Some self-described leftists are seeking to cancel events calling for peace. In their hostility to criticism of Canadian foreign policy, they even blamed a NATO critic for anti-queer violence.
On June 19 Dimitri Lascaris began a cross country speaking tour on “Making Peace With Russia, One Handshake At A Time.” A cabal of US and Canadian military funded figures such as Marcus Kolga and Jean-Christophe Boucher, as well as the Ukrainian Canadian Congress and Ukrainian Embassy, campaigned to shut down events seeking to end the violence and danger of nuclear war. Despite requiring advanced tickets and only revealing the locales at the last-minute, five venues buckled to pressure and canceled.
A segment of the “left” openly supported the remarkable cancel campaign. Alongside calling Lascaris a Putin puppet, Russian funded or a “tankie”, some “progressives” even blamed Lascaris for recent violence targeting a University of Waterloo gender studies class.
Amidst the bid to cancel Lascaris’ tour The A.C.E.R.B.I.C. Nerd Twitter handle built an extremely tenuous case for de-platforming him. While criticizing Lascaris for a multitude of purported misdeeds, they focused on his associations, notably individuals they considered anti-trans. At one point the account incredbily argued that leftists shouldn’t criticize moves to de-platform Lascaris since trans activists have employed this tactic in the past.
Inspired by A.C.E.R.B.I.C. Nerd, Canadian Anti-Hate Network contributor Dan Collen tweeted that Lascaris ““should be blocked from in-person events” since they “give legitimacy to the opinions of his vocally anti-trans tour organizer and those of the TERF organizations platforming him at a time which three people were just stabbed in an anti-queer hate attack in Waterloo.”
A.C.E.R.B.I.C. Nerd subsequently backed up Collen tweeting, ““We don’t know what exactly led the guy to attack a ‘Philosophy of gender’ class but it’s not unreasonable to suspect hateful content on the internet (especially around gender) played a role and Lascaris just did a conference defending hateful speech (especially around gender).”
In subsequent exchanges A.C.E.R.B.I.C. Nerd and Collen tripled down on their argument that Lascaris shouldn’t be able to speak publicly about the NATO proxy war because someone attacked a gender studies class at the University of Waterloo on June 28.
Even if one trusted A.C.E.R.B.I.C. Nerd and Collen’s claims about Lascaris’ associations – a dubious proposition – their conclusion is absurd. And when you broaden the lens, their position reeks of hypocrisy and power worship.
Collen recently worked for United Jewish Appeal Toronto, which organizes Canada’s largest annual apartheid celebration (Walk with Israel) and sponsors Canada’s most influential apartheid lobby group (Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs). He writes for Canadian Anti-Hate Network, which has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Trudeau Liberals and Bank of Montréal. The organization was founded by Bernie Farber who has been a leading apartheid campaigner for decades. Collen writes for Vice, which was started by Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes.
Do Collen’s associations warrant him being canceled? Or is that only for marginalized dissidents challenging NATO?
The A.C.E.R.B.I.C. Nerd is anonymous so investigating their associations is difficult (it takes a special coward to attack leftist activists for their associations while hiding their identity.) But, whoever they are it’s likely they are associated with many who have politics that could be questioned.
Underpinning the hypocrisy is a conscious or unconscious alignment with capitalist power and the mainstream media. Perhaps it feels good to be on the “winning” side for once. It’s open season on pacifists so relatively easy to add to the opprobrium targeting those challenging militarist nationalism. When long-time antiwar activist Tamara Lorincz interrupted a talk by Defence Minister Anita Anand with a sign reading: “Trudeau, Freeland, Anand and Joly. Stop lying. Stop sending arms. Stop NATO. Stop the war. Peace in Ukraine. Peace with Russia.” She was denounced as a fascist, Putinist and Chinese agent. One of Canada’s most influential commentators, Andrew Coyne, quote tweeted the video from last fall noting, “Pacifists are the objective allies of fascists, Pt. XCVIII”. In response to Coyne NDP MP Charlie Angus noted, “I have a deep respect for pacifists. Those promoting the so-called ‘peace’ option in the Ukraine war however, give off the odious whiff of being complicit in spreading the Putin or the Chinese state agenda.”
Many self-described anti-fascists and anarchists effectively share this outlook. Their politics are shaped by nationalism or what is better described as Canada/US centrism. While saying they oppose borders and KKKanada, they are indifferent to Canadian imperialism. It’s telling, for instance, how little those accusing Canadian foreign policy critics of being pro-Russia/China “tankies” have to say about Canada’s crassly racist, interventionist, policy towards Haiti.
Principled internationalists must face the fact there is a segment of self-described radical leftists who are so bothered by antiwar, anti-imperialist and pro-Palestinian voices they will level all manner of smears to discredit them. It’s always easier to punch down. It’s always easiest to side with power against dissident voices.
*An earlier version of this article incorrectly named an individual who had been publicly identified as responsible for the A.C.E.R.B.I.C. Nerd twitter account.