Michael Lightstone, Chronicle Herald (Halifax, Nova Scotia), Jan. 17, 2007
A controversial American writer and speaker who publicizes views many Canadians find offensive was roughed up at a Halifax hotel Tuesday night after obscenity-spouting protesters prevented him from delivering a talk on race and integration.
Dozens of dem onstrators — many of them young people hiding their faces behind balaclavas or bandanas — shouted down Jared Taylor inside a meeting room at the Lord Nelson Hotel.
A couple of protesters shoved him into a hallway but were prevented from manhandling him furth er by an opponent who had come to hear what Mr. Taylor had to say.
Prior to that incident, most of the demonstrators swore loudly at Mr. Taylor and told him to get out of town. At one point in the tense confrontation, several protesters surrounded him an d tossed torn copies of pamphlets he had brought with him at his head.
Others banged on noisemakers and hooted and hollered.
“Leave! Leave! The message is clear!” anti-racist activists yelled at Mr. Taylor. “Get out! Get out! Exit the building!” they sa id.
The f-word was flying around the room as protesters tried to intimidate the man, who in turn mocked them about using “such charming language.”
Dressed in a conservative business suit, white shirt and tie, Mr. Taylor for a while leaned on a lectern a nd smiled at the room full of rowdies. The demonstrators calmed down briefly, then got a second wind and peppered the event with more foul language.
“You can shout all you want,” Mr. Taylor told the crowd, “but the police will be here and they will maintain the peace.”
Halifax Regional Police officers were in the hotel’s lobby after most protesters left the building, but it was hotel security that handled near-bedlam in the third-floor meeting room.
Mr. Taylor, who had been scheduled to participate in a Dalhousie University debate Monday on racial diversity before university officials dropped him from the program, intended to speak on his own Tuesday.
The university’s event, which was going to be a lecture by David Devine, a black scholar at Dalhousie, was cancelled because of inclement weather.
Editor of a publication called American Renaissance, Mr. Taylor is a white, Yale-educated author and lecturer who maintains he is not a white supremacist.
But his opponents strongly dispute that, saying his writings and talks show his true colours.
Media outlets were invited to attend Mr. Taylor’s talk at the Lord Nelson, which was also open to the general public.
One attendee who was the man who intervened when Mr. Taylor was being roughly escorted into the hallway was Jon Goldberg of the Atlantic Jewish Council in Halifax.
Mr. Goldberg acknowledged he’s familiar with Mr. Taylor’s views, which he finds abhorrent. He said the protesters were wrong to physically usher the speaker out of the meeting room.
“Unfortunately, unless he breaks (Canada’s) hate-crime law, it’s a free country,” Mr. Goldberg told The Chronicle Herald.
What Mr. Taylor has done is “incite these people to violence, which will make him a martyr,” Mr. Goldberg said.
“The best thing you could have done was to ignore the guy,” he said.
In an interview, Mr. Taylor said he has never received such a “disconcerting” reception in his life. He said he was outraged by the behaviour of most protesters at the meeting.
“I kept expecting police officers to show up,” Mr. Taylor said. “So it was a surprise to me that that never happened.”
A group of protesters took matters into their own hands yesterday evening, preventing a speech from an American journalist on controversial ideas about race.
“Get out of town, you’re a racist and a Nazi,” were the shouts coming from between 20 and 30 you ng protesters, some with bandanas over their faces, toward Jared Taylor as he prepared to speak on the topic Racial Diversity: North America’s Strength or Weakness at the Lord Nelson Hotel in Halifax yesterday.
Taylor, who describes himself as a “race re alist,” has said that he supports the idea of racial segregation, arguing mixing different races leads to tension.
“There is no difference between a white separatist and a white supremacist,” yelled one man.
Only protesters and journalists were in atten dance, and the protesters did not allow Taylor to even begin his speech.
Any time he tried to speak, the barrage of anti-racist sentiment intensified.
“Hate is dangerous,” yelled one woman, while those around her banged pots.
Eventuall y, members of the gathering decided to forcibly remove Taylor from the small conference room.
They tore up copies of Taylor’s magazine, American Renaissance, which he had brought for distribution, and several protesters formed a human fence, pushing him out of the room while others stacked the chairs.
Once he had been pushed out, the crowd cheered.
At the request of hotel security, Halifax Regional Police arrived and broke up the crowd of protesters.
One man said the hotel was not aware of the contents of Taylor’s speech, as the room had been booked under a different name.
Efrem Gebrehiwet, a third-year Dalhousie student, was hoping to challenge Taylor on his ideas.
“I don’t see much of a difference between a white separationist and a white s upremacist,” he said, adding Taylor dodged his questions.
“I believe this guy is repugnant in his views and most everything.”
Gebrehiwet said he planned to ask Taylor how he would implement racial separation.
Taylor was originally to meet with Dalhousi e University professor David Divine to debate ideas on racial diversity.
Divine later backed out of the meeting.
When asked what he thought about the crowd’s reaction, Taylor said he hadn’t anticipated such a reception.
“If what I have to say is either wrong or loathsome, it should be very easy to refute.”
One man at the protest, who would not give his name but said he was the director of an Atlantic Canada Jewish organization, said the best way to deal with someone such as Taylor was not to listen.
“This guy is a hate monger,” he said. “Ignore him.”