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Archive for the ‘politics’ Category

The Truth about White Lies

Posted by E on February 2, 2020

Elisa WhiteLies collage edited

In 1995, a young woman named Elizabeth Moore was featured in a Macleans article. Her story of endangerment and defection from a white supremacist group caught the eye of two CBC film producers, Dennis Foon and Phil Savath. Right away, they contacted Moore through Canadian Jewish Congress Executive Director Bernie Farber, who had been quoted in the same article – and offered to option her life rights.

In 1996, Moore signed a contract for $12,500 to sell her life rights – “The Life Story of Elizabeth Moore” – to the CBC. The contract stipulates that Moore was selling “her life from her childhood to 1995, and surrounding her involvement with the organization known as ‘The Heritage Front’”. Paragraph 12 (b) reads “The information [Moore] provides in connection with the Life Story is accurate and factual to the best of her knowledge”.

Elizabeth Moore White Lies Contract

In 1998, a movie titled “White Lies” was broadcast on national television and publicized widely as “A True Story” that was based on “the life of Elizabeth Moore” – character names and events were changed but according to the press, the film was based on Moore’s experiences in the Heritage Front and was only “nominally fiction”. 

The media blitz that accompanied the film’s release lavished the filmmakers with praise. An Emmy nomination soon followed. The Globe and Mail printed an effusive review of the film, featuring side-by-side photos of Polley and Moore, with the caption reading “Polley (left) plays a young neo-Nazi in a movie based on the real-life experiences of Elizabeth Moore (right).”

Journalist Doug Saunders quoted Elizabeth as saying the film “accurately” represents her real-life experiences:

“Although the film is nominally fiction, Moore has found it an unnervingly accurate portrayal of her experience. “I’ve watched the film now about six times and I’ve never gotten through it without crying,” she said.”  

IMG_1739

The trouble is, the “True Story” depicted in the film that was released in 1998 does not belong to the woman whose name is on the contract. 

 

white-lies-uk-cover TRUE STORY

In 1993 I was a teenager recruited into the ranks of Canada’s most dangerous white supremacist group, the Heritage Front. I was the only girl in the core of the movement, and was groomed for a leadership position. I wrote articles for their magazine Up Front, gave speeches at rallies and spoke to the press on their behalf, including representing the organization on the Montel Williams Show.

I was sixteen years old when I met my new father figure, Front leader Wolfgang Droege, and was introduced to notorious Holocaust-denier Ernst Zundel, who welcomed me into his townhouse on Carlton Street in Toronto. As an abused, poor, runaway teenager who emigrated from communist Romania five years earlier and whose father died two years after that, I didn’t have a safe family to look out for me.

This is when Zundel stepped in and became a grandfatherly figure, teaching me that Jews controlled the world, the Holocaust never happened, and Hitler (whose portraits hung from his townhouse walls) was right to eliminate the mentally and physically handicapped, the homosexuals, and of course the Jews.

By the time I turned 17, Heritage Front co-founder and second-in-command leader Grant Bristow (later revealed to be a CSIS mole) started what would become known as the It Campaign – a campaign of terror waged against anti-racist activists and indigenous leader Rodney Bobiwash, who organized protests against the Heritage Front.

Bristow single-handedly instructed dangerous white supremacists tricks of the Intelligence community – how to break into answering machines, impersonate reporters, stalk your victims and terrorize them, disguise oneself to avoid arrest. Those emboldened skinheads embarked on a harassment campaign with street attacks, beatings, car tires slashes, spray-painting and fire-bombings of an aboriginal centre, synagogue, bookstores, the Morgentaler abortion clinic, a Jewish Kitchener woman’s home and Runnymede House, a Children’s Aid group home for young girls.

I knew I had to get away from the Front’s escalation of terror. This realization came on the heels of me admitting to myself that I was gay. As a core insider I had a lot of information I could access, and had earned the trust of HF leaders as well as Zundel himself, for whom I worked as an assistant and errand-girl.

At age 18, I spied on my former friends for four months, handing off my information to Martin Theriault of Montreal’s Canadian Centre on Racism and Prejudice. I stole Zundel’s international mailing list, turned whatever information I could to police, and defected. In March 1994 I appeared as the star witness against Wolfgang Droege and 2 other white supremacists at a trial that resulted in convictions and jail sentences

While I was in hiding and going by a different name in Ottawa (they knew me as Kat), the CBC released White Lies, advertising it as a “TRUE STORY” – the story of another ex-Heritage Front member who joined the group after I defected, Elizabeth Moore.

However, the TRUE STORY advertised by the CBC did not belong to the person whose name was on their contract. 

 

THE EVOLUTION OF A LIE 

A significant portion of White Lies is made up of my lived experiences – proven experiences that were documented in the media at the time, in court transcripts of my sworn testimony at the Heritage Front trial, and a 1994 documentary made for a television show called “It’s About Time.” I would later find out (from Moore herself, no less) that a CBC producer had scoured public records and interviewed people who knew me, in order to fabricate a movie purportedly about Moore.

For the record, I did not consent to any of this. Nor did anyone involved in the production bother to ask permission.

Several scenes in White Lies are derived from this documentary, which was part of a Vision TV series called “It’s About Time”. It was filmed in 1994, shortly after I testified against Heritage Front leaders. I had just turned 19 and was wearing a cheap $20 wig I’d picked up in Halifax to disguise myself, right before I flew back to Toronto for the trial.

This documentary proved critical in Moore’s decision to leave the group. Two decades later, she told me that she still owned a VHS copy.

During a 1995 interview with the Canadian Anti-racism Education and Research Society (CAERS), Moore credits watching it during a Heritage Front Thanksgiving party in October 1994, before “something in [her] snapped” and she decided that she wanted to say the same things I did.

Here’s a clip from that lengthy interview, where Moore talks about that crucial moment and tells how she met with Bernie Farber (coincidentally, also for four months) before parting with the group without any incidents or threats – an interesting admission for someone who just told Macleans that she was “a marked woman” worried about getting “a letter bomb in the mail.” 

At best, White Lies is a gross conflation of two very different young women’s experiences inside a white supremacist organization, with one woman being singularly rewarded and credited as the film’s inspiration, while the other one’s lived experiences are scavenged for profit. 

At worst, it’s an egregious case of exploitation where one impoverished, immigrant teenager’s lived experiences were appropriated by a well-connected middle-class woman who – for the next 22 years – marketed and monetized the movie as exclusively her own story, gaining numerous speaking engagements, jobs in the film & television sector, and even a secondary film role. 

As the years went by, Moore’s appropriations extended beyond the conflations portrayed in White Lies. In September 2017 she appeared on The Agenda with Steve Paikin, accompanied by Bernie Farber, when Farber falsely communicated that she – along with me – had SHUT DOWN THE HERITAGE FRONT, despite no evidence whatsoever to back up such a significant lie. It was the first time either Moore or Farber ever stated such a thing – yet once the lie was communicated, they stuck to it.

Since 2018, Moore has posted photos of her appearance on The Agenda as promotional material across her social media sites. This episode is also the flash opening of Moore’s website; as of today’s date, every visitor to her site is greeted by an automatic replay of the show and its fraudulent statements, paving the way for more speaking engagements and consulting gigs obtained under false premises. 

In January 2019, Moore appeared on CTV’s The Social and represented herself as a “disenfranchised teen” from a “troubled family”, despite multiple interviews over the previous 20+ years in which she had never made such a claim. In fact, the most consistent statement in ALL of Moore’s videotaped interviews and newspaper articles between 1995-2019, is her description of loving parents who paid for her university education and were very supportive and concerned. 

After analyzing White Lies frame-by-frame and comparing it with evidence from public record, court files and recorded interviews of both myself and Moore, I’ve come to believe that as much as 75% of the film consists of events that can be linked back to me. An in-depth breakdown of the most significant scenes is posted in the next section of this article.

Less than 50% of White Lies can be attributed to Moore herself, and consists primarily of her relationship with nice, middle-class parents, fellow university students, and a romantic relationship with a skinhead (being closeted, I never had a boyfriend while in the HF).

Despite all the incontrovertible evidence I’ve compiled – even Moore’s own words – that shows how my life served as inspiration for White Lies, the Canadian press has remained silent, with one notable exception:

In April 2019, the Canadian Jewish News published a misleading article titled “Reformed Heritage Front Members involved in Lawsuit authored by Ron Csillag, a Facebook friend of Bernie Farber. Nowhere in the article does Csillag acknowledge his preexisting relationship with Farber.

Ron Csillag friends with Bernie Farber - Edited

Csillag’s article strives to create a false equivalency between me and Moore, with Csillag reporting that my lawsuit is about “a fictional movie about a fictional young woman who falls in with a fictional hate group.”

Although he didn’t interview me prior to publication, Csillag already had a copy of my Statement of Claim. If he’d bothered to read it front-to-end, he would have realized that my claim does not focus on White Lies itself; rather, it involves fraudulent appropriations made repeatedly since 2017 – well within the Limitations Act. White Lies serves only as the principal conduit that kick-started and enabled a 20+ year appropriation of my identity. 

As of today’s date, producer Dennis Foon’s website continues to allege that White Lies is inspired by “a high school girl, Elizabeth Moore” – and no one else. Despite Moore’s email admission in which she states that Foon researched my life for OVER A YEAR, and despite evidence that he recreated several of my lived experiences, the CBC has done absolutely nothing to address or correct this blatant exploitation of my life. 

Since 2015 I have made repeated attempts to contact Foon. Other than blocking me on Twitter, he has refused to acknowledge that I exist – much less add a single line to credit me for also inspiring his derivative film, or apologize for the fact that my life was scavenged for his script.

His fellow White Lies director Kari Skogland has also ignored my messages – something I didn’t expect from the female director of the acclaimed adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s bestseller The Handmaid’s Tale – ironically, a story about impoverished, powerless young women being exploited.

Dennis Foon IMG_1692

In the ‘Bonus Feature’ of the White Lies DVD, Foon gushes about how excited he was by the prospect of making a film about a “normal”, “educated”, regular, “middle-class” white girl from the suburbs, with “nothing particularly deviant or crazy about her” (i.e. not abused, poor, gay or particularly vulnerable, as I was) who attended university being caught up in the white supremacist movement.

Before I forget – Dennis Foon is also a Facebook friend of Bernie Farber’s, whose name shows up in the film credits. 

Dennis Foon Farber friendship

For a long time I was upset with the producers who participated in what I view as a blatant exploitation of my life – the life of a girl who did something brave but had no prospects, protection or legal representatives to ensure that her life would not be cannibalized and used to profit others, while she herself lived in abject poverty.

Only in the last couple of years, as I started digging into Elizabeth’s inconsistent narrative in anticipation of my lawsuit, did I realize that her attempt to deflect all blame onto Foon had been a lie.

Early in 2019 I was given a copy of the 1995 CAERS interview with Moore, a nearly 2 hour-long recording. After watching it, I came to believe that Elizabeth’s appropriations started 3 years before the film’s release. This discovery suggests that from the start, Elizabeth provided the filmmakers with a fraudulent depiction of her life inside the Heritage Front – not an accurate representation of her lived experiences but rather a conflation of my unique story with her own. 

In sum, White Lies is not a fictional story. While some characters and events have been conflated or fictionalized, it is heavily inspired by what took place in Toronto in the early to mid-1990s – enough to have the label “A TRUE STORY” printed on the VHS cover.

A STOLEN LIFE – Breakdown of Appropriated Scenes 

The majority of scenes in White Lies are derived from my lived experiences as a teenage girl who rose up the ranks of a white supremacist organization, turned against them, spied on its leaders, and defected.

1. The opening scene is based on a 1993 incident at Riverdale Collegiate which generated HUGE publicity in Toronto at the time. The high school auditorium was filled with youth attending an anti-racist event where Martin Theriault, the man who eventually helped me defect from the group, was the headlining speaker.

Howard Gotlib, the former principal of Riverdale Collegiate, remembers that I was present at this meeting. Janice Dembo, a former employee with the Toronto Mayor’s Committee on Race Relations, also remembers me walking up to the microphone to ask Theriault a question. 

Riverdale collegiate anti-racism rally 1993

One World Week - Riverdale Collegiate recreation

2. Scene where teenage “Catherine” submits an essay to her teacher and is given a failing mark is taken from an incident I was questioned about in my 1994 trial cross-examination, where I spoke of an essay about Anne Frank that I submitted for my ninth-grade class at Jarvis Collegiate Institute, which had upset my teacher.  

1994 trial transcript page25

  1. The scene where teenage “Catherine” sends an essay titled “Christmas is Dead” to the neo-Nazi group “NIM”, short for National Identity Movement, (a composite amalgamation of the Heritage Front and Ernst Zundel) is taken directly from the essay I wrote for Up Front magazine’s inaugural December 1991 issue. I was sixteen years old when I wrote it under the alias “Elisse Deschner” and it was called “A Politically-Correct Santa?”  

White Lies Christmas Santa collage

4. Scene where teenage girl “Catherine” is introduced to the Mrs. K, NIM’s German-born leader who is modelled after Ernst Zundel and played by Lynn Redgrave. “Catherine” quickly becomes Mrs. K’s protégé and begins to work at her house, recording videos and eventually becoming the fresh, young face of the group. – I worked for Zundel as an assistant and even stayed at his place a few times when my home life was unsafe. I helped him with mail-outs, donors correspondence, folding booklets and newsletters, and organizing his books and videos.

Screenshot 2020-01-31 at 12.17.37 AM

5. Teenage “Catherine” quickly rises up the ranks and becomes an official spokesperson.

I represented the Heritage Front in multiple interviews to the press – both in Canadian media and internationally. Here are photos of me at 17 speaking to the CBC and appearing on The Montel Williams Show, as well as a photo of me, age 18, standing side-by-side with my mentor Wolfgang Droege, in a 1992 Globe & Mail article that describes me as the Heritage Front’s softer, female face.

Hategan interview CBC

Elisa on Montel Williams Show

Elisa and HF leader Wolfgang Droege

image2 - Copy

  1. “Catherine” records messages for the group and distributes flyers – aside from also distributing flyers (everyone did), I am the only woman who ever recorded messages on the official Heritage Front hotline. Elizabeth Moore never did. All the messages she wrote/recorded were on a separate, proxy hotline called the “Euro-Canadian Freedom Front” based in Kingston, ON, but not on the actual Heritage Front line.

