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No apologies from Vancouver rally organizer who posted white-supremacist codes, racist images online

An organizer of an “anti-Islam” rally being held Saturday in Vancouver is unapologetic about posting white-supremacist and racist material publicly online over the past week.

Jesse Wielenga, vice-president of the Worldwide Coalition Against Islam Canada, said Friday that he is not bothered by people who might be offended by neo-Nazi slogans and “jokes” about racist violence posted to his social media.

Wielenga, a 30-year-old pipefitter and father of two from Brandon, Man., helped organize the rally outside city hall, which has been met with widespread condemnation from public figures and is expected to draw far more anti-racist counter-protesters than supporters.

Coalition president Joey De Luca, a Calgary resident travelling to Vancouver for the rally, said Friday he was unable to explain why his vice-president promoted such messages online, a day after De Luca had insisted his group wasn’t racist and had nothing to do with white supremacy.

Earlier this week, Wielenga posted “14 WORDS” on his public Facebook profile, to which another Facebook user responded “1488” and “Hail victory brother,” prompting Wielenga to publicly endorse both comments by clicking “Like.”

These are coded terms commonly used by white supremacists and neo-Nazis, referring to the 14-word slogan “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children,” and “88,” which stands for “Heil Hitler” (using the number “8” to represent “H,” the eighth letter of the alphabet). “Hail victory” is the English translation of “Sieg heil,” a salute used in Nazi Germany.

Asked Friday about Wielenga’s “14 WORDS” post, De Luca at first said it could be a fake social media account made by left-wing activists pretending to be Wielenga, “just trying to frame us and make us look bad.”

But when told that Wielenga was, minutes earlier, broadcasting a live video of himself addressing followers from that account, De Luca said: “I don’t know anything about his posts … You’ve got to ask him.”

Reached Friday, Wielenga was strident: “We’re gonna get backlash, we know that. But we’re not politically correct, so we don’t really care. We’re going to do what we’re going to do. And no one’s going to stop us.”

Asked if his “14 WORDS” post meant he is a white supremacist, Wielenga said he doesn’t consider himself to be one.

“I laugh at that word,” he said. “They see you’re pro-white, so now you’re a supremacist.”

Wielenga said he knew the origins of the “14 words” slogan were from white supremacist groups.

“The 14 words are very, very real,” Wielenga said. “We do have to preserve white culture in Canada.”

Wielenga said he is not a neo-Nazi, but chose to click “Like” on the “1488” and “hail victory” comments to “get a rise out of” left-wing activists who might see his Facebook page.

He reactivated the account earlier this month under an assumed name, “Jesse Canada,” after it had been temporarily suspended, he said.

Last Sunday, the day after a car plowed into a group of anti-racism protesters in Charlottesville, Va., killing a civil rights activist and injuring others, Wielenga posted a photo of a black man being struck by the car, with a caption saying: “It was in that moment Tyrone realized black lives really don’t matter,” and his own comment, “WHITE LIVES MATTER.”

Asked about the post, Wielenga said: “It’s just a meme … It’s funny.”

B’nai B’rith Canada, which combats anti-Semitism, condemns the use of such symbols “in no uncertain terms,” said Western Canada advocacy coordinator Ryan Bellerose.

“B’nai B’rith has always stood up against white supremacism. We’ve stood up against white nationalism — for us, that’s really just a code word,” he said.

Bellerose said B’nai B’rith believes the “so-called rise of white nationalism” is in part a backlash to the perceived demonization in academia of people of European descent. 

“When they feel like they’re under attack, they’re going to gravitate more toward people that use buzzwords like ‘pride’ and ‘heritage’ and identity,” Bellerose said.

“Unfortunately, there are a lot of normally decent people that are getting caught up in this … but there’s definitely a very strong undercurrent of actual racism and actual neo-Nazis that are behind those movements.”

Bellerose doesn’t buy the argument things like “1488” are posted for laughs.

“To put it bluntly, that’s bullshit,” he said.

“The people that are using those slogans and perpetuating those slogans, they’re well aware what they mean and I would argue, very strongly, that they know exactly what they’re saying. It’s not a joke, it’s not funny. When you start using words like ‘genocide’ in any context, it’s far from humorous.”

In a statement Friday, B.C. Premier John Horgan said: “Hateful rhetoric is on the rise worldwide. While many British Columbians want to believe such brazen acts of hatred could not happen here, the reality is that hate groups also organize and operate in Canada.”

Wielenga said he was proud his grandfather fought for the Canadian Army in the Second World War against the Nazis. Asked how his grandfather would feel about him publicly endorsing Nazi-related material online, Wielenga said he didn’t think he’d care.

“People whine all the time about everything they see,” Wielenga said. “Either look away, or keep reading, it doesn’t matter to me.”

neagland@postmedia.com
dfumano@postmedia.com

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http://vancouversun.com/news/local-news/no-apologies-from-vancouver-rally-organizer-who-posted-white-supremacist-codes-racist-images-online