In a commentary this morning, Danyaal Raza issues a stinging and heartfelt rebuke to his former professor, Kellie Leitch. Now a doctor, Raza talks of his reaction to that strange lady's dog-whistle politics:
Leitch’s email following the U.S. presidential election hit me hard. At 3 a.m., just hours after TV networks declared Donald Trump President-elect, Leitch doubled down on his racist and xenophobic campaign in an email to her supporters.Feeling deeply betrayed, the writer, a Muslim, wonders what she really thought of his ethnically and racially diverse classmates:
“It’s an exciting message and one that we need delivered in Canada as well,” she declared regarding Trump’s victory. “It’s the message I’m bringing with my campaign to be the next Prime Minister of Canada ... It’s why I’m the only candidate who will ensure that every visitor, immigrant, and refugee will be screened for Canadian values.”
Surveying the class as she lectured, did she think we all belonged? Did she think we shared her values, presumably the Canadian ones she has in mind? What does her campaign mean for those who think we don’t have a place in Canada?And therein lies the real problem with people like Leitch. Her divisive tactics do not exist simply in the abstract, but in fact have real-life consequences.
Trump’s “exciting message” that “we need delivered in Canada” has already unleashed a torrent of hate and intimidation.And those are the kinds of consequences that all Canadians need to bear in mind when they consider her candidacy. As much as we would like to believe otherwise, Canadians are no different from, or superior to, people in other parts of the world. The civil society we live in, the values we hold dear and try to practice, are always going to be fragile. They need to be nurtured and deepened, since it would not take much, as polls already show, for us to succumb to the blandishments of those demagogues lurking within our midst.
At the University of Michigan, a “Crime Alert” was issued after a student was told to remove her hijab or be set on fire. In Los Angeles, a teacher taunted his Latino students, telling them their parents were going to be deported. In Indiana, a black women was told “Trump is going to deport you back to Africa.”
With many other incidents being reported, it’s amazing that a little more than a week has passed since Trump’s victory and Leitch’s endorsement.
As always, the character of our country and the health of our democracy rest with us, responsibilities that we should never, ever take lightly.