  2. “Catherine” attends rock concerts and rallies – this scene is derived from the Roma Restaurant concert on November 13, 1992 where the band RaHoWa played. I was videotaped giving a speech that night, right before the concert started – you can see the band equipment and drum set in this photo.Elisa Heritage Front talk 1992 Roma Restaurant

Elisa Heritage Front June1992

Elisa HeritageFront rally2

8. “Catherine” attends KKK rallies – I attended 3 such rallies between 1992-1993, two in London, ON area on Martin Weiche’s property (including the one pictured below) and one in Michigan, USA, at the memorial of Pastor Bob Miles – closest to the experience depicted in White Lies. At the Michigan compound, I witnessed white supremacists selling guns illegally, firing them, and one of the Heritage Front men I drove with smuggled an illegal gun back into Canada. This incident is described in one of the 1993 affidavits I gave to the Ontario Provincial Police.

cross-burning 1993

9. “Catherine” gets trained to fire weapons – at age 17 I was trained to fire a shotgun and used a .22-calibre rifle I received from another HF member (mentioned in a 1993 affidavit), a similar rifle to the one Sarah Polley fires in the movie. Moreover, I owned a registered Firearms Acquisition Certificate (FAC) which I was forced to relinquish as a bail condition after my 1993 arrest on charges that were dismissed in 1994. My weapons training is discussed in my 1994 “It’s About Time” documentary – scroll up for it. 

Sarah Polley shotgun White Lies

10. “Catherine” gives speeches and is filmed for publicity campaigns. Later, as “the new public face” of NIM, she participates in a TV interview in which she discusses the issue of repatriating immigrants back to their homelands and mentions Louis Farrakhan in her answer to justify racial separation – reenacting nearly verbatim my answer to Montel Williams’ question in November 1992, at age 17 – five years before White Lies was made.

While under the careful watch of NIM’s male leader (a character based on Wolfgang Droege), Sarah Polley parrots my answer while wearing a grey top and white shirt, the same outfit and hairstyle I wore on The Montel Williams Show.  Even the background set, with its three panels divided by black columns with tiny horizontal lines, appears to have been replicated in White Lies.

Elisa Sarah Polley White Lies collage

11. “Catherine” visits a member of NIM in prison: I believe this scene is inspired by my conversations with Zvonimir Lelas, a member who spent a year in prison for spray-painting synagogues, and told me how the movement had betrayed him. I also joined Front leader Wolfgang Droege when we tried to visit the Metzgers of White Aryan Resistance while they were incarcerated at the Don Jail. Here’s a photo of me protesting outside the jail on that day, filmed by a local news crew. IMG_1743

12. NIM’s leader is involved in courthouse battles – these scenes are derived directly from Wolfgang Droege’s Toronto court appearances and clashes with Anti-Racist Action, where I was filmed accompanying him. 

Screenshot 2020-01-31 at 12.23.52 AM

Wolfgang Droege and Elisse courthouse1Wolfgang Droege and Elisse courthouse2

13. “Catherine” witnesses and takes part in a beating, and her group is involved in fire bombings. In “It’s About Time”, I talked about an incident in which a man was almost beaten. Also, while I did not witness the firebombing of Mona Zentner’s home in Kitchener, I was quoted in articles and on CTV National News in relation to my belief that the Heritage Front was responsible – this is part of my 1994 trial testimony.

The firebombing of NIM’s headquarters was inspired by the 1995 firebombing of Ernst Zundel’s Carlton Street townhouse, known as The Bunker. 

Kitchener Mona Zentner house firebombing

14. Teenage “Catherine” infiltrates left-wing organizations – In my House of Commons testimony on June 13, 1995, I testify about Bristow pushing me to spy on left-wing organizations. “I was directed by Grant Bristow to obtain information on legitimate organizations in Toronto such as the Irish Freedom Association, North American black nationalist groups and others. Bristow told me he wanted to build a file on these groups.” […] “He also knew that I was a supporter of the Irish nationalist movement and that I had gone to a meeting of this organization called the Irish Freedom Association. He was very curious about that, so I provided him with written documentation of names, addresses and things I had researched. He wanted me to continue that as well. It was just intelligence-gathering.”  

15. Teenage girl is horrified at the escalation of violence against innocent people and decides to approach an anti-racist activist for help – This is based on experiences detailed in my 1993 affidavits involving the It Campaign spearheaded by Bristow, repeated in my 1994 trial testimony and “It’s About Time” documentary, and 1995 House of Commons testimony:  

“Starting in the winter of 1992, I first became aware of a massive terror campaign on our group’s part, targeting anti-racist groups and individuals. It was launched by the head of the Heritage Front intelligence, Grant Bristow. Front members and supporters were approached and encouraged to go after designated targets. I was one of those approached by Grant Bristow. In the first weeks of January 1993 several individuals would get phone calls day and night from supporters or members of the Front in order to make their life miserable and create a climate of tension and fear. Such a climate was used to stir up a potential confrontation with members of anti-racist groups.” […]  Grant Bristow was the coach and the designer of the campaign, which lasted until my public defection to the Canadian Centre on Racism and Prejudice in November of that same year.” 

Terrorism Heritage Front

16. A conversation between NIM leader and “Catherine” in a diner, where he hints that NIM had something to do with recent terror attacks – This reflects my conversation with Wolfgang Droege, which made me believe they were behind the recent fire-bombings in Toronto and Kitchener, and is part of my 1993 affidavits and my 1994 interview with CTV National.

17. Teenage “Catherine” works with anti-racist activists and “proves herself” by turning over a membership list she downloads from Mrs. K’s computer – I stole a partial membership list while stuffing envelopes at Ernst Zundel’s house and turned it over to Martin Theriault. My spying and stealing of membership lists from the HF and Zundel was mentioned in my court testimony, as well as touched upon in the 1994 “It’s About Time” documentary.

Reenactment of Hategan stealing Zundel files

18. Teenage girl defects –> I was 18 when I defected; Elizabeth left uneventfully at age 21, deciding to leave on the very night she watched the “It’s About Time” documentary about me.

Moore experienced no threats or harassment as a result of leaving the Front. Her self-described “defection”, along with her claims of endangerment and being a “marked woman” in the 1995 Macleans article that caught the eye of CBC producers and led to the White Lies movie deal, are a fraudulent appropriation of my lived experiences.

IMG_1761

Hategan spies on the Heritage Front

HF leaders convictions after Hategan testimony

19. There is a secondary, fictitious character named Erina who ultimately commits suicide – another instance where something that happened to me is ripped from the headlines and rolled into the film. News about my suicide attempt at age 18 came out during my cross-examination at the trial of Heritage Front members; articles describing it were published in the Toronto Sun and other newspapers. White Lies, of course, exploited it.

Elisa ToSun suicide attempt

If White Lies contains a SINGLE scene that is derived from my lived experiences and not Elizabeth Moore’s, the film should not have been mass-marketed as “The true story of Elizabeth Moore” or “Based on the real-life experiences of Elizabeth Moore” – either by the film producers, the CBC, or Moore herself for the last 25 years. In my view, such advertising and profiting from my experiences is fraudulent and morally unethical. 

However, this is exactly what happened. As you can see in this breakdown, it wasn’t just one scene but more than a dozen, which encapsulate well over 50% of the film.

White Lies was viewed by millions of people across Canada; I have no way of knowing how much was earned through VHS and DVD sales (or spinoff speaking engagements), or if Moore received any royalties.

Even after cross-examining Moore in September 2019 as part of the lawsuit, she was unable to produce a single photograph of herself in the company of Heritage Front members, or any proof that she had been an official member – much less authenticate that White Lies represents her experiences. Outside of her brief appearance in Hearts of Hate, a documentary that featured dozens of white supremacists, there is no proof that she ever did more than write a handful of articles and operate a Kingston, ON telephone hotline before selling the rights to “her life story”.

CONFRONTING MOORE — “THE TRUTH” EMAIL 

In January 2013, I received an email from Elizabeth. She had read one of my books and wanted to connect. We had never actually met inside the Front because she joined their ranks around November 1993, right after I defected and went into hiding. We were both excited to meet each other. Over the next couple of years, we became good friends and talked about each other’s experiences within the Heritage Front at length. Elizabeth read my 2014 memoir Race Traitor and praised it, telling me that after my defection she had not been brought into the leaders’ confidence as I was, “because they didn’t want to trust another girl with sensitive info”. 

Moore FB convoFor two years, I didn’t have any reason to question Elizabeth’s motives or suspect that White Lies was not based on her life. That is, until February 2015 – when a conversation I’d had with her days earlier prompted me to google and find the film on YouTube. Just minutes in, I was struck by the horrific realization that the scenes playing out before my eyes were not renditions of Elizabeth’s experiences, but my own. 

It was a devastating blow – in one night, I came to understand that my story had been abhorrently exploited by the CBC and Moore herself, the woman I’d come to regard as my best friend.

When I confronted Elizabeth in an email she did not deny it, instead heaping all blame onto CBC producer and scriptwriter Dennis Foon: “What Dennis learned about you came from legit sources like court records, newspaper articles and talking to many people who knew you then. He did over a year of research on this and it certainly went far above and beyond me, my story, and what I could share.”

Elizabeth Moore confession White Lies

I was in shock. Not only had I just seen some of my most painful teenage experiences reenacted on screen, but the woman I’d considered a best friend actually ADMITTED that my life HAD inspired the movie – the movie that was credited exclusively as Moore’s life story, the movie she’d made $12,500 from (in today’s economy, close to $19K according to Bank of Canada’s inflation calculator) and which had earned her follow-up projects and speaking gigs. 

The years passed, but I refused to stop speaking about it. It was all I could do to bring awareness to the situation, since the statute of limitations to sue the CBC had passed. Moore started cyber-stalking me relentlessly; some days I’d see her IP on my blog 5 or more times a day. I called her a stalker, and that’s when she started telling people I was harassing her. Unsure if she planned to use White Lies to market herself in the future, I bought a bunch of previously-unregistered domains I thought she might use for a website, which stoked the animosity between us.

But then Charlottesville happened. Seemingly overnight, the press latched on to the reality of white supremacy posing a threat (something I’d written about since 2011), and governments started doling out huge grants to pretty much any organization that could slap together a decent proposal to show they were tackling white nationalism and hate. Predictably, a new speakers market was created, replete with income opportunities for former extremists with a story to sell. 

Within days of Charlottesville, Moore appeared on the front page of the Ottawa Citizen, represented as “The pretty, public face” of the Heritage Front, its female spokeswoman (she never represented the HF as a spokesperson) and that White Lies represented her experiences. Bernie Farber, ever the kingmaker, had connected her to Blair Crawford, author of this error-ridden endorsement, with the wildly hyperbolic statement “Her story his (sic) unique and a huge lesson for humanity.”

Moore also told the Citizen that she had been “the only white student” in her class, a falsehood she would repeat between 2017-2019, both to the press and during speaking engagements. Incidentally, after 2 years of investigating her backstory, I’ve found no records of Moore ever making this claim prior to 2017, and her high school yearbook shows several other Caucasian students in her cohort. She lifted this line verbatim from my 1994 court testimony (which she attended, taking notes) and my 2014 memoir Race Traitor, where the line is repeated.

White kid line court testimony

Farber endorsement

One month later, Moore and Farber appeared on The Agenda with Steve Paikin, where Farber made the stunningly fraudulent claim that Moore had been “The Face” of the HF, and that she (along with me) had “SHUT DOWN the Heritage Front”. At no time in the last 25 years had that statement ever been said about Moore, but they doubled down and ran with it. 

Within months, Moore created a website where her biographical section appropriated my experiences in the Heritage Front. For her website banner, she uploaded the September 2017 episode of The Agenda and set it to auto-play, ensuring that all visitors would hear Farber’s lies and believe she was responsible for shutting down the group I risked my life to dismantle.

She followed the bulk of my Twitter journalist contacts, Jewish community and synagogue friends, as well as my criminology and extremism-related followers and tried to immerse herself in the field. She described herself as “The verifiable inspiration for White Lies” across several social media platforms – going so far as to tell one Reddit user that White Lies was “100%” her own story and implied that I had been “a troubled young person” who identified with her experiences, rather than the other way around.

Within a year, she launched full-steam ahead into a new career as a public speaker, consultant and “expert educator” on far-right extremism, despite the fact that unlike me, she had never studied criminology and terrorism or worked/volunteered inside the criminal justice system.

Just like in the 1990s, this newly-resurrected career was established on a foundation of fraud and appropriation. And while she was featured in several high-profile interviews that led to paid speaking engagements, not a single journalist questioned her narrative. 

IMG_1749

In December 2018 I initiated legal proceedings against Moore, and in February 2019 my lawsuit was amended to add Bernie Farber, the man who facilitated and endorsed her career over the last 25 years, the man who invited her to join the Canadian Anti-Hate Network’s Board of Advisors as an “expert” on the far right, who promoted her to journalists, secured the majority of her speaking engagements, and lied for her on The Agenda with Steve Paikin.

(BTW, Steve Paikin also happens to be a friend of Farber’s. In an email Paikin sent me in June 2019, he admits he’s known Farber for 25 years.)

Moore Farber CAHNA CAREER BUILT ON A FOUNDATION OF FRAUD

Why did I sue Farber? I believe Bernie Farber was integral in maintaining the fraud. He provided Moore with important recommendations, connections to journalists, and the full endorsement of the Canadian Jewish Congress during the time he was Executive Director. Just as he is doing today as the Chair of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, Farber used his credentials and the Jewish Congress’ reputation to promote Moore and involved her in several CJC initiatives spanning a decade which generated publicity for both of them, thereby ensuring that Moore’s fraud remained unquestioned until I commenced litigation.

Elizabeth Moore couldn’t have done what she did for as long as she did it without the assistance of somebody like Bernie Farber or fellow CJC director Len Rudner (currently a Board member of CAHN), who were tasked to represent the Jewish community and – either unknowingly, negligently or intentionally – used their reputations to endorse a fraud (who also happened to be Rudner’s mistress at the time). Farber is as culpable, in my judgement, as Moore herself is in the unauthorized exploitation and monetization of my lived experiences.

Farber did not submit an affidavit in his defence, and therefore could not be cross-examined. I have no idea if he was paid for his participation in White Lies, but his name appears in the film credits and he profited from the publicity blitz that followed its release. 

Farber White Lies credits

Since 2015 I’ve researched Moore’s narrative in depth and I can state with utmost confidence that her involvement with the Heritage Front – during the time she claims she was a member – was NEVER documented in any news articles or media, with the singular exception of Hearts of Hate, a documentary that also featured me and dozens of other neo-Nazis. She never represented the Front as a spokeswoman. There is absolutely zero evidence that Moore “rose up the ranks” to become the Heritage Front’s “pretty, public face” and “mouthpiece”, as she claims. 

Moore also alleges that she was a teenager when she joined the Front (in one article she told a journalist she was 16, in others 17 or 18). These statements are false and plainly contradicted in her first article in Up Front magazine, a letter-to-the-editor that she mailed to the Front’s PO Box in 1993, prior to meeting any members in person. Using her middle name initial as an alias, Moore writes “I have yet to join the Heritage Front” because she perceived them to be sexist. She was 19.6 years old.  

