Tung Chan: Recent increase in hate crimes toward Asian-Canadians is a shock and a shame

One of the better opinion pieces on anti-Asian-Canadian hate crimes:

Canada is a multicultural society. The majority of us are welcoming and accepting of new Canadians, no matter where they are from or what race they are. This positive attribute of Canadian society is universally appreciated by new arrivals and admired by people around the world. This is why the recent increase in hate crimes toward Asian-Canadians is a shock to all of us.

Some of my Chinese-Canadian friends are taking extra precautions when they are out in public, looking over their shoulders when they are walking alone on empty streets. Many Chinese-Canadian organizations are banding together to fight the rise in racism.

It is no wonder then that a national survey conducted for the Chinese Canadian National Council for Social Justice found that as many as one in five respondents do not think it is safe to sit on the bus next to an Asian or Chinese person who isn’t wearing a face mask.

The same poll, conducted in the week of April 24 with a sample size of 1,130 adults randomly drawn from Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, also found that nearly 13 per cent, or one in eight respondents, were aware of incidents of racial bias in their neighbourhoods since COVID-19.

One member of Parliament, Derek Sloan, took advantage of this latent hostility and questioned the loyalty of our chief medical officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, who, like me, is an immigrant from Hong Kong. To the political base where his dogwhistle was directed, a Chinese person is a Chinese person — chief medical officer or not, naturalized Canadian or not.

A television outlet went further with a story that painted a picture of the Chinese diaspora, including Canadian citizens, obeying orders from the People’s Republic of China and secretly buying up personal protection equipment and shipping it back to China.

The unfortunate perception left with viewers is that Chinese-Canadians cannot be trusted because they may be members of a fifth column, ready and willing to follow the People’s Republic of China’s orders against the interest of Canada.

The point is that the actions of a few should never be generalized to a group. Yes, there is an increase of assaults on Asian-Canadians, but the actions of those few should not generate fear of all.

Yes, some Asian-Canadians sent care packages to China to protect loved ones prior to COVID-19 reaching Canada. But it was also done in hopes of preventing the virus from spreading and reaching Canada.

Everyone is afraid of COVID-19, of losing family, of being without an income, of what tomorrow will bring. But we know the fabric of Canada is sewn with kindness and compassion.

Our civic leaders and elected politicians need to continue speaking up to condemn those who physically attack to cause bodily harm or those who verbally attack to create doubt about the loyalty of Chinese-Canadians. The perpetrators of these malicious acts must be made to understand that their actions and their words are not acceptable in our society.

For the sake of our country, let’s focus our energy on fighting the virus, not each other.

Source: Tung Chan: Recent increase in hate crimes toward Asian-Canadians is a shock and a shame

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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