconceptions, and increasing the barriers to understanding.
Hate propaganda contributes to disunity in society, compromises democratic values, and maintains inequality and oppression. It is ironic that hate propagandists are among the most outspoken advocates of free-speech, while they use that freedom to deny others their freedom. Hate propaganda is most certainly not a free speech issue. It is the promotion of hatred against an identifiable group, and in Canada it is against the law. Legislation against hate mongering existed in pre-Hitler Germany, but because it was not enforced, racism and anti-Semitism went unchecked.
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