Pelletier: Le petit bout de la lorgnette

Interesting commentary on the English language debate controversy over the moderator calling (correctly) Quebec’s Bill 21 discriminatory and the pile-on by Quebec leaders and weak response by federal leaders):

C’est tout un rebondissement. Au 25e jour d’une campagne électorale qu’on disait inutile et ennuyante, le diable s’est mis aux vaches. Rarement aura-t-on vu François Legault aussi en colère, d’ailleurs, tremblant d’émotion face à ces « attaques » contre le Québec. «  Prétendre que de protéger le français, c’est discriminatoire ou même raciste, c’est ri-di-cule. C’est pas vrai qu’on va se faire donner des leçons là-dessus par personne ! », a-t-il répété au lendemain du dernier débat des chefs, le seul en anglais.

La voilà donc, la « question de l’urne » — du moins au Québec, car ce fameux débat est tombé sur le pays comme une guillotine, faisant rouler la tête du Québec dans un coin et le corps du ROC dans l’autre. Pour ce qui reste de cette campagne, nous n’habiterons vraisemblablement plus le même pays, les deux solitudes ayant repris leurs droits comme jamais.

Au Québec, par conséquent, la question de l’heure ne concerne plus les changements climatiques, la réconciliation avec les Autochtones, la sécurité des grandes villes, les garderies, sans parler de comment en finir avec cette pandémie. Il ne s’agit pas de mieux préparer l’avenir ; il s’agit, si on se fie aux consignes données par le premier ministre lui-même, de protéger ce que nous avons déjà, nos « compétences » et notre « autonomie ». De regarder derrière en pansant de vieilles blessures, plutôt que de regarder devant.

Petite précision avant d’expliquer pourquoi un tel combat m’apparaît une coquille vide. La question posée au chef du Bloc québécois durant le dernier débat des chefs était tout à fait méprisante, inacceptable, en plus d’être confuse et mal formulée. L’affront méritait d’être souligné, c’est clair. Mais de là à déclarer la « nation québécoise » menacée dans ses valeurs et ses compétences ? De là à prétendre que le Québec tout entier se retrouve dans ce nationalisme de pacotille ?

Si François Legault était toujours un souverainiste convaincu, alors sa colère aurait au moins une direction. Mais on s’illusionne, à mon avis, si on croit que cette manifestation émotive du premier ministre — ponctuée d’ailleurs de la célèbre formule de Robert Bourassa (un Québec libre « d’assumer son propre destin ») — annonce un possible retour au projet de pays. Le sens de tout ce théâtre était déjà inscrit dans l’appel de M. Legault à voter conservateur, lancé quelques heures seulement avant le débat disgracieux de jeudi dernier.

Faisant fi des positions conservatrices sur l’environnement, les armes à feu, les garderies, oubliant jusqu’au manque à gagner sous un éventuel gouvernement conservateur — il y aurait non seulement beaucoup moins d’argent pour les garderies, mais également moins de transferts de péréquation —, François Legault réagissait à une seule chose : la promesse de non-ingérence dans les champs de compétence du Québec.

Que le chef caquiste soit prêt à sacrifier des mesures sociales importantes simplement pour s’assurer d’avoir les coudées franches, de régner en roi et maître sur son territoire, en dit long sur son état d’esprit. Rappelant l’affirmation nationale tonitruante du « cheuf » — Maurice Duplessis a inventé le concept du fief provincial bien gardé —, M. Legault choisit une démonstration de force plutôt qu’une amélioration des conditions de vie de ses concitoyens. Comme projet de pays, il faudra repasser.

Le chant de sirène conservateur (« nous, on respecte les provinces ») est d’autant plus séduisant qu’il comporte la promesse de ne pas contester la Loi sur la laïcité de l’État. Une éventualité qui viendrait perturber le règne de François Legault, c’est sûr.

Pour l’instant, fort de cette dernière illustration de Quebec bashing devant des millions de spectateurs, le chef peut jouer au preux chevalier des « valeurs québécoises », un concept aussi flou que trompeur. D’abord, on ne trouve pas de valeurs au Québec qu’on ne trouve pas ailleurs au Canada — à une exception près : la défense de la langue française, la seule spécificité proprement québécoise. L’utilisation d’une langue différente implique aussi un sentiment de vulnérabilité et un besoin de survie. Deux choses, il est vrai, que le Canada anglais n’a jamais bien saisies. Mais peut-on parler ici de « valeurs » ?

Pour le reste, l’égalité hommes-femmes et, bien sûr, la laïcité, il ne s’agit aucunement de spécificité québécoise, mais au contraire de valeurs démocratiques fort répandues. D’ailleurs, la loi 21 traduit moins le besoin de régler un problème religieux — la séparation entre l’Église et l’État étant déjà bien établie — que la peur de revenir en arrière. Pour certains, cette hantise du passé justifie amplement la loi. On pourrait en débattre longtemps, mais une chose est claire : en interdisant à certains membres de minorités religieuses le plein exercice de leurs droits, la loi est jusqu’à preuve du contraire bel et bien « discriminatoire ». Il n’y a pas que le Canada anglais ou le juge Marc-André Blanchard qui le pensent. Pourquoi la loi serait-elle protégée par la clause dérogatoire si on ne craignait pas son annulation précisément pour cette raison ?

De prétendre, comme le fait le premier ministre, que tout le Québec s’élève aujourd’hui pour « défendre son destin », c’est tordre le cou à une réalité beaucoup plus complexe, tout en rabaissant le nationalisme au petit bout de la lorgnette.

Source: Le petit bout de la lorgnette

How ‘minority-majority’ ridings are influencing Canada’s election conversation

Interesting examples of community-specific issues and how they may influence some voters:

When Ally Wong recently launched her website, CCGTV.org or (Chinese-Canadians Go To Vote), her intent was to mobilize Chinese-speaking voters in her riding of Richmond Centre.

The B.C. municipality is renowned as perhaps the ultimate Canadian “minority-majority” city, with nearly three out of four Richmond residents speaking a language other than English or French at home.

This cultural diversity is the reason why the bedroom suburb is today the Asian food capital of North America, but it also seems to have contributed to making Richmond into the country’s most politically apathetic city. In the 2019 federal election, Wong’s Richmond Centre riding had the lowest voter turnout of all Canada’s ridings.

Wong is trying to do something about this state of affairs. Her site is providing Richmond constituents with Chinese-language information on how to register to vote, as well as platform details about every major party’s take on issues such as immigration, taxes and housing — topics that are typically of concern to all Canadian immigrants. 

But as she is engaging with voters, Wong has also uncovered another layer of more community-specific, hot-button topics that are not on the national radar, such as the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes, heightened China-Canada tensions, and how the Chinese community is portrayed in English media.

“There is much worry in the Chinese community about the safety of our elders. People feel more action is needed from our politicians,” she said in reference to the spike in anti-Asian hate crimes during the pandemic.

“How the Chinese community is portrayed in (English) media is also important, stories need to be more careful so it doesn’t lead to harm.”

