By Andru McCracken
Erik Myggland, the Canadian Ranger being tossed out of the military for his involvement in two hate groups, was literally my next door neighbour at one point and for a short time we served together on the Valemount Fire Department. I gather he was as excellent a ranger as he was a firefighter. He also taught my wife a self-defense class that she couldn’t stop talking about at the time and I imagine she will use it if it’s ever required.
If there’s two things that I’d like to do in this editorial it’s a) address Myggland and his actions as an actual person and not a caricature representing our deepest fears, and b) help abate the irrational misplaced rage at the ‘left wing’ media and failure of the liberal state.
Soldiers of Odin and the Three Percenters have unseemly elements. It’s not a question. They’re bad. The proof? Myggland won’t speak for the group after his departure. The Soldiers of Odin were founded by a Finnish neo-Nazi. Maybe not every chapter marches to that exact drum though…
Before joining, Myggland searched the RCMP website to see if these groups were classified as hate groups.
The RCMP keeps a list of terrorist organizations, not hate groups and the two groups mentioned above weren’t listed. When Myggland joined them, especially in the case of the Three Percenters, they were nascent… amorphous… just being formed. Is it too much to imagine that the group’s character was informed by Myggland?
Even the Anti-Defamation League allows that some people joined the Soldiers of Odin because they are Norse Pagans in their 2016 report. I believe him when he says his mission wasn’t discriminatory or islamophobic and that he culled and silenced members that traded in that.
Myggland is white and male like me, because of that I believe we both have massive advantages that help us throughout our lives and that we also take part in and we also unwittingly prop up systemic racism. But let’s be clear: the CBC stories about Myggland aren’t about white privilege and systemic racism. They’re about gnarly old fashioned neo-Nazi white supremacy.
The blamed media
Myggland is down on the CBC for getting his story wrong. He also refused to talk to them. When he was involved in those groups, he asked the CBC to come out and document the good work they were doing. They wouldn’t. Honestly, it’s not the CBC’s job to report on every good thing every group does, especially a group with a really complex backstory. They wouldn’t whitewash the Soldiers or the Three Percenters. I say good on ‘em. Myggland wanted them when he was on saint patrol, but when he was in trouble he didn’t want to talk. How can he expect them to understand his story without talking?
Myggland said some nasty stuff about our Prime Minister. He called Justin Trudeau, on multiple occasions a ‘treasonous bastard.’ Because we don’t live in a dictatorship, I’m going to dismiss this as overheated political rhetoric. Every call for assassination of any political figure, however – even on social media – should, in my view, be investigated. There ought to be consequences. I know very little about political violence, but where it reigns, so does chaos. Myggland’s diatribe against our PM is bad form, forbidden for members of the military, and completely forgivable for every other Canadian. It’s embarrassing that the CBC even reported this. They likely only did because a military reservist named Corey Hurren is charged with crashing a truck through the gates of Rideau Hall loaded with firearms and threatening to assassinate the Prime Minister.
I can totally accept that other people who don’t know Erik at all and see him as a leather vested, patch wearing, gun toting, anti-social public safety hazard. The CBC doesn’t know Erik, and by extension the rest of Canada doesn’t know Erik. They aren’t his neighbour. They have judged him by his association and by the worst things he posted on the internet.
But it’s worth noting that the worst things Erik posted on the internet, the craziest thing that the CBC could find, didn’t threaten violence, didn’t call for discrimination, and didn’t fan the flames of xenophobia. If Erik is a Facebook Facist it was hidden from the investigators compiling dirt on him and up until a week ago, Erik’s Facebook, instagram and twitter profiles were all public.
Erik challenges convention. He worships the Norse god Odin. While he has had heated discourse over Black Lives Matter, and I’m sure a conversation with him about systemic racism would be a tough one, he hasn’t threatened anyone because of their status as a refugee, their views on race, much less because of their race.
Further Erik instructs women in self-defence including Indigenous women. That is awesome, and not something a lot of people have to contribute.
If he is a racist, if he beats immigrants and plots attacks on refugees and calls for violence against Muslims and other minorities, I’ll gladly recant and help railroad my former neighbour out of town. I’m pretty sure he would too.
Erik is guilty because there are actual white supremacists and islamophobes plotting violence and chaos in other chapters of the Soldiers and Three Percenters (and possibly in his absence at the chapter he founded).
Could it be that the one guy who has the balls to stand up to racists in these problematic outsider organizations gets his name paraded through the media like a pariah?
The Department of National Defence needs to give clear specific instructions to its members. Name the groups that soldiers must not participate in. If you are going to publicly flog soldiers for their associations, you need to let them know how they can obey.
It’s Myggland’s name and reputation in the headlines.