Last weekend a gunman burst into a Pittsburgh synagogue, The Tree of Life, and slaughtered 11 worshippers. In the midst of a shootout with police, the killer — a white male — said, “I just want to kill Jews” because they are “committing genocide to my people.”
Earlier in the same week, Cesar Sayoc was arrested and charged for mailing pipe bombs to an array of Trump critics and Democratic Party politicians. Sayoc’s van was plastered with pro-Trump stickers. His apparent Twitter accounts are filled with memes about George Soros, Hillary Clinton, and all the various conspiracies they are behind.
These are just the most recent in a long string of violent eruptions and terrorist attacks perpetrated by far-right extremists, seemingly detached from reality and steeped in a toxic media stew. In an essay for The Walrus, Stephen Marche posited a second American Civil War which would feature, among other things, outbreaks of far-right violence.
But this strain of extremism is not unique to the United States. It is rather the product of a specific set of social, political, and economic conditions that is common to most capitalist democracies, including Canada. While our southern neighbours may now find themselves at a more advanced stage of the illness, we share the same disease — and in order to fight it, we must first understand its nature.