This ship of fools
“Do you need a break from Liberals and socialists?”
That’s what Rebel Media, Canada’s poor cousin of right-wing Breitbart News, is currently advertising on its website – a week-long November getaway to the Caribbean aboard a luxurious cruise ship.
Imagine yourself relaxing with a book on a deck chair and who sits down right beside you, wanting to talk? Ezra Levant, perhaps going on about his latest rant – why Muslim immigrants have made Sweden the rape capital of the world.
Or say you’ve just been overtaken on the rock climbing wall by David Menzies, who Levant calls “the craziest man I know.” Menzies has this show called Mission Menzoid. In one program, he dressed up a 14-year-old boy in a burka and sent him into an LCBO store. The stunt showed him buying a $13.25 bottle of booze, no questions asked. The headline was “How to buy alcohol when underage - Wear a burka.”
Or let’s say you’re settling in for a lobster dinner in the ship’s posh Le Bistro restaurant, and your assigned seat companion is Gavin McInnes, who trashes Jews and Muslims with impunity and founded a right-wing group called The Proud Boys, which believes in "minimal government, maximum freedom, anti-political correctness, anti-racial guilt, pro-gun rights, anti-Drug War, closed borders, anti-masturbation, venerating entrepreneurs, venerating housewives, and reinstating a spirit of Western chauvinism during an age of globalism and multiculturalism."
Lounging by the pool? What better sunbathing companion than Faith Goldy, who Rebel Media describes as “a passionate Christian who loves family, freedom and firearms.” She recently supported Donald Trump’s proposed ban on transgendered people serving in the U.S. military on her Rebel Media program On the Hunt: “Tonight, I tell you why people who live with the DSM-5 mental disorder of gender dysphoria ought not be given special privileges, because — newsflash — serving in the military is a privilege, not a right.”
Or you’re unwinding at the casino and who cozies up? Sheila Gunn Reid, who made her name getting punched in the face at a women’s march and “has strong ties to the oil patch.”
I don’t call that a cruise. I call it a Ship of Fools.
The purpose of the gathering, says Levant, is “a winter vacation, a dose of conservative politics, and hanging out with like-minded Rebels!
“In addition to all of the regular fun of a cruise, we’re organizing special Rebel-only events, including private welcome and farewell cocktail receptions, nightly dinners with your fellow Rebel enthusiasts and a special Rebel celebrity guest at your table.”
There are scheduled panel discussions with Rebel contributors “where you can interact with them on all the hot topics of the day.”
That’s the formal part.
Levant, who hosted a similar cruise last year, says ”there will be countless informal opportunities to connect with your favourite Rebel personalities throughout the week, whether it’s over breakfast, on a shore excursion, or just on deck getting some sun!”
In other words, you’re on a nice ship in the sun with 4,000 other vacationers, and you have no chance whatsoever to distance yourself from the nutbars.
What’s more, it’s not cheap. Rebel Media is charging $2,075 per person for a room with balcony, including discounted alcoholic drinks. Wait a minute. Norwegian Cruise Line charges only $1,271 per person for that – its regular fare for that embarkation date aboard its liner Getaway. Gee, does that mean Rebel Media is keeping $800 per ticket for itself? Does it?
Five years ago, I lampooned another getaway, Freedom Weekend in Muskoka, that Levant organized for the now-defunct Sun News network. I joked that it "makes you wonder when was the last time a group of ideological warriors went north to train in the backwoods and plot to storm Parliament, blow up the CBC, seize the airwaves and spread terror across the land. Oh yeah, the Toronto 18 did that.”
Ezra and his minions went crazy over that bit of clearly satirical hyperbole.
A bare majority of the reviews on TripAdvisor – one of the most respected travel sites – rate it as better than average, and 30 percent say it was poor or terrible.
Others were not so charitable: “Extremely noisy ship. They seem to think that music, movies etc. need to be at the highest decibel possible…The sound even penetrated the library. Very difficult to find a quiet enough place to have a drink in the evening where you could chat in comfort. Everywhere that there was music, it was played at the loudest it could possibly be.”
Another traveller said: “FREE DRINKS created many drunks on board… I am very uncomfortable among drunks. I'm OK with enjoying liquor/beer but drunks are another issue.”
Other travellers complained about there being only one swimming pool for 4,000 people, with bathers usually lined up three deep around it, and one pool for the 500 kids. Another said the mandatory tips took him by surprise – better count on $300 extra for the week. Someone else said she found herself in a crowd of 300 waiting for the same bus because the shore excursions were unorganized.
And that’s all before you add in the daily right-wing propaganda sessions.
I can’t see the situation improving when a handful of drunken Rebel Media fans start bellowing their bat-shit bigotry from the poop deck.
UPDATE: Two weeks after I wrote this column, Norwegian Cruise Lines cancelled Rebel Media's booking because its values were incompatible.