|In the guest editorial below, Raphael Bergmann responds to Rory Leishman's Dec. 10 editorial. Irony at work: the headline, not written by Bergmann, incorrectly identifies his group as "totalitarian' rather than 'anti-totalitarian'.|
By Raphael Bergmann
Rory Leishman's excellent column, Rights deserve respect, even for racists (Dec. 10), was, from a principled point of view on freedom of speech, right on target. Unfortunately, it appears he assumed everything printed in the newsletters I provided him represented some official stance of either the defunct Northern Alliance or myself.
The article, Why racism is right was racist and I do not deny that it appeared in a copy of a Northern Alliance newsletter, which had an average print run of about 15 copies for our discussion groups and was not distributed anywhere else. Obviously, anyone who equates humans with potatoes cannot be anything but "crack-brained" and such ideas certainly were responsible for the great suffering of my family back in Russia not so many years ago.
I would not dispute Leishman's comments on that article, but this is irrelevant in light of the fact it was neither written nor endorsed by anyone who ever attended our discussion groups. It was reprinted from an Internet newsgroup and brought forward for discussion, as Leishman knows.
Yet, simply on the basis of this article and our endorsement of some admittedly controversial and politically incorrect groups, publications and Web sites (some highly respectable) Leishman has publicly questioned the truth of my claim that I have "never advocated or condoned violence."
I am saddened to see that guilt by association is in fashion even among enlightened advocates of freedom of speech.
I have now been forced to publicly protect my personal reputation and "required" to explain my unspecified "extreme right-wing beliefs" to a police department that is publicly accusing me of being an "urban terrorist." How can I defend myself in the absence of any evidence to which I can respond? Let there be no question. I will reiterate what I have gone on record to say and proven by my past actions: I do not advocate or condone violence. I am not an "urban terrorist."
For the record, and as was printed in the newsletter quoted by Leishman: "The Northern Alliance (was) a grass-roots, proactive watch-dog organization dedicated to the prevention of, and education about, international totalitarianism. Our ultimate goal is to see strong sovereignty in our nation of Canada and abroad that is not subject to exploitative ultra-capitalism or centralization of power. We are for socially responsible free enterprise with an emphasis on minimal, decentralized, and effective government similar to the successful Swiss model. To begin to effectively address such issues we need freedom of ideas, free speech and free association in order to begin to promote a solution."
Controversy is certainly the mother of debate, and like any journalist, we exploited that quite well --- maybe too well. Some of the groups cited for endorsement in the mentioned newsletters were selected because they are given the least amount of freedom to speak their minds in Canada. Many in the Northern Alliance proudly allowed these organizations to speak their minds and to be criticized. Our purpose was to stimulate debate and to allow individual participants to make their own assessment of persons, groups, actions and situations after being exposed to both sides of the issue.
Ironically, all this comes almost a year after the Northern Alliance disbanded. If not for the London police accusations, I would have gone to work out west this winter, as I had planned. Perhaps it's time to revive the Northern Alliance with a more local mandate, to warn Canadians about the totalitarianism growing in their midst.
Raphael Bergmann is the former leader of the Northern Alliance.
last updated on April 28, 2002