Incognito Press

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

Posts Tagged ‘toronto star’

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 »

Heal your Wound, Transform the World

Posted by E on May 6, 2015

By now it seems that everybody in the world has seen yesterday’s Toronto Star article, which featured me and my journey toward understanding hate and its visceral, personal roots. I’m very grateful that Rachel Mendleson, a journalist at Canada’s largest-circulated newspaper, saw value in what I am trying to accomplish and worked so hard to share it with others.

Metro Toronto Screenshot 2015-05-06 2

The sad and painful truth is this: I have had hundreds of hits on my blog and website yesterday, but not many donations to the book campaign mentioned in the Toronto Star article. Which is the whole crux of the matter – for the last two months I’ve begged, borrowed and bothered people in order to fundraise for a project that I truly believe will make a difference in this world. But, with the exception of a few close, dear friends and a handful of people who believe in me, it’s all gone on deaf ears.

I cannot do this without your help. I’m not just talking money here – although without it, the research involved in this book simply cannot take place. But even dropping a word of encouragement. Sharing the story with others. Telling people on Facebook. Or just believing in me.

Anything at all.

But until now, everybody – yes, even YOU reading this – is probably thinking, Hey, this sounds like a cool project, so SOMEBODY’S going to help out. But the reality is, nobody will. We live in an age of indifference and self-absorption, where a guy on Kickstarter gets $50,000 to buy ingredients for a potato salad, and worthwhile projects and causes are bumped from the limelight in favour of potato-salad-guy or kong-fu-baby. It’s the reality of our time, where the trivial and the insipid have come to dominate social culture as we define it today.

So that somebody you’re thinking might be able to help me, after you leave this blog – well, that’s YOU.

There’s nobody else. If I had a dollar, even five dollars, for everybody who has checked out my blog over the last month but didn’t contribute anything, my book would have been funded by now.

There is just me. And you. And this moment – where you can decide to help me or you can walk away. This is, after all, your choice. But please don’t diminish that choice by assuming that there’s somebody else in line to help me out.

Because there isn’t.

If you DO decide to walk away, I don’t resent you. In fact, I’m kind of wishing I could walk away from it also. But the thing is, I can’t. My entire childhood and my adolescence was filled with hate, abuse and continuous trauma, and I realize today, in my 40th year, that running away from ugliness changes nothing. It’s cosmetic surgery of the heart, but doesn’t repair the wound inside your soul.

My wound goes deeper than my own childhood – it goes into the lives of my parents, and grand-parents, and great-grandparents before them. An epigenetic history of hate, oppression and suppression of the self. I carry in my blood the genetic memory of six hundred years of hatred, pogroms, wars, abuses and oppression. It’s a huge family tree of despair and longing to be remembered. Hence the name of my book.

remember meme

In Remember Your Name, I’m digging back into the personal transformations of innocents into monsters, as well as digging back further into the history of hidden Jews and forced converts (Sephardic conversos) in Europe, and the internalization of hatred and the transformation of victim into oppressor.

We see the consequences of this legacy of hate everywhere today – oppressed becomes oppressor, persecuted people turn the brutalization they suffered into outward brutality – from the peasant workers’ 20th century revolutions that turned into communist dictatorships, to the Jewish-Arab conflict in the Middle East. Whether it means torching a police car or turning around and inflicting violence upon someone else, we as human beings are collective beings – which means that, even at our worst, we cannot constrain our emotions. They will spill out, for good and for bad, and impact the universe around us.

Right before I converted to Judaism in 2013, I had to write an essay for the rabbis at my Beit Din (Rabbinical Council) to explain why I wanted to become a Jew. This is a segment of that essay:

“My father’s denial of his religion and heritage was like an invisible wall that kept me from my past, but with each day and each hour, the wall becomes increasingly transparent. The bricks fall apart and I begin to see a glimpse of something beautiful and mystical on the other side. The shadows of those great-grandparents and the whispers of their lives comes through to me, through me, and out into my very own existence.

I feel terribly sad that I have had thousands of Jewish ancestors from Poland, Russia, Galicia, Ukraine and Romania, whose truth, lives and stories have been wiped off in only two generations. One hundred years is all it took to wipe out my family’s connection to their own lineage and heritage. I look at the world and wonder how many others walk around unaware that the blood of Sephardic conversos or Ashkenazim forced to hide their religion runs through their veins. But I aim to reclaim that heritage.”

By reclaiming this heritage, I reclaim the pain and the beauty of everyone whose blood gave birth to me today. Maybe I’m being idealistic or naïve, but I keep feeling that if I could SOMEHOW depict how pain and oppression, innocence and brutality, are so closely intertwined, then I might be able to show that there is no such thing as black or white in this world.

