Friday, August 01, 2008

That Tangled Web of Hate

See if you don't find this strange:

On July 28th, apparently apropos of nothing, Warren Kinsella makes it known on his blog that he disapproves of the practice of police posing as reporters during criminal investigations.

Now this might not strike you as weird, but it certainly did me. Why? Well, because upon reading it, the first thing I thought of was this piece written by Kevin Steel some months ago, about the very odd behaviour of Warren Kinsella re. one Grant Bristow--CSIS agent and co-founder of the Heritage Front--around the time of the publication of Kinsella's book Web of Hate. In the piece, Mr. Steel observes (my emphasis):

Web of Hate purports to be an authoritative study of the far right in Canada. The author claims the work is the result of ten years worth of research. The chapter on the Heritage Front, “The Wolfie and Georgie Show,” is the longest in the book, 52 pages. Yet somehow the author overlooks the fact that Grant Bristow was one of three founding members of the Heritage Front. More damning, despite the fact that Kinsella himself had made a police complaint against Bristow—in May 1993, long before the research for Web of Hate is completed in October 1993—in a very serious incident where a known member of the Heritage Front attempted to gain access to the files of a high profile Jewish organization, the incident does not appear in Web of Hate.

Of equal or even more significance is how that complaint supposedly came about. As the SIRC report tells it, Bristow presented himself to a Jewish student leader as an Ottawa Citizen reporter using the name “Trevor Graham” and claiming to be engaged in research on Kinsella’s behalf. Suspicious, the student leader checked up on Trevor Graham and discovered no reporter by that name. A few days later she went to Bernie Farber’s office at the Canadian Jewish Congress and identified Bristow through the picture that appeared in a major (nearly 2,000 word) November 29, 1992 Toronto Sun story, “Canada’s Neo-Nazis: White Rights Groups Readying for Racial War.” Farber alerted Kinsella and Kinsella made his complaint, first to the Ottawa police and then to the Toronto Metro police by fax.

Keeping up? No? This Grant Bristow (who, I'll remind you, was a CSIS agent) in his role as white supremacist, posed as a reporter in 1993 as part of his ongoing efforts to infiltrate and expose what was believed to be a vast neo-nazi conspiracy in Canada. He did so, moreover, with an explicit mention of the name Warren Kinsella--then a reporter for the Ottawa Citizen. Of course, of itself, this isn't so remarkable, except that there is this odd business of the first edition of Mr. Kinsella's authoritative study of the white supremacist movement in Canada, Web of Hate, completely avoiding any mention of Mr. Bristow, in spite of the man's known central role as co-founder of the Heritage Front, and in spite of Kinsella's own, albeit indirect, encounter with him.

Mr. Steel asks:
... Why doesn’t Bristow’s name appear in Web of Hate? Specifically, why didn’t Kinsella mention the police report in which Bristow attempts to obtain info on Jewish organizations, using Kinsella’s name, especially after a Jewish activist’s house was set on fire twice, the first a confirmed arson? Why were neither of Monna Zentner’s fires described in Web of Hate? ...

In the timeline, Bristow’s non-existence in Web of Hate certainly looks less like editorial license or carelessness or stupidity on the author’s part. When the sequence is examined, it looks deliberate. If Kinsella removed references to Grant Bristow from his book because at some point he learned that Bristow was a CSIS agent, then he suppressed knowledge that the Heritage Front had been infiltrated by CSIS at the highest level, making the book worthless as a description of the far right. Further, it would make Web of Hate look like a contrived CSIS asset and, by extension, its author would be an asset as well. And being an asset of Canada’s secret service would pretty much negate anything Kinsella has written or said on the subject of hate laws, human rights commissions and free speech in the last 13 years.

Getting it now? There is a suggestion here--a suggestion, let me emphasize--that failing Mr. Kinsella's being the worst journalist of all time, the possibility exists that in the Bristow affair his journalistic integrity took a back seat to the interests of CSIS.

Which brings me back to this odd business of Kinsella condemning, seemingly out of a clear blue sky, the practice of the police posing as journalists in their investigations.

It is curious to note, gentle reader, that not two days after his post of July 28th, Grant Bristow himself--also seemingly out of a clear blue sky--broke a 15 year silence to pen a paean to the great virtues of his own work in bringing down the neo-nazis and, indeed, to those whom he clearly sees as his successors in this work, the Canadian Human Rights Commission. Sure enough, the piece was then given a plug at Mr. Kinsella's site.

I'll ask only this: what are the odds?



Let me also direct your attention to Ezra Levant's excellent response to the Bristow piece--and to some other fascinating stuff on the manufacture of hate in this country.