These community-specific issues are often invisible to non-immigrant Canadians. They are certainly not the broad, stump-worthy topics such as housing affordability, climate change, and reconciliation, that one would think could — or should — swing a federal election. But they may turn out to be as impactful as any of the spending promises made in this election that seems more defined by general opposition to it than any burning policy question.

Of Canada’s 338 federal ridings, 41 now have populations in which visible minorities form the majority. While there is some evidence to indicate that South Asian and Filipino voters tend to skew to the left and Chinese voters to the right, partisan allegiances can be thin with 400,000 new immigrants arriving each year, all without any deep connection to a particular party. And given the neck-and-neck polling of this current race, the difference between a minority and majority government may come down to how candidates (along with their parties) in these key “immigrant ridings” position themselves — or posture — on what otherwise may seem to be distant matters, such as the Kashmir question, the erosion of democracy in Hong Kong and farming deregulation in India.

In Surrey—Newton, a riding in which approximately 60 per cent of voters are of South Asian descent, the “home country” issue troubling voters is the bleak future of India’s farmers. In September of last year, the Indian government hurriedly passed a series of agricultural bills that India’s farmers, unconsulted, have since vigorously protested despite vicious police crackdowns.

The Indian government argues the bills are necessary for economic reform. The farmers — the majority of whom are family-based enterprises with small holdings — argue the bills will squeeze them off their ancestral rural lands.

For the past nine months, South Asian Canadians from across the country have held numerous rallies and protests in support of their families and brethren back home. In the riding of Surrey—Newton, its current member of Parliament, Sukh Dhaliwal, tweeted in November of last year that he was “very disturbed by the treatment of Punjabi farmers in India” and that he stood “with the #PunjabFarmers”.

Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government also issued a statement last fall, supporting the rights of India’s farmers to protest. It was strongly rebuked by India’s government.

Gurmant Grewal, a former Conservative MP who represented the Surrey riding of Fleetwood-Port Kells from 2004 to 2015, believes India’s heavy-handed farming reforms could be a swing issue in these South Asian ridings.

“Here in Surrey, you are seeing candidates prioritize Canada-China tensions and the Indian farmer crisis,” said Grewal in an interview with New Canadian Media, a Canadian news outlet that focuses on immigrant coverage.

Even the Bloc Québécois which has traditionally focused its energies on Quebec’s Francophone base, has attempted this election cycle to reach out to immigrants. The party recently issued a statement condemning human rights violations in Kashmir, a predominantly Muslim populated Himalayan region to which both India and Pakistan lay claim.

In 2019, the Indian government abrogated the state’s constitution, and placed control of the region under central authority. Speaking out on behalf of Kashmiris resonates with Quebec’s Muslim voters.

Immigration patterns have continued to reshape Canada’s demographics and the cultural mix in the country’s political ridings. With each election, the diversity of representation in our House of Commons has kept pace with the overall proportion of immigrants in Canada. The total number of visible minority MPs elected increased from 47 in 2015 (14 per cent) to 51 in 2019 (15.1 per cent).

But there is also greater diversity surfacing in the issues that voters are asking about, including topics that otherwise wouldn’t play in a federal election but now do because they are relevant to the voters living in 12 per cent of Canada’s minority-majority ridings. In recent years we have witnessed how a U.S. election can come down to the concerns of voters in a handful of counties in Pennsylvania, Michigan or Florida. We may come to see in a matter of days how a functioning majority in Canada comes down to winning over Chinese or Sikh voters in places like Richmond Centre, and Surrey—Newton by addressing issues only visible in their communities. 

Source: https://www.thestar.com/opinion/2021/09/14/how-minority-majority-ridings-are-influencing-canadas-election-conversation.html

Erna Paris: The leaders’ sycophantic acceptance of Quebec’s Bill 21 is dangerous for all of Canada

Sad but true:

In his famous 14th-century work The Inferno, the Italian poet Dante Alighieri created a special abode in hell for wily flatterers. He considered sycophancy a wrongdoing against the entire community – a deceit with the potential to alter society for the worse.

Dante might have nodded knowingly had he observed Canada’s leader-courtiers line up to pay obeisance to Bloc Quebec leader Yves-François Blanchet’s defense of the indefensible during last week’s federal election debates. The quid pro quo was each leader’s personal support for Bill 21, the Quebec legislation that prohibits the display of religious symbols by public-sector workers in the workplace, in return for potential electoral support in the province.

Although Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh have previously implied that as prime minister they might challenge Bill 21, they and Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole have confirmed their support for a noxious law that discriminates against the rights of religious minorities. To back such legislation is not only hypocrisy on the part of Canadian leaders, but an affront to the fundamental commitments we espouse in this country. During the debate, it was striking to note that in the same breath as the main party leaders refused to challenge Quebec’s right to discriminate, they simultaneously mouthed their support for the Canadian shibboleths of human rights and equality.

Bill 21 is not innocuous. Some religions require a dress code as an element of orthodox worship. Think the Jewish kippathe Sikh turban and the Muslim headscarf, to name just three. This is frequently a religious obligation – which, if rejected, places the individual in contravention of his or her faith. While it is likely that everyone on the debate stage understood the true nature of the law, they succumbed to Mr. Blanchet’s assertation that they agreed, although sheepishly. Given that he would presumably be denied the right to work in Quebec’s public sector because he wears a turban, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh’s long-time acquiescence seems particularly ingratiating. “Quebec has the right to make its own determinations,” he has repeatedly said.

We are inured to degrees of pandering during election campaigns, but the collective compliance of our leaders with legal discrimination against minorities is galling. Because, as Dante understood centuries ago, there are larger consequences at play.

To understand this, let us consider that from the time of Confederation, nation-building has been the job description of Canadian governments. To keep this unlikely country from fracturing, Canadian leaders have practiced compromise, especially with Quebec, while our courts balanced civil rights using case-law precedents. This hasn’t been easy; for the first half of our history our policies were overtly racist, as the uncovering of residential school realities has laid bare. In the 1920s and 1930s, Canada’s immigration policies favoured British arrivals while denying entry to other “lesser” peoples.

These attitudes slowly changed in the years following the Second World War – culminating, in my view, with official multiculturalism, which confirmed that no group of Canadians was superior to another, and with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Like all social transformations, these remain controversial in many quarters, but they have become the foundation of contemporary Canada.

It is for this reason that the sycophantic acceptance of discriminatory legislation in Quebec is dangerous for Canada as a whole. When our leaders trade foundational principles for electoral purposes, they undermine the country at large.

The pushback has been so weak that the most egregious distortions of language have gone unremarked upon. During the debates, Mr. Blanchet said that Bill 21 cannot be described as discriminatory because it reflects the values of Quebec – perhaps the most specious argument for discrimination that we have heard since the pre-war years. When Catholics and Italians were undermined in an earlier Canada, was this acceptable because the “values” of Canadians were in favour? Was it acceptable for Indigenous children to be maltreated in Canada because those were the “values” of the day?

In 1995, three generations of my family travelled to Montreal to appeal to our Québécois co-citizens not to separate from our shared country, but what is even more harmful today is that Quebec no longer has to leave. By consenting to an injurious law, our federal leaders have joined the rest of Canada to that province. In doing so, they separate usfrom the underlying vision of equality of opportunity and the protection of minorities that today characterizes this country.