IMG_1740

By the time Moore met any Heritage Front members in person, she was 20 years old. She herself admits this in an essay that has since been scrubbed from the internet but is published in at least one textbook – a 1997 essay titled “From Marches to Modems” which she wrote for a Bernie Farber-published report for the City of Toronto. “Elisse defected from the Heritage Front about the time I became active,” she writes.

I defected in November 1993, the month Moore turned 20 years old.

In a 2011 documentary titled “In God’s Keeping produced for her Ryerson University MFA in Documentary Film, Moore is captured on film saying she became a neo-Nazi not as a teen girl, but “in my early 20s“.

Moore Marches to Modems 1997

Excerpt from Moore’s 1997 essay “From Marches to Modems”, published by Farber

Moore was never a speaker at rallies – I was. All Heritage Front rallies were filmed, with the videotapes sold through a mail-form and at meetings. Moore does not appear on any archival tapes, because she never made a speech. She also never had access to Ernst Zundel’s data and I doubt she was in his townhouse more than once or twice. 

Even after being asked for material evidence as part of this lawsuit, Moore has not produced a single photograph of herself in the company of Front members, any corroborating affidavits, videotapes or evidence of herself either speaking at rallies or a single instance where she represents the HF as a spokeswoman. Farber himself has not provided a sworn affidavit to even attempt to corroborate her story.

Moore cannot even produce a Heritage Front membership card, despite claiming in her 2018 Macleans op-ed that she was “a card-carrying member” within months of being age 17 – in sharp contrast to her 1994 Up Front article where, at age 19 and six months, she confesses that she “has yet to join” the group.

What Moore does have in her possession, however, is a VHS copy of my “It’s About Time” documentary. I have no idea how many times she has watched it.

Facts don’t lie – throughout the year Moore was actively involved with the Heritage Front (approx. November 1993 – October 1994), she lived in Kingston, ON and attended Queen’s University. She was a 20-year old woman, and not the teenager depicted in White Lies. Although she wrote a handful of articles for Up Front, she never recorded telephone messages on the Heritage Front’s official hotline. Instead, she operated at arm’s length in Kingston, running a backup, alternate phone line called the “Euro-Canadian Freedom Front.” 

Over a period of 20+ years, Elizabeth Moore systematically changed the backstory of her time in the Heritage Front to align more closely with my experiences. Across the years, there have been dozens of inconsistencies and contradictions in Moore’s narrative about WHEN she joined, WHY she joined, WHAT SHE DID in the Heritage Front and WHY SHE LEFT, in her attempt to conflate her story with mine.

I believe that her most recent appropriation – the 2019 claim she was a “disenfranchised” and “troubled teenager” – is an attempt to elicit sympathy and add mitigating factors to her story, because the idea of a privileged, adult woman who suffered no beatings or abuse, and whose loving parents paid for her university education, is not as palatable to an audience that seeks to understand why youth are drawn to extremist organizations. 

In order to gain fame, enhanced credentials and portray what would otherwise be an insignificant role and non-dramatic experience, Moore appropriated sensational aspects of my life and build a platform where she profited from speaking engagements, a movie dramatization, documentary roles and other forms of monetization and publicity.  

WHAT IS A LIFE WORTH?

What would you do if someone stole your name and SIN number, and took out credit cards in your name? What if this individual built a business and career from your name and reputation? 

This would be identity fraud. You’d go to the police, and chances are you’d get assistance.

But what if someone did this for 25 years, and nobody cared? And you couldn’t fight back because you didn’t have the money to seek justice, or because the justice that could help your case has not been written yet?  Because he didn’t actually steal your name, per se. He stole everything else that makes up your identity: your lived experiences, the worst years of your life, the terrible things that defined you.

What if this identity thief built a veneer of respectability and authority in the community, and nobody believed you? What effect would this have on your psyche? On your view of justice and fairness in this country? 

What if, one day you watched a movie and saw YOURSELF reenacted on screen, but another individual credited as the film’s sole inspiration? 

What if you saw your identity thief get paid projects, media attention and praise after claiming to shut down a group they were barely affiliated with – a group that you actually risked your life to dismantle?

What would you do if you were denied publication in an academic textbook, but the person who stole your identity was included? 

What would you do if all the articles you wrote for a popular blog over a 4-year span were deleted after the man running it became financially supported by the same network of individuals who endorsed your identity thief?

What would you do if you didn’t have the money to fight back, and all the lawyers you contacted told you that there’s no precedent for your case because as long as someone doesn’t use your actual name, there are no laws on the books to prevent someone from stealing the unique events and personal characteristics that define your identity (down to your religion and sexual orientation) and passing them them off as their own, for profit? 

What would you do if the public believed that those who exploited your identity are the good guys, and you are the liar?

What would you do if you were being countersued for defamation by the person who stole your identity in the first place? 

Would you have any faith left in the justice system? Or would you share your story with every breath in the hope that someone, somehow, someday would just look at the evidence? 

An artist’s song or a writer’s book is their intellectual property; I could not, for example, take CBC’s “White Lies” and sell it as my own product because it would violate copyright law. And yet the film producers took my life from public record, reenacted it and sold it legally as their own product. By working with those producers, and representing herself as the exclusive source of the “true story” it was inspired by, Elizabeth Moore was effectively able to steal my life.  

What would YOU do if another individual stole your life story, sold it as her own “life story” and marketed it for the following 25 years?

I’ll tell you what would happen: 

You would lose hope. Hope in justice, in the legal profession, in this country where you tried to do the right thing but were exploited, over and over again. 

After having lived through all of this, you would feel that shouting your story from the rooftops is an act as crucial as breathing. 

I have nothing left but the truth – and I won’t have them steal that from me. Not anymore.

A WRETCHED LITTLE IMMIGRANT GIRL

IMG_1738

In this 1994 jealous diatribe published in Up Front magazine, Moore calls me a “Wretched Little Immigrant Girl” and ridicules me for testifying against HF leader Wolfgang Droege and two other members – a testimony that resulted in convictions and jail sentences, and contributed directly to dismantling the Heritage Front.

How ironic that in 2017 – 23 years after writing that article – Moore and Farber rewrote history by telling Steve Paikin and the Canadian public (for the first time ever) that Moore herself shut down the Heritage Front.  

What’s actually wretched is my experience of the justice system in this country. As a teenager, I risked my life to testify against three dangerous white supremacists. Despite the threats on my life and being responsible for 3 convictions, I wasn’t admitted into the Witness Protection Program; at only 18, Canadian authorities didn’t give a hoot whether I lived or died.

Conversely, Grant Bristow – who counselled many Heritage Front members to commit crimes and himself engaged in criminal activity, whose 5 years of well-paid undercover work resulted in NO arrests and convictions of any Canadian white supremacists – got away with it. In fact, he was given a house, 2 cars and a $3000-per-month stipend for several years after being relocated into the Witness Protection Program.

And yet, despite all the anti-racist community activists who were terrorized by Bristow’s harassment campaign, Bernie Farber invited him to participate in a 2011 speaking engagement where he received a standing ovation, and referred to Bristow as “a friend” in a 2017 Toronto Star article.

Farber Bristow endorsement TOStar 2017

As an adult, I witnessed a privileged woman and her well-connected friend profit from my lived experiences through a movie deal, speaking engagements and endless publicity – while I suffered the psychological and economic effects of the life she marketed as her own.

By stealing my teenage experiences, by taking credit for and appropriating my painful past, Moore took the only thing I ever did right, the one thing that made my whole wretched miserable life worthwhile — the knowledge that, despite everything I ever endured in my life — the abuse, the danger and threats against me by the neo-Nazi family who had groomed and exploited me — that I made a difference.

She took the only thing in my life that I felt the most proud of and turned it into a monetizing ploy to advance a false narrative because she didn’t have a marketable story of her own.

WHAT IS THE MEANING OF EVERYTHING?

A suicide attempt early in 2016 left me hopeless that I would ever see justice. I started to wonder why this struggle to bring awareness of my exploitation had become EVERYTHING to me. What was my life lesson? Why fight so hard for something nobody else cares about, at the cost of my health? 

Then, in December 2019, it finally hit me. Awake in bed, crying myself to sleep, hopeless and exhausted, I suddenly understood why.

All my life I wanted to push mine away, to repress everything that happened. For forty years I pushed away from the shores of my identity, while the real me watched from a darkened coastline, not knowing whether I’d return.

For forty years I was the little matchstick girl, standing on tiptoes in the snow outside a beautiful mansion, peeking into a world where I’ve never belonged. No parent helped me do my homework, packed my lunch or ironed my school uniform. No one celebrated my small victories or wept over my petty defeats, over the courtyard bullying or the horrible names kids love to call outsiders. If I was hit or called names, surely it was my fault. 

All my life, I ran away from my epigenetic hurts. I hid from life the way my deaf father Iosif, a brilliant painter whose work was never recognized by the hearing community, let his broken dreams turn into rage. Just like his mother Ana before him, cast off at age 19 with a baby because she wasn’t ethnically Hungarian – because speaking perfect Magyar and going to an Austro-Hungarian finishing school couldn’t scrub the Romanian from her blood, the barbed wire, the Jew from the coarseness of her hair. They changed their name, lied about their Jewish identity the way I hid my identity when I was a teenager on the run. 

Sometimes it’s easier to become the Other, the one who would otherwise break you. When you have no more skin left to grow another scab, healing becomes impossible. Sometimes it’s easier NOT to heal – because healing or forgiveness means acknowledging you are a victim.

For some, this acknowledgement has the power to take your breath away and crush you right back into the dirt you came from. Deep inside, you know that if you faced the truth of your victimization, you might never get off your knees. Sometimes it’s easier to become the enemy. That’s what happened to me as a teenager – a half-Jewish girl who became a neo-Nazi.

It was a surefire way to run from my past and feign the brutality of the aggressor, to go from powerless to powerful in a world where, for the first time in my life, I was the bully instead of the bullied – a strong and vengeful Athena instead of the wounded little girl I saw every time I looked in a mirror. 

So I dyed my curly dark hair red in an effort to look more “Aryan”. I tried blue contacts to cover up my brown eyes. I hated my nose and Romanian accent, the predictable “Where you from?” that seemed to follow me. But the Heritage Front still accepted me, because they fed on my pain – because the more I hated, the more my racist family loved me. 

The years I spent in hiding did nothing to improve my faith in justice. In 1994, while living at Adsum house, a homeless women’s shelter in Halifax, I signed up for a two-day intensive GED exam. I was nineteen years old, a ninth-grade dropout with no prospects, no family and no protection, living on the run after testifying against three high-profile neo-Nazis. At night, I still remembered the coldness of the knife held against my throat when Front leaders had questioned me about being a rat. 

A month later, my high school equivalency diploma, conferred by the Nova Scotia Board of Education, arrived in the mail. Less than a year later I would be accepted as a mature student into both Carleton and the University of Ottawa, and I’d choose the latter for its prestigious criminology program. By studying the psychology of crime and youth/women’s involvement in gangs and extremism, I hoped to get a better perspective on what had happened to me.

The hardest part of my university application wasn’t the arduous student loan application I had to complete, figuring out what my next meal would be, or starting a new life in a new city, using yet another alias and hoping that I wouldn’t be tracked down by the men who threatened my life – but coming up with two required reference letters. I was too ashamed to ask for help – scared of disappointing others if I failed, and wondering if anybody would see a modicum of potential in me, enough to vouch for my academic aptitude. 

Even with the help of student loans, I worked two jobs between classes – one under the table at a souvenir shop on Sparks Street, the other at Mags & Fags, a magazine & tobacco shop on Elgin. I was a regular at the Bank Street food bank and an occasional dumpster-diver. During this exact time, the CBC was making a movie based on the painful memories I was struggling so hard to repress. 

White Lies came out in the year of my second suicide attempt, the year I was first prescribed Prozac and could finally get through a night without PTSD-induced nightmares. While Moore was basking in a publicity blitz and CBC producers were attending Emmy and Gemini galas and getting nominations for a film that wouldn’t have existed without me, I did my best to block out my teenage years and pretended I was a different, normal girl. It was the key to my survival.

In 1998 I was living in a student rooming house and didn’t own a television set. I’d heard that the CBC had made a movie about Moore, but I don’t remember seeing the whole thing. Nor did I want to see it. It is entirely possible that I may have seen parts of it or a commercial, and blanked it out. 

Even after I clawed my way through university, winning scholarships, a place on my university’s fencing team, graduating magna cum laude (majored in criminology and psychology) – I didn’t feel I was enough. I hadn’t done it balletically, I didn’t glide through school with the flawless confidence of a girl whose achievements are celebrated by loving, devoted parents. No. I sweated, fought and bled for everything I earned.  

And so, as I lay in bed last month asking myself why I was fighting so hard to pursue a lawsuit with no precedents, despite the excruciating stress and the thousands of dollars it has already cost me – it came to me, an answer as luminous as the North star on that frozen December night:

For the first time in my life, I am fighting to be ME. Me – with all my scars, my accent, my shaking voice. I’m fighting for the truth, for my identity. No matter how ugly my past was, I am taking it back from those who appropriated it for profit. 

truth voice shakes meme

WHY I AM FIGHTING BACK

For $137, any Canadian can legally change their name – but the essence of your identity and likeness is not mutable or changeable because it is made up of unique lived experiences that compose the fabric of who you are.

I believe that human beings are more than a name – that, in fact, we are the product of our life experiences.  The sum total of who I am is not just my name – it is the combined sum of my lived experiences: my trauma, my courage, my fears, my faith and religious identity, my troubled youth and formative experiences, the events that I lived through and survived, the threats I endured and the challenges I’ve had to overcome. All of these experiences form my identity. 

So who am I? The hungry child on the streets of Bucharest? The scared teenager held at knifepoint? The young woman who tried to do the right thing only to see an agent provocateur’s crimes get covered up by CSIS, and unscrupulous filmmakers & profiteers exploit her life with impunity?

I am all of them. Like a dandelion bursting through the asphalt, I am defined by my survival, rendered courageous at the broken places. 

And now, the irony of fighting for my life – a life I hated, tried to end, depreciated for a lifetime; a life that had no worth for me beyond the pain that others sought to sensationalize.

Only then did my will to live kick in – to do this for the hopeless, the voiceless and unconnected, the underdogs whose stories go unheard, who can’t afford to fight back through the legal system. The poor and exploited who don’t have journalists in their back pockets and bands of cronies backing up a fraud. 

I am doing this for my dead deaf father – who didn’t think his artistic talent was good enough so he flawlessly reproduced the paintings of Impressionist masters; who grew embittered after being bullied by village boys, beaten by a world that doesn’t listen to deaf-mutes and immigrants, so he became the beater.

