This is both:
- A very personal comment, based solely on my own, personal, views; and
- A bit of a rant.
That being said, yesterday, while out doing some errands, I happened to overhear a snippet of a radio programme ~ one sentence struck me; a lady said (something like) “they (mental health workers, I think) didn’t see a person, they just saw a junkie.” It reminded me of something that happened to me several days ago ~ I was walking along a nice, tree-lined residential street, but I was walking, as is my custom in the mornings, very quickly, I came up behind a couple, holding hands and strolling, I wanted to pass. The couple, who, by their dress, I took to be young and were, clearly, black ~ the young lady had one of those ‘large’ hairdos that people of my age associate with Angela Davis, a noted (back in the 1960s and ’70s) American radical. As I got quite close I said, “Excuse me, please,” and the young man quickly ducked in behind his lady friend. As I passed I said, “Thank you and good morning.” Then I heard, “Thank you, sir,” and I slowed, turned my head back and said, because I was curious, “Why are you thanking me … you’re the ones who moved out of the way, I just wanted to pass.” The young lady said that they were not used to being addressed politely. I really didn’t want to sound like Justin Trudeau but I said, “Surely not … it’s 2017.” As we walked along, together now, the young couple assured me that they are seen, more often than not, in their opinion, as blacks, likely indigent, criminal blacks ~ not as the native-born, university educated, prosperous and productive Canadians they are. The young lady assured me that being spoken to politely, as she assumed I would speak to any white person, was still noteworthy for them. We went our separate ways with their “thank you, sir” still bothering me.
It came together, yesterday when I heard the comment on the radio. How many of us, I wonder, see caricatures when we really ought to see people?
For example, I see this sort of nonsense on social media, put there by conservatives who are outraged by the fact that Prime Minister Trudeau even exists, much less that he got elected. Now, I think that Justin Trudeau is woefully under-qualified and unprepared to be the leader of a G7 nation but I refuse to join the chorus that says he’s an idiot or a traitor.
Of course what the right says about Justin Trudeau is really quite tame compared to how the left characterized Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the late, great British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher …
… and yes, I’m well aware that politics is a blood sport, that caricature is often cruel and that good manners are not a prerequisite for commenting on political figures.
I believe that Canada needs to rid itself of Justin Trudeau in the 2019 general election and replace his regime with a good, sound, solid, responsible, honest and principled Conservative government. But it’s not because he is a bad person … a weak one, I suspect, but not bad.
One thing I learned in a half-century and more during which I lived and worked in a dozen or so countries on several continents and regions is that people are, all, without fail, pretty much alike. Americans and Angolans, Brits and Brazilians, Canadians and Congolese, Danes and Druze, Estonians and Egyptians, Finns and Fijians and, and, and, nearly ad infinitum, are in pretty near perfectly equal proportions: smart and stupid, weak and strong, honest and venal, brave and cowardly, friendly and rude and so on. There is nothing about a person’s skin colour or eye shape that makes them, in any way, different from (much less better or worse than) anyone else. Yes, cultures differ and cultures can and do have an impact on how people grow up and are educated and absorb or reject values and ideas … but cultures can be changed or tossed aside, skin colour cannot.
We, all of us, but especially those of us who call ourselves Conservatives must put aside the use of cruel, overly simplistic and dishonest caricatures ~ Justin Trudeau is neither an idiot nor a traitor, and the people who characterize him as such actually do him a service by making his principled opponents appear stupid and intolerant. Caricatures are useful, sometimes, especially when well-drawn they help us to see a whole person or an event …
… but a useful caricature must have some truth in it and it must be offered in a spirit of honest political discourse.