UOIT panel discusses right-wing extremism

American citizens protesting against Donald Trump in Boston. Photo credit: realavivahr on Flickr

Hate crime is on the rise in Canada.

According to a 2017 report from Statistics Canada (released Nov. 29, 2018), there was a 47 per cent increase of hate crime across Canada over the previous year.

Dr. Barbara Perry, a criminology professor and the director of the Centre on Hate, Bias and Extremism at UOIT, believes the increase in hate crime is related to what is known as the “Trump effect” and how technology has made it easier to spread hate speech and right-wing extremism.

UOIT is holding a panel discussion next Thursday to talk about the issue and how it can be challenged. Perry will sit on the panel, joined by Bradley J. Galloway, research and intervention specialist with the Organization for Protection of Violence. Also speaking will be UOIT’s Dr. Tanner Mirrlees, an associate professor in communication and digital media studies.

According to Dr. Perry, the Trump effect is a term used to describe the recent widespread and unfiltered rise of hate speech and hate crime in North America.

“It is patterns like those that are associated with Trump in terms of his political rhetoric that vilifies immigrants…that enables others to express similar sentiments,” Dr. Perry said, ranging from “relatively non-violent” examples such as attending hate-related rallies to engaging in hate crimes.

Dr. Perry said the goal of the discussion is to raise awareness of the increase in right-wing extremism.

The panel will talk about how technology plays into all of this, with social media being an easy place for people with similar hateful ideas to meet and conduct a larger voice.

“[Social media] allows the far-right groups and individuals to connect virtually online and to create that collective identity,” Dr. Perry said. This resurgence in alt-right extremist groups wouldn’t be possible without social media sites, she added.

Dr. Perry said ways to challenge this extremism and hateful rhetoric is through educating others as well as ourselves about the damages of hate speech.

“The other piece is holding our public officials accountable…whether it’s our local mayors or our premiers or federal politicians, [demanding] that they take these issues seriously,” Dr. Perry said.

The discussion takes place Jan. 24 from 5:15 p.m. to 7 p.m. It will be at the 61 Charles Street building of the downtown UOIT campus in room DTA 219. It is free and open for anyone to attend.