I am doing this for my dead deaf mother – raped as a young girl by villagers who thought she was an animal, who herded goats barefoot and slept in a barn, who was seen by her own mother as worthless, who never got justice so the anger coiled inside her breast and struck out at the world, passing its venom into her own child throughout a life entwined with misery and suffering.

I am doing this for me, despite the outrage and insults coming from activists who scorn me for suing people they consider worthier than me, above-reproach, whose character is never scrutinized while mine lays dissected, trampled in the mud. I am a wretched immigrant girl after all, and in this country the weight of truth depends on the perceived worth of those who speak it.

I am doing this for ME.   

All things and beings have their own, intrinsic, value – that is my lesson. 

Even the most “worthless” life, in the end, matters. 

Yes, even mine. 

 

Posted in canada, cbc, crime, csis, dennis foon, elizabeth moore, grant bristow, heritage front, history, identity, jewish, journalism, life, movie, news, politics, press, rodney bobiwash, sarah polley, truth, white lies | Tagged: , , , , | 5 Comments »

An Open Letter to the Toronto Star and Jennifer Yang about Grant Bristow and the It Campaign

Posted by E on April 10, 2017

 

  

Please note: The letter I am posting below, in bold font, was written today by Martin Theriault of the Canadian Centre on Racism and Prejudice and has just been sent to the editors at Toronto Star and the journalist who wrote a slanted piece on Grant Bristow without bothering to check all her facts. I am pasting his letter here without Martin’s permission, because I want everyone out there who cares about truth and good journalism practices to know what is really going on.

I am too upset at this time to write my own rebuttal, but will do so in the coming weeks. However, I am ready and eager to present actual evidence – affidavits, along with correspondence between prominent human rights attorneys Paul Copeland and Clayton Ruby and Metro Toronto Police re. charging Bristow for actual crimes. Any media persons who are interested in actually knowing what really happened back then can contact me via my website’s Contact Me form.

I refuse to link to Jennifer Yang’s shoddy piece of “journalism” for the following reasons:

1) Ms. Yang didn’t even bother to contact me for an interview prior to going to press, even though her office’s IP address was recorded by Statcounter approx. a dozen times, scouring this blog for my Bristow pieces. And in spite of the fact she actually followed me on Twitter! Despite being considered an important witness on Bristow and Operation Governor and asked to testify in the House of Commons in 1995 about the illegal activities I witnessed Bristow commit, Toronto Star’s Yang didn’t deem my knowledge worth even a 5-minute interview.

2) While I am glad that she at least thought to contact Bill Dunphy, Yang neglected to fact-check with other seasoned journalists who investigated Bristow, such as Andrew Mitrovica. However much I disagree with some points of his Walrus piece, his knowledge of Bristow’s actions is worth taking another 5 minutes to contact – that is, if you are trying to write an unbiased, legitimate piece of journalism.

3) Yang made no attempt to interview any women – whether me as an eyewitness or the women who were terrorized by Bristow. Who knows, perhaps our gender disqualifies us from commenting on CSIS and political affairs. Again, I would have been glad to connect her to some of Bristow’s former victims or at least show her evidence of their assault and harassment, but she didn’t think I needed to be contacted.

4) Yang glossed over a very serious attempt by Grant Bristow sometime in 2010 to undermine then-Edmonton Jewish mayor Stephen Mendel’s electoral campaign by assuming a fake journalist persona and conducting an interview that resulted in Bristow being slapped with a libel charge. This, plus the Fifth Estate-recorded testimonies of many of the strippers who were around Grant Bristow during his stint as a failed strip-club comedian should go to revealing the character of a man who was paid, in total (before and after entering the Witness Protection Program) hundreds of thousands of dollars – and never led to a single arrest and conviction of a Canadian white supremacist.

5) There is ZERO proof of an attempted Heritage Front attack on Bernie Farber or the CJC – if this was more than fabrication on Bristow and his handler’s part, why did we not hear about this before CSIS went into damage control mode? What better way to neutralize outrage from the Jewish community but concoct a story about averting the assassination of one of its prominent spokesmen? If it were true, why wasn’t Wolfgang Droege or whoever discussed such an attempt ever charged with conspiracy to commit murder, or terrorist plotting, or whatever?

The answer is simple – because it didn’t happen. Or someone would have been charged and convicted, pure and simple. When I met Bernie Farber at his office back in 2014 and we discussed my book Race Traitor: The True Story of Canadian Intelligence’s Greatest Cover-Up, of which he was extremely complimentary of and displayed it on his bookshelf, he privately expressed to me his own doubts about that plot – along with referring to Bristow as a “schmuck”.

Grant Bristow’s sole purpose was to be an architect of the Heritage Front and build it to the point where crime would occur to justify the operation. Somewhere along the way, he turned into the rogue agent provocateur who compelled many dangerous neo-Nazis and even an underage girl like me to commit crimes – even going so far as to hand us lists of names, home and work addresses, and the telephone numbers of the people he wanted us to terrorize.

And when  he was finally questioned about Heritage Front crimes, including his own participation, CSIS provided him with a lawyer and coached him on how to avoid offering any self-incriminating answers when questioned by Metro Toronto police (see letter photo above) and essentially hinder any and all investigations.

For Toronto Star to quote Grant Bristow on the dangers of white supremacy is tantamount to allowing an unrepentant ISIS jihadist the platform to preach about the dangers of Islamic fundamentalism. It’s contrived, ill-thought, fake and utterly reprehensible.

Without further ado, here is Martin Theriault’s letter to the Toronto Star in response to the piece published by Jennifer Yang in yesterday’s paper.

Date: 2017-04-10 16:20 GMT-04:00
Subject: About Bristow and your story of April,9, 2017-
To: jyang@thestar.ca, publiced@thestar.ca

My name is Martin Thériault. At the time of the Heritage Front and the Bristow affair, I was the coordinator of the Canadian Center on Racism and Prejudice (CCRP). I have been involved in the anti-racist movement in Canada and abroad since 1979. I was a very active element in confronting hate and bigotry in all parts of Canada. At the time, I was the one that got Elisse Hategan out of the Heritage Front and was a key member in organizing the prosecutions of Wolfgang Droege and his associates at the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. The chief prosecutor, Eddie Taylor, counsel of the Cdn Human Rights Commission, was able to get a conviction and sending these neo-nazis to jail and stop the operation of their hateline with the testimony of Elisse Hategan. The judge commended the excellent testimony of Ms. Hategan in his ruling of the case.

At these hearings, Grant Bristow was the chief organizer for the defense of the Heritage Front leadership, providing materials in the hope to discredit the testimony of Ms. Hategan. His work failed and the neo-nazis were sent to jail. Even at that time, neo-nazis from the Hammerskin movement came up from Buffalo, NY on the clear purpose of doing a job on Ms.Hategan, myself and the late Rodney Bobiwash, also from the CCRP and the Native Center of Toronto. This was a key moment and Bristow worked extensively to develop a defense strategy for the nazis! This is IT for such so-called great canadian!

Bristow was a member of a rogue unit of CSIS in Toronto. His handler,and his staff, did everything they could to support Bristow in his work. Al’s angels, as we referred to them, were always in attendance at the hearings. Ms.Hategan, myself and Eddie Taylor had to fight our ways to get police protection during these hearings. 

Bristow never sent anyone in jail. In your article, you mention that he was instrumental in the arrest of the donut shop gang(Barker and friends). Actually, this is also a fabrication. Weeks before, the OPP and Metro Police had signed affidavits from Ms. Hategan on weapons cache of some of these elements. When the info went up the chain of command, no actions were taken and a source confirmed to us that the top levels have received info NOT to support or do anything about the information contained in the affidavits!!!!

Bristow did nothing in respect to deportation of international white supremacists from Canada. In the Metzger’s case, even with an APB sent by Immigration Criminal investigation Unit to all entry points, the HF sent one of their boys to pick them up and got them into Canada. Bristow was the chief of security and intelligence of the Heritage Front. To say that he did not know the operation is ridiculous at best.

At the same time, CSIS made up a story that the Metzger’s planned to storm Queen’s Park or the House of Commons. The RCMP sent in a squad, a wrong one by the way, to arrest the Metzger’s after their speech at the Latvian Hall. I was with Mr. Bobiwash, a witness at the scene of the take down. For that made up story, the handler received a commendation from Ottawa!!!! In respect to Maguire, in Canada illegally and staying at Bristow’s apartment, he was arrested with Bristow with weapons and later deported. Maguire was, for anti-racist researchers on both side of the borders, an FBI informant on Aryan Nations and other organizations. As for Dennis Mahon, well, he was arrested by immigration at Pearson’s by immigration officials while Bristow was waiting at the arrival point. He was also put on questions by immigration officials but his handler showed up to get him out.

Bristow did the campaign for criminal harassment of anti-racists by members of the Heritage Front. Close to 100 people were the victims of that campaign, at home, at work and even at doctor’s appointment.

He trained, lead and organized the campaign. Some people lost their job, had to move out of Ontario, some victims of physical assaults. One social worker who had the greatness of adopting an afro-canadian child suffered dire consequences from that campaign. Her house was spray-painted, the tires of her car slashed. They also made an anonymous call to Children’s service to claim she was abusing her adopted child!!!

Only by the testimonies of the Police  chief of Toronto at the time and members of the city council, the claim was rejected based on the fact that it was baseless accusations and made by Heritage Front members. Her only crime- she was involved in forming the Riverdale Citizens coalition against racism, a group of local residents who just didn’t want to have neo-nazis in their area and provide education on racism and bigotry.

Bristow made up stories in his interview. This is the way he works all his life. When exposed, he got a well-paid pensions, a new house, a new car, a new identity and even some free connections to his family and free trips paid by the money of canadian taxpayers. He now says to be in the marketing business! It is interesting that he finds the SIRC report to be an honest recollection of what he did! In fact, SIRC made a report without any involvements or testimonies from the victims or anti-racists. I remember once a member of the Solicitor-general’s office asking what would they need to get out of that mess. I told him there was no exit from the truth and the whitewash report of SIRC would only deepens the cover-up of the rogue unit that Bristow was part of. 

Finally, I can only hope that you read the book of Elisse Hategan Race Traitor-The true story of Canadian Intelligence’s greatest cover-up. You will not find all the story but important parts of it in regards to Bristow’s real activities. Ms. Hategan went into hiding with the support of community members and anti-racists. She never got anything from the State, while Bristow is day-dreaming in the Foothills for his agent-provocateur work paid by Canadian taxpayers. One word, watch the tapes of Bristow’s speeches at neo-nazi rallies and he was shouting White Power! and as for the white powder, this is the one he is directing to medias in order to manipulate canadians.

I am still working against hate and bigotry. If you want , you can contact me at this e-mail address.

Martin Thériault
Research group on the far-right and its allies

http://www.parl.gc.ca/Content/HOC/Archives/Committee/351/sena/evidence/19_95-06-13/sena19_blk-e.html

 

Posted in canada, grant bristow, news, politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

A Year of Light and Darkness

Posted by E on December 30, 2016

elisa-dec2016As 2016 comes to an end, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on what has been a very transformative year for me. An extremely difficult one as well since this month marks one year since my mother’s death last December, and her loss still feels altogether raw and very recent.

But it’s also been marked by some personal and professional accomplishments: I travelled to South America for the first time on a research project, and I’ve finally completed my last course for my Social Media Marketing Certificate from George Brown college! I must confess, I was waiting to earn this degree before I publish my new Art of Social Media Marketing for Creatives book, and now it’s going through the final edits before heading off to the printer.

I wanted to also touch upon some memorable highlights. When it comes to publications, there are three I am most proud of this year:

1. In March I published my literary novel Daughters of the Air, which interweaves the tragic tale of Adele Hugo, a retelling of The Little Mermaid fairytale and a modern-day timeline into a story of obsession, reincarnation and exploration of everlasting love. It’s tone is similar to The Red Violin and Posession, in that it’s a haunting love story that spans three continents, three timelines and three hundred years – a search for the root of heartbreak that involves mermaids, political activists and haunted geniuses. It flows from Paris to the Channel Islands, from spiritualist séances to the austere coastlines of Nova Scotia.

I am extremely proud of this book and I really hope you guys will get a chance to read it, because I poured all my heart into this one and it’s by far my most ambitious novel.

Daughters of the Air  CV2 cover  CV2 poem

2. In April, my villanelle poem One Europe was published in one of Canada’s oldest literary journals Contemporary Verse 2: The Canadian Journal of Poetry and Critical Writing (CV2). It’s the only national poetry magazine that continues to publish four times a year and I was so excited to be included in the Spring 2016 edition. I was inspired by Elizabeth Bishop’s One Art to create a similar pattern, and I’m so very glad that I wrote it. A villanelle has a very complicated rhyming pattern and creating it was a lot of work, but the joy and sense of accomplishment I felt for being able to create something this complex was tremendously rewarding.

3. In July, my editorial article was published in the Canadian Jewish News in a three-page spread. Moreover, it actually made the front cover for that week’s print edition! Nothing beats receiving a congratulatory message from my former university professor, mentor and self-described “Jewish uncle”, renowned Canadian poet Seymour Mayne, praising me for having my article featured on the cover – he’d just received it in the mail hours before Shabbat, and it made our weekend.

cjn-cover cjn1 cjn2

Although I would gladly have written the piece for free, getting a cheque from the CJN for the article was a great feeling. Depending on Patreon, writing grants, freelancing projects crowdfunding sites to keep writing full-time is a haphazard, unpredictable process that can get stressful. A lot of people read my blog but very few realize just how time-consuming writing can be, and how generating money is a persistent issue. If everyone who reads my blog donated a single dollar to my Patreon fund each month, I would have a full-time income.

I’ve been a blogger and freelance journalist for years, but my work often went unpaid. My experience with CJN taught me that I can effectively pitch and sell articles to major publications, which has shifted my perspective and made me more ambitious about pursuing paid gigs with established publications. Who knows, lighting could strike twice and I might get another article to grace a front cover someday!

Elisa HasdeuIn the coming year I intend to work more on commissioned articles and less on regular blogging. Actually, I spent the early part of summer taking online courses to earn my certificate in Journalism from Michigan State University. Although I don’t believe that a formal degree is necessary in an oversaturated field where very few can find full-time employment, I see reporting, blogging and freelance work as a continuum in 21st century journalism. In a world where an increasing number of mainstream reporters are being laid off and digital publications redefine the profession, the lines between mainstream reporter, blogger and independent journalist have become blurred.

But don’t fret, my friends! Even though I will be making paid freelance work a priority, I could never give up blogging altogether – it’s become second nature to me. I started blogging in 2007 or -8 and it’s been such a helpful outlet of emotional and artistic expression for me, not to mention that I’ve met so many great people through it.

But time will be an issue. This spring I am booked for approx. eight to ten speaking engagements throughout Ontario and Quebec. In March I will be a speaker at a conference where Minister of Foreign Affairs Stephane Dion, former Attorney General Irwin Cotler and several United Nations staffers will also be presenting. It’s also a great opportunity to meet others involved in human rights, genocide documentation and social justice issues.