Source: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-the-leaders-sycophantic-acceptance-of-quebecs-bill-21-is-dangerous-for/

Alt-right finds new partners in hate on China’s internet

Of interest:

In the early days of the 2016 US election campaign, Fang Kecheng, a former journalist at the liberal-leaning Chinese newspaper Southern Weekly and then a PhD student at the University of Pennsylvania, began fact-checking Donald Trump’s statements on refugees and Muslims on Chinese social media, hoping to provide additional context to the reporting of the presidential candidate back home in China. But his effort was quickly met with fierce criticism on the Chinese internet.

Some accused him of being a “white left” – a popular insult for idealistic, leftwing and western-oriented liberals; others labelled him a “virgin”, a “bleeding heart” and a “white lotus” – demeaning phrases that describe do-gooders who care about the underprivileged – as he tried to defend women’s rights.

“It was absurd,” Fang, now a journalism professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, told the Observer. “When did caring for disadvantaged groups become the reason for being scolded? When did social Darwinism become so justified?”

Around the time of Trump’s election victory, he began to notice striking similarities between the “alt-right” community in America and a group of social media users posting on the Chinese internet.

“Like their counterparts in the English-speaking sphere, this small but growing community also rejects the liberal paradigm and identity-based rights – similar to what is called ‘alt-right’ in the US context,” Fang noted, adding that in the Chinese context, the discourse often comprises what he considers anti-feminist ideas, xenophobia, Islamophobia, racism and Han-ethnicity chauvinism.

Throughout the Trump presidency and immediately after the Brexit vote in 2016, researchers on both sides of the Atlantic began carefully studying the rise of the alt-right in English-speaking cyberspace. On the Chinese internet, a similar trend was taking place at the same time, with some observing that the Chinese online group would additionally often strike a nationalistic tone and call for state intervention.

In a recent paper that he co-authored with Tian Yang, a University of Pennsylvania colleague, Fang analysed nearly 30,000 alt-right posts on the Chinese internet. They discovered that the users share not only domestic alt-right posts, but also global ones. Many of the issues, they found, were brought in by US-based Chinese immigrants feeling disillusioned by the progressive agenda set by the American left.

Not all scholars are comfortable with the description “alt-right”. “I’m sceptical about applying categories lifted from US politics to the Chinese internet,” said Sebastian Veg of the School of Advanced Studies in Social Sciences in Paris. “Many former ‘liberal’ intellectuals in China or from China are extremely critical of Black Lives Matter, the refugee crisis, political correctness, etc. They are hardly populists, but on the contrary, a regime-critical elite. Are they alt-right?”

Dylan Levi King, a Tokyo-based writer on the Chinese internet, first noticed this loosely defined group during the 2015 European migrant crisis. “Whether you call it populist nationalism or alt-right,” he said, “if you paid close attention to what they talked about back then, you find them borrowing similar talking points from the European ‘alt-right’ community, such as the phrase ‘the great replacement’, or the alleged ‘no-go zones’ for non-Muslims in European cities, which was also used by Fox News.” 

Shortly after the migrant crisis broke out, Liu Zhongjing – a Chinese translator and commentator who built a name through his staunch anti-leftist and anti-progressive stance – was asked about his view on the way Germany handled it.

“A new kind of political correctness has taken shape in Germany, and many things can no longer be mentioned,” he observed. Liu also quoted Thilo Sarrazin, a controversial figure who some say is the “flag-bearer for Germany’s far-right” in supporting his argument.

On 20 June 2017, when the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees posted about the plight of the displaced people on Weibo on World Refugee Day with the hashtag #StandWithRefugees, thousands of internet users overwhelmed its account with negative comments.

The UNHCR’s goodwill ambassador – Chinese actress Yao Chen – had to clarify that she had no intention of suggesting that China should take part in accepting refugees.

In the same year, another post appeared on popular social media site Zhihu, with the headline “Sweden: the capital of sexual assault in Europe”. “But,” author Wu Yuting wrote, “the cruel reality is that, with the large number of Muslims flocking into Sweden, they also brought in Islam’s repression and damage against women, and destroyed gender equality in Swedish society.”

Islamophobia is the main topic among China’s alt-right, Fang and Yang’s research found.

“By framing the policies as biased, they interpreted them as a source of inequality and intended to trigger resentment by presenting Han as victims in their narrative,” Fang said. “They portrayed a confrontational relationship between Han – the dominant ethnic group in China – and other ethnic minorities, especially the two Muslim minorities – the Hui and the Uyghurs.” He added: “It’s exactly the same logic and mainstream narrative deployed in the alt-right in the US: poor working-class white men being taken advantage of by immigrants and by minorities.”

Other researchers went a step further. In a 2019 paper, Zhang Chenchen of Queen’s University Belfast, analysed 1,038 Chinese social media posts and concluded that by criticising western “liberal elites”, the rightwing discourse on the Chinese internet constructed the ethno-racial identity against the “inferior” of non-Western other.

This is “exemplified by non-white immigrants and Muslims, with racial nationalism on the one hand; and formulates China’s political identity against the ‘declining Western other with realist authoritarianism on the other,” she wrote.

Anti-feminism is another issue frequently discussed by the Chinese online alt-right. Last December, 29-year-old Chinese standup comedian Yang Li faced a backlash after a question she posed in her show. “Do men have the bottom line?” she quipped.

The line brought laughter from her live audience, but anger among many on the internet. Although Yang does not publicly identify herself as a feminist, many accused her of adopting a feminist agenda, with some calling her “feminist militant” and “female boxer”, “in an attempt to gain more privilege over men,” one critic said. “Feminist bitch,” another scolded.

And in April, Xiao Meili, a well-known Chinese feminist activist, received a slew of abuse after she posted online a video of a man throwing hot liquid at her after she asked him to stop smoking. Some of the messages called her and others – without credible evidence – “anti-China” and “foreign forces”. Others said: “I hope you die, bitch”, or “Little bitch, screw the feminists”.

“When the Xiao Meili incident happened, a lot of feminists were being trolled, including myself,” said one of the artists who later collected more than 1,000 of the abusive messages posted to feminists and feminist groups and turned them into a piece of artwork. “We wanted to make the trolling words into something that could be seen, touched, to materialise the trolling comments and amplify the abuse of what happens to people online,” she said.

Xiao blamed social media companies for not doing enough to stop such vitriol, even though China has the world’s most sophisticated internet filtering system. “Weibo is the biggest enabler,” she told a US-based website in April. “It treats the incels as if they are the royal family.” 

But Michel Hockx, director of the Liu institute for Asia and Asian studies at the US’s University of Notre Dame, thinks this is because such speeches do not threaten the government. “They don’t necessarily challenge the ruling party and spill over to collective action,” he said, “so there’s less of an incentive for social media companies to remove them. They are not told to do so by the authorities.”

King says that Chinese state censors also walk a fine line in monitoring such content: “The ‘alt-right’ tend to be broadly supportive of the Communist party line on most things. They do see China as a bulwark against the corrosive power of western liberalism.”

