|What I hope is at least a slightly more flattering photo than the one Keean Bexte used in his story |
about me back in January, though to be fair I would have done the same to him (and did do... often).
Though I haven't been back since January I thought I would do so for one last article on the blog. It only seems right that I finish what I began.
Thirteen years ago today, I started Anti-Racist Canada on Blogger, though I didn't quite START Anti-Racist Canada ON Blogger:
Yeah, that's right. Live Journal. I really was a 31 year old boomer and, given the aesthetic of the blog, it is clear my technological prowess really never did advance much further than learning enough HTML coding to be able to center Tweets once I started to embed them in articles.
As inauspicious as the beginning was and with no promotion to speak of, Anti-Racist Canada persisted. The readership steadily grew organically over the years and it wasn't long before ARC became the "must read" site for anyone interested in learning more about the racist movement in the country. Our readers included a range of groups and individuals including activists and community leaders, law enforcement, politicians, and journalists.
Oh, and the racists were regular readers themselves of course as they were always especially interested in what their rivals were up to.
That reality served an important purpose. Knowing the factionalism and infighting that is endemic in these movements, I did everything I could to highlight the fault lines and to widen those cracks until a collapse occurred which, more often than not, did occur. I wish I could say that this was all part of my Machiavellian genius but in reality it was incredibly easy to cause rifts then as it still is now; the hate groups and individuals in them might change, but the underlying character flaws have always been consistent. In any case I figured that it was better if they fought amongst themselves than targeting other innocent potential victims.
I was always wary of platforming hate groups and tried to walk a line that would not result in me promoting them but rather would provide what I hoped would be useful information on who these people were, what they were about, and the threats they represented. I did that in large part by using humour when appropriate to illustrate that, while certainly dangerous, the individuals and groups that were discussed on these pages were essentially buffoons who deserve ridicule. Again, being snarky wasn't particularly challenging given the ample subject matter and included (but was certainly not limited to) the following themes:
But while I used humour to ridicule, I always took the work very seriously. These people and groups represented a real danger to our communities. Many have been convicted of incredibly serious crimes -- assault, arson, attempted murder, and murder -- largely the result of a noxious ideology that caused them view other humans as lesser and thus not worthy.
Over the years ARC was successful in breaking a number of important stories that eventually made their way to the national news. Rarely was ARC credited (though there were those in the media who did) and I was often asked if that bothered me. It probably should have, but it honestly never did. My main focus was on getting the information out to the public as a warning that these individuals and groups were, and are, dangerous. If the much larger msm found my little spot on the Internet and used it as a source, then I was happy that the audience would be much wider for what I considered to be an important story and I couldn't care less if people knew where it originated. I said then as I do now that when it came to this work, I had no ego.
That however wasn't entirely true.
My ego manifested itself in two different ways. First, having done the work for years in anonymity I began to believe that I was pretty much untouchable. I was always incredibly careful about my online security and was pretty confident that I would be able to maintain my anonymity. I provided a number of false leads that sent those trying to find out who I was on wild goose chases for years; my gender, age, and name ("Chris" for "Christopher Lee" of course).
Now I never thought that it would be impossible for me to be doxxed, but I was sure I could deal with it because I was prepared for scenarios A,B,C,D,E, and F. Unfortunately I was NOT prepared for scenario G. I won't go into the details of that particular betrayal, but in the end it has been more a relief than anything as the person who had been hanging that particular Sword of Damocles over me for almost 5 years by that point had lost any real power over me as a result of their decision. At this point I'm now more disappointed that everyone knows I'm a simple, rural, humanities teacher and no longer the boogeyman that haunted their dreams. I mean, what a let down that has to be, eh?
The other way my ego manifested itself was more serious. Over the years I was able to do the work with some degree of detachment. Despite all the horrible things I researched and published, the assaults, threats, murders, etc, I was able to go to sleep knowing that it could never get to me and that I was mentally and emotionally too strong for these evil people to really get to me.
That is until I wasn't.
Even the strongest block of granite will weather after a time and that happened to me. My sleep became erratic and fitful and the only dreams I could remember were nightmares. I would fall into months long depressions. Relationships were negatively affected. I couldn't find the joy in things and experiences that I had before. I still believed the work was necessary, but I had become bitter and resented the sacrifices I felt I had made. I began to chafe at even mild (and often deserved) criticism. I was totally burnt out but I tried to push ahead anyways.
This all really started in late 2014 and continued to November 2016 as can be seen in the steep drop-off in articles written. With the uptick in far-right extremism on the rise during the 2016 presidential race in the United States which was also seeping up into Canada, I decided to stick it out until Donald Trump's inevitable defeat which I thought would spell the end of what would be an intense but relatively short-lived form of fascism known as Trumpism. Then I would step away knowing that I had left it all on the field so to speak.
As I didn't think it was right for me to leave the field of battle when Canada and, really, the world was facing what I thought would be an incredibly dark period where a racist right was now energized and seemingly on the ascendancy, I continued
. It was also during this time that I think I wrote some of the most important and defining articles for ARC including, but not limited to, the following:
It was also during this time that the good folks from Yellow Vests Canada Exposed
(who eventually became the fourth member of YVCE) came on board as regular writers and soon full members of what had finally become a real collective. I am incredibly proud of the work that was done during this period and the friendships made with an incredible group of people. When I decided to step away from the blog I knew I was leaving it in very good hands and they continued to do incredible work.
All that being said though, we are all very tired. We all have other projects and no one is really able to devote as much time to the blog as we would like while also maintaining careers, families, and our other anti-racist work. As such I, as the founder of Anti-Racist Canada, have made the decision to end the project in its current form. The decision to do this wasn't easy, but it has been made easier by the fact that so many others have taken up the cause and are doing spectacular investigative work.
As readers know I'm now a board member of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network
which I have to admit being proud that ARC sort of inspired the creation of. We have always punched above our weight, but with the recent BMO donation of $250,000
and government grant of around $270,000
we have been able to hire and incredibly talented team of journalists and educators who are already making an enormous contribution to the fight against bigotry and hatred. The members of YVCE are all also continuing the work, each in their own way, and I will continue to post the occasional snark-filled thread on Twitter (please feel free to follow me there
if you are not doing so now) so none of us are really leaving.
But we aren't the only ones. Others over the years have taken up the fight and have done amazing work. I want to thank those groups and individuals for carrying on the fight. Knowing so many others are doing what they can to oppose racism, antisemitism, Islamophobia, misogyny, anti-LGBTQ+, and all other forms of bigotry, it does assure me that my decision to conclude this particular project is correct.
I DO reserve the right to come back should Anti-Racist Canada be needed again.
There have been a number of people who made the blog a possibility. First there are the early writers Naberius200, norton200, and especially NomDeGuerre200 who envisioned and began what I still think is the most important article published
by ARC. There are also the guest writers who contributed articles to the blog over the years that were very well received by readers. Finally there are my wonderful friends with YVCE -- "Liz", "Tony", "Alan", and "Blood" -- who kindly took over after I left the blog in their very capable hands.
I would also be remiss if I didn't thank Strike Poster
for creating a new banner and logo for ARC. We had intended to migrate the blog to a new platform that would give us more control of our content and to unveil them at that time. Obviously those plans have changed so instead they will be displayed now.
Anti-Racist Canada will remain online as a resource. It is a project that I am very proud to have been involved with and I hope that it will remain useful well into the future.
So with that, good bye and as always, don't give away the homeworld.
~ Kurt Phillips (aka Nosferatu200)