Afterwards I will be interviewed for a PBS special which will be filmed in NY state. I’ve also been asked to speak at SUNY that week.

Between the speaking engagements, a commissioned book I’m working on for a client and writing my own memoir, time is a commodity that I will have to plan carefully. Still, the excitement of achieving so many personal goals is more powerful than my ubiquitous jitters of speaking in front of large audiences.

Under a Trump presidency and alt-right governance, more than ever, it’s an important time to be a journalist and activist. I look forward to bringing my story, knowledge and expertise about extremist movements to a broader audience.

This year I was a consultant on a short documentary about Ernst Zundel‘s former home, titled ‘206 Carlton‘, produced by a Ryerson University Documentary Media student. I was also quoted in several articles about the resurgence of the ultra-right wing in Canada, such as:

CityNews: Alleged Toronto neo-Nazi publication expands west, pestering downtowners

National Post: ‘Hitler actually wasn’t that bad’: How Neo-Nazis are using attractive young women to boost their movement

All of this has led to a sharp rise of hate tweets, Facebook messages and threatening emails coming at me from social media trolls emboldened by Trump’s win to the point of delusion. Par for the course, I suppose – though the vile anti-Semitic, misogynist words reveal the persons behind them for the pathetic cowards that they are.

Lastly, I’m proud of an extensive, in-depth interview I did with author Samita Sarkar of Blossoms Writing. It’s a worthwhile discussion to check out if you’re interested in knowing more about me, the story behind Race Traitor and its aftermath.

So on this note, I wish all of you love and light for the New Year. May your 2017 be bright and inspiring, and remember – tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365-page book. Write a good one!

new-year-blank-page

 

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Colonia Dignidad – An Experiment in Terror and Behavior Modification

Posted by E on April 18, 2016

Emma Watson Colonia

If you’re planning to see the new Emma Watson film Colonia, please don’t watch the trailer first. Punctuated by the groan-inducing line “When they took her man”, this has to be one of the worst trailers I’ve ever seen. Its weakness resides in the fact that they take an empowered, arguably feminist main character and make her out to look like a desperate flower, someone who cannot survive unless she finds “her man”. But since I’ve just told you not to think of a pink elephant and piqued your curiosity, here’s the trailer so you can see for yourself:

Hollywood is no stranger to using contrived romances that push the boundaries of cheese in order to serve up an important social or political event as backdrop. Think the fictitious, ill-fated romance of Jack and Rose to showcase the spectacular sinkability of the most unsinkable ships of all, the Titanic. But there’s a fine line between using romance to build up a film and gratuitous humping, and that line was blurred for the first 12 minutes of Colonia, as Lena and Daniel went at each other worse than the cats in heat outside my place at night. Fighting against the urge to hurl a glass of cold water at the screen and shout “Break it up already!”, I gritted my teeth and stuck it out. (Am I showing my age here or what?) Oh, and to all of you asking on YouTube if Emma gets nude in this flick, sorry to disappoint.

It took a while for the movie to get better. It didn’t help that the main characters’ downfall begins with a series of utterly idiotic moves. Hey – there’s a violent riot outside! Let me grab my camera, run right up to cops in combat gear and shoot photos of them beating up people! No way are they going to kick my head in or beat up my girlfriend! Oh, and just keep standing in the front row at prisoner roll-call when the wiser move would be to blend at the back of the crowd and hope you won’t get noticed, especially since you’re a political activist and agitator.

But alas, after the lovebirds (or cats in heat, depending on your perspective) get separated, Emma Watson’s Lena sacrifices herself by travelling to Colonia Dignidad in an attempt to infiltrate them. Note: I’m not spoiling the movie here since the trailer basically gives it all away.

Without any solid proof that her boyfriend is still alive or even at Colonia anymore, Lena stays for an unbelievable 130 days working slave labour in scorching fields, spending long days without any water, being beaten up by a matronly, sadistic female camp guard. By then, anybody in their right mind would’ve left already or at least made serious attempts to fly that coop. Instead, Lena purposefully – or shall I say masochistically – manoeuvres to get beaten up (and potentially murdered) at the men’s gathering in a fleeting attempt to see if Daniel is among them.

Colonia movie Emma Watson

OK, so reading this far in my review you might think I really hated it, but you’d be wrong. In truth, Colonia isn’t bad at all (though it had potential to be even better). Its strength lies in the second half, the part that is based on fact rather than fiction – when the full horror of the camp begins to unfold. The brainwashed residents, the hard labour, the dirndls and Eva Braun-type of bun-braids, the children wearing lederhosen who are separated and isolated from their families and grow up not knowing who their parents are.

This was a gripping film with amazing cinematography and a very effective build-up of tension. These days, you practically have to make a deal with the devil in order to shine a spotlight on an issue everybody would otherwise have ignored – the devil in this case being the Harry Potter brand incarnated in Emma Watson, who I should say did a great job with what she was given. The harrowing ending was particularly intense and well-executed.

I’ve always believed that the true mark of a good movie is the lasting impression it has on you – how long it stays in your mind after you’ve left the theatre. Also, that it should teach you something you didn’t know before. This movie checks both these all-important boxes: it lingers with you as well as makes you think and want to learn more, which makes it a success.

I am grateful that it got made, despite the contrived love story and the fact that these days you can’t make a film about an important issue or historical event without the backing of a Hollywood A-lister. In this day and age, being a “celebrity” (i.e. someone who reads lines written by others and performs on cue, like a trained seal) has more weight than the scientists silently toiling away in labs across the world to discover the cure for cancer or dementia. But I digress.

THE TRUE STORY BEHIND THE FILM

colonia-dignidadAlthough I’m fairly familiar with the history of the ex-Nazi diaspora and the communities they established across South America, particularly in Argentina and Brazil, I hadn’t heard about Colonia Dignidad before I watched the film. Now called Villa Baviera (Bavarian Village), in its heyday (and under the leadership of Nazi psychopath Paul Schafer) it was home to hundreds of residents. The 137 km property was surrounded by barbed wire fences, searchlights and a watchtower, and was full of weapon caches and explosives, serving as an impromptu prison for political dissidents brought there by Augusto Pinochet‘s DINA, the Chilean Secret Police.

My immediate thoughts after the movie (and my gut impression) was that there had to be more to Colonia Dignidad beyond providing a means for ex-Luftwaffe officer Paul Schafer‘s cold-blooded sadism and his sexual abuse of children. I know Wikipedia says it’s considered to be a cult of some sort, but this was (and possibly still is) more than just a cult.

Certainly this is evident in the German government’s tacit approval of Schafer’s methodologies, his connections with people high up in the German embassy, as well as deep roots within Pinochet’s secret police. A man who is simply an egomaniac pedophile wouldn’t have this sort of clout. No, there had to be much more to this place for him to get away with all that he did.

It seems to me that Colonia was both a continuation of the concentration camp model, as well as an experiment in behaviour modification – both at the macro and the micro level. Prisoners were brought in and were never seen again. It’s clear that torture happened, but given the cultish obedience and knee-jerk reflex of fear instilled in the residents, the colony may have been a living laboratory in mind control.

Colonia Dignidad Villa Baviera originalI don’t like to throw words like “mind control” around lightly, because there are far too many nutcases and conspiracy theorists like the folks who hang out on Godlike Productions and think a secret brotherhood of shape-shifting reptiles rules the world. The term “mind control” is synonymous with all sorts of crazy, despite the fact that there’s no denying the truth behind Operation Paperclip and the experiments that were carried out both in the West and behind the Iron Curtain during the Cold War years.

Don’t believe me? You don’t have to – both the CIA and Simon Wiesenthal have presented evidence that shows Josef Mengele had resided at the colony for some time in the 1960s. Mengele was just one of several other high-profile Nazis to have stayed there, the other being Martin Bormann, once the highest ranking Nazi in the world after Adolf Hitler. According to historian Ladislas Farago, Bormann lived for a period of time in seclusion at Colonia Dignidad, having “sought a place where he could be at peace.”

There is something sinister about Colonia Dignidad that leads me to believe this was a place where behavior modification experiments happened, if only because the doctrine was rooted in brainwashing of its residents and because medications were often administered, along with severe forms of punishment. But it was also connected with the disappearance of political prisoners who were transported there and were never seen again.

Boris WeisfeilerI think there is more than meets the eye because of the length of time – decades – that Schafer and his goons were able to operate with immunity. Even after Boris Weisfeiler, a Russian-born American mathematician, disappeared and was believed to be murdered by Colonia residents, it took until 2012 (and after Schafer’s death) for a judge to call an indictment against eight retired cops and others involved with the disappearance.

And just one month before the movie Colonia was released, Weisfeiler’s case was deemed a “common crime” whose statute of limitations had passed, and was officially closed.

It’s not difficult to speculate as to the reason why.

Pinochet ruled as dictator of Chile until 1990, but remained the army’s Commander-in-Chief until 1998. The 1970s, 80s and 90s were not that long ago. Many of the officers involved in Pinochet’s regime are well-established men now, men whose power likely still extends all the way up to Chile’s current government. Clearly, there are too many who might have something to lose if the facts behind Colonia Dignidad come out, and they will do everything in their power to sweep the truth under the carpet.

 Mothers of Plaza de Mayo Chile

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On Stalkers, Trolls and Awesomeness

Posted by E on January 29, 2016

Fearless

I’ve given a lot of thought to this subject, especially in light of a recent landmark court case which determined that freedom of expression on social media networks trumps moral outrage and the perception of being harassed simply because one’s feelings have been hurt due to insensitive online comments. As the judge put it, “One man’s vulgarity is another man’s lyric.” (Judge B. Knazan, R v Elliott). This precedent-setting court case involved two prominent Toronto feminists, Stephanie Guthrie and Heather Reilly, and a man named Gregory Alan Elliott who had directed crude and disparaging comments at the women via Twitter.

As a writer and freelance journalist who prizes freedom of expression, but also as someone who identifies as a feminist and who has been harassed online, I understand both sides of this argument – the importance of standing up for your right to express dissent, even comments that others might consider politically-incorrect and offensive, versus a human being’s basic need to feel safe and not personally-attacked. It was an ugly case that probably shouldn’t have ended up in criminal court at all – a case where people on both sides of the equation were not entirely without blame for adding fuel to what became a nasty online battle made up of hurled insults and unproven accusations (such as pedophilia) between feminists and MRAs (men’s rights activists).

auschwitz meme forgivenessFor most of us who write political commentary and engage in social media conversations, this battle hits close to home. For me personally, what comes to mind is a comment left on my Facebook Author Page last year where an Oshawa man threatened to blow my head off with his shotgun. It was just after I’d published my memoir Race Traitor: The True Story of Canadian Intelligence’s Greatest Cover-up and the threats were coming in.

Even though I screen-captured the comment and my friends urged me to contact police, I held back – knowing that it wouldn’t do much difference. Some of my supporters contacted the man directly and threatened to report him to the authorities, and he promptly removed the comment and sent his profound apologies, terrified that I would get him arrested. In truth, I didn’t want to go through a court case and deal with police. Instead, I just blocked him on social media and chalked it up to drugs and/or alcohol having played a factor in the threat. Fortunately, after the dust settled I never heard from him again.

A couple of months later I received an email from Aryan Nations in Idaho (I have site trackers installed on my websites and I was able to authenticate the IP of the email as having come from the Hayden Lake, Idaho area) also insulting and threatening me. Once again, it disturbed me for a little while but I decided to shake it off – after a few years as a prolific blogger, you get your share of disturbed individuals and pretty much the only thing you can do is not let them get to you.

The courts are not going to be of much help. As everyone has seen after the Elliott case was decided, the comments being hurled at Steph Guthrie on Twitter these days are a lot more mean-spirited and threatening than what Elliott had ever previously tweeted. Moral of the story? Nobody can help you if you can’t help yourself first by disengaging in conversations with trolls and blocking them. It also means that you resist the temptation to answer back, to check what they might have said after you blocked them, to call them on their bullshit, etc. Ignoring someone is a two-way street, and most people learn this the hard way.

fearlesnessIndeed, I have blogged and published content on various social media platforms for close to a decade. In that time I’ve encountered my fair share of online stalkers, creepy harassers and trolls, and I also spent far too much time stressed and concerned over my safety – but such stress has impacted on my own well-being and productivity. As anyone who’s had an online presence for that long will tell you, the more nasty comments, tweets or emails you get, the more your ability to express yourself becomes limited, at the very least on a subconscious level.

You begin to censor yourself, to be unduly careful not to express opinions that might be divisive, lest they provoke and set off someone whose only pleasure seems to be targeting individuals online with anonymous hate and abuse.

Although my exposure to such abuse has prepared me for the possibility of being a target, I can’t say that it’s made the experience any easier when it is actually happening. I have come to realize that it’s an ugly world out there and not much I can do about mentally-ill, unbalanced individuals or substance abusers who have nothing better to do than stalk my blogs and websites obsessively.

awesome kittyWhile I cannot do much about others’ behaviours, I can choose to exert control over my reaction. I know it’s a cliché but it’s one that makes sense for a reason – your reactions can make or break your confidence and impact your view of the world. Despite the distress I’ve felt over the years, I realize today that I must grow a thick skin if I am going to last in this profession – I already wrote about this last spring in a piece titled The Brutal Truth About Being a Writer.

I have no choice but to reframe my reality and embolden myself by accepting that no matter what I do, crazy people will always be there. But they cannot hurt me if I don’t allow them the power to get to me, to poison my mind with fear. Like with voodoo, threats and intimidation only work when you allow yourself to believe them. By rejecting fear, you detach from needing external validation from virtual strangers, reject their interpretation of who you are, and take back your power.

This is how I become INVINCIBLE.

This brings me to my 2016 Resolution –to REFRAME how I deal with daily #socialmedia psychos. From now on, instead of allowing them to affect me or stress me out, I will simply view them as my jealous, adoring Bieber-like fanbase. People without any creativity or talent to make something of themselves; sad and pathetic losers who don’t have a life of their own and are obsessed with mine.

Besides, everybody knows that growth in popularity is commensurate with increase in psycho fandom – any celebrity can tell you this. Whether a movie star or bestselling author, the more popular you get, the more nutbars you are bound to attract. Call it the hidden cost of success.