But their online rhetoric has offline consequences, he cautioned: “Things like ethnic resentment are something just below the surface, which can’t be allowed to fester. When it explodes, it’s very ugly.”

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/sep/11/alt-right-finds-new-partners-in-hate-on-chinas-internet

A Muslim family was killed in Canada just 3 months ago. So why are leaders not talking about Islamophobia?

So many issues are not being talked about but at least some party platforms include commitments with respect to anti-racism and related policies:

Just weeks after four members of a Muslim family were killed in what police have called act of terror, Aalia Bhalloo stood shaking in the middle of a Toronto-area grocery store, stunned at the words of a shopper who called her “disgusting.”

“Making your daughter wear that thing on her head is child abuse,” the woman told Bhalloo, referring to her 11-year-old’s headscarf. 

In her 36 years in Canada where she was born and raised, never before had Bhalloo experienced outright hate.

Her first instinct: to call the police.

“How would I know that those people wouldn’t be waiting for me outside in their car and the moment I stepped outside they run me over?” Bhalloo said. In the wake of the London attack, the fear was hardly far-fetched. 

Yet, as Canada enters the final week of an election only months after politicians of all stripes took to a stage in London in a show of solidarity, racism and anti-Muslim hate in particular have barely registered on the campaign trail. 

That’s raising concerns about just how much substance was behind their words in a year marked by a so-called racial reckoning sparked by the murder of George Floyd, the discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves at former residential schools, an uptick in anti-Asian racism amid the pandemic, and the deadliest attack on Muslims in the country since six worshippers were killed at a Quebec City mosque in 2017.

Leaders can’t be allowed to be push hate to ‘backburner’

“We can’t have politicians be allowed to get away with pushing this issue to the backburner,” Fareed Khan, founder of Canadians United Against Hate told CBC News.

“I think it’s up to Canadians — not just racialized Canadians but also the allies who have come out in the tens of thousands this year to support Black Canadians and Indigenous Canadians and Muslim Canadians — to say, ‘No we can be better than this’ and we’re not going to let you get away with being silent on this issue.”

Over the last decade, Canada has seen police-reported hate crimes against Muslims rise from 45 in 2012 to 181 in 2018. 

That number fell to 82 in 2020, though the past 12 months have seen profound examples of violence against Muslims, including the London attack, the fatal stabbing of Mohamed Aslim Zafis outside a Toronto-area mosque by a man with alleged links to neo-Nazi ideology, as well as multiple hate-motivated attacks on Black and racialized women in the Edmonton area.

As recently noted by the National Council of Canadian Muslims, more Muslims have been killed in targeted hate-attacks in Canada than any other G-7 country in the past five years. 

No major party committing to fight Bill 21

That’s something NCCM’s CEO Mustafa Farooq says “is absolutely something that should be addressed by every federal leader … If they’re not willing to address it, I think that tells you a lot about where their priorities lie.”

The Liberals have adopted some of the group’s 61 recent recommendations to counter Islamophobia in their campaign platform, including a $10-million annual investment for a national support fund for survivors of hate-motivated crimes. They have also committed to a national action plan for combating hate and creating new legislation to combat the spread of online hate.

The Conservatives promise to double the funding for the federal security infrastructure program and make it easier for religious institutions to apply to protect themselves against hate-motivated crime, though Farooq points out nowhere in their platform are the words Islamophobia or racism mentioned. 

Meanwhile, he says, the NDP is the only party to explicitly endorse an office for a special envoy on Islamophobia and has also promised online measure to counter hate. 

Still, says Farooq, none of the federal leaders have committed to intervening to fight Quebec’s Bill 21 in court — which bans some civil servants, including teachers, police officers and government lawyers, from wearing religious symbols at work. Instead, the leaders of the Liberals, Conservatives and Bloc Québécois all called the English-language debate question on Quebec’s secularism law offensive and unfair. 

That’s something Toronto imam Hamid Slimi believes needs to change.

“I believe governments should never interfere in people’s personal decisions when it comes to what they want to wear, what they believe, how they want to practise their religion.”

Issues like that have been drowned out amid the din of the campaign, he says.

“It’s like you’re in a market. There’s so much noise, everybody’s selling this and selling that and you can’t focus.”

Silence on hate makes it more ‘acceptable’

But for all the noise, for Bhalloo it’s the silence from leaders about the subject that’s most worrying.

“It does absolutely worry me for myself, but more importantly, my children who are growing up in this society that will have to face Islamophobic types of events or incidents or hate incidents, such as my daughter who had to face it as well,” she said.

“The silence of it just makes it that much more socially acceptable.”

As many took advantage of advance polls over the weekend, the world also marked 20 years since 9/11, when al -Qaeda hijackers attacked New York and Washington, killing nearly 3,000 including 24 Canadians. 

That date isn’t without significance in a year that’s seen such profound examples of anti-Muslim hate, says Khan.

“What we’re not remembering was the Islamophobia that it fuelled, the national security policies that are still in place that affect primarily Muslims. It doesn’t register on people that that singular attack has changed our society and has engendered racism, has fed white supremacy and Islamophobia,” he said. 

‘The face of Canada is changing’

Sabreena Ghaffar-Siddiqui, a professor of sociology and criminology at Sheridan College, agrees. 

“9/11 is connected to Islamophobia because that essentially became the birth of Islamophobia as we know it today. The ‘war on terror’ is the foundation on which today’s Islamophobia rests.”

Indeed, the Canadian Islamic Congress reported more than 170 anti-Muslim hate crimes in 2002, up from just 11 in 2000. 

And to anyone who believes problems of Islamophobia or racism in general don’t affect the public broadly enough to come up in an election campaign, Ghaffar-Siddiqui points out you don’t have to be Muslim for anti-Muslim hate to kill you.

The first person to be killed in a hate-crime after 9/11 was a man named Balbir Singh Sodhi, a Sikh man gunned down at his gas station in Arizona four days after the attacks by someone who mistook him for a Muslim. 

That’s why she and others believe the politicians who took to the stage in London after the killing of the Afzaal family need to deliver on their promises, not only for the Muslim community but for Canada as a whole.

“The face of Canada is changing,” she said.

“We have always been known for multiculturalism, but it’s one thing to show yourself as that type of nation and another to actually have the people of your nation feel safe in this country.” 

Source: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/canada-election-2021-racism-islamophobia-hate-1.6174511

Emma Raducanu victory sparks debate over multiculturalism in the UK

Of note (even if I was rooting for Layla):

The Twitter bio of Emma Raducanu, whose victory in the US Open on Saturday has sent much of the UK into an extended state of joyful delirium, contains only four words: london|toronto|shenyang|bucharest.

It’s a reflection of her pride and ease in her rich heritage which – thanks to 111 thrilling minutes in New York – has opened a debate about multiculturalism in her home nation, where she arrived as a two-year-old from Canada.

After the success of a fresh wave of sporting stars in 2021 – from the Olympics’ BMX rider Kye Whyte and weightlifter Emily Campbell to Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka and other stars of the Euro finalists football team – Raducanu is being hailed as the face of a new proudly diverse era.

