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Heather Mallick: Trump’s open racism immoral, also unworkable

Toronto Star logo Toronto Star 2019-07-16 Heather Mallick - Star Columnist
Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar standing next to a person: U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) pause between answering questions during a press conference at the U.S. Capitol on Monday in Washington, D.C. President Donald Trump stepped up his attacks on four progressive Democratic congresswomen, saying if they're not happy in the United States "they can leave." © Alex Wroblewski U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) pause between answering questions during a press conference at the U.S. Capitol on Monday in Washington, D.C. President Donald Trump stepped up his attacks on four progressive Democratic congresswomen, saying if they're not happy in the United States "they can leave."

Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not necessarily represent the views of MSN or Microsoft.

Open racism from U.S. President Donald Trump is indeed a distraction, as the four Congresswomen he targeted for attack have said, followed by further clarion racist statements from that ludicrous, vicious man. It’s a filthy American habit linked to the history of slavery, and Trump’s worsening coded calls to violence will cause death.

Federally sanctioned open racism is not a Canadian distraction, not quite yet. Some politicians make coded racist callouts followed by sonar soundings on how many voters they attract outside their fan base.

But I’m not aware that any Canadian politician of actual standing has said, “Go back where you came from,” partly because in many provinces, that would empty entire ridings, and furthermore his dinner wouldn’t be served. Everyone comes from somewhere.

As Prime Minister Trudeau says, “A Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian.” As I have said loudly to cab drivers quizzing my racial origins — “you have European features but …” — and German hotel clerks asking where I flew from, where I lived and where I was born, “Canada Canada Canada.”

I love saying that.

Open racism would be impractical in this country. Look at what it costs Americans; the country is in chaos, paralyzed by racism and racial infighting. Education, governing, health care, policing, immigration, everything’s a battleground.

If racism were openly urged upon us by, say, Maxime Bernier or some of the company Andrew Scheer keeps, if it were alleged to be acceptable in polite society, daily life in Canada would become unworkable.

I’m less idealistic than pragmatic. As a feminist, I care more about whether a teenage girl in Flin Flon can get an abortion than about foully misleading U.S. religionist anti-choice films.

Racism is expensive. It would repel international talent, choke our expanding international cuisine and poison dozens of daily encounters we have with new Canadians each day.

Even if you don’t think racism is morally wrong — I refer to men fixated on boring old “political correctness” — consider its effects. Canada is an organized, developed nation. As Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland says repeatedly, it follows the rule of law.

According to the 2016 census, more than 1-in-5 Canadians immigrated here, which doesn’t include their children, second-generation Canadians, urging their parents to assimilate. They arrived under an organized immigration system that rates them according to qualifications and employment needs. It helps to be educated, skilled, and fluent in English or French.

If you want to bring in family members, you must prove you can support them. Whether you’re an immigrant or a refugee claimant, you must follow the law to the letter, pay fees, fill out forms and make your case. The system works.

But it doesn’t work for racists. If you openly dislike immigrants, I suggest you not dine in a restaurant, take a cab, get a passport, see an optician, consult a lawyer, get your plumbing fixed and your electrics made safe, get a job, go to school, shop in a supermarket, have your heart repaired or a thousand other things without relying on immigrants and the skills they brought to Canada.

In my life, the plumber’s Bulgarian, the electrician Irish, the ophthalmologist Chinese, the cab driver Pakistani, the cashier Bangladeshi, the renovation crew Lebanese and Turkish, the mover Jamaican, the editor American, the doctor Indian, the chef Japanese, the nurse Scottish, the journalist Anglo-Indian, the husband British, and the hostile reader Albertan.

Yes, there is open racism in Canada against Indigenous people. The reason is that it was long considered permissible and is now almost impossible to erase. You may not run those hateful racist letters on your website, Sen. Lynn Beyak. That’s not free speech, that’s toxic speech, that’s Trumpic. She is now under threat of being booted from the Senate.

And yes, some Chinese-Canadians, including foreign-born ones, demonstrated against refugee claimants quietly crossing the unpatrolled U.S. border laden with luggage. It struck them as unfair. It was kind of rude.

I was impressed by their grown children who hastened to explain to their parents that, um, this is Canada. We’re all in this together. We don’t say things like that here, not out loud.

Heather Mallick is a columnist based in Toronto covering current affairs. Follow her on Twitter: @HeatherMallick

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