So, from this day onward, instead of feeling stressed & harassed by IP-specific trolls (who’ve also used proxies and VPNs to stalk me), I will view them as adoring fans addicted to my awesomeness 😉

So if you’re reading this, I know you can’t help yourself – indeed, I am THAT awesome 😀

little girl green grass

right awesome

Posted in activism, blogging, politics, press, social media, writer, writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

The Road Less Travelled: Authenticity in the Age of Indifference

Posted by E on January 6, 2016

loss

My mother died on December 2, 2015. She was 71. What was to be a joy-filled holiday season turned into a time of horror and desperate sadness for me. Not only because of the passing of my last surviving parent, but because of the indifference of people I’d trusted and held closest to my heart. Some of my closest friends, whom I’d counted on for emotional support in such a difficult time (mistakenly assuming they would reciprocate in empathy because I was always there for them) didn’t so much as phone me to see how I was, conversely finding enough time to post countless selfies and memes on Facebook.

indifference elie wiesel quoteI broke down. I blamed myself in a million ways – if I hadn’t insisted that my mother be hospitalized because of her advanced dementia, maybe she could have lived another year. Lots of studies state that living in one’s home prolongs one’s life – maybe I killed her in some way. Maybe it was my inability to visit more than once or twice per week (because I live out of town). Maybe because I still blamed her for the abuse I suffered as a child, for not protecting me when I needed her most. Maybe, maybe, maybe. I hated myself, I crucified myself….and in the end, I realized that the only person I was accountable to was myself.

My mother’s harsh death (she passed away in my arms, in a dimly-lit private room, after I told her that I’d forgiven her and that I loved her) and my friends’ shocking indifference taught me about the importance of being real – of authenticity and living in the moment, as raw and unfiltered as it might be. And, maybe because I’m still in shock or traumatized by the indifference of those closest to me, I realized that my first article of the year has to be about authenticity and integrity – especially in the golden age of apathy and indifference.

indifference wieselWe live in a time when technology has connected humanity more than ever, but paradoxically we have drifted apart in inexcusable ways – ways that will eventually lead to the decline of our humanity. We live in an age where we have the power to take to the streets and end the wars our governments wage against innocent nations in the name of oil, but we are too busy sharing Youtube clips of kittens, Drake songs and Kardashian “booty twerking”.

This is why I write this post, and this is why I am asking all of you to take a moment and reflect on your own authenticity. At the end of the day, what do you want to be known for? What would have been your purpose?

Are we really the people we think we are? Or have we deluded ourselves to think ourselves more capable and deserving than we really are? Have we really put in the time, sweat, blood and tears necessary to fulfill our dreams?

This piece, my first of 2016, is about the choice we all have to make – whether to be an impostor inside our own lives, or seize the days ahead and realize our potential with the authenticity and integrity needed to breathe life into our dreams.

I once knew a girl named Elizabeth Moore who was obsessed with Jews. At first she hated them, having become a neo-Nazi. Later on, after she left the hate movement and became a self-appointed anti-racist, she wanted nothing more than to be a Jew. She surrounded herself with Jews. She slept with Jewish officials associated with the Canadian Jewish Congress. She had years-long affairs that appear to have advanced her career, if her LinkedIn profile is anything to go by. She volunteered to be in films and documentaries that featured or were produced by Jews. She inserted herself like an insidious tapeworm into the Jewish community, going so far as to emulate me and issues I had discussed in prominent interviews regarding my role as a young girl who had actively helped to shut down the Canadian neo-Nazi movement.

Moore shown in Choose Your Voice, 2005

Moore shown in Choose Your Voice, 2005

We first became friends sometime in late 2012/ early 2013. At first I liked her – why wouldn’t I? We had lots of quirky interests in common. Elizabeth even declared publicly that I was her “soul sister” – perhaps because in our distant youth we had both made the mistake of joining (and eventually leaving) the same white supremacist hate group, the Heritage Front.

But ultimately we were nothing alike. At age 16 I was a runaway, often homeless MINOR from bullet-ridden Shuter Street in Regent Park who needed a family. By age 18 I had defected from the group, turned information to police and testified in court against dangerous neo-Nazis who had threatened me with death, leading to their eventual convictions.

Elizabeth, on the other hand, was a university-attending, 19-year old ADULT, the only daughter of an upper-middle class family who lived in the area of Pebblehill Square, an affluent part of Scarborough, Ontario. Unlike me, she chose to remain in the group until age 21 and did absolutely nothing to actively shut down (she didn’t testify in court or provide police with information as I had) or stop the neo-Nazis whose company she had once enjoyed.

Over the years, Elizabeth’s obsession with Jews eventually led her to marry a secular (non-religious) Jew. Then, after close to a decade of hanging around the now-defunct Canadian Jewish Congress (if her resume is any indication), she set upon getting an MFA from Toronto’s Ryerson University in documentary film-making. The MFA’s piece de resistance culminated with 2 years spent to produce a 20-minute film titled “In God’s Keeping” (the Vimeo trailer has since been removed) – the subject being none other than Moore capturing herself as a former neo-Nazi whose greatest desire appeared the wish to become a Jew.

Moore In Gods Keeping

Moore pictured in In God’s Keeping – image from Ryerson.ca

For her documentary, Elizabeth interviewed rabbis, synagogue staff, other potential converts, even top leaders of the Jewish community. She was keen, almost desperate to convert – or so it seemed. She made profiles on LinkedIn that included resume-building credentials with the Canadian Jewish Congress, although CJC officials deny she was ever in their employment. She sought to befriend big names on the Jewish scene, including community leaders and religious officials such as Tina Grimberg of the Darchei Noam congregation/synagogue.

Unbeknownst to Elizabeth, for the past decade I too had progressed on the path toward Judaism. I had already discovered that my father was Jewish and I wanted to return to the faith of my ancestors, and a DNA test taken through 23andme confirmed my Jewish heritage. Unlike her, I didn’t attempt to publicize or capitalize on my inner journey – I just studied and read as much as I could. Reaching out to media – much less before my actual conversion – would have been unfathomable (and embarrassing) for such a personal journey.

Naturally, as soon as Elizabeth told me of her intent and gave me a copy of her film, I was terribly excited that she too wanted to be a Jew. We spent countless hours over the following months comparing notes about conversion, discussing philosophical ideas and our pasts, questioning what our future identities as Jews would entail.

Across 2013, I began studying in earnest and enrolled in a Conversion to Judaism class. I read religious texts, classic and modern Judaic discussions, and joined a Jewish community. I struggled trying to make sense of the Hebrew alphabet. On December 17 (my actual birthday), I met with a three-rabbi Beit Din, immersed in a purifying Mikvah, and I became a Jew. Read about my moving experience that day in the entry Journey to Judaism: The Day I Became a Jew.

But did Elizabeth eventually go through with her conversion?

No. Of course not. Such a radical step would involve substance, and soul, and ardent desire; no publicity but an inner transformation of the spirit. In the end, Elizabeth’s obsession with becoming a Jew appeared in my eyes to have been more about appropriating a culture that wasn’t hers, ingratiating herself overtly with influential Jewish leaders, and benefitting emotionally and financially than about actually getting her feet wet and embracing a rich, millennia-old heritage. A culture that (in her own words in an email dated April 7, 2014) “can illicit PTSD responses”.

In February 2015, Elizabeth invited me over for dinner at her house and subsequently sold me her entire Jewish and Judaism-themed library (approx. 30 books) for $40. Actually, she had wanted to give me the books for free. I, on the other hand, didn’t feel right about accepting them without paying at least $1 per book, so I gave her all the money I had in my purse. Elizabeth’s reason for changing her mind about Judaism: she didn’t want to have to learn Hebrew.

Committing to weekly Hebrew classes was too tedious, she told me. She didn’t feel like attending weekly classes downtown for more than a year. Her husband hadn’t even had a Bar Mitzvah – he too didn’t see the point. And why should she? By then she’d already ingratiated herself in the Jewish community, by way of personal social media relationships with former leaders of the Canadian Jewish scene like Bernie Farber and Karen Mock. All this despite that she had done absolutely nothing for the Jewish community, other than arguably to exploit and monetize her connections with the CJC for close to a decade.

I can’t say I didn’t feel both saddened and shocked at her statement – here I was, having gone through more than a year of conversion studies, taking my choice to heart, while someone who was busy befriending people like Farber and Mock on social media and in real life (along with others in the close-knit Toronto Jewish community) seemed inwardly repulsed, or at the very least put off, by the thought of learning Hebrew, a core part of Judaism and its historical legacy.

star david peaceJudaism was still making Elizabeth Moore feel icky, deep down inside. It was making her break into hives much in the same way as the sight of a swastika. Jewish symbols were still “triggers” – along with neo-Nazi and Hitler regalia. In other words, although Jews had done absolutely nothing to her and she had been the anti-Semite, seeing a Star of David would be enough to send her into fits and panic attacks.

In the end, after two decades of obsessions related to Jews, sleeping with Jews, marrying Jews (in a Christian-style, non-denominational ceremony), being prominently featured in Jewish documentaries and a CBC feature that earned her $12,000 despite being partly based on my life story, even getting a degree that culminated in a documentary that depicted her ardent desire to be a Jew – she gave up the dream because she was loathe to learn the Jewish language.

I learned something powerful from Elizabeth Moore last year – that in this day and age, the act of going through the motions, the pretense of wanting to be something, is enough for people to convince themselves that they have what it takes – and the line between living an authentic life or forging a false, self-deluded existence becomes increasingly blurred.

To Thine Own Self Be TrueYou’ve met those people – the girl in yoga class who recites motivational quotes about positive thinking because she watched “The Secret” but takes no real steps toward actually applying for the job she claims she desires. The hipster dude who tells everybody he’s a genius poet – the next Bob Dylan, the next Rimbaud or Bukowski – but prefers playing the part of disturbed bard at the local watering hole, charming gullible coeds over flowing pints of Guinness, than over writing any actual verses.

We all know these types. We went to school with people whose unshakable confidence and self-assurance made our own self-esteem shine less brightly. People who seemed higher-than-life and more important than us merely because they had played the part to perfection. But in the end, substance faltered beneath the enormous weight of their ego’s illusion.

The idea of being a Jew – making films about becoming a Jew, associating with the Jewish community while holding mixed feelings about Jews themselves – was more attractive to Elizabeth than the actual pursuit of studying Judaism. Telling everybody she wanted to be a Jew held more significance, in the end, than truly understanding the plight of a people who were forced to give up their language, customs and very identity on threat of death for half a millennia.

So for the New Year, I encourage all of you to pursue your dreams and truly commit to whatever you most desire – because you don’t want to be one of those sad individuals who live an entire lifetime unable to distinguish between the fantasy of being something – say, a writer – and the actual gruelling, painful process of transforming yourself, your soul and your art into the real thing.

integrity memeLet’s all be real, people. Let’s be authentic, to ourselves and to the world surrounding us. Money, media connections, this life is all temporal. Only too late do we realize that we don’t need to impress anybody – this brief moment on earth is about surpassing our worst fears and inadequacies and being authentic to our soul’s purpose.

Holding my mother in my arms as she faded away taught me the importance of looking past the illusion. What illusion? All of it. The world we live in is an illusion, and the only thing that matters is how much we loved. How authentic and empathetic we were. And as the Jewish saying goes, that our memory becomes a blessing onto others.

In this New Year, practice acts of radical kindness. Believe in your ability to transcend the pain that surrounds us all.

To be honest, I struggled over the publication of this piece. I didn’t know whether I should disclose Elizabeth’s secrets (particularly involving the intimate affairs that earned her publicity and media exposure). Perhaps her intention of becoming a Jew had been genuine, once upon a time, and had dissolved along the way, or perhaps it had been fuelled from the beginning by a persistent need for attention and financial gain. I’ll never know for certain.

In the end, my concern for authenticity (as well as the Jewish community who might be manipulated and deserves to know about this matter) won out – I now believe it is my hard-won duty to tell the truth, as harsh as it may be. Because the act of truth-telling is both redemptive and illuminating, leading to a road that might benefit all of us collectively as a species.

Don’t be ensnared by your own delusions. Face the bitter road ahead – the sweat, the tears. The triumph. To borrow Robert Frost’s timeless words, take that road less travelled by.

It will make all the difference. That’s how we’ll unearth the roots of our humanity.

robert_frost_two_roads

Posted in 1mooreliz, anti-semitism, authenticity, canada, elizabeth moore, indifference, journalism, media, onemooreliz, politics, religion, sarah polley, white supremacy, writer, zundel | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Gagging the Messenger: An Open Letter to Walrus Magazine

Posted by E on September 28, 2015

girl-gagged

This afternoon I read with open-eyed wonder as your magazine trashed Bill C51 and argued passionately against this bill, which you called “a mistake.” A bill which rapidly morphed into a law that gives CSIS untold new powers and is effectively the end of civil rights and privacy as we know it.

What a joke, for a publication that lauded and exonerated a CSIS agent who was directly responsible for the harassment, assault and rape of so many activists and members of the community.

walrus 2004_09In September 2004, just 11 years ago, you were in bed with CSIS. You know exactly what I’m talking about – you published an extremely biased piece by Andrew Mitrovica that essentially exonerated and justified much of CSIS agent Grant Bristow’s actions in what became known as Operation Governor – the creation and funding of a powerful white supremacist, neo-Nazi organization called the Heritage Front.

Your decision to publish this piece of garbage at a time when popular opinion was that CSIS had acted erroneously, resulted in a steep rise of positive publicity for both CSIS and a man who had illegally encouraged skinheads and violent criminals to harass, assault and rape community and anti-racist activists.

Ironic, given the fact that you’ve now jumped on the bandwagon of C-51 critics. Ironic, given that you strive to portray yourself as a high-brow piece of Canadian journalism on the same level as The New Yorker or Atlantic Monthly. One who publishes only the “best writers” Canada has to offer, and claims to be politically fair and impartial.

Yeah, right.

Hategan articleLast year I published a memoir about what I witnessed as a teenager – namely the illegal acts committed by Grant Bristow, along with the illegal acts he encouraged me as a minor (a 17-year old) to commit.

Did you guys even attempt to speak with me? Did your editorial board give a shit? Did Andrew Mitrovica reach out to me and ask me what happened, or make the slightest semblance of an apology, given the preponderance of evidence that the article was a sham? Given the overwhelming evidence from mainstream media that showed how wrong you were to celebrate CSIS?

Wouldn’t it have been good journalism for Mitrovica and/or your editors to contact me or other Bristow victims at any point in time, before or after writing your pro-CSIS piece, given the fact that my testimony was credible both in the court of law (leading to convictions and prison terms for 3 top Heritage Front leaders), and also good enough for me to testify about Bristow’s illegal acts in front of a Parliamentary Subcommittee in the House of Commons? Given the fact that based on a dozen or so affidavits I signed back in 1993 (which you’re welcome to look at upon request), police attempted to open a criminal investigation into Bristow’s activities – but were thwarted by CSIS. (Why don’t you go ask Clayton Ruby and Paul Copeland, both prestigious Canadian human rights lawyers, how hard they tried to get Bristow in for questioning).

No, of course not.

