Racism and bigotry are nothing new. In my youth, I assumed these scourges would fade away through enlightenment ensured by modern education, communication and human migration made easier in a shrinking world.
I was wrong.
Events leading to today’s state of emergency in West Virginia are more evidence that racism continues deeply embedded in America’s culture. Recently, it seemed less explicit – at least at official levels – but then came Donald Trump.
Alexis Okeowo wrote in The New Yorker about incidents of racism and xenophobia:
Such harassment occurred throughout Trump’s campaign, but now appears to have taken on a new boldness, empowered by the election of a Ku Klux Klan-endorsed candidate who has denigrated women and racial and religious minorities.
Perhaps neo-Nazis marching in America should not now surprise us. Our neighbours’ connections to Nazism are longstanding. From the Washington Post:
“In the early twentieth century the United States was not just a country with racism,” writes Yale law professor James Whitman in his book “Hitler’s American Model.” “It was the leading racist jurisdiction — so much so that even Nazi Germany looked to America for inspiration.”
In his startling new history, Whitman traces the substantial influence of American race laws on the Third Reich. The book, in effect, is a portrait of the United States assembled from the admiring notes of Nazi lawmakers, who routinely referenced American policies in the design of their own racist regime.
North of the border, we have only faint reason to feel superior. Evidenced by actions of Proud Boys in Halifax, what Andrew Mitrovica called, “CBC’s tolerance of the intolerable,” the Fraser Institute’s racial fear mongering or public support of Ezra Levant’s repugnant TheRebel.media, egalitarianism is unrealized in Canada.
During the race for leadership of Canada’s Conservative Party, journalist Michael Coren concluded that “the entire debate has been shamed by the implied racism and xenophobia” of some candidates.
Sadly, bigotry is too familiar in Canada today.
Pity the nation whose people are sheep,
and whose shepherds mislead them,
Pity the nation whose leaders are liars, whose sages are silenced,
and whose bigots haunt the airwaves.
Pity the nation that raises not its voice,
except to praise conquerors and acclaim the bully as hero
and aims to rule the world with force and by torture.
Pity the nation that knows no other language but its own
and no other culture but its own.
Pity the nation whose breath is money
and sleeps the sleep of the too well fed.
Pity the nation — oh, pity the people who allow their rights to erode
and their freedoms to be washed away.
My country, tears of thee, sweet land of liberty.