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Monday, February 15, 2016

Significant Update to "History of Violence" Timeline

When, "The History of Violence" timeline was created more than 4 years ago, our researcher began at 1989 and ended at 2011. It was always intended to be a living document so as the years passed we continued to add to it when new incidents occurred. And sadly, we've had to add to it every single year since its creation.

We also knew that there were a lot of incidents we were missing that extended well before 1989 so, as we added new incidents of violence to the database, we continued to research past events.

Our first source of new information was Warren Kinsella's Web of Hate though we were all very much familiar with his book already. While there were certainly examples in the book that were new to us, it served mostly to fill in the blanks regarding some of the events we has already documented. Using Web of Hate we pushed the timeline back to 1981. When this writer found a copy of Dr. Stanley R. Barrett's Is God a Racist? The Right Wing in Canada in a used bookstore we not only extended the timeline back to 1970, but we also included a number of other incidents that occurred throughout the 1980s. Still, we knew there were significant gaps that still needed to be filled in.

That brings us to our recent discovery of the Canadian Network for Research on Terrorism, Security and Society (TSAS).

When researching a completely different issue, we stumbled upon a paper written by Dr. Richard B. Parent and James O Ellis III entitled, "Right-Wing Extremism in Canada." The paper itself included a timeline of racist violence in the appendix dating from October 9, 1960 to September 28, 2001 and the link to our own "History of Violence" as another example of an online chronology of violent incidents. This alone would have been impressive, however the TSAS also includes on their website a massive database containing, as of this writing, 1821 incidents. Many of those incidents do not fall into the scope of our particular project, however the list of incidents provided by TSAS allowed us to push back the timeline to 1960 and filled in the blanks during years where we had previously not documented any incidents. The year 1981, which previously contained only two events, now has been increased substantially as we have been able to include documentation of the intimidation and violence directed towards the South Asian community at the time, much of it seemingly inspired by the provincial wing of the KKK.

We asked the folks who run the website if we might include their data on our own timeline and they kindly consented. Any new entry with (TSAS) will provide a link to the website where it originated from (in many cases the words used on the Canadian Incident Database are taken verbatim and included in our timeline). There are cases too where we were able to find archived news articles of the events in question; those are also included when possible. We have included more than 40 new entries and will be including more as time goes on.

A few observations regarding the timeline as it is now.

We are currently living during a time when Islamophobia is a real danger in this country as the rhetoric targeting Muslims his becoming increasingly heated. In the timeline we've noted that violence towards Muslims and their places of worship have increased in number, especially during the contentious election campaign in which the then governing Conservatives attempted to use both the niqab and the Syrian refugee crisis as political wedge issue. Our concern is that the violence directed towards Muslim-Canadians will continue to escalate. In the meantime, the msm has started to look at the dangers of right-wing violence in the country, however this examination has been ridiculed by some on the right for not focusing on the "real" danger facing Canada: political Islamism.

Looking at the numbers, we would suggest that right-wing, racist inspired, violence is a very real danger. Since 1972 and based on data from the timeline, 41 people have been murdered by individuals tied to far-right extremism. Since September 12, 2001, there have been 19 people killed by individuals who hold far-right and extremist views. During the same period, individuals motivated by Islamic extremism accounted for three incidents in which religious reasons were a prime motivators. We can also discuss the numerous assaults, attempted murders, arson incidents, sexual assaults linked to right-wing extremism to prove that these people and groups really do pose a danger to individuals.

We are not minimizing the deaths of the three who lost their lives as a result of Islamic extremist actions nor are we suggesting that such extremism isn't of concern. We are suggesting that Islamic extremism isn't the only extremism that we should be trying to root out.

A second observation, still on the theme of Islamophobia, is the claim that Muslims are the only religious group (as if "Muslim" is monolith) to use violence which our readers will know is a historically ridiculous claim to make. Though it wasn't a part of our project, we were struck by the number of incidents in the Canadian Incident Database that puts the lie to that claim. Starting on January 27, 1960 and extending to the early 1980s, the Sons of Freedom engaged in a campaign of bombings focusing on both public and private property. Where the Son's of Freedom Muslim extremists? Nope. The Sons of Freedom were Doukhobors, a communal Christian community. And while they really did have some legitimate concerns the provincial government of BC and the federal government ignored, we're not sure that a campaign of bombing was the best way of seeking redress.

With that, we invite our readers to take a look at the improved timeline.

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