Why? Because your magazine – like most other elitist, cultural literati publications – were not actually concerned with the truth. You had already had your positive spin on Bristow and had already made your sales for the Bristow edition, and that was that. You didn’t really care about the implications of having covered up for a criminal who was responsible for the harassment, threats, assaults and violent rapes that occurred as a direct result of his actions and directions.

Grant Bristow CSISWhy stir the pot after you sold the target amount of issues in your target market? Especially after you’d already set the bar in terms of whitewashing the Bristow affair?

Why reduce yourself to speak with an insignificant, literary nobody? I’m not a male author penning books on political shit-disturbing phenomenon. I’m not one of your prestigious guest authors – hell, you won’t even consider my submissions because I have no names to drop and I’m not second cousins with Margaret Atwood. I didn’t attend that overpriced MFA program one of your staffers was invited to teach at last summer.

I’m a nobody who told the truth.

Worse yet, I’m a woman writing political discourse who cannot get published in Canada – while everywhere around me men (who didn’t witness first-hand what I did) are getting book deals from major publishers – including the men whose excerpts you chose to feature in your September 25, 2015 issue.

I’m sorry I don’t have a penis. Perhaps if I did, I might have captured your attention. Even though you still chose to publish Andrew Mitrovica’s piece on Grant Bristow – despite the fact that unlike Mitrovica, I actually knew the man in person and he counselled me to commit crimes while I was still a teenager. Despite the fact that nobody bothered to fact-check the truth. Why would you, when you could just take Bristow’s word for it?

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Back in the 1990s, I possessed enough information to send at least ten Heritage Front and Northern Hammerskins individuals to jail – including Grant Bristow. Probably more, but it hurts too much to start thinking about all the What Ifs. Aside from learning how to hack into telephone systems and how to push people to the brink of suicide, I was taught another important lesson by CSIS – that the weight of truth depends on the perceived worth of those who speak it.

The intrinsic value of my evidence was judged by my worth as a human being – and as an abused, impoverished teenage girl with no education, family or powerful clique of good old CSIS boys to back me up, what I had to say meant absolutely nothing.

Thanks to Canada’s Security and Intelligence Service, millions of dollars were sank into ugly, bottomless pit that was Operation Governor. Falsehoods were spun to assert that Bristow had somehow “prevented” crime from happening, though the fabrications included in the SIRC Report tell us just how much their words are worth. And when I brought real, concrete evidence forth to prosecute dangerous individuals, they buried it.

And yet, being that it is 2014 and I am a university-graduate and professional writer, I never expected this treatment from the supposedly-liberal, “bleeding-hearted” media. From journalists who work at Walrus Magazine. Or from the former head of the Canadian Jewish Congress, who organized a forum in a Toronto synagogue where Grant Bristow was invited to speak and got a standing ovation, despite the crimes he had encouraged against members of the Jewish community. Despite the firebombings of Jewish activist homes, synagogues and the Native-Canadian Centre on Spadina Road.

These days C51 is in the headlines and, like any bleeding-hearted liberal publication worth its salt, The Walrus rushed to jump on the bandwagon of why this intrusive, unconstitutional law should be scrapped. Hey, I don’t begrudge your move because anybody with a modicum of intelligence could poke holes in the unconstitutionality and sickening unlawfulness written into the very fabric of C51. But let’s face it – if you were honestly concerned about CSIS’s reach into every aspect of our personal lives, you wouldn’t have condoned, much less published, what amounts to an exoneration – and downright glorification – of Grant Bristow.

MURDER AND RAPE: What You Covered Up

There are things I didn’t include in my memoir. Events so explosive that to this day I’ve feared the repercussions of CSIS and Bristow.  As a teenager I was threatened at knifepoint, told I would be killed if I spoke about what they did. But now that C51 is law, I can’t stay silent any longer.

Because of CSIS’s Operation Governor, people were attacked and murdered. Concert halls paid for with CSIS money resulted in vile hate concerts after which skinheads went looking for targets to beat up and attack – and in the summer of 1993, three Sri Lankan men were beaten in the streets of Toronto: two of them died, including 32-year old Gunalan Muthulingam. A third one, a 41-year old Sri Lankan Tamil immigrant, former science teacher and father of three by the name of Sivarajah Vinasithamby was punched and kicked in the head so violently that he became brain damaged and paralyzed.

Two women were raped – one violent assault took place in Vancouver, British Columbia and was orchestrated by Operation Governor’s star agent. The other sexual assault took place in Toronto, where a black woman was violently raped by an unknown white supremacist because she had been a social worker in a group home that had recently expelled a 14-year old female member of the Heritage Front.

Instead of investigating the attack, the white police officer charged the victim with mischief. The charges were dropped after I contacted her attorney, famous human rights attorney Clayton Ruby, and volunteered to testify on the victim’s behalf. (Public Mischief Charges Dropped – Toronto Star Mar 8, 1994, Page A6).

CSIS was behind the illegal smuggling of violent White Aryan Resistance (W.A.R.) white supremacists Tom and John Metzger into Canada in 1992, who were smuggled over the border dressed as rabbis (the idea of their star agent Bristow – who you lauded in your Walrus issue). CSIS brought them in, and then got praised for sweeping in to arrest them in the parking lot of the Latvian Hall.

Your boy Grant Bristow, after his heroic depiction in the Walrus by Andrew Mitrovica, went on to harass Jewish Edmonton mayor Stephen Mendel in an attempt to alter the mayoral election, as summarized in this media coverage.

I’m not saying that you are guilty of covering up crimes which you didn’t know existed. But – as a publication that strives to represent the Canadian public – the very least you could have done is allow me to tell my side of the story. If you truly cared about justice, you could have started a new investigation, which – even if you insisted that a male journalist write it – would allow me to share my side of the story.

Instead, as always, you sided with the men – the CSIS agents, the male authors who penned your political pieces, the men in your editorial board who were confronted with the truth and looked away.

By doing so, you became complicit in the CSIS cover-up of Operation Governor.

So please don’t insult my intelligence. Don’t sit here and pay lip service to why C-51 should be scrapped, when you have implicitly cooperated with the criminals in covering up the truth of what really took place in the 1990s. Because, in truth, elitist literati like yourself don’t give a shit about the activists who actually make things happen.

You only give a shit about the status quo, and what’s “hot” in the moment. If you did, you would recognize the error you made in whitewashing the Bristow Affair and Operation Governor, and take a modicum of personal responsibility.

You don’t represent the average Canadian, and you don’t actually give a shit about anything other than your own fiscal bottom line.

You don’t actually care about the truth, or you wouldn’t have made sure to cover it up.

Elisa Hategan is the author of the bestselling memoir Race Traitor: The True Story of Canadian Intelligence’s Greatest Cover-up, which can be purchased at Amazon and select retailers.

 

Posted in canada, csis, politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Artist’s Basic Guide to Establishing a Social Media Presence – Part 1: Build Your Brand

Posted by E on August 22, 2015

PART 1 – Build your Brand

Social-Media-Branding social media ideas

There is so much to say about this subject that I couldn’t do it justice in a single blog piece, so I decided to break up my points into a series of articles that I will be posting over the months to come. There are literally thousands of useful articles all over the internet on the topic of social media and developing an online presence, so I will mainly tailor this series to the artistic community – writers, media artists and anyone in the arts who is interested in building and/or expanding their artistic platform.

In my mind, there is no better place to start this conversation than at the very beginning – as Maria Von Trapp would say in Do-Re-Mi, it’s a very good place to start. And when it comes to the ABC’s of social media marketing, in my view there is no place better to start than the art of establishing your personal Brand.

Most of you are already familiar with using internet search engines like Google to expand your knowledge and drive your own self-taught process – that’s how you probably stumbled onto my blog. But I write this basic guide for the people I’ve met over the years who, on various author forums, boast with confidence that there’s no need to develop their brand until their books are complete and ready for publication.

That’s what a publisher and their marketing department are about,” is a phrase I’ve heard over and over. “I’m not going to be one of those shameless self-promoting ‘indie writers’. I want to go the traditional route so that all I concern myself with is my writing – and someone else takes care of everything, i.e. the editorial work, cover design, marketing, building my website, taking care of my press releases and book tours.”

Regardless of whether you plan to publish independently or have secured a trad contract (or are a hybrid author like me) if you still believe that someone else is going to hand you a career simply because you wrote a great book – and that’s earned you a free pass to publishing stardom – you are living in a dream world.

I am here to shatter that myth – both as an independent writer and as someone who was courted by a traditional Big Five publisher. This is not the case. Unless you’re already a bestselling writer, a highly-grossing celebrity or nepotistically connected to a publisher – in which case ghostwriters will actually write your books for you – everybody is expected to perform well past the moment you type “The End” on your manuscript.

 

pink typewriterIn my meetings with the editorial and marketing department heads at Penguin Canada prior to me deciding to self-publish my memoir Race Traitor, the most recurring questions were related to my social media platform. The expectation was that I would bring my own fans and branding to the table – this wasn’t an optional thing. It was a necessity and an expectation.

Their marketing department was going to assist with arranging media interviews and that sort of thing, but they weren’t going to build me a website, a blog or anything like that – in fact, they wanted to make sure I already had those things already in place and ready to go.

So where do you start? Do you have to enroll in a college course on marketing, or hire one of the infinitesimal droves of self-described social media consultants out there in order to develop your presence? As artists, we don’t have the budget for this sort of thing and more importantly, these are skills you’re best to acquire yourself rather than pay others to do for you. Of course there will be a learning curve – isn’t there one in everything? – but the sooner you learn these basic tips, the faster will you be on your way to having your own platform.

world before social mediaThe wireless world is expanding at an exponential rate, and whatever has been taught in a social marketing course two years ago is often obsolete or replaced by a hot new medium – Periscope and Snapchat, for instance, are products of the last couple of years. Social media, in general, is all about the next great fad. It’s about buzzwords and ideas, newly revolving angles that give birth to new opportunities.

In other words, social media changes on a daily basis. Everything you knew yesterday is now wrong. That is what’s most exciting about it – having to stay on your toes. So unless you are continually learning and keeping up to date in the field, degrees in social media marketing (which cost thousands of dollars) are going to become useless rather fast.

A 2015 article featured in Business Insider titled “The 10 Most Useless Graduate Degrees” placed marketing at number 2 on their list of the most degrees one can possess. And according to a 2013 Workopolis article that included a segment titled Ten jobs that won’t exist in ten years, ‘ Social Media Expert’ topped the list. Given all the contradictory media coverage of what constitutes an “expert”, it’s easy to see where anyone could grow confused.

Social-Media-ConfusionThere is nothing inherently wrong with hiring a pro if you’re stumped about what to do next – the right publicity expert, strategist and PR firm can be worth its weight in gold. But no matter how you proceed, you owe it to yourself to acquire the basic set of skills that you’re going to need in order to maintain a public image – and this goes far beyond having a Facebook Page and an Twitter account.

You can ask questions and acquire skills just by sitting in on a #hashtag Twitter discussion or participate in a LinkedIn group. You can look up new trends on Reddit. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! By doing your research online, you can develop enough expertise to navigate the turbulent waters of the ever-evolving social media world – you may not become an expert, but you can attain many of the skills needed to establish a successful platform on the world wide web.

confusionSo where do you start? Simple – buy your own name domain. If you have a common name, put your middle initial in it, or use a diminutive. But no matter what, have your own domain – this is crucial. You don’t have to build a website – but you can point the URL to your own blog, or Facebook page, or wherever you want it to redirect.

If you’re developing a brand along with your name, buy the url for that brand. Don’t just assume that you can wait until you’re ready to build a site, because good domain names are hard to come by, and even if you own a trademark patent on a term, it doesn’t mean someone hasn’t already purchased the domain.

It’s not necessary to buy every url extension you can – but if at all possible, buy the .com. Let’s face it, .com is where it’s at – it’s the oldest and most recognized domain extension you can have. I strongly encourage you to also buy your own country’s extension – for instance, as a Canadian I own both the .com and the .ca to both my name AND my blog, as well as publishing company. Why your own country extension? Well, it wouldn’t really matter to me if there was an Incognito Press in Australia, would it? But I certainly wouldn’t want to compete with another Canadian company by the same name – this could lead to my own brand’s dilution and confusion among clients.

The first step I took before I started this blog was to make sure that incognitopress.com was available for purchase. It was only after I had purchased the domain that I began to develop my blog and brand identity. I own a couple of dozen domains – both for my real name and my pseudonyms, and various businesses. It might cost me a couple hundred dollars a year, but it’s a business tax write-off and a vital part of my brand development.

Few things are more heartbreaking than to have spent years building up a brand, put in the hours to write blog posts, form connections on social media platforms, and then realize that you didn’t pony up the $10 or less to register your brand name url. Sadly, this sort of thing has been overlooked even by people with degrees in social media marketing.

I’ve seen this type of situation happen over and over – with business owners having to fork over thousands of dollars to a cybersquatter and/or lawyer in order to recover their brand. However, if you haven’t patented/trademarked a title and you are not a well-known brand (i.e. your name isn’t Disney, Coca-Cola, Michael Jordan or Kevin Spacey – who incidentally spent over $30,000 to get the rights to kevinspacey.com back) you might be out of luck.

social media  social media expert

So to sum up:

1. Educate yourself online. Make sure you have a Facebook account, a public Facebook Page (these two are actually different things, don’t confuse them), a LinkedIn profile and a Twitter account. For people trying to build a professional brand, these four things are no longer optional. Remember that most sites have built-in tutorials and Help sections, so if you can’t figure out how YouTube, Reddit, Pintrest or Instagram work, they make it easy for you.

2. Start a blog if you can. My favourite platform is WordPress, but Blogger is very reliable as well. I’ve used both, and each has a plethora of customizable templates to choose from. I’ve heard good things about Tumblr.

3. Start a website. The most idiot-proof platform I’ve found to create a speedy website – even if you haven’t a clue what HTML is – is weebly.com. I’ll discuss it at length in a future post, but suffice it to say it’s a beautiful and very affordable drag-and-drop web-builder system that will have you online in no time.

4. Buy a) your name domain, and b) your business name domain. Either of these will help people reach you. You can point them to your blog or weebly website.

5. Make your business name easy to remember – that means NO dashes. People won’t remember if you tell them “my website is Elisa-dash-the-dash-writer-dot-com”.

6. Don’t make your domain name too long or confusing to spell.

7. If people constantly misspell your domain, consider buying the misspelled domain as well. (For example, if your surname is MacDonald vs McDonald). In my case, the Romanian form of my first name is Eliza. When Romanians google my name or enter the url (I get a sizeable amount of traffic from Romania), they often type “elizahategan.com”. So guess what? I bought that url and now point it to my current website. No more confusion – and no other Eliza can steal away my name domain!