On Sunday Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, tweeted that Raducanu – who was born in Canada to a Chinese mother and a Romanian father – reflected “London’s story”, writing: “Here in London, we embrace and celebrate our diversity. And if you work hard, and get a helping hand, you can achieve anything.”

Raducanu, who soon after her victory over the Canadian teenager Leylah Fernandez tweeted a picture of herself holding the union flag in one hand and her newly acquired trophy in the other with the words “We are taking her HOMEEE”, was congratulated by everyone from the Queen to Nigel Farage.

The latter came in for a barrage of criticism, as critics noted that in an interview the former Ukip leader described crime statistics relating to offences committed by Romanians as “eye-watering”, adding: “I was asked a question if a group of Romanian men moved in next to you, would you be concerned. If you lived in London, I think you would be.”

Match of the Day presenter and former captain of the England football team Gary Lineker couldn’t resist a swipe. “He won’t be able to afford to live next door to Emma Raducanu, so he needn’t worry,” he said, alluding to Raducanu’s £1.8m US Open prize money.

But Sport England board member Chris Grant said he welcomed the comments from Farage, and the wall-to-wall positive coverage of the 18-year-old’s achievements in parts of the media that are openly hostile to asylum seekers legally seeking refuge from danger.

“Her victory illuminates the reality of Britishness and the delusion at the heart of their other pronouncements,” he said. “A girl who has one Chinese parent, one Romanian parent and was born in Canada but came to Bromley at the age of two is such a normal story in this country, and one that we should be proud of.”

But Grant, speaking in an individual capacity, said the focus should be on Raducanu herself rather than on anything she does or doesn’t represent.

“We have to be mindful about what we place on the shoulders of individuals,” he said, adding that Raducanu’s mental health had already been the subject of intense speculation following her withdrawal from Wimbledon. “As of today, there’s going to be a massive spotlight on her from the point of view of immigration. That’s another burden for her to carry, and it’s probably not one she wants.”

Sunder Katwala, of British Future, a thinktank that promotes debate about immigration and integration, said Raducanu’s ease with her heritage was typical of her generation. But he warned people with liberal views on immigration using her as a “gotcha” argument.

“These are exceptional stories, which don’t answer the broader public questions about if we are good at identity integration, equal opportunity and shared identities,” he said. “They do give a popular image of the positive contribution of migration and integration, and that has that positive element, as long as it’s not overplayed.”

Wanda Wyporska, executive director of the Equality Trust, said as a “half-Bajan, quarter-Polish, quarter-English” British woman, while she delighted in celebrating Raducanu’s success and talent, she was wary of holding her up as an example of successful immigrant integration.

“The more that people get used to the idea that Britishness is a very varied thing has to be positive,” she said. “But my concern is that the valuing immigrants and refugees in the UK is sort of predicated on being successful and giving back a contribution rather than just being human. That’s not good for us either.”

Grant said he was most heartened by the images of celebration beamed from Raducanu’s tennis club, which included families of colour. “That a tennis club is a diverse place is socially significant in this country, and that’s happening quietly and inexorably. That’s why the Farage thing ultimately becomes irrelevant, because it’s happening anyway. If that integration has figureheads like her, that’s brilliant.”

Source: Emma Raducanu victory sparks debate over multiculturalism in the UK

Adams and Parkin: Don’t let angry protestors fool you — Canadians still trust in our democracy

Good nuanced perspective:

Certain truths seem self-evident: We are all created equal. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west. Our democracy is imploding under the strain of declining trust and increasing polarization.

The first two we should accept, but the characterization of our democracy as nearing collapse does not fit the facts, at least not in Canada. The trends run in the opposite direction: trust in many of our democratic institutions is actually growing, and the gaps between the political left and right are in fact narrowing. This helps put the troubling scenes of gravel-throwing anti-vaccine protestors in context: it is not just that they are a small minority — it is that the protestors and the majority of Canadians are moving in completely opposite directions.

Our regular Environics Institute surveys show that three in four Canadians are satisfied with the way democracy works in this country — a proportion that has held steady over the past 10 years. An equal number are satisfied with the way our political system works, but in this case, satisfaction has risen. Feelings of pride in the Canadian political system and of respect for our political institutions have both also been gradually increasing.

It is true that only a minority of Canadians have a lot of trust in Parliament or in political parties — a degree of healthy skepticism that is neither surprising nor problematic. But over 80 per cent have at least some trust. And the trends again are positive: strong trust in Parliament has risen by 19 points since 2010, including a 10-point increase since the previous survey in 2019. Strong trust in Parliament is now twice as high as it was just seven years ago; weak trust is now almost twice as low. The change in the case of trust in political parties is more modest, but in the same positive direction.

While the anger seen on the campaign trail makes our politics seem highly polarized, this too is a misleading impression. Our research shows that, in many cases, the views about our democracy among those on the left and right of the political spectrum have actually become more similar over the past few years, rather than diverging. And while it goes without saying that the Conservatives draw more support from those on the right and the NDP attracts more of those on the left, the fact is that the Liberals, Conservatives and NDP each draw a majority of their support from those who place themselves in the centre. The electorate is not divided into hostile camps separated by a widening, unbridgeable gulf.

But there is one measure in our survey that has shown a sudden decline: national pride. Almost all of us continue to feel at least some pride in being Canadian, but in our latest survey, this pride is less strongly expressed — a change likely linked to the discovery earlier this year of hundreds of graves of Indigenous children at the sites of former residential schools. Our survey began right after Canada Day, when many Canadians were discussing what these discoveries mean for the country. As these discussions unfolded, flags were lowered to half-mast, and feelings of national pride became more muted.

But this too is more the sign of a healthy democracy than one in crisis. It is reassuring to see that the revelations about residential schools upset our self-image. The shift in the tone of Canada Day from celebration to reflection did not occur only among a handful of political insiders, but among many ordinary citizens as well. This is a sign of a democracy in which minds remain open, and backs are not turned on one another.

As voting day approaches, there is no better time to bring the image we have of our democracy into alignment with the evidence. Angry antimask or antivaccination protestors fuelled by misinformation are currently a security and public health risk, but they are not the tip of a larger iceberg that reflects broader public opinion.

Canada is not the United States, and what has happened there (and elsewhere) does not always foreshadow events here. In a year filled with so much bad news, let’s open the curtains to welcome at least one ray of sunshine.

Source: https://www.thestar.com/opinion/contributors/2021/09/13/dont-let-angry-protestors-fool-you-canadians-still-trust-in-our-democracy.html

L’après 11 septembre : la lutte contre l’islamophobie est nécessaire, mais elle ne doit pas être un appui à l’islamisme

Good commentary by Antonius and some of the naiveté of the left:

Les attentats du 11 septembre 2001 ont lancé un signal clair : les mouvements djihadistes islamistes étaient désormais prêts à s’en prendre directement aux puissances occidentales par des actions violentes d’envergure.

En réponse à ce défi, les États-Unis ont déployé une double stratégie au Moyen-Orient. D’abord militaire, pour combattre Al-Qaeda ainsi que certains régimes jugés menaçants, dont celui des talibans en Afghanistan. Puis politique, pour convaincre leurs alliés arabes autoritaires de laisser une plus grande marge de manœuvre à leurs sociétés civiles.

