The Provincial Executive of the Communist Party of BC joins with a wide range of democratic movements calling on the Hellenic Community Centre of Vancouver to cancel the March 15 speaking engagement featuring two notorious spokespersons for racist and fascist ideologies. These speakers openly advocate hatred, bigotry, misogyny, xenophobia, transphobia and violence, and should not be given access to public spaces to spread their lies and propaganda.
Anti-racist activists in Vancouver are familiar with the record of the so-called “UBC Free Speech Committee”. Instead of actually helping to promote freedom of speech and assembly, this group’s primary activity is to intimidate and bully progressive activists into silence. Their targets include Indigenous activists, racialized peoples, immigrants, women, members of LGBTQ+ communities, anti-capitalists, communists, and all those who speak out for social justice and equality. One example of their role came during the 2017 march for the UN International Day for the Elimination of Racism, during which “UBC Free Speech” members were seen encouraging the Soldiers of Odin and other fascists who attempted to break up the event by threatening participants and throwing smoke bombs towards speakers at the Cenotaph.
Cloaking their true politics in the “free speech” mantra, the scapegoating rhetoric of this group is used to divide working people and our allies in the common struggle for peace and freedom. Far from being “suppressed,” these forces voice the traditional views of the ruling class in Canada, those who want to maintain patriarchal, colonialist white supremacy, and to preserve the domination of big corporations over Indigenous peoples, workers, immigrants, women and all those affected by capitalist exploitation and oppression.
We remind the Hellenic Community Centre of the words of Pastor Martin Niemoller: “First they [the Nazis] came for the communists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a communist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”
In today’s context, those who stir up hatred against immigrants have a similar strategy as Hitler’s Nazis.