Veterans in unique position to discredit far-right extremism

Faith Goldy loves veterans.

“I personally wish every day was Remembrance Day,” she said during a Nov. 11, 2015 Rebel Media broadcast.

Goldy was later fired by the Rebel when her bigotry went “too far” even for Ezra Levant. But she continues to exploit Canadians’ affinity for veterans, using wartime propaganda posters to advance her white nationalist agenda.

Of course, none of this should come as a surprise.

Far-right extremists are notorious for fetishizing military service. They’re fond of uniforms, obsessed with firearms and attracted to violence.

Sadly, in some cases, veterans themselves have become active in extremist circles. But that’s the exception, not the rule.

Most veterans, myself included, are vehemently opposed to far-right ideology. And we can play an important role in countering the growth of extremism and the recent spike in hate crimes.

Far-right elements are increasingly seeking legitimacy through public expressions of support for Canada’s veterans.

We saw it in Grand Prairie, Alta., when members of the anti-immigrant Soldiers of Odin infiltrated the local branch of the Royal Canadian Legion.

We see it at “yellow vest” rallies, where xenophobes and conspiracy theorists wield handmade signs with messages like “Pay our veterans, not terrorists” and “Canada’s veterans before Trudeau’s ISIS fighters.”

We see it in the pro-veteran messaging of the National Citizens Alliance, a fledgling, federally registered political party that combines anti-Muslim bigotry with red-shirted nationalism.

Most recently, we’ve seen it with Musicfest 4 Vets, an aborted concert that was supposed to be held this month outside Ottawa. The event had plenty of far-right connections, but little in the way of concrete plans to include former military personnel. “It was basically going to be an all-encompassing, ultra-nationalist, patriot group hoedown,” an observer of far-right extremism told Vice News.

Veterans, especially those who risked life and limb to help people in other countries, are in a unique position to discredit these groups and individuals.

We can correct their misinformation about government programs for former service members.

We can condemn their messages of hate, xenophobia and fear.

And we can denounce the ludicrous notion they are good-faith representatives of our interests.

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