Ce deuxième volet de la stratégie était fondé sur l’idée qu’un espace démocratique plus grand rendrait le recours à la violence moins attirant pour les courants contestataires, en particulier islamistes. Cette stratégie a donc été accompagnée de diverses initiatives d’ouverture envers les courants de l’islam politique qui ne revendiquaient pas la violence comme moyen d’action privilégié.

Ces tentatives de cooptation, voire de glorification d’un certain islam conservateur, ont constitué un désavantage pour les courants sociaux et politiques sécularisés au sein même des sociétés musulmanes, mais elles ne les ont pas paralysés. Au contraire, ces sociétés ont elles aussi bénéficié de cette ouverture, qui a permis les lentes et patientes mobilisations qui ont rendu possibles les révoltes arabes de 2011.

J’ai commenté et publié sur ces événements, en tant que professeur de sociologie à l’Université du Québec à Montréal. Je m’intéresse entre autres aux transformations sociales dans les sociétés arabes, incluant l’émergence de l’islam politique, aux conflits au Proche-Orient, en particulier israélo-palestinien, ainsi qu’aux stéréotypes et aux discriminations qui ont ciblé les communautés arabes et musulmanes.

L’agenda sécuritaire et l’islamophobie

En même temps qu’il développait ses nouvelles stratégies dans le grand Moyen-Orient, le gouvernement américain a développé des stratégies sécuritaires visant à empêcher que des attaques semblables à celles du 11 septembre 2001 ne se reproduisent sur son territoire. Allié fidèle des États-Unis, le gouvernement du Canada, a lui aussi développé des stratégies similaires de lutte contre le terrorisme.

La menace du 11 septembre étant venue d’un groupe qui se réclamait explicitement de l’islam dans son action politique violente, les soupçons se sont naturellement portés vers des groupes similaires. Le discours sécuritaire a alors constitué un terreau fertile aux dérapages xénophobes qui visaient spécialement les musulmans, d’abord dans les mesures sécuritaires elles-mêmes, dont certaines étaient clairement discriminatoires. Par exemple, le traitement différentiel en fonction de l’apparence ou du nom, ou encore les « No-Fly Lists » des citoyens ordinaires dont le nom était « suspect ». Mais c’est surtout dans certains discours populistes, qui encourageaient la méfiance et la haine envers l’islam et les musulmans, que ces dérapages se sont manifestés, produisant hélas de nombreuses agressions contre des citoyens du seul fait qu’ils et elles étaient musulmans.

C’est cet ensemble de politiques, de discours et d’attitudes hostiles à l’islam et aux musulmans qui a été désigné par le terme « islamophobie », souvent considéré comme étant synonyme de « racisme antimusulman » et comme étant étroitement lié à l’agenda sécuritaire post-11 septembre.

Des appuis à l’islam politique

En réaction à cette islamophobie, un mouvement de solidarité et de défense des droits des musulmans s’est développé au Canada et au Québec.

Initié par des associations antiracistes et de défense des droits, ce mouvement a rapidement conclu, à juste titre, qu’il fallait lutter contre les stéréotypes négatifs associés à l’islam et le montrer sous un meilleur — et plus réaliste — jour.

Mais comment aborder la question de l’émergence des courants de l’islam politique d’inspiration wahhabite, originaire d’Arabie saoudite, et qui est une forme spécifique de salafisme ? Comment tenir compte de l’émergence de l’islamisme, avec ses composantes antidémocratiques ou même liberticides ?

C’est là, je crois, que certains mouvements antiracistes ont fait des erreurs importantes. En voulant s’opposer à l’agenda sécuritaire considéré discriminatoire et islamophobe, ils ont ignoré les dangers de l’islam politique et lui ont apporté des appuis qui vont bien plus loin que la défense des droits démocratiques. Ceci les a amenés à glorifier, à l’occasion, les pratiques salafistes comme étant émancipatrices, par exemple dans cette vidéo inattendue publiée sur le site du journal Ricochet.

Plus généralement, les symboles associés à l’islamisme, ainsi que les discours identitaires islamistes, devenaient des revendications qu’il fallait appuyer activement au nom de la diversité, du libre choix et de l’antiracisme.

Des sympathies douteuses

Cette empathie ne s’est pas seulement appliquée aux pratiques religieuses orthodoxes. Oussama Atar, citoyen belge, l’un des cerveaux des attentats de Paris du 13 novembre 2015, avait été adopté par des groupes de défense des droits, dont Amnistie internationale, dans le cadre d’une campagne intitulée « Sauvons Oussama », lorsqu’il avait été emprisonné pour son association avec des groupes djihadistes. Au Canada, le controversé Adil Charkaoui (qui s’est réjoui publiquement du retour au pouvoir des talibans) avait reçu un appui, un hommage même, de la part de la Ligue des droits et libertés, quand il luttait pour faire annuler un certificat de sécurité déposé envers lui par le ministère de l’Immigration.

Ces cas ne sont pas que des anecdotes. C’est la conception même de « l’islamophobie », portée par une partie de la gauche antiraciste, qui est en jeu ici. En effet, la définition de l’islamophobie a été élargie pour considérer comme « phobie » toute critique, y compris rationnelle et documentée, des idéologies politiques qui se réclament de l’islam.

C’est ce qu’on pouvait lire dans un manuel (par ailleurs fort utile) produit dans le cadre du Islamic Heritage Month par le Toronto District School Board. Dans sa première version, publiée dans le Resource Guidebook For Educators, en 2017, on pouvait y lire cette définition : « Islamophobia refers to fear, prejudice, hatred or dislike directed against Islam or Muslims, or towards Islamic politics or culture », soit « L’islamophobie désigne la peur, les préjugés, la haine ou l’aversion dirigés contre l’islam ou les musulmans, ou contre la politique ou la culture islamique ».

Cette définition a été amendée quelques mois plus tard, en réaction aux protestations venues de… la droite, la gauche étant restée silencieuse sur cette question. Inutile de souligner ici le danger d’inclure la critique des politiques associées à l’islam comme étant du racisme islamophobe.

Cette conception de l’islamophobie portée par certains des courants antiracistes converge tout à fait avec les politiques officielles du gouvernement canadien, peut-être en raison de la stratégie d’ouverture envers l’islam politique non violent évoquée plus haut. Les efforts pour combattre l’islamophobie, définie dans ce sens très large, et sans critique de l’islamisme, trouvent ainsi un écho même au Parlement canadien, qui a adopté en 2019 une Motion pour combattre l’islamophobie.

Le combat contre le dogmatisme religieux

Cependant, dans le monde arabo-musulman, les critiques de l’islam comme idéologie politique se sont fait entendre de plus en plus. Face aux courants fondamentalistes se dressent des conceptions laïques de la société et de l’État, qui vont jusqu’à critiquer les fondements mêmes de l’islam. Ces courants ne revendiquent pas nécessairement la laïcité comme principe, mais ils l’expriment concrètement dans les arts, la culture, la littérature, les comportements sociaux et aussi la politique.

