EDITORIAL: Racism is not OK

In light of violence south of border, we must all speak out against hate, intolerance and racism

This is not OK.

How can it be that in 2017 a group of racist bigots are splashed on every TV screen, Facebook page and newspaper? How can these people still exist?

It’s because we allow it. The president of the United States allows it, even encouraged it throughout his campaign.

We can’t be complacent.

Every time we laugh off an older family member’s racist comments as, “oh, they’re old, they don’t know better;” every time we scoff, but don’t call out someone’s evil and hateful tirade online; every time we think “that doesn’t happen here” we are complicit.

While Canadians like to pretend we are so much better than our counterparts south of the border, our history and current problems prove we are not.

Hate and bigotry exists here, too.

News organizations across the country, including many in the Okanagan, were forced to shut-off online commentary for stories involving First Nation residents, rainbow crosswalks and Syrian refugees.

Why, you ask? Because the comments were horrific.

Canadians sat down and wrote violent and hate-filled words, cloaked in the anonymity of the Internet.

They may not be going to the same pathetic lengths that Americans who lit tiki torches and marched through the streets of Charlottesville did. They may not be driving their cars into crowds and murdering innocent people, but the language and messaging is along the same lines.

Worse yet, there are those among us who would go that far.

VICE News did several interviews from the Charlottesville riot and one of their first interviewees was a Canadian who drove across the border to join the march.

“Unite the Right” white nationalist Christopher Cantwell welcomed the man as someone from “Canadakhstan,” noting he would be arrested for organizing the racist rally north of the border.

“In Canada, hurting people’s feelings is basically illegal,” said the unidentified Canadian in response.

I suppose one could say it is good Canadian racists feel they cannot openly preach their hate here, but what are they doing?

Racism and bigotry exists in Canada and we need to admit it is still a major problem. Inequality and mistreatment based on skin colour, religion, gender, sexual orientation and identity still exists in Canada.

The whole notion of racism is futile really. We are the human race, the pigment of our skin doesn’t change that in any way, it’s just used to create division and fuel hate.

It is not OK.