8. Don’t let your domain ownership expire! There are lots of people who wait for domains to expire and buy them up, only to resell them at outrageous prices back to business owners desperate to get their branding back. Do you really want to be at the mercy of this new owner? Worse yet, what if they take your domain name and point it to an x-rated site? What if it’s a competitor who works in the same field as you?

9. Your social media skillset should not consist of merely posting to Facebook or Tweeting about your weekend. Nor should it take the form of constant self-promotions. When all I see in my feed is an author screaming ‘BUY MY BOOK! ON SALE TODAY ONLY’ ad nauseam, I either mute them or unfollow them. Some self-promotion is obviously okay, but why should I buy your book if you’re not interested in getting to know me and my own work? We’re all trying to establish a significant presence in our field, and there are good AND bad ways of going about it. Do not risk alienating potential friends and readers by badgering them with non-stop advertising. It’s transparent, it doesn’t work, and it actually hurts your brand’s self-respect.

10. Not all marketing takes place online! Old-fashioned human interaction is still one of the best ways to sell yourself and your work. Look up your local writing circles and artist networking groups. Read the flyers pinned to billboards at hipster hangouts, go and attend poetry reading nights, have fun at street fair events.

11. But before you go to all those conventions and register for those free talks, you’ve gotta have yourself some cool merch – i.e business cards or any kind of stuff to hand out so that people remember you. And for business cards, it’s Vistaprint all the way, baby! I’m one of their early adopters. Ten years ago I started buying business cards for practically nothing – just the cost of shipping. The quality and price are unbeatable – I’ve used them for business cards, postcards of my book covers, holiday cards and everything in between.

12. If there’s nothing in your area, start your own group! When I first joined Facebook, I didn’t see any GLBT writers groups present in my area (Toronto) so I started my own group, GLBT Writers in Toronto. Now we have about 200 members, and some of us have actually met offline!

So ultimately, remember that it takes a lot of time and effort to be an ‘overnight’ success. Here are some of my social media profiles, if you want to check them out for reference – and if you are active on any of these platforms, I would love to connect with you 🙂

My Author Website

Incognito Press Website

My Facebook Page

My Twitter

My LinkedIn profile

My Instagram

My Blogger Blog 

Me on Reddit

ts-elliot-risk-quote

READ PART TWO: Crowdfunding Your Project

READ PART THREE: The Importance of Blogging

READ PART FOUR: The Author’s 10-Step Guide to Creating a Media Kit

If you enjoyed the read, please consider dropping a dollar in my Patreon donation jar 🙂

Posted in art, artist, life, perseverence, politics, press release, publishing, thoughts, writer, writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

The Brutal Truth about Being a Writer

Posted by E on May 10, 2015

typewriter

I made the decision to become a professional writer in my third year of university, after taking a year-long Creative Writing course that would change my life. I’ve always wanted to write, that desire being kindled from the moment I heard my first fairytale, from those first, precious kindergarten days when I discovered that I, too, could follow along the letters that formed the sentences which intertwined to become the first stories I ever read. It was an implicit, unspoken spark, a recognition inside me that whispered the promise that one day, I too would give life to letters, words and sentences to delight other children like me.

I miss those days of wonder, the spark of delight I would feel after finishing a rhyming poem for composition class. When that poem was so liked by my teacher that she’d ask me to go to the front of the classroom and read it to the other kids. The sound of their hands clapping, just for me – it was one of those very few, precious moments of a childhood that was filled with loneliness, despair and isolation – in that sense, mirroring the miserable childhoods my parents had and recreated within me.

But the magic, like desktop varnish, like the fresh-print smell of a brand-new book, has long worn off the process. Don’t worry, I’m not going to sit here and write about everything that has made me jaded about the writing profession – that’s to be found in my 2012 book Alice in Writerland. But the point is, over the last decade and a half since I’ve been trying my best to make a living as a writer, I’ve encountered scores of aspiring, budding, hopeful writers whose dreams and ambitions are often way ahead of their actual daily word counts.

Again, this isn’t what this blog is really about – everyone eventually realizes, if they’re in this profession long enough, that in general (and with the exception of performance arts, aka poetry slams) writing is not a social endeavour. Not that it’s stopped countless people from starting writing collectives, coffee bar circles and the like – I’ve been guilty of that myself. I don’t know how many circles I’ve either started or been part of, and years ago I even established a Facebook writers group that today numbers in the hundreds. Of course, everybody has their own unique process. I’ve had extroverted friends swear by wine bars and Starbucks shops as being central to kick-starting their creative juices. I’ve even written a piece or two in coffee lounges. But ultimately, if you really intend to be a writer of book-length works, you need to be able to lock yourself into a room and just WRITE.

Nevertheless, this also isn’t what this blog post is actually about. But I’m getting to it.

So here comes the kick, the part you don’t hear in the creative writing MFA programs of tomorrow, where everybody is a young Rimbaud or Hemingway, where practically everyone goes through a Plath or Bukowski phase (or like me, both): there is a lot of ugliness out there. A LOT. Especially now, in the age of social media, when people who have never accomplished anything and likely harbour a lot of internalized anger have begun to use the internet as a tool for psychological projection.

meanness  aggression stock

I’m not a stranger to personal attacks – over twenty years ago I gathered information on dangerous extremists, testified against their leaders and put them in jail, and helped to disband the most dangerous, out-of-control CSIS operation ever carried out by Canadian Intelligence. I had to live in hiding after my life was threatened numerous times. At eighteen, I was only a teenager. Just think about what you were doing when you were sixteen. Or eighteen. Now picture being truly, completely, utterly alone, with nobody to give a shit about whether you die or not.

Last March I finally conquered the demons that had given me PTSD into my early twenties and wrote a memoir, Race Traitor. I sold about a thousand copies, got some national attention and made some good contacts in the media industry and the activist community. But then came the hate mail – something that, if you are really serious about being a writer, you’ll have to wrap your brain around.

Anytime you have success – no matter how small, even if success is defined simply by the publication of a book – you’re going to get what has been colloquially termed as “haters.” The subject matter of your book is inconsequential. Honestly, it doesn’t make a difference. If you write romance, someone is going to tell you that you suck. If you write adventure, you’re bound to hear the plot lacks suspense.

God forbid you actually make it onto a bestseller list – some of my favourite writers ever, like Carlos Ruiz Zafon or Jeanette Winterson, have literally hundreds of brutal one-star reviews. And in recent days, Harry Potter author JK Rowling has been viciously targeted for nasty social media attacks. Luckily for her, she has a fan base of 4 million people. But what do you do if you don’t already have an established fan base and are on the receiving end of brutal comments?

And when I say brutal, I mean it. Brutality is commensurate to your level of success. I’m not even a best-selling author, not by a long shot. Most people haven’t a clue who I am. But in my case, the more interviews I did and the more copies of my book I sold, the worse the hate-mail.

But if you should wish to write non-fiction, it can get worse. If you write investigative pieces, or something that triggers the attention of far right nutcases or religious extremists, you’re in for a treat. Imagine being discussed on Stormfront, the world’s largest and most hateful white supremacist website, one whose regulars included Anders Breivik (the Norwegian Utoya Island shooter), the Kansas City synagogue shooters or even Canadian psychopath Luka Magnotta. Imagine being called terrible names on white supremacist sites that are filled with lunatics who treasure their weapon troves.

Last month, after gaining some publicity for my book crowdfunding campaign, I received a typical hate letter through my website web-form from Aryan Nations in Idaho. They identified themselves as such, and after checking their IP on my Statcounter app I was able to confirm that indeed, the email did come from Hayden Lake, Idaho.

This is what it said (the spelling errors are intact):

“Just like a JEW .. Get stupid ass goyim to pay for travel/lodging & expenses for you to write a book about your new found JEW-ism… Fantastic. I certainly don’t consider you white.

We here in Northern Idaho ( home of CJCC/AN ) have a one second rule – That is if within a second we suspect your not white. Your not white. PERIOD.  Oh by the way – how can you be a race traitor – being you were a mongrel Jew while with HF? Seems like a more correct book title would be \” Confused Jew \”.. But alas – glad your gone – we really never needed you anyways.”

This past week the Toronto Star published a major feature article on my new work-in-progress book and my journey of self-discovery. Of course, it was bound to get some feathers ruffled, and it did.

On Toronto Star’s own Facebook page, hateful people instantly started spewing nonsense about Muslims being the real dangerous criminals (instead of the extreme right, presumably), calling me misogynistic terms, and even making fun of my Romanian surname of Hategan. “She’s all about Hate-,” is something I’ve heard for decades. An idiotic ad hominem attack that has nothing to do with political commentary and everything to do with humiliation. Hategan is a traditional Romanian name that comes from a Transylvanian community known as Hateg. To call me names because of it is tantamount to me pointing at Margaret Atwood and giggling, “Look, she’s got –WOOD in her name.”

I’ve been called a mongrel and a non-human on various sites because I have a Jewish background. On the Toronto Star Facebook page, someone even called me a “gross” “Roma gypsy.”

“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” goes the old adage, but it is wrong. Bruises will heal, bones will mend up, by the meanness, the ugliness contained in hurtful words creates an incision into your heart and self-esteem that is much harder to repair.

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So, when you think about all the successful ingredients you need in order to be a writer – talent, creativity, inspiration, dedication, persistence – add THICK SKIN to your repertoire. The way I see it, the ability to weather the storms of criticism, rejection and anonymous hate is the most necessary ingredient you’ll need to possess if you’re going to survive as an author. Not just because collecting a lot of rejection letters from publishers, magazines and agents is par for the course. Because you know what? Nobody is going to fight for you.

Nobody is going to help you. Unless you’re extremely lucky and have a support base in place, hardly anybody is going to give a shit. And secretly, many people will blame you – “Well, if you didn’t put yourself and your story out there….”

These days, the polite thing is to look away, and only give Likes to photos of kittens or cute babies. When someone sees something ugly happening to you, they are going to look away. They’re going to pretend they didn’t notice that you’re hurt or upset or wounded – because dealing with any emotion other than positivity is a horror to be avoided at all cost by the Cult of Positive Thinking that has become the social norm in North America. Indifference always comes above empathy.

So in the end, the truth about being a writer is that it’s not the glamorous profession it’s been idealized to be. In fact, in the digital age you’re equally as likely to be attacked, bullied and harassed for your work as you are to be valued and complimented. You must have an unshakeable faith in yourself, in your ability and your dream – and don’t let anybody else speak for you.

Only YOU – within your heart and soul – know what you are truly capable of.

Not them.

Just YOU.

If Richard III were a writer today I’m certain that he’d shout, “My kingdom for a Kind Word.”

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Posted in abuse, politics, public shaming, racism, shaming, thoughts, writer, writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

An Epitaph for Rodney Bobiwash

Posted by E on April 2, 2015

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Last week I had lunch with an old-time activist who had recently read my book, Race Traitor. He said, “I noticed one of the people you dedicated the book to was Rodney Bobiwash. I didn’t even realize he’d passed away so long ago until I tried to look him up on the internet.”

That led to us talking about activists, and activism as a way of life. I told him of my recent encounters with a younger activist group in Toronto whose leaders seemed to have no respect for, or particular interest in learning about, the history of this city, this province and this country. I left the conversation nostalgic about the people I knew back in the 1990s – community role models, people who put their lives and integrity on the line to make a real difference.

Later in the week, as I was digging into my files in preparation for my upcoming journey back to Eastern Europe (where I hope to finish my newest manuscript), I discovered a journal entry I made back in January 2002, on the day of Rodney Bobiwash’s funeral. As I read it, tears started rolling down my face.

I want to share that journal entry now, if only as a way to continue his memory and tell others about him and the profound influence he had on me. Although he doesn’t even have a wiki page and I can’t find a single photograph of him on the internet (the low-resolution group shot above, where he is seated second from the left, is the only I could find), he had more integrity in his little finger than many established community activists earn in a lifetime. He was only 43 when he passed away after a heart attack and I have no doubt that, were he still here today, he would be a powerful force of reckoning against Harper’s draconian new legislation, as well as confronting the ugly reality of Canada’s missing and murdered Aboriginal women.

At the time I heard of his passing, I had just returned from teaching English in South Korea – so that, even though I didn’t have a chance to speak with Rodney in close to a decade, I had the privilege to visit him as he lay in wait at the Native Canadian Centre on Spadina Road where he had been executive director, and celebrate the life of a brave, unwavering individual who was mourned by indigenous activists all around the world. A First Nations man who had been born with the Anishnabek name Wacoquaakmik – Breath of the Land.

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Thank you Rodney. You helped change my life. I will never forget your kindness.” – this is what I wrote this afternoon in your memorial book while people streamed in to pay their respects. So many people, so many tears.

How frail and unlike yourself you seemed in that blue coffin. I kept wishing you would rise and join the rest of us in celebrating your bravery, the inspirational life of a man whose spirit will always glow in our hearts. On the fourth day of your journey into the Spirit world, I am but one of the many who have become your candles.

I regret that I was so traumatized by what had happened to me in Toronto, by the nightmares and the PTSD that haunted my daily existence, that I sought escape as far away as I could run and hid from everyone – including those who helped to save my life. I regret that I hadn’t spoken with you in the last eight years. I’d like to believe that I would have made you proud – I’ve come so far from the wounded, angry kid you first laid eyes on, to the university graduate, writer and artist I’ve become. Who I am now is a testament to the profound influence of rare, beautiful souls like you who taught me by example about generosity, kindness and humanity.

I will never cease to be in awe of all that you accomplished in your 43 years – from the poverty of your childhood to Oxford University, to becoming a prominent, professor, leader and activist, to joining forces with the Chiapas in Mexico, walking hand in hand with the indigenous in Colombia….the superhuman effort you put into standing up to hatred (even as your life was threatened repeatedly), to all your poignant presentations at human rights conferences around the world, your last one in Brazil only a month ago.

Rodney, what an amazing man you are and you were, and what an exemplary, courageous path you sowed for us to follow! Thank you for having graced this world with your breath, your touch, and your smile. There are no words to express my gratitude for having known you. The way you bowled me over with forgiveness and kindness – how you brought me, an angry kid who had once hated you, into your home and your life.

I will never forget how you fed and sheltered me in your apartment whenever I passed through Ottawa in my year and a half of hiding throughout Canada. How you took cash out of your own pocket and covered part of my costs during that time of hardship. How you arranged for brave Native Canadian warriors to provide me with protection before and during the length of my testimony against the hateful white supremacists whose group put both of us on their hit lists, especially you, creator of Klanbusters.

I will never forget how you helped protect me after I was denied protection by Canada’s government at the instruction of CSIS, whose agents sponsored homegrown terrorism and hate in our country for close to five years.

Until we stopped them.

I hope that your spirit will always walk with me whenever I feel alone, and that your strength and courage will continue to shine inspiration into my life.

Posted in activism, canada, personal, politics, racism, rodney bobiwash, thoughts, toronto | Tagged: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »