Controversial Canadian commentator, Ezra Levant, used to try and sell the dirty Canadian tar sands to the world.
His 2010 book Ethical Oil was a brazen attempt to fight back against critics of the tar sands industry, by attempting to argue that buying oil from Canada instead of regimes such as Saudi Arabia, was in some way more “ethical”.
This argument was largely ridiculed at the time. I argued he was trying to “greenwash Mordor.” Matt Price, policy director of Environmental Defence, said simply: “So Ezra Levant thinks it’s somehow more ethical to replace dictator-supporting, planet-cooking oil with dictator-free tar sands oil that cooks the planet even faster?”
Another Canadian reviewer added: “Levant is a good writer and a better debater. He is witty, provocative and relentless in his sense of certainty …. He is also a master of logical fallacy and half-truth …. Just remember that being witty, provocative and relentless is not the same as being right.”
Years later, after the oil price largely plummeted and the debate about stranded assets sharpened the nervous minds of investors in the financially draining tar sands, Levant has diversified from trying to defend the indefensible part of the oil industry, to trying to defend pretty much anything else that normal people would see as indefensible.
The vehicle for his latest propaganda has been the labelled the somewhat misnomer of a name: Rebel Media, which calls itself a “fearless source of news, opinion, and activism that you won’t find anywhere else!”
However, reading or watching videos from someone like Levant, a man who used to sell cigarettes, should come with a health warning.
Not content with peddling oil he also peddles climate denial. He is a long term climate denier who sent so-called journalists to disrupt the UN climate change talks in Marrakesh last year. The Rebel site also hosts as a commentator Dr. Tim Ball, a long-term climate denier, who writes articles such as “How the world was deceived about global warming and climate change.”
And even for someone as controversial as Levant, he has now reached an all-time low.
In recent months, Rebel Media has set up a UK arm and is now employing Tommy Robinson, the co-founder of the far right, English Defence League, as a commentator.
Robinson, who has a history of far right activism, and who has been labelled the UK’s most hated man, has been jailed for assault and fraud. He left The EDL, which has a history of violence, bigotry and racism, several years ago, but he is still causing controversy.
Since the recent terror attacks in Manchester and London in the UK, Robinson and his ex-colleagues at the EDL have been causing outrage by their response, with arrests at violent marches they organised in Liverpool and Manchester respectively.
According to the anti-racist group, Hope not Hate, after the attack at a London Mosque this week where one person died and 11 were injured, “whilst the nation expressed its collective horror at the Finsbury Park terrorist attack, the English Defence League (EDL) has celebrated it.”
In the aftermath of the attack, Robinson appeared on one of the UK’s flagship television programmes, Good Morning Britain, where he was labelled a “bigoted lunatic” by the co-host, Piers Morgan.
On Good Morning Britain, Morgan told Robinson to “show some damn respect for people’s religious beliefs” and accused him of being a “complete disgrace”. “You’re sounding like a complete lunatic,” Morgan said. “You’re sounding like a bigoted lunatic. You are an Islamophobe who hates Islam.”
Morgan added: “What you’re doing now is deliberately inflammatory. You’re stirring up hatred. You are abusing people’s religion. You are abusing their faith.” Indeed, Robinson has also been called a “hate preacher” for his incendiary remarks about Islam.
But maybe that is what Robinson, Levant and Rebel are all about: spreading hate, fear and loathing to their online followers.