Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Sociology

Contemporary Structure of Canadian Racial Supremacism: Networks, Strategies and New Technologies

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Sociology

Contemporary Structure of Canadian Racial Supremacism: Networks, Strategies and New Technologies

Article excerpt

Abstract: In the past five years, public debate has increasingly centered on racial supremacists who use the internet for advertising and recruitment. Yet, to date, this phenomenon has attracted little sociological attention. As such, the present paper seeks to accommodate for this curious silence in the literature by drawing on data gathered from an investigation of the Freedom-Site, a racial supremacist Web site run out of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. In addition to updating the body of literature concerned with Canada's racial supremacists, three arguments are presented: first, there exists a considerable gap between the public images that racial supremacist groups attempt to present on the interact and a far less benign image that emerges upon closer analysis; second, exemplified by the Freedom-Site, the interact has facilitated a greater degree of solidarity between racial supremacist organizations; and third, given the impersonal nature of the interact, there exists a certain degree of danger that otherwise ordinary citizens will become more susceptible to the ideology of racial supremacism. These arguments are incorporated into an examination of why racial supremacist groups have appeared on the interact and what the implications of this presence are.

Resume: Depuis ces cinq dernieres annees, le debat public se concentre de plus en plus sur l'utilisation du reseau Interact par des mouvements racistes a des fins publicitaires et de recrutement. A ce jour, le phenomene n'a que tres peu attire l'attention des sociologues. Ce memoire cherche a compenser ce curieux silence en termes de documentation ecrite en puisant dans des donnees provenant d'une enquete du Freedom-Site, site Internet raciste etabli Toronto (Ontario, Canada). Ce memoire presente non seulement un ensemble dc documentation ecrite traitant des mouvements racistes au Canada mais avance egalement trois arguments : premierement, il existe un fosse considerable entre l'image que les groupes racistes tentent de donner d'eux-memes sur le reseau Internet et celle, bien moins benigne, qui emerge d'analyses plus approfondies; deuxiemement, scion l'exemple du Freedom-Site, le reseau Internet a favorise une plus grande solidarite entre les organisations racistes; et troisiemement, etant dorme la nature impersonnelle d'Internet, il existe un certain danger a ce que le citoyen moyen devienne plus sensible aux ideologies racistes. Ces arguments ont ete integres a une etude examinant la raison pour laquelle les groupes racistes auraient fait leur apparition sur le reseau Internet et sur les implications de leur presence sur le reseau.

In cyberspace, communication and co-ordination is cheap, fast, and global. With powerful new tools for interacting and organizing in the hands of millions of people worldwide, what kinds of social spaces and groups are people creating? (Smith and Kollock, 1999:1)

Introduction

Is Canada racially tolerant? Aggregate data collected over the past several years have indicated that a significant portion of Canadians not only have abandoned blatant manifestations of racism (Reitz and Breton, 1994), but that many forms of institutional racism are diminishing in the country (see, for example, Guppy and Davies, 1998).(2) Challenging these findings, however, are numerous studies which continue to indicate a widespread intolerance in Canada. Henry and Tator (1994:2), for instance, argue that white Canadians tend to dismiss the large body of evidence documenting racial prejudice and differential treatment while "fundamental inequality exists and continues to affect the lives and life chances of people of colour" (see, also, Henry, Tator, Mattis and Rees, 2000). Writing on Canadian Native Peoples, LaRocque (1989) has reasoned that this tendency equates to a denial mechanism on the part of [white] society that racism is a problem in Canada. And although attitudinal surveys conducted since the second World War paint an optimistic picture where [white] Canadians' perceptions of racial minorities are concerned, this is of little comfort to natives, immigrants and other disadvantaged persons who continue to express very serious concerns about racial prejudice and discrimination in Canada (Buchignani, 1983). …

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