YA Novel Inspired by 1980s Punks Who Brought Down Neo-Nazis
Warren Kinsella has been a persistent figure in Canadian politics and media for decades, as a strategist for various Liberal Party politicians, and even working for Hillary Clinton’s campaign during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. He has also been a commentator in newspapers including the Globe and Mail and the National Post, and is now a partner with Daisy Consulting Group, a consulting and crisis management firm in Toronto. But as a teenager in mid-’70s Calgary, Kinsella was deeply entrenched in the punk music scene, as a member of a band called the Hot Nasties.
He has written a handful of adult nonfiction books over the years — Web of Hate: Inside Canada’s Far Right Network and Fury’s Hour: A (sort-of) Punk-Rock Manifesto, among others — whose titles form a logical path to his newest book, his first young adult novel. Recipe for Hate (Dundurn), available now in Canada and next month in the U.S., is a murder mystery set in Portland, Maine, about a group of punks in the ’70s dealing with their community’s “anti-punk hysteria” and the fallout after two of their friends are murdered by a gang of neo-Nazis.
According to Kinsella, the book is inspired by the Silent Brotherhood, a white supremacist terrorist group that he covered in the 1980s as a reporter for the Calgary Herald. The theme of neo-Nazis, however, is one that he’s unfortunately seeing echoes of again today.
“The election of Trump and the passage of Brexit have obviously made it easier for these hate groups to be active and prominent. They’re bolder now than ever before,” Kinsella said. “And that’s because, in my opinion, Trump is a white supremacist and a bigot, and many of the people who supported him and are involved with him have the same views. The book’s timing is perfect to warn people about how these groups work and how they are a danger to civil society.”
Recipe for Hate — named for a Bad Religion song — launches a trilogy of books, with the second title, New Dark Ages, expected next fall. Kinsella said it takes place with the same group of people at a later period in time, and features a character “who looks and sounds an awful lot like Donald Trump.”
Well, yes, we did.
According to the Syrian Center for Policy Research, an independent Syrian research organization, the death toll from the conflict as of February 2016 was 470,000. The spread and intensification of fighting has led to a dire humanitarian crisis, with 6.1 million internally displaced people and 4.8 million seeking refuge abroad, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. By mid-2016, an estimated 1 million people were living in besieged areas and denied life-saving assistance and humanitarian aid.
More than 117,000 have been detained or disappeared since 2011, the vast majority by government forces, including 4,557 between January and June 2016, according to the Syrian Network for Human Rights. Torture and ill-treatment are rampant in detention facilities; thousands have died in detention.
In its fourth report, released this year, the Joint Investigative Mechanism between the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the UN concluded that Syrian government forces used chemicals in an attack in Idlib in March 2015. The inquiry also identified the military units responsible for flights connected to the attacks but could not name the commanders of the units due to the Syrian government’s failure to respond to crucial queries. In an earlier report, the joint inquiry had reached the same conclusion for two other attacks, in 2014 and 2015. The inquiry also previously found that ISIS had used sulfur mustard gas in an attack on areas held by armed opposition groups in August 2015.
Syria’s regime is the literal embodiment of evil. Catherine McKenna needs to withdraw her statement and apologize for it.
The missus was away. The dogs had been let out. I had a Man Cold. I’d finished the Holocaust Week panel at the ROM. So I collapsed on the couch at Chez Kinsella and turned on the new and improved National on CBC.
Here are my ten observations, in no particular order.
- Four anchors? Seriously? That’s not a newscast, that’s a sequel to Split, the movie. Multiple personality disorder makes for memorable horror flicks, but not so much a serious newscast.
- The sum of the four is less than one part. I’m sorry, CBC, but Ian Hanomansing is not just better than the other three – he’s actually one of the best newsreaders on Earth. He is authentic, he is authoritative. The others simply aren’t. Sorry.
- It’s too busy. It feels disjointed and disorganized. It feels chaotic. Just when you get the hang of one of the anchors, another one would pop up on your screen. That’s not a newscast – that’s 90s-era MTV, folks. Which, um, no longer exists.
- The graphics bugged me. They are too big, and too simplistic. I could almost picture the moderator at the CBC focus groups: “Hey! Our viewers are vision-impaired mental defectives, so let’s communicate with them with two-syllable words in 100-point fonts!”
- It was seriously unserious. Why did viewers stick with folks like Walter Cronkite or Lloyd Robertson or Knowlton Nash or Lisa LaFlamme? Because, per above, those people radiate authenticity and authority. They are serious people, talking about serious stuff. They have gravitas. Precious few people have that – and Hanomansing is one.
- It was CNN-y. And possibly not in a good way. On CNN, everything is BREAKING NEWS, which eventually means that nothing is BREAKING NEWS. CBC isn’t making that mistake, yet, but it has already adopted another regrettable CNN tactic: journalists interviewing journalists, instead of having journalists doing, you know, journalism. The segments with Paul Hunter, Keith Boag and Gillian Findlay were like that, and therefore kind of meh. Ipso facto: stop talking about the news. Show me the news.
- The set looks like it was designed by Sprockets. (Am I dating myself? You remember Sprockets, don’t you? Mike Myers on SCTV, black turtlenecks, all Bauhaus-y. Funny. Okay, I am dating myself.) It was all blacks and blues and angular and about as inviting as a two-day celebration of Blank Verse. Probably cost a jillion dollars.
- Click schtick. Early on, CBC seemed to be intent on making the National a revolutionary new content provider for its myriad online platforms. They may still be planning to do that, but – to be sure – I clicked over the main CBC web page this morning, and it looks the same as it did yesterday. No change.
