Wednesday, February 25, 2015

On Hatred And Fear

Those of us who follow Canadian federal politics with a critical eye and mind will likely glean nothing new from Carol Goar's article in today's Star, yet it is nonetheless comforting to know that the depredations and demagoguery of Stephen Harper et al. are not being lost on the national press stage.

They hate our values, Goar notes, has become a new tagline in the Harper narrative. He used it on a Richmond Hill audience when talking about terrorists.

He used it when talking in Quebec about employees of Radio Canada.

He had his pull toy, Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney, use it in Washington.

As Goar points out, the language is all of a piece, to be placed alongside of past gems used against those who dare question Harper policy: imprecations such as 'soft on terrorism,' 'Taliban Jack', 'siding with child pornographers' all attest to the manifest unworthiness of this regime to lead Canada.

The sinister effect of such language is extensive, as Goar points out:
It has already migrated from the realm of terrorism to the practice of journalism. It could easily be applied to pipeline opponents (already branded “environmental terrorists”). It could be used to deport unwanted immigrants or foreign-born citizens (already warned “citizenship is not a right; it’s a privilege”). It could be employed against parliamentarians who challenge the scope and constitutionality of government legislation (already labelled the “black helicopter brigade”).
Such demagoguery has other effects as well:
-It yanks out a piece of the national mosaic, subjecting Canada’s 1.1 million Muslims to unwarranted suspicion and drawing a direct link between their religion and terrorism.

-It lowers the standard of political discourse. Canadians don’t normally use words such as hate, despise and abhor in the public arena.

-It precludes rational debate. It is entirely possible that ISIS and its followers are targeting Canada because its warplanes are bombing them in Iraq, not because of its values. But who would dare suggest that in the current us-versus-them atmosphere?

-It legitimizes the kind of discrimination that is surfacing at lower levels of government. In Shawinigan, city councillors blocked an application by local Muslims to build a cultural centre .... Across the country, people who know little about Islam are angrily impugning Muslim women who cover their faces.
Being a demagogue is easy. History amply demonstrates this. Real leadership, cultivating the best in people's natures, is long and hard work. The Harper regime is clearly not up to the latter, as it has amply demonstrated time and time again.

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