In the wake of the recent U.S.A. elections many people are rethinking previously held beliefs and assumptions. The political pundits are busy providing their take on events, and journalists are writing feverishly. I cannot speak for others, but my personal assumption is that many or most are like me, in that they read the various articles, and nod wisely and agree that not only has something terrible taken place, but that “they” did it. They being the opposite of we – they being the ignorant low class uneducated manual laboring rural hayseed rustic bigoted intolerant rednecks that supported Trump and voted him into the office of President of the U.S.A.
This viewpoint is supported by countless articles and interviews – how did we let this happen ? – how did we not see this coming?, and by various rather humerous putdowns of the Trump supporters such as the email relating the Stephen Hawking statement when his original comments containing big words was translated into “Trump bad man – very bad”.
Even Garrison Keillor wrote depicting the Trump supporters (They wanted only to whoop and yell, boo at the H-word, wear profane T-shirts, maybe grab a crotch or two, jump in the RV with a couple six-packs and go out and shoot some spotted owls).
I am ashamed of my self for accepting these views without thinking, perhaps partly because they came from people I respect. I am ashamed for passing them on, and chuckling at the putdowns. I am ashamed for automatically accepting those stereotypes. I am ashamed of what has to be called by its real name BIGOTRY – the “we” I associated myself with are bigots! Upon any kind of deeper examination it becomes apparent that what that means is that WE are the holders of all right and light and truth and intelligence and good judgement, and those on the other side (They) are just wrong and bad! Is that not bigotry? Just who do we think we are to make these judgements?
Again I say, I am ashamed of myself!
I am no Trump supporter. I think he is a dangerous and deranged buffoon. I dislike him as a person, as a politician, and as the next President. I would probably dislike many of his followers if I knew them, and despise their political views. But I cannot accept that those who voted republican can be described as above, that they are automatically of limited intelligence, and that they are somehow less than full citizens with full rights, and that everyone else who did not vote republican are part of the great righteous WE and empowered to make this judgement. “They” have made their voice heard clearly, and it is a legitimate voice.
Recently, a Toronto Star columnist wrote about Kellie Leitch (a Conservative leadership candidate) who has called for screening immigrants for “anti Canadian values”.
He referred to “Ms Leitch and her ilk”, and cited various emails he had received from supporters of Ms Leitch after he had criticised her in an earlier column. Of course, the emails were of the absolute worst kind possible. You know – the kind that rant about killing someone with whom they disagree -and their spelling was bad too. Ergo, supporters of Ms. Leitch are the dangerous lunatic fringe.
He also stated that Ms. Leitch was pandering to the fears of Canadians in order to get votes.
The real reason behind the article was that a poll had just showed that 67% of Canadians supported that proposal.
If we put aside our feelings about Leitch’s specific proposal, and consider any topic that gets a large percentage expression of interest, would we agree with this columnist’s portrayal?
Some might say that 67% is a pretty good indicator that Canadians are concerned about the subject, any subject, and that politicians and journalists should look at those concerns, not dismiss them out of hand, or accuse the politician of pandering.
Some might say that to say “Ms Leitch and her ilk” is close to slander and unacceptable.
The journalist managed with a few words not only to brand Ms. Leitch in a very negative way, but also to inform readers at the same time that if they had any sympathy for her proposal, they are of a similar ilk, bigoted and fear mongering - and all of us are certainly sensitive to not doing or saying anything that makes us politically incorrect, and puts us in the “they” category.
I guess that more care has to be taken before including myself in any group. Perhaps I can not be part of any “We” – perhaps I can only be “I” and do my own thinking.