- TV is pictures. That’s what George Frajkor taught me long ago at Cartoon U., and I never forgot it. TV IS PICTURES, he’d holler, and we’d all nod. TV is an emotional medium, one that works best when it is delivering powerful visuals. Not, I note, journalists talking with journalists about the news, instead showing us the news.
- It didn’t blow me away. And, with their ratings plummeting ever-downward, it needed to. The new and improved National looked like the tall foreheads at CBC didn’t want to make any actual decisions – about one anchor, about one format, about one feel to it all – so they just threw everything into the blender, and are expecting us all to consume the results.
My hunch? We won’t.
Life imitates fiction, sometimes, and not in ways that you’d expect.
This week, for example, I published a book called Recipe For Hate. It’s a novel.
Without giving away the plot, I can reveal that Recipe For Hate is about fanatics insinuating themselves into positions of power and influence. It’s about radicals clashing in the streets. And it’s about some people believing that extremism can be a virtue.
As I was writing the book, I would love to say that I foresaw Brexit, President Donald Trump, and the rise of extremism on the Left and the Right – extremism that resulted in murder in places like Charlottesville. But I didn’t.
Last week, when touring to promote Recipe For Hate, I ran into my friend Adrienne Batra, editor-in-chief of the Toronto Sun. She suggested I write a column about how, nowadays, life is indeed imitating art.
There are three reasons for the political and social upheaval we are seeing across the Americas and Western Europe. Three reasons for why our assumptions about politics have been upended.
One, the racist Right – whose leaders this newspaper has long been at the forefront of exposing, by the way – have gotten smarter. Starting with Knights of the Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, far Right haters have dispensed with the Klansmen’s robes and the cross burnings. They have changed their public image. Now, they march in polo shirts and carry Tiki torches – and they offer slogans that are “pro white” and not “anti” minorities.
These racist leaders have studied, and copied, the proven PR techniques of mainstream political parties. They have presented a kinder, gentler face to the media and the voting public, and it has paid off (see Trump, Brexit, above).
Two, their timing has been impeccable. In the Seventies, the extremists railed against fluoridation and the metric system. In the Eighties, it was abortion and gay rights. In the nineties and beyond, however, the racist Right have targeted immigrants and refugees. And it’s paid dividends, in a big, big way.
It isn’t racist, of course, to oppose higher levels of immigration. It isn’t intolerant to want to debate how many refugees a country wishes to welcome.
But a variety of factors – Middle Eastern wars, Islamic extremism, severe climate change – have resulted in millions of immigrants and refugees looking for better places to live. Many North Americans and Western Europeans have grown uneasy about the immigrant wave. And that, more than any other factor, has resulted in stunning political change – from Brexit in the U.K., to the National Front in France, to Trump in the U.S.
Thirdly and finally, the fanatics at the fringes know that solutions, these days, are pretty hard to come by. In 2017, the challenges we all face are complex, as are the solutions. So, the “alt-Rightists” and the “white nationalists” offer simple and seductive promises. They push emotional buttons, not moral ones.
And that’s why the haters are on the march, everywhere.
I wish I had foreseen all of that when I wrote Recipe For Hate, but I didn’t.
Now that Western society is being shaken to its foundations, however, all of us will be affected, in one way or another.
And that’s not fiction.
Warren Kinsella is the author of Recipe For Hate, published across North America and Europe by Dundurn Press.
— Holocaust Ed Centre (@Holocaust_Ed) November 7, 2017
— Holocaust Ed Centre (@Holocaust_Ed) November 7, 2017
Sold dozens of books, and had the great honour to meet some extraordinary people, including Holocaust survivors. Quite a night.
Some media have been running his picture atop some of the “Paradise Papers” stories, and it’s pissed me off. Here’s why:
Statement by Former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien on the ‘Paradise Papers’
November 5, 2017
“Any news report that suggests I have or ever had or was associated in any way with any offshore account is false. While as a lawyer for Heenan Blaikie I did some work for Madagascar Oil as a client of the law firm, all fees were billed by the law firm and went to the law firm. I never received any share options and I never had a bank account outside Canada.”
Please come! I will be there after the discussion with a limited number of copies of Recipe For Hate! The panel starts at 7 p.m. in the Eaton Theatre. Link here.
Holocaust Education Week Program
Confronting Holocaust Denial: A Canadian Experience
Just over thirty years ago, the infamous Holocaust denier and rabble rouser Ernst Zündel (1939 – 2017) published and disseminated pamphlets promoting Holocaust denial from his home in Cabbagetown, Toronto. Zündel was eventually charged under the Canadian Criminal Code, section 181, of spreading false news through his notorious publications. The lengthy and complex legal proceedings of the 1980s galvanized the Canadian Jewish community and defined an era characterized by social justice, an increased awareness of Holocaust education and the fight for the truth. To explore this pivotal moment in Canadian history, the Neuberger in partnership with the Royal Ontario Museum presents a panel of esteemed speakers who witnessed these events unfold and were part of the history making process. Panel moderator Bernie M. Farber, former CEO of the Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC) was at the forefront of fighting Holocaust denial in Canada and is a recognized expert on hate crime. Among his many publications is From Marches to Modems: A Report on Organized Hate in Metropolitan Toronto (1997), a seminal work on the changing landscape of Holocaust denial in Toronto. Panelists include Gerda Frieberg, Holocaust survivor, business woman, activist and former chair of the CJC’s Ontario Region; Warren Kinsella, a Toronto-based journalist, political adviser and commentator; and Bill Dunphy, a veteran investigative journalist who extensively covered the trials.
Holocaust Education Week
Sarah and Chaim Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre