COVID Conspiracy Theorists Prove Racism Is A Feature, Not A Bug In The Anti-Lockdown Movement

Just this past week saw examples like anti-Indigenous and racist coffee brands, the most insensitive Holocaust comparisons, and Charlottesville-styled Nazi tiki-torch rallies.

Canadian Anti-Hate Network

Anti-Muslim vlogger and COVID-19 conspiracy theorist Kevin Johnston has surfaced again, this time running for mayor of Calgary and selling racism-themed coffee. Johnston is best known for losing a $2.5 million defamation suit after his baseless assertion that Toronto entrepreneur and philanthropist Mohamad Fakih supports terrorism. At the time, Ontario Superior Court Justice Jane Ferguson called Johnston’s actions toward Fakih “hate speech at its worst.” 

In 2017, after he posted a video offering a $1,000 reward for video of Toronto Muslim students praying at school, Johnston was charged with willful promotion under Criminal Code Section 319 (2) of hatred against Muslims. Despite a five-month-long investigation and charges laid almost four years ago, he has yet to face trial. 

Johnston continues to flout the system. His latest venture - selling coffee - was announced last week on social media. The names for his various brews are predominantly racist. 

“Mayor Mud” is a reference to Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi, who is Muslim. Johnston claims to be running against mayor Nenshi, and has appeared to have moved to the Calgary area, where he frequents anti-lockdown protests. 

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Even more offensive, his “Wasted Indian” brand includes a stereotypically racist caricature of an Indigenous person with a gas can and beer bottle replacing the feathers on a headdress, as well as a tagline that says “forget gas, huff this!” In an online post promoting the coffee, Johnston writes, “WASTED NATIVE was such a hit with REAL NATIVE INDIANS in Northern Alberta that they all wanted an Indian Face, Name, and Joke on the package. I aim to please. This roast will wake up the dead and every wasted native or Canadian you happen to see stumbling down the street.”

Johnston claims his racist brand is “native owned.” 

The lack of action and options available for dealing with someone like Johnston are indicative of a systemic issue, in which the worst hatemongers face little to no consequences for their repeat offences.


Holocaust Minimization in the Movement 


Susan Standfield, a darling of the Vancouver anti-lockdown scene, is not new to controversy. Yet her last stunt was so callous that it shocked even those who track the anti-lockdown scene. 

In a series of posts to Instagram, Standfield unveiled new items for purchase - clothing with the yellow star used by the Nazi Germany to identify Jews both outside and later inside extermination camps, with the words “COVID Caust.”

Screenshot: Instagram

Standfield has since doubled down on videos posted to her Instagram, saying those in the “freedom movement” are “yellow star people.” “I am that yellow star person,” Standfield declared after telling an anecdote about being recently yelled at in a grocery store for not wearing a mask. 

In a video posted to Instagram on Sunday, Standfield complained of the media targeting her and compared herself to Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, and Nicholas Sandmann, saying she is a “vessel of the truth.” 

Standfield has now told the media they are liable for “putting her in this position,” after she has received criticism and backlash from the Jewish community (and everyone else) for the immeasurably callous comparison.

Antisemitism has been part of the Vancouver anti-lockdown scene since the early days, when neo-Nazi Brian Ruhe was an organizer. He left in the fall of 2020, but researchers say it was of his own accord, he is still friendly with organizers, and that he still attends the larger rallies. Last year, Ruhe appeared in a video with Vancouver anti-lockdown organizers in a mock Nazi book burning led by Monika Schaeffer, complete with Nazi salutes.  

Odessa Orlewicz, a high-profile organizer in the Vancouver scene and who has appeared with Standfield in videos, recently published a video repeating antisemitic conspiracy theories and promoting QAnon


Rubbing Shoulders With Neo-Nazis


As reported by CAHN board member Kurt Phillips, Eli Weisberg, who the Canadian Anti-Hate Network exposed last year as being a founding member of the neo-Nazi Alberta Separatist Youth League, attended the “Jericho Torch March” protesting lockdown and pandemic measures in Edmonton on February 20. 

Organizers for the torch march specifically used imagery from Charlottesville’s Unite the Right in 2017 in their promotional materials. 

Weisberg, who previously served as secretary, now serves as education critic for the Alberta Independence Party, according to social media posts by Peter Downing, formerly of Wexit.

Screenshot: Facebook 

Weisberg, who has posted on Stormfront under the name OfOneHeart, shared a glowing account of Nazi Germany in his 2017 introduction post. 

“In every account of life in Nazi Germany, a link was always made to the holocaust, or the Gestapo showing up to arrest ‘innocent’ people,” the post reads. “Life appeared to be a perfect utopia: A nation with one heart, moving in the same step, yet free to conduct business, live as they wished, with more rights than in any democratic nation today. If you were a moral citizen, you had absolute freedom. As I looked a little deeper, I realized that the only people being arrested by the Gestapo were communists and traitors.” 

Weisberg continues, peppering his post with the echoes to refer to Jewish people, “The world economy must remain weak, indebted, and poor in order for (((them))) to be fiscally secure. (((Their))) profits are based on our dependence on (((them))).”

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