Monday, March 23, 2009

Calgary: Aryan Hotbed?

No doubt many of you readers will be aware of this story. Anti-racist and a neo-Nazi, Aryan groups clashed on the streets of Calgary. The wild west, frontier cowboy town image is certainly not lost in Calgary. Perhaps it is muted by the fact that the combatants used cans of vegetables and placards in what one police officer labelled an obviously premeditated attack.

A survey of the news reports from different corners is very telling in terms of how they have constructed the issue with reference to race. The Calgary Herald seems particularly concerned with Calgary's reputation. Interestingly they seem to lay blame at the feet of the Aryan group for starting the violence citing one observer who suggests, "That's precisely why these groups are so prone to resort to violence, because they are frustrated their message has no popular resonance." In this piece one MP is quoted as saying he would rather have these racist groups out in the open than have their operations turn to more clandestine methods.

The Globe and Mail seems to lay the blame for the violence on the anti-racist group. ""We can be thankful; we did well," said Insp. Williams, who chiefly blamed members of the anti-racism group, comprising in total around 450 people, for the trouble."

The CBC News story reveals claims by the anti-racist group that police officers were protecting the Aryan group.

The Toronto Star tries to give a balanced approach? First it quotes an anti-racist who suggests that the demonstration and clash was a blow to the racists and then it quote two teenage girls in the racist group who don't see themselves as racist at all – just misunderstood.

Media representations are critical in the development of public rhetoric on race. The source of your news obviously affects the perspective you will get. Does anyone else find the above photo interesting and ironic?

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