Ces critiques ne sont pas nouvelles : très visibles dans la première moitié du XXe siècle et jusqu’après l’ère des indépendances, elles avaient été étouffées par la montée de l’islam conservateur à partir des années 1970, puissamment appuyé par le régime saoudien. Mais on les voit émerger à nouveau à présent.

Dans de nombreux pays arabes, on peut voir par exemple des groupes se disant explicitement athées proliférer sur les réseaux sociaux tout en gardant un certain anonymat par peur de représailles. Un livre autobiographique d’un ex-salafiste/djihadiste devenu athée, publié sous le nom de Kafer Maghrebi (Apostat maghrébin) a eu un énorme succès durant la foire du livre de Casablanca où sa vente avait été autorisée. D’autres critiques radicales confrontent le récit officiel de l’histoire glorieuse de l’islam et contestent les rapports de domination justifiés au nom du dogme religieux.

C’est sur ces courants, enracinés dans les sociétés arabes, qu’il faudra compter pour continuer le combat contre le dogmatisme religieux et pour la laïcité, c’est-à-dire pour que les politiques de l’État n’aient pas besoin de justifications religieuses. Souvent exilés de leur pays d’origine, ceux et celles qui appartiennent à ces courants n’auront pas l’appui de cette partie de la gauche qui, en voulant défendre les droits des musulmans, appuie la propagation de l’islamisme. Ce faisant, cette gauche a cessé d’être un allié dans le combat pour la laïcité au sein des groupes arabes en situation de migration.

Source: https://theconversationcanada.cmail19.com/t/r-l-trxltjt-kyldjlthkt-v/

McWhorter:What Should We Do About Systemic Racism?

Interesting and nuanced discussion and the need for a more sophisticated discussion of different outcomes:

Here’s why some people aren’t onboard with the way Americans are taught to think about systemic racism: Even fully understanding that systemic racism exists and why it is important — persistent disparities between Black people and others in access to resources — one may have some questions. Real ones.

For me, the biggest question is not whether systemic racism exists but what to do about it.

A thorny patch, for starters, is figuring out whether racism is even the cause of a particular kind of disparity. One approach, well-aired these days, is that all racial disparities must be due to racism — a view encapsulated in a proclamation like “When I see racial disparities, I see racism.”

But that approach, despite its appeal in being so elementary — plus a bit menacing (a bit of drama, a little guilt?) — is often mistaken in its analysis, not to mention harmful to Black people if acted upon.

Here’s an example. Black kids tend not to do as well in school as white kids, statistically. But just what is the “racism” that causes this particular disparity?

It isn’t something as plain and simple as the idea that all Black kids go to underfunded schools — it’s a little 1980s to think that’s all we’re faced with. School funding is hugely oversold as a reason for schools’ underperformance, and the achievement disparity persists even among middle-class Black kids.

And middle-class Black kids are not just a mere sliver: Only about a third of Black students are poor. Yet the number of Black students admitted to top-level universities, for example, is small — so small that policies changing admissions standards are necessary for such schools to have a representative number of them on campus. This is fact, shown at countless institutions over the past 30 years such as the University of Michigan and recently Harvard. The key question is what justifies the policies.

One answer might be: “When I see racial disparities, I see racism.”

But in evaluating that idea, we must consider this: Black teenagers too often associate school with being “white.” Doesn’t such a mind-set have a way of keeping a good number of Black kids from hitting the very highest note in school? If many Black kids have to choose between being a nerd and having more Black friends — and one study suggests that they do — then the question is not whether this would depress overall Black scholastic achievement, but why it wouldn’t. The vast weight of journalistic attestations about growing up Black and how Black kids deal with school show the conflicting pressures they can face about achieving good grades and making friendships.

Now, my point here is not to simply accuse students of having a “pathology.” To be sure, the reason Black kids often think of school as “white” is racism. Just not racism today. Thus to eliminate systemic racism, our target cannot be some form of racism in operation now, because the racism operated several decades ago.

It took a while for Brown v. Board of Education to actually be enforced. When it was, starting in the mid-1960s, white teachers and students nationwide were not happy. Old-school open racism was still in flower, and Black kids in newly desegregated schools experienced it full blast — and not just in the South.

It was then that Black kids started thinking of school as the white kids’ game, something to disidentify from. While it hurts to be called a nerd when you’re white, the sting is worse when you are called disloyal to your race.

The source to consult on all of this is the book “Acting White: The Ironic Legacy of Desegregation,” as key to understanding Black history as Michelle Alexander’s “The New Jim Crow.”

One might ask why the disaffection with school persists even though the racism that caused it has retreated so much — for certainly this kind of open racism diminished enormously in the 1970s and 1980s. But cultural traits can persist in human beings beyond what sparked those traits. The idea that school is not what “we” do settled into a broader function: ordinary teenage tribalism. White kids might choose to be, say, Goths or various things. So might Black kids — but another identity available to many of them is a sense of school as racially inauthentic. The “acting white” idea has persisted even in well-funded middle-class schools, where if anyone is discriminating against the Black students, it’s being done in ways too scattered and usually subtle to explain, indefensible though they are, to realistically explain the performance gap.

This sense of school as “other” can be covert as well as overt. A 1997 study by Clifton Casteel, a Black educator, showed that white eighth and ninth graders tend to think of themselves as doing homework to please their parents, while Black ones think of themselves as doing it for their teachers. That’s subtle but indicative — the idea that school stuff for Black students is outside of home and hearth. And in the 1980s, a mathematics educator, Phillip Uri Treisman, showed that Black college students do better in calculus if they are taught to work together in studying it (with high expectations and close professor mentoring also recommended). That Black students need to be instructed to share schoolwork rather than go it alone illuminates a private sense of school as not what “we” do — i.e., when we are together being ourselves.

I will not pretend that there has not been, for 20 years, people vociferously denying that Black kids often have an ambivalent attitude toward excelling in school. However, that Black kids don’t say in interviews that they disidentify from school reveals no more than that whites say they aren’t racist in interviews — why hit rewind and pretend psychology has no layers solely when Black students are involved? Then there is the idea that certain studies have disproved that this sense of disconnection exists when they actually found possible evidence of it, such as one documenting Black students saying that they like school and yet reporting spending less time on homework compared with white and Asian kids.

In sum, the sheer volume of attestations and documentation of Black students accused of “acting white” makes it clear to any unbiased observer that the issue is real, including the shakiness of the attempts to debunk the claim. The denialists are worried that someone like me is criticizing the Black students, upon which I repeat: The sense of school as white was caused by racism. It’s just that it was long, long ago now.

So, we return to “when I see racial disparities, I see racism.” This is a mantra from Ibram X. Kendi, and one of his solutions to the Black-white achievement gap in school is to eliminate standardized tests. They are “racist,” you see, because Black kids tend not to do as well on them as others.

And in line with this version of racial reckoning, we are seeing one institution after another eliminating or altering testing requirements, from the University of California to Boston’s public school system.

The idea that this is the antiracist thing to do is rooted in an idea that there is something about Black culture that renders standardized tests inappropriate. After all, Kendi certainly doesn’t think the issue is Black genes. Nor, we assume, does any responsible person think it’s genes, and it can’t be that all Black kids grow up poor because to say that is racist, denying the achievements of so many Black people and contradicting simple statistics.

