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The Dangers of Porous Borders: The “Trump Effect” in Canada [Journal of Hate Studies]

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Donald J. Trump’s journey to the White House signaled the resurgence of right-wing populism in the United States. His campaign and his surprising electoral victory rode a wave of anti-elitism and xenophobia. He masterfully exploited the economic and cultural anxieties of white working class and petite bourgeois Americans by deflecting blame for their woes onto the “usual suspects,” among them minorities, liberals, Muslims, professionals and immigrants. His rhetoric touched a chord, and in fact emboldened and energized white supremacist ideologies, identities, movements and practices in the United States and around the world. Indeed, the Trump Effect touched Canada as well. This paper explores how the American politics of hate unleashed by Trump’s right-wing populist posturing galvanized Canadian white supremacist ideologies, identities, movements and practices. Following Trump’s win, posters plastered on telephone poles in Canadian cities invited “white people” to visit alt-right websites. Neo-Nazis spray painted swastikas on a mosque, a synagogue and a church with a black pastor. Online, a reactionary white supremacist subculture violated hate speech laws with impunity while stereotyping and demonizing nonwhite people. Most strikingly, in January 2017, Canada witnessed its most deadly homegrown terrorist incident: Alexandre Bissonnete, a right-wing extremist and Trump supporter, murdered six men at the Islamic cultural centre of Quebec City. Our paper provides an overview of the manifestations of the Trump Effect in Canada. We also contextualize the antecedents of Trump’s resonance in Canada, highlighting the conditions for and currents and characteristics of right-wing extremism in Canada.
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