May 26th, 2018

Racist rant shines light on an uncomfortable truth about society

By Medicine Hat News Opinon on May 15, 2018.

Not my Canada.

It’s the response many have had about the now-infamous racist and xenophobic diatribe last week against four men at a Denny’s in Lethbridge.

It’s a nice sentiment. It’s understandable where it’s coming from. But it’s completely wishful thinking.

Because if you listen to what came out of this woman’s mouth, it’s only a drunker, louder version of what plenty of “average Joe” Canadians say on a regular basis around the kitchen table, to friends, at family gatherings, on social media, and elsewhere in private. It’s found in online comments at the News. It’s especially found at a prominent “news” website that claims insurrectionist tendencies, and other sites of the same ilk.

Take your pick of a banal screed: Islam equals terrorism, Indigenous people are freeloaders, Latinos somehow paradoxically stealing all our jobs while also being welfare bums. They don’t assimilate, they don’t share our values, why don’t they just shut up and get over it? How dare I have to be “politically correct” (re: respectful of others).

But remember to throw in a line about not being racist, not seeing colour, they mean well, or it being a joke. Some trivial caveat, as if it makes things better.

In a way, the main sin of the woman at Denny’s was that she broke the Canadian code of politeness: Be racist, but do so politely. Not in a drunken rant, right to the faces of people you dislike.

It’s easy to call out a stranger. It’s much harder to call out friends, family, or even take an honest humble look at one’s own assumptions. To not make excuses.

But it has to be done. Experts who follow white supremacist groups have been raising the alarm in recent years about increased membership and activity of these groups in Canada.

These organizations are rebranding in an attempt to weasel their views into mainstream acceptance and recruit. Call them the Alt-right, Proud Boys, Three Percenters, Odin’s whatever. If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck — it’s a god-damn duck. And in this case, no matter what fancy-pants names they come up with? They’re still white supremacists and neo-nazis.

The woman in Denny’s isn’t some lone racist wolf. She is one of many — from your sweet old grandma who (oopsies!) just happens to drop the n-word from time to time, to the Albertan proudly displaying the Confederate flag despite its absolute non-connection to Canadian heritage, to the skinhead with swastika tattoo.

This is our Canada. And if it’s not what we want Canada to be, we have a lot of work to do.

(Peggy Revell is a News reporter. To comment on this and other editorials, go to http://www.medicinehatnews.com/opinions.)

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