Incognito Press

truth. knowledge. freedom. passion. courage. Promoting free-thinking, activism & rogue writing.

Posts Tagged ‘margaret atwood’

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?

meme

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.

 

Advertisements

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

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.

lonely-alone-girl-stock

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.”

random-acts-of-kindness

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