There is no ME or YOU. There is no Jew, Arab or Christian. We all laugh, we all cry. We all bleed.

We are ONE. Your pain is my pain, and my memories are your memories now.

Within each and every one of us there is the potential to be a victim and a victimizer, a tormentor and a tormented soul. There is love, and there is hate. And it is the uniqueness and beauty of our human experience which allows you to make that choice – the choice to get involved, to show kindness and compassion, or the choice to walk away.

Ultimately, it’s your choice.

Posted in ancestry, canada, commentary, hate, heritage front, history, jewish, journalism, love, media, news, racism, religion, revolution, romania, toronto, writer, writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Race Traitor – the media library

Posted by E on November 3, 2014

Hategan article

Hey guys,

after twenty years of telling people what happened in our own country, I’m tired of the BS I occasionally encounter from people who are so shocked by my story that they would rather deny it happened instead of doing due diligence and actually researching what is freely in the public domain. See how the denial haunts me to this day and parallels my experience as a victim of sexual assault: https://incognitopress.wordpress.com/2014/10/30/i-know-what-its-like-not-to-be-believed/

Yeah, I know that the info is out there, but in this day of anonymous derogatory quips and an attention span that makes a fruit fly’s seem genius, I doubt the naysayers will actually take the time to investigate the facts and realize that everything I wrote in my book Race Traitor: The True Story of Canadian Intelligence’s Greatest Cover-up is rooted in hard, undeniable fact.

The denial ends today.

You will also find this list in the References section of my book. Please note that this is by no means a comprehensive list of resources, but it should suffice to convince even the most ardent nay-sayer that all this actually took place in a free and democratic country.

I have quite a few affidavits made public in 1993 that I can provide upon request to anyone who is interested in further documentation of what is without a doubt one of the most ruthless and insidious, yet well-documented cases of an intelligence agent gone rogue.

Not included in this list is a transcript of my testimony against three notorious leaders of the Heritage Front, a testimony which resulted in convictions and prison sentences. Also not included (though mentioned in the articles below) is a transcript of my testimony in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in 1994, where I spoke to a Senate Subcommittee on National Defence about the illegal actions of CSIS agent and group co-founder Grant Bristow – actions that I witnessed first-hand while being a teenager inside the domestic terrorist group that was the Heritage Front.

If interested in further research, there are also quite a number of articles in the press regarding the shocking treatment received by Brian MacInnis, a Parliamentary aide who leaked a secret CSIS report to the prime minister detailing the controversial actions of a spy gone rogue. For his effort to expose the cover-up, (this was in the days before the Julian Assanges and Edward Snowdens of the world made leaking documents cool) MacInnis was charged under Canada’s insidious Official Secrets Act and his career was permanently ruined.

Furthermore, there is extensive coverage of the more-RECENT (as in 2010!) illegal actions of Bristow’s new persona, “Nathan Black” in targeting the Jewish former mayor of Edmonton Stephen Mendel for harassment using his old spy tricks. I’ve compiled some of those articles in this post: https://incognitopress.wordpress.com/2011/11/17/old-habits-die-hard-the-dubious-adventures-of-grant-bristow-or-how-csis-taught-me-everything-i-know-about-phone-hacking/

 

VIDEOS

CBC, The Fifth Estate, October 4, 1994.

Excerpt from the Toronto Star, October 5, 1994, describing the content:

The government-appointed CSIS watchdog, called the Security Intelligence Review Committee, wrote a top-secret 1992 report to Mr. Gray’s Conservative predecessor, Douglas Lewis, warning that Mr. Bristow was involved in ‘unlawful activities’ that could ‘generate controversy.’”

“CSIS is scared Grant will blow his lid,” one police source tells The Fifth Estate.

“What they’re scared of is Grant’s going to say: ‘Yeah, we desecrated Jewish synagogues. We threatened people’s lives. We were throwing rocks through windows and we were manufacturing (violent) incidents and we were doing all of this on the instructions of CSIS’.”

The program says CSIS not only did nothing to prevent these incidents but allowed Bristow’s handler, whom it identified as Al Treddenick, to get Bristow out of trouble with police on several occasions.

It says Treddenick is a former officer of the discredited RCMP security service, disbanded in the early 1980s after it was found to have committed illegal acts against Quebec separatists and other domestic dissidents in the 1970s and 1980s. CSIS was created to replace the RCMP security service.”

FIFTH ESTATE QUOTE: “When Elisse came out and said she was going to tell the truth, CSIS was saying they were going to get out and discredit her because at least Hategan was pointing the finger at Grant Bristow… we’ll tear her to shreds”.

