Thomas Mulcair & The Exercise of Racism
By N Oji Mzilikazi
(Originally published in Montreal Community Contact Volume 21, Number 11, under the title “The Exercise Of Racism And Its Impact.)
May 26, 2011
On the heels of the best ever showing of the NDP, Thomas Mulcair, its deputy leader, stated on national television that he didn’t believe photos of a dead bin Laden existed. To hear such absolute nonsense falling from the lips of an experienced politician, former cabinet minister and a lawyer none the less, had to be a calculated power play; a step in supplanting Jack Layton as party’s leader.
When it comes to politics, its politricks include politicians making use of any opportunities to get their name in print, score points, and articulating positions they do not necessarily hold to be true, but which will find traction with the public or deliver votes.
Case in point: Ken Melman who ran President Bush 2004 re-election campaign, was the chairman of the Republican National Committee, and pushed the Bush administration’s drive for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. In August 2010, he revealed he is gay and was working in support of same-sex marriage.
Mulcair had to be cognizant that the outlandishness of his assertion will be newsworthy, reported abroad, and since the NDP was now Canada’s official opposition party, voila! Reversal to his political invisibility.
The insinuation from this political nobody was that President Obama was a liar, and he had the nerve to qualify his statement with, “I don’t think from what I’ve heard…” What loop is he in? What connection could he possibly have in the Obama administration to know otherwise?
His statement was demeaning and disrespectful; especially considering the United States is Canada’s best friend, trading partner and closest ally. It is not something someone with leadership aspirations says about a “friend” or to sustain a valued relationship.
It was just as insulting as when Francoise Ducros, a senior aide of Prime Minister Jean Chretien referred to US President Bush in November 2002, as a moron, and when in November 2004, MP Carolyn Parrish stamped on an effigy of Bush on, “This Hour Has 22 Minutes” comedy show.
Mulcair deserves demotion, but this is Canada. Our talent pool is so limited that every Jack and Jill can easily win Juno and Gemini Awards or get their star on Canada’s Walk of Fame.
In view of former Quebec premier, Honoré Mercier being Mulcair’s great-great grandfather and the NDP in Quebec gaining 58 new seats, Layton dare not and will not demote him. The party needs all their “stars.”
The passiveness of the mainstream press in regard to Mulcair’s statement ought to be noted. There was no real pressing.
What made Mulcair’s statement so unpalatable, was just a week prior, Obama had shut up Donald Trump and the “birthers” with the release of his full birth certificate. Their lie was finally put to rest, and here was one of our future political stars essentially pissing on Obama. I doubt he would’ve responded that way if Hillary or McClain was in the Oval Office.
Let us not fool ourselves. Race as a principle of ascription is well-entrenched. Being to the right of race and political populism are intricately entwined. Dumping on Blacks for political gain is common place. White privilege and white power are jealously guarded.
When Obama was considering a run at the White House, The Wall Street Journal’s John Fund, declared (12/18/06), the hype surround Obama is worthy of “Hollywood, not for the serous business of running a country in troubled and dangerous times.” Therefore he should practice “statesmanship in the face of enormous temptation,” and not run just yet for the presidency. He should devote himself “to listening, learning and becoming the most effective senator for Illinois.”
When Claudel Toussaint, Haitian, the chairman of the PQ committee on ethno-cultural relations was nominated to contest the 2001 provincial by-election in the Mercier riding, Gazette columnist, Don Macpherson did a piece (02/07/01) calling him “PQ’s token ethnic.” When Yolande James was elected in Neligan riding, he described her as being Premier Charest hand puppet. (09/22/04)
“Token ethnic” and “hand puppet” are negatively charged words that eliminate persons taking into account worthiness and qualifications. They conjure the sense of charity when in fact those persons could represent voting blocks and be a boon to a political party or organization. Considering the dearth of people of African descent in Canadian politics, Macpherson’s articles cannot but be interpreted as…
The 2007 provincial elections forced Charest to trim his administration. He dropped Lawrence Bergman and Geoffrey Kelley, and appointed Yolande James, Minister of Immigration and Cultural Communities. As if the sky was falling and a deluge of blackness threatened to overwhelm the Liberal Party, the racists were aghast.
The loss of Bergman and Kelley were positioned as a blow to the English community, and James appointment characterized as a betrayal to Anglophones. Allen Nutik, Jewish, declared the cabinet’s makeup was insulting to English-speaking voters, all “our” cabinet ministers were fired, and James is very young, a neophyte.
He launched Affiliation Quebec- a new political party for those dissatisfied (read angry white males) with the Liberal Party.
The Suburban and The Chronicle newspapers were awash with articles critical of James [Not Appearing In The Community Contact Published Article: and lamenting no Jews in cabinet.
So what if no Jew is on the Cabinet? The Jewish community has always been well represented at both the federal and provincial levels. It’s not the end of their world if one of their MNAs is without a portfolio. Must Charest keep salt on the table even if it has lost its savour?]
James is English, therefore Anglophone. As a cabinet minister, none could make the case that the Anglophone community, an ethnic or visible or a cultural community wasn’t being served. The hullabaloo about no Anglo minister was simply code.
[Not Appearing In The Community Contact Published Article: The unspoken is that with a Jewish person in the cabinet, the government gets one person wearing both a kippa and a hat; someone having their heart in the Jewish community and who could double as an English rights advocate. Jews have been politically successful simultaneously wearing both head gears. James didn’t bring that duality.]
Racists are skilled at slight-of-hand. Thus, from the attack on James, being Anglophone, and a minister who is Anglophone was reserved for white males and synonymous with being an English rights advocate. (It is to be noted that Macpherson continued to attack James in the Gazette at every opportunity.)
As long as the Caribbean/West Indian/Black/African Community continues to engage in somnambulism, it will continue being victimized, its interests seen of no importance, and the backs of our exemplars will not be guarded.
What does it takes to recognize we have no friends; that we stand alone?
Provincial and municipal elections aren’t too far off. In four years there will be federal elections. Political activism is needed now.
To Be Continued.