Hate and the 'Toronto Sun'

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Vintage Racist Sun button. Photo: York University Libraries

A young woman who had just graduated from my kid’s high school and a 10-year-old girl were killed in a senseless shooting last Sunday night. This happened in a Toronto city neighbourhood where my family and I often go for dinner. This makes me incredibly sad.

But barely 12 hours after the Danforth was shot up by an individual suffering from psychosis (and who happened to be Muslim), the Sunpaper couldn’t wait to convert the inevitable strong emotions into hate. The principal hate mongers were Joe Warmington and Sue-Ann Levy, who specialize in spilling ink to promote blood libel. 

Nazi rags did this to whip up anti-semitic frenzy in mid 1930s Germany. Only the new anti-semitism is not against Jews, but against Muslims portrayed much same as Jews were in Nazi propaganda. Modern anti-semitism ain’t just for gentiles anymore. Sue-Ann joins Bibi Netanyanhu in promoting blood libel against Muslims as the 21st-century scapegoats.

Sunhatemonger Warmington went as far as publishing the actual address of the shooter’s family in order to expose them to the further opprobrium of right-wing vigilantes. Anthony Furey then did a piece attacking Mohammed Hashim, a labour organizer who helped the family put their feelings into words after the tragedy. It was like they didn’t have any right to assistance in conveying their feelings, they should just endure the waves of hate being directed at them in silence. It was like, if you’re brown, just shut up and take the hate. 

Inspired by this tacit support, some Ford Nation asswipe decided to take it up with a different Muslim family trying to get the ferry to Centre Island. 

Nice work Sun. You aren’t quite Radio Rwanda just yet, but given time.

The Sun, much as Fox News in the U.S., intimated at terrorism because the shooter’s name was obviously Muslim. These yellow media outlets are starved for a Muslim to light a Reichstag fire in order to whip up the frenzy of their constituency of disgruntled downwardly mobile readers against anything except capitalism and its resultant, unprecedented, inequality.

ISIL even claimed the attack at one point, not doubt desirous of the credit the other extreme wished to ascribe to them.

Inasmuch as democracy needs a free press, I have always tolerated a spectrum of opinion in the press. I personally wouldn’t wipe my ass with the Sun, and I think the National Post’sad nauseum reporting of “Charitable Institute” Fraser Institute “studies” on their front page is really sponsored content, not journalism. 

But I truly believe the line has to be drawn at hate speech. 

Recently a hate-paper called “Your Ward News” distributed in the Beaches (or Beach if you prefer) was investigated by the Hate Crimes Unit of the Toronto Police. A Jewish Canada-Post worker refused to deliver it and the next issue had a Nazi quality caricature of an Orthodox Jew losing their shit. That paper’s publishers were charged under the Criminal Code provisions against hate propaganda.

 I hereby submit that the Sun has crossed the line last week and is now squarely in the realm of hate propaganda.

So, what now? Should we just file complaints and hope an investigation will find that the Sun was overly enthusiastic in their “reportage” about the Danforth shooting? Sure, that’s one avenue, but given the system’s tendency to protect neo-fascists and neo-nazis, I am not sure this is going to be enough. 

One of the primary tactics of Antifa is to deny fascists a platform to spew their hate. This needs to happen with the Sun. If Warmington wants to expose people to hate at their homes, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. If the Sun’s main platform is still paper, it needs to be instantly recycled rather than read. The boxes need to be shuttered with a good quality epoxy. If the Sun’s platform is moving online, it needs to be overwhelmed with DOS attacks (shout-out to Anonymous).

Toronto is enduring a horrible summer of senseless gun violence, and this needs to be dealt with through a combination of policy and resources applied to rein in this problem. There will be no easy fixes for a problem 40 years in the making.

But beware the opportunists seeking to spin misfortune into hate. 

If you ever wondered what you would do if you lived in 1935 Germany, it’s an easy question to answer. Look at what you are doing today.

Photo: Vintage Racist Sun button. York University Libraries 

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