Racism Update

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(Photo by Sebastian Voortman from Pexels)

“Trump, Bolsonaro, Legault”. “La loi 21 est racisme.” Two signs side by side at a Montreal demonstration against racism tell the story in Quebec. Racist, deceitful, incompetent government. Legault’s party CAQ won a landslide victory in 2018 mainly based on their platform of “Laïcisation” – secularization, later enacted by Bill 21. In targeting and excluding specific identifiable groups, both the platform and the bill are racist. As a lifelong atheist, a passionate believer in the separation of church and state, and, as circumstances have required, a frequent critic of practices and leaderships of religions, I say secularization is a cover, a blanket covering the truth. To add insult to injury, a large crucifix still hangs in Quebec’s National Assembly.

Bill 21: New hires among public workers in positions of coercive authority have been banned from wearing religious symbols, including:

  • Any public employee who carries a weapon, including police officers, courthouse constables, bodyguards, prison guards, and wildlife officers
  • Crown prosecutors, government lawyers, and judges
  • School principals, vice-principals and teachers

The law also mandates having one’s face uncovered to give or receive specific government services, including:

  • Municipal services such as public transit
  • Doctors, dentists, and midwives in public institutions
  • Subsidized daycares
  • School boards

The notion that, because of their faiths, persons wearing a hijab, a turban or a yarmulke would not be able to perform their jobs well, fairly, and with good judgment is patently absurd, discriminatory, and, as it singles out specific groups, racist. Muslims, particularly Muslim women, Jews and Sikhs the groups targeted by the law have been among the most frequent targets of hate.

Persons wearing turbans, yarmulkes or hijabs are excluded, they are denied representation, granted to everyone else, in law enforcement, in the education of their children, their credentials are valid in some places, but not in others, they are deprived of some rights that are supposed to be universal. Exclusion from some professions was Hitler’s first step against the Jews.

Yarmulke wearing wildlife officer. Not in Quebec. Ce n’est pas possible.

Déclaration contre le racisme du projet de loi 21
avril 5, 2019
Solidarité Sans Frontières rejette le racisme du projet de loi 21, et lance un appel à l’action!
Solidarité Sans Frontières est solidaire avec les communautés affectées par le projet de loi raciste déposé la semaine dernière par le gouvernement de la CAQ. Nous rejetons catégoriquement la rhétorique malhonnête de la « laïcité » de l’état. Bannir le port de symboles religieux cible clairement la communauté musulmane, qui est déjà fragilisée et marginalisée. Bannir le port de signes religieux cible tout particulièrement les femmes musulmanes, et est une expression de haine sexiste, islamophobe, anti-Sikh et antisémite.

Donald Trump further stoked controversy over race issues and policing by remarking on Friday that chokeholds sounded “so innocent and so perfect”, and once again claimed he has been the best president for black Americans – only partially conceding that Abraham Lincoln may have surpassed him. The Guardian, June 13.

Francine Prose is a novelist and the former president of PEN America, The Guardian, June 15.

The gap between Trump’s world and reality is widening. It’s disturbing to watch.
In Greek mythology, Cerberus – angry and snarling – stood at the gates to hell. Trump and his inner circle are our Cerberus.

Does Trump truly believe that Martin Gugino, the 75-year-old protester shoved to the ground by Buffalo police officers, was an antifa insurrectionist plotting to block the communications equipment of the officers who shoved him and left him bleeding from the ear? Does the courtly, somewhat hesitant Gugino really look to anyone like a dangerous thug? How could someone have watched that video and floated the idea that the attack on Gugino, still hospitalized with a brain injury, “could be a set-up?” Is it possible that a president who has spent four years lying to the American people
now assumes that everyone is lying? Or can he simply no longer distinguish between fact and fiction, between conspiracy theories spread by fringe “news” outlets such as the One America News Network and observable reality? What sane human being could imagine that America wanted to hear that George Floyd was smiling down from heaven at the day’s modestly improved job reports?…

Lately, I’ve been thinking of the 8,000-word “long telegram” that George Kennan, then the American chargé d’affaires in Moscow and later an architect of the cold war, sent to the state department in 1946 – a document in which Kennan described the methods of an authoritarian dictatorship, “so strange to our form of thought”. Under Stalin, wrote Kennan, “The very disrespect of Russians for objective truth – indeed, their disbelief in its existence – leads them to view all stated facts as instruments for furtherance of one ulterior purpose or another.”…

Let’s not forget who Cerberus was, in Greek mythology. Perpetually angry and snarling, Cerberus acted as the guardian of the underworld. His ferocious multiple dog heads were forever twisting, showing their teeth, and barking at the newly damned approaching the gates of hell.

Andrew Pakula, Toronto, June 23


Andrew Pakula is a long time peace activist and has been a member of Science for Peace from the very beginning. He is a retired social research and management consultant with a background in social psychology.

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