‘White Supremacist’ Puts a Genteel Face on Racism

Joseph Brean, National Post (Toronto), August 15, 2010

Paul Fromm’s efforts to rouse public opinion against the Tamil migrant ship began last month from his home in Ontario, with impassioned messages posted to Stormfront.org, the Florida-based neo-Nazi website of which he is a “sustaining member” and radio host.

It continued last week in Calgary, when he led a group of Aryan Guard skinheads to Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney’s constituency office, and so terrified the receptionist that she locked the door and would not accept Mr. Fromm’s delivery of a letter until police arrived.

But for Canada’s best known racist agitator, things did not really get going until he reached the Pacific shore at Esquimalt, B.C., on Saturday, where the boat was docked.

There, accompanied by Doug Christie–famous as the go-to civil liberties lawyer for every top Canadian racist of the last 30 years–Mr. Fromm got himself front and centre on the national weekend news, flanked by his small group of two dozen protesters.

Mr. Fromm, whose license to teach high school in Ontario was revoked in 2007 for his activism against non-white immigration and ties to groups like the defunct neo-Nazi Heritage Front, appeared in reports by three major news outlets, identified only as the leader of a group called “Canada First,” or “Canada First Immigration Reform Committee.”

“If we do need immigrants, the public opinion polls show that the majority of Canadians don’t want the ethnic balance upset,” Mr. Fromm said, according to the Toronto Star story.

The media exposure for his message recalls an episode in 2008, when Fox News was criticized by a U.S. anti-hate group, the Southern Poverty Law Center, for allowing Mr. Fromm to appear as a “free speech activist.”

Fox News is one thing, but to score prominent coverage offering comment on a national refugee crisis to the Toronto Star, Canadian Press, and CTV indicates that Mr. Fromm’s nose for media is especially refined.

No outlet responded to requests for comment.

Mr. Fromm said he was “pleasantly surprised at the amount of press interest.”

“I did find it unusual,” he said. “I took it to mean that some of the journalists have actually gone to journalism school.”

The Victoria Times-Colonist reported on the protest and identified Mr. Fromm as a “white supremacist.”

The others are not the first media outlets to be fooled in this way. On the surface, “immigration reform” has the same kind of naive appeal as “historical revisionism,” a euphemism for Holocaust denial, and a field in which Mr. Fromm is highly regarded as a free speech champion.

Dressed as he was in a suit and tie on a sunny summer’s day, Mr. Fromm made an obviously professional spokesman for the media pack. His manner is typical of the public pose struck by other elder statesmen of Canadian racism, such as Don Andrews, a fellow traveller back to university days in Toronto, whose conviction for the wilful promotion of hatred against blacks and Jews was upheld in 1990 at the Supreme Court of Canada. Mr. Andrews has a similar attention-grabbing prank of getting municipal governments across Canada to declare “European Heritage Week,” without realizing that the sponsoring organization, his Nationalist Party of Canada, is explicitly white supremacist.

It is a winning strategy, to put a genteel face on racism for the unsuspecting public, as Jared Taylor of American Renaissance discovered in Halifax in 2007, when he challenged an unwitting Black studies professor to debate him on multiculturalism, then basked in media coverage when the professor realized he was an avowed racist, and cancelled.

In the case of the Tamil migrants, all Mr. Fromm had to do to seize the spotlight as a voice of dissent was to gather a few people on a roadside outside of Victoria, B.C., and just start talking.

“The only way to really do something about people smuggling is to make sure that if you come in through the back door illegitimately like this, you don’t get in,” he said in the CTV report. For balance, his remarks were followed by the more welcoming sentiments of a group of native women from a nearby reserve.

For the modern “immigration reform” activist, that is how to play the publicity game–think like the media, get to the scene, and get on camera. And if success if measured by exposure, it is also how to win.

“I’ll talk to anybody,” Mr. Fromm said.

[An earlier story on the influx of Tamil immigrants to Canada can be read here.]

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