The Reichstag was the home of the German parliament until 1933, when it burned down just one month after Adolf Hitler was appointed Chancellor. The Nazis immediately blamed the fire on the Communists – their main political rivals – and used the event to suppress their opponents, repress opposition and dissent, consolidate power, while deflecting public scrutiny from their more hideous acts.
Many historians believe that the Communists weren’t involved, but rather the Nazis set the fire themselves to help promote their own agenda and enable their vendettas. They used propaganda tactics to enrage the public, and consolidate their position.
The Reichstag fire became a worldwide symbol of those in power: using a “false flag” attack which Wikipedia describes as, “…a covert operation designed to deceive; the deception creates the appearance of a particular party, group, or nation being responsible for some activity, disguising the actual source of responsibility.”
Sound familiar? Sound like something that recently happened here in Collingwood with a CBC exposé about alleged wrongdoing? A story with no wrongdoing but a lot of sly allegations and innuendo? A distraction from the real, important stories?
That’s Collingwood’s own Reichstag fire. Or its false flag, if you feel more comfortable with that name.
No, I’m not associating Brian Saunderson and his supporters with the Nazis.*
CBC stories have been craftily staged close to elections when they could do the most damage to certain individuals – most of whom were involved in approving new rec facilities and not approving the rec palace for the YMCA Brian Saunderson and his committee wanted the taxpayers to pay for (at $35 million). Hardly a coincidence.
The latest story deflected residents’ scrutiny from a long list of wrongdoing by this council to an alleged scandal. Doesn’t matter that the OPP report is four years old, or that no one has been charged in the past five, or that the people targetted in the stories have not even been interviewed by the police in all that time. Facts don’t matter; only allegations do. The stories cunningly turned attention away from The Block and their ongoing destruction of our town.
Yes, savvy readers understand how such a canard works: a rumour, a piece of gossip or even a lie gets passed around (especially on social media) and soon everyone is sharing it, talking about it, gossiping while the more serious events of the day get little or no attention. None from our local media, who won’t embarrass their friends with anything like investigative journalism. And you won’t ever, ever read or hear about the real stories on CBC, about the damage The Block have done to this town, even though Dave Seglins alleges he isn’t Brian Saunderson’s friend (and like Brutus, Seglins is an hounourable man…)
Don’t be fooled. The real story isn’t some four-year-old unproven allegations. It’s the derailing of our hospital redevelopment. It’s the privatization of our electrical utility without any public consultation. It’s the killing of 1,000-plus jobs at the airport. And it’s selling our publicly-owned airport with any public consultation. It’s about four years of tax increases while each time council gave themselves a pay hike. It’s about handing out sole-sourced contracts like party favours to friends and relations. It’s about entitlements and unlimited expense accounts. It’s about unethical behaviour, lies and abusing the public trust. It’s about the pursuit of personal vendettas at taxpayer expense.
Don’t be distracted by Collingwood’s Reichstag fire. The real villains burning down the town are in office, not on the periphery.
Collingwood deserves better.
* Back in 2013, a clip from the German movie Downfall showing Hitler in the bunker raging at his generals and ministers was being shared online with fake subtitles. There were websites where you could change each line and then post the result on YouTube. The New York Times even published a story on this popular method, noting, “Making your own Hitler video turns out to be refreshingly easy, which is why so many of them can be found on YouTube.” You can still do do it today, by the way.
Several of the resulting videos were created by local wits, and the captions identified local town staff and politicians, myself included. They were generally considered harmless political satire and laughed off (or at least ignored) by those identified. Until one mentioned Steve Berman. He scuttled off to the OPP, whining that he felt threatened by that gentle mockery. He called the CBC to bleat about how he was being attacked. Wah, wah, wah! They’re laughing at me! Wah, wah, wah!
Dave Seglins – who alleges he isn’t the thin-skinned Steve’s friend, even though he was recently seen driving around town with him – gave Berman fulsome coverage on national media, even though local media didn’t think it was enough to warrant even a line. And no one else mentioned in that or any other video got interviewed or even mentioned.
And yet Seglins alleges he isn’t Berman’s friend.
But back to the point: the Reichstag fire has moved out of its narrow, historical connotations to be a larger political archetype on a much bigger stage, so don’t make any false associations when I write about it. As Wikipedia notes, “The term “Reichstag fire” is used by some writers to denote a calamitous event staged by a political movement, orchestrated in a manner that casts blame on their opponents, thus causing the opponents to be viewed with suspicion by the general public. This is sometimes known as a false flag attack when the event itself is caused by proponents of a political movement to falsely accuse their opponents.”