Peter Norman writes entertainingly in The Walrus about an ocean cruise he took with Ezra Levant of the Rebel web site, and twelve dozen of his followers. It’s snidely amusing, when it isn’t a pointed warning to avoid smug “can’t-happen-here” bragging. Let the name Kellie Leitch surface.
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, well then a certain US politician must be feeling just a little bit happy. Even though Canada’s alt-right movement is tiny, it is doubtless all that a branch plant can be, and full of true believers.
Mr. Norman sketches the familiar hot topics (climate change is bogus, Muslims are bad, political correctness is wrong, we hate Hilary, and so on). He also gives a description of the path to the “information bubble” in which we all can now exist.
Finding scant support for his views in the mainstream media, the nascent Rebel turns to Google, where his search for truth might lead to one of the many clickbait videos posted on Levant’s web site. (The Rebel has racked up more than six million YouTube views per month since its launch in early 2015. No one writes a headline like Levant.) Driven by a convert’s zeal, the newly minted Rebel becomes not only a steady consumer of Rebel content but also a publisher—spamming his friends with the stuff on Twitter and Facebook.
One Rebel I met, a middle-aged oil-patch worker from northern Alberta, described his daily media consumption as follows: First he goes to Breitbart for news, then the Rebel for “analysis,” then his local Sun newspaper “for entertainment.” Time permitting, he’ll move on to the Globe and Mail or the Toronto Star or the CBC—but only if he isn’t already “angry enough.” (That last bit was said partly in jest, but the rest was in earnest.)
And Norman touches on the volunteer and paid staff that infest social media to spread these ideas and attack opponents.
In their spare time, some of these Rebels toil as volunteer activists, helming conservative citizens’ groups, blogging, getting into online fights. (“I love it when they block me,” one woman said with relish.)