So it’s apparently something about being a Black person. Kendi does not specify what this cultural configuration is, but there is reason to suppose, from what he as well as many like-minded people are given to writing and saying, that the idea is that Black people for some reason don’t think “that way,” that Black thought favors pragmatic engagement with the exigencies of real life over the disembodied abstraction of test questions.

But there is a short step from here to two gruesome places.

One is the idea getting around in math pedagogy circles that being precise, embracing abstract reasoning and focusing on finding the actual answer are “white,” which takes us right back to the idea that school is “white.”

The other is the idea that Black people just aren’t as quick on the uptake as other people.

Yeah, I know — multiple intelligences, “energy” and so on. Taking a test of abstract reasoning is just one way of indicating intelligence, right — but folks, really? I submit that few beyond a certain circle will ever truly believe that we need to trash these tests, which were expressly designed to cut through bias.

One of Kendi’s suggestions, for example, is that we assess Black kids instead on how articulate they are about their neighborhood circumstances and on their “desire to know.” But this is a drive-by notion of pedagogical practice, with shades again of the idea that being a grind is “white.” I insist that it is more progressively Black to ask why we can’t seek for Black kids to get better on the tests, and almost phrenological to propound that it’s racist to submit a Black person to a test of abstract cognitive skill.

To get more Black students into top schools, we should focus on getting the word out in Black communities about free test preparation programs, such as have long existed in New York City. We should resist the elimination of gifted tracks as “racist,” given that they shunted quite a few Black kids into top high schools in, for example, New York back in the day. Teaching Black kids to work together should be even more of a meme than it has become since Treisman’s study. And the idea that school is “for white people” should be traced, faced and erased, reified and rendered as uncool as drunken driving and smoking have been.

Boy, that was some right-wing conservative boilerplate, no? Of course not. Many would see these prescriptions as unsatisfying because they aren’t about wagging a finger in white America’s face. But doing that is quite often antithetical to improving Black lives.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/10/opinion/systemic-racism-education.html

‘Just a lot of talk’: Activists urge party leaders to increase focus on racism

There is a lot not being discussed during this campaign, not just racism. Liberal, NDP and Green platforms have extensive commitments, some more realistic or sensible than others. Conservative platform is surprisingly silent. Expect that there may be more discussion at the local campaign level in ridings with more visible minorities and Indigenous peoples:

Federal leaders have not focused on addressing systemic racism during the campaign, despite the urgency of the issue after findings of unmarked graves at former residential schools and rising hate against minority communities during the COVID-19 pandemic, advocates say.

While the Liberals and NDP have included programs in their election platforms to tackle barriers that people of colour face, the Conservatives don’t mention the word “racism” even once in their 150-page election plan, said Fareed Khan of Canadians United Against Hate.

Regardless of promises, Khan said the lack of discussion by Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh of fighting racism during their campaign events makes him wonder how seriously they are taking the issue.

“On the one platform when it would make the biggest impact during an election, they haven’t talked about it,” Khan said.

“So what that says to me and a lot of people, activists, is that maybe what they’ve said over the last year is just a lot of talk, and they’re not as serious about fighting hate as they said they were.”

Khan said the campaign is an opportunity for politicians to explain how they will respond to those who have protested against anti-Black racism, called for justice for Indigenous Peoples and demanded action against Islamophobia.

“The people have spoken. They want action on this,” he said.

The issue of systemic racism reached the campaign trail this week after Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet complained about a debate question that he said painted Quebecers as racist. Trudeau and Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole jumped to defend Quebec as not racist, while Singh said it’s unhelpful to single out any one province.

The question was about Quebec laws the moderator deemed “discriminatory,” including Bill 21, which bans some civil servants from wearing religious garb on the job. Mustafa Farooq, chief executive officer of the National Council of Canadian Muslims, said it was “shameful” the main party leaders did not step in to argue the law was discriminatory.

But on Friday, Trudeau told dozens of people gathered in a restaurant in Scarborough, Ont., that the pandemic hit racialized people harder than others and saw an increase in hatred and intolerance. The rise in hate has been aggravated by COVID-19 but the issue is “bigger than that,” he added.

“We see more and more white supremacist groups and racist groups taking toeholds on the internet, and more and more in our communities,” he said.

After defending his government’s record on supporting racialized communities, Trudeau promised to introduce a new law combating online hate in 100 days of his new mandate if re-elected.

Speaking to reporters in Ottawa on Friday, Singh said systemic racism is a problem many people live with every day.

“We’ve seen it in police violence (where) racialized people who had mental health or health concerns ended up losing their lives. We know that this is a problem that exists and it needs to be fixed, and we are committed to fixing it.”

O’Toole said in a statement that every day, people experience discrimination or racism in some form and he is committed to working with communities to find concrete solutions to these problems.

“Conservatives believe that the institutional failings that have led to these outcomes can and must be urgently addressed. It is imperative that we meet this challenge with practical policy changes that solve institutional and systemic problems,” he said.

While the Tory platform doesn’t contain the word “racism,” it does propose strengthening the Criminal Code to protect Canadians from online hate and notes that racialized people have been disproportionately impacted by unemployment during the pandemic.

Chief R. Donald Maracle of the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte First Nation in Ontario said there are programs in place, funded federally and provincially, to eliminate racism but it still is a problem.

“First Nations people have suffered racism by government over decades, with a lack of investments to deal with housing and water and post-secondary education and also lack of opportunity for employment and training,” he said.

“In recent years the governments have invested a lot of money to try to overcome those barriers.”

He said there are many competing issues to be addressed by political leaders during the campaign with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy.

“The focus seems to be to keep the economy restarted and return to some kind of normal life for most Canadians, but again there’s a lot of racism that has caused a lot of systemic poverty,” he said.

“It’s an issue that remains outstanding to be addressed.”

Andrew Griffith, a former director at the federal immigration department, said it’s surprising that the Conservatives didn’t include any specific measures to end racism in their platform despite the rise of hate during the pandemic.

The pandemic also highlighted the link between being a member of a minority group or an immigrant community and the lack of access to health care and good housing, he said.

“Ongoing issues in terms of policing, various reports in terms of increased anti-Asian incidents, antisemitism remains perennial, attacks on Muslims, including the most recent ones in London, (Ont.), so there’s a whole series of issues there that I find it striking that there’s really nothing there in the (Conservative) platform,” he said.

Farooq, of the National Council of Canadian Muslims, said it’s saddening that federal leaders are not prioritizing tackling systemic racism.

“We have a week or so left in this federal election campaign. I would hope that they take seriously what Canadians have been asking for,” he said.

All major federal leaders travelled to London, Ont., in June to show solidarity with the Muslim community after a vehicle attack against a Muslim family left four dead and a nine-year-old boy seriously injured.

“It’s easy to talk in the aftermath of a tragedy and to say that you’re committed to action and doing something,” Farooq said. “But the real test is at a time like this. What are you actually committed to standing on and standing for?”

Source: https://globalnews.ca/news/8182949/canada-election-racism-campaign-systemic/