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Commentary

What Matters Now

Tue, June 23, 2020   |   Author: Rod Taylor   |   Volume 27    Issue 25 | Share: Facebook | Twitter   

Recent violent protests and riots in the US and around the world have focused on a particularly egregious example of what the protestors are calling “systemic racism”, particularly in police forces. The brutal killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin has been unfairly portrayed as a common occurrence in the US today and long threads are being drawn from this horrific event back to the days of slave markets and all that was repugnant about attitudes prevalent in the Deep South prior to the Civil Rights movement led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the last century.

“Systemic racism” implies a set of attitudes, actions and behaviours that are generally at work in an organization, a country or a district. The aberrant actions of a few rogue officers, politicians, or corporate employees do not qualify as systemic. To excoriate a nation and punish all its citizens for the unlawful actions of a few is simply unjust.

In defence of the US (and Canada, where copycat protestors are making equally offensive claims about “systemic racism”), our culture and laws today are not only much fairer and friendlier than they were in the past, but they are also far better than those in most countries of the world, where blatant racism, ethnic oppression, mass killings of minority peoples, and oppressive slavery still exist.

Take Nigeria, for example. In early June of this year, Boko Haram, a radical Islamist organization, deliberately slaughtered—without excuse or apology—at least 81 men, women and children in one village. In another village, an additional 32 people were killed by the terrorists; in Mali, during the same week, Islamist terrorists killed 27 people. Most of the victims were Christians. This is not the kind of thing that happens regularly in the US and Canada. When Canadian activists talk about “hate crimes”, they are generally referring to written or spoken statements with which they disagree, not bullets and machetes being used against the innocent.

Since 2013, more than 400,000 people have died in South Sudan—victims of government actions, ethnic cleansing, and religious and tribal warfare. It still goes on today. One can crisscross the planet and find similar stories about the tragic misuse of power and aggressive actions against minorities. In China, more than one million Muslims have been arbitrarily detained under the rule of Xi Jinping. Not to mention the millions killed during Mao’s rise to power and the “Cultural Revolution”, we have only to look at the organ harvesting from China’s prisoners of conscience to see a pattern of disrespect for human life, dignity and freedom. Hundreds of thousands of Chinese prisoners, many of them members of the Falun Gong, have been executed so that their organs can be sold for transplant.

In the ongoing saga of “peaceful protests” over the death of George Floyd, the tiresome narrative of recrimination for “systemic racism” in the US and Canada—where equal rights are enshrined in law—is hard to square with the lack of media coverage of the horrendous actions of foreign governments against minority groups around the world. In the West, statues are being torn down and defaced—even monuments to Abraham Lincoln, who actually freed the slaves, and Winston Churchill, who actually fought against the true fascists during World War II. Compare conditions in our country to those in the countries mentioned above where raw racism is a constant reality. The misguided violence of the mob is insanity; it’s a rejection of the lessons of history.

The “peaceful protests” in the US have resulted in the deaths of at least 17 people, including law-abiding black people and black police officers, who have sworn to defend innocent human life. Angry rhetoric about America’s racist past and the slavery that marred its beginnings very rarely include acknowledgement of the slavery that still goes on in the world today in dozens of countries around the globe. It is estimated that there may be up to 40 million slaves in the world today, ranging from child workers, those trapped in the sex trade, those in prison camps as ethnic or religious prisoners and others. A quick review of the history of slavery and various efforts to ban the practice reveal that slavery did not begin in the US nor has it been limited to the capture and trade of Africans, as awful as that history is.

Slavery existed in the Middle East prior to the enslavement and subsequent exodus of the Israelites over 3,000 years ago. It existed in North America before the first European set foot on its shores. Slavery is not a good thing; it’s a terrible thing. But the people rampaging in the streets in recent days, complaining of racial injustice in the western countries, where slavery has already been outlawed and where racial equality has already been mandated, are tilting at windmills. Their outrage ought to be against those 94 countries where slavery is still legal.

None of this is meant to justify the killing of George Floyd, an act of murder that we all condemn; nor is it intended to impede legitimate efforts to reduce vestiges of racism still lingering in certain segments of society. However, it is a call for citizens on both sides of the Canada-US border to put on their thinking caps, take a realistic view of history and utter a heartfelt prayer of gratitude that we are so privileged to live in countries where the just and equal treatment of all human beings is at least a shared ideal—though not yet perfectly achieved.

As our own nation struggles to reach that ideal, let’s make sure that our words, our deeds and our efforts are directed towards the fulfillment of the highest goal of social interaction: to love our neighbours as we love ourselves and to treat every human being the way we ourselves would like to be treated.

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