White Pine Pictures, “Hearts Of Hate: The Battle For Young Minds”. Peter Raymont, 1995.

It’s About Time, VISION TV. “Racism, Sexism and Belonging.” Sadia Zaman, 1994.

 

ARTICLES

Dunphy, Bill. ” STIR IT UP. Spy Unmasked: CSIS Informant ‘Founding Father’ of white racist group,” Toronto Sun, 14 Aug. 1994.

Dunphy, Bill. “Turncoat spied on racist group,” Toronto Sun, 16 March 1994.

Dunphy, Bill. “Ex-racist’s despair,” Toronto Sun, 17 March 1994.

Dunphy, Bill. “We’ll Squash ‘Em! Manning fears plot behind racist infiltration of the Reform Party”, Toronto Sun, Feb. 29, 1992

Dunphy, Bill. “Reformers boot out ‘infiltrators'”, Toronto Sun, March 11, 1992

Dunphy, Bill. “Top racist in welfare scam,” Toronto Sun, Nov. 29, 1992.

Dunphy, Bill. “White rights groups readying for racial war.” Toronto Sun, 1992-11-29. Includes description of HF leader Grant ‘Briston’

Dunphy, Bill. “Canada’s Neo-Nazis”, Toronto Sunday Sun, November 29, 1992 Includes description of HF leader Grant ‘Briston’

Swanson, Gail. “Fire guts rights activist’s house”. Toronto Star, 92-11-09. involving arson of Jewish community leader’s home

Deverell, John. “Metro constable facing charges”. Toronto Star, December 17, 1993. involving metro Toronto cop member of HF

Mascoll, Philip. “Public mischief charge dropped”, Toronto Star, March 8, 1994 – involving an HF sexual assault on a black woman

Platiel, Rudy. “Front played dirty, court told.” Globe and Mail, 17 March 1994.

Platiel, Rudy. “Front tried to thwart agency, court told,” Globe and Mail, 16 March 1994.

Oakes, Gary “Woman’s hate-crime charges withdrawn,” Toronto Star, 24 Jun 1994.

Salot, Jeff, Henry Hess. “Memo leaker questions CSIS conduct,” Globe and Mail, 27 Aug. 1994.

Swainson, Gail. “Elite soldiers members of racist group, leader says,” Toronto Star, 6 May 1993.

Speirs, Rosemary, David Vienneau, “Commons panel to probe CSIS,” Toronto Star, 25 Aug. 1994.

Speirs, Rosemary. “CSIS told to ‘clear its name’ publicly,” Toronto Star, 24 Aug. 1994.

Speirs, Rosemary, David Vienneau. “Who’s watching whom?,” Toronto Star, 27 Aug. 1994.

Vienneau, David. “Spy agency kept watch on CBC,” Toronto Star, 19 Aug. 1994.

Vienneau, David, Rosemary Speirs, and Shawn McCarthy. Ex-aide admits leaking spy note,” Toronto Star, 26 Aug. 1994.

Cal Millar and Dale Brazao, Parliament set to probe secret actions of CSIS spy Committee to see if Grant Bristow was a spy or racist. Toronto Star, September 12, 1994.

Derek Ferguson, “Report ‘whitewash’ of spy agency mole. Toronto Star, June 14, 1995

Toronto Sun, October 1995 MPs rip Bristow spying scandal: CSIS broke the law, leaked report says”

Clayton Ruby, Fighting racism going out of fashion. Toronto Star, December 13, 1995

Toronto Star, September 10, 1994. “Exclusive: CSIS spy snapped in Libya: Portrait of the vanishing spy: Grant Bristow was a man with great contacts and plenty of money to spend.”

Dale Brazao, “Star finds Grant Bristow”, Toronto Star, Apr 20, 1995.

ONLINE ARTICLE that also discusses what I covered in my book regarding Stephen Harper’s roots in the Northern Foundation, a radical far-right group whose members included skinheads, neo-Nazis, Holocaust deniers, Airborne Regiment soldiers, radical anti-abortionists and Reform Party members: Agora Cosmopolitan

BLOGS

Anti-Racist Canada Collective, A History of Violence, 1989-2011.

http://anti-racistcanada.blogspot.ca/2011/10/history-of-violence-1989-2011.html

Elisa Hategan, Incognito Press. Old Habits Die Hard

https://incognitopress.wordpress.com/2011/11/17/old-habits-die-hard-the-dubious-adventures-of-grant-bristow-or-how-csis-taught-me-everything-i-know-about-phone-hacking/

Grant Bristow’s hit list of people to be targeted for stalking and harassment:

hit list grant bristow

Posted in activism, canada, cbc, csis, history, media, news, ontario, politics, press, racism, truth, writer, writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments »