In the Lebanon of 1975-1990, identity politics (or political sectarianism, in the Middle East context) contributed to and fuelled civil war, at least a substantial component of its different phases (another phase was the war of others on Lebanese soil).
During civil war, civilians have been kidnapped or killed on checkpoints (by all sorts of militias) for carrying the “wrong” identity.
Bambi’s dad had an employee who was literally “chopped” and thrown in the garbage (sorry to be so graphic ☹). She keeps praying for him, in her heart, on a regular basis. His name was Ramadan. You can guess his religious affiliation from his name… Of course, perhaps at the same time, a certain Charbel or a certain George may have been killed or tortured for the same reasons (you can guess their affiliations from their names). That was during the darkest days of Lebanon’s recent past.
If their religious affiliation/sect was not clear from their name (Tony, Michel, Fatma, Mohamad or Ali), it was extracted from their ID card.
The BEST thing that happened post-civil war was when Lebanon erased this socio-demographic datum from the Lebanese citizenship card.
Someone’s religion is no one’s business.
Someone’s “race” to use a trendy word nowadays is also no one’s business.
Bearing this in mind, Bambi cannot help not to hopelessly ask herself, why is Canada getting into this dangerous game of identity politics? Does it think of itself as being immune to violence or chaos?
No one is immune, especially in a young country like ours… we need to be even wiser and perhaps even more united around our Canadian symbols/institutions/pride. We need to improve our federal institutions FOR SURE… but should we throw the baby out with the bathwater?
Two days ago, we saw an MP (Mr. Singh) accuse another MP (Mr. Therrien) of “racism” for having a slightly different approach to dealing with a problem everyone agrees on.
Yesterday, we saw an MP (Mr. Singh again) and our PM (Mr. Trudeau) both unwisely using identity politics for whatever reason (perhaps in their passion? Perhaps to keep the NDP pleased so they can remain in power, perhaps for another hidden agenda, or… perhaps out of lack of wisdom and talent in seeing the larger picture (of Canada… not of the world).
At least, even if he did not apologize yet, Mr. Singh (NDP leader), along with Mr. Blanchet (BQ leader), Mr. Trudeau (PM and Liberal leader) as well as all our political parties (and the whole population!) agree that discrimination/racism is not a good human behaviour.
Mr. Singh admitted, in a CBC radio interview (https://www.cbc.ca/radio/asithappens/as-it-happens-thursday-edition-1.5617616/jagmeet-singh-apologizing-to-bloc-mp-would-be-akin-to-saying-i-m-sorry-for-fighting-systemic-racism-1.5618183), that neither the BQ nor the NDP (and, of course, nor the Green Party, nor the PPC) are responsible for what Ms. Freeland has called “the original sin” of Canada, meaning that systemic racism that existed in our short history. It would be logical to point to the Liberal party and the Conservative party only, as these are the two parties that have been in power in the earlier stages of the Canadian history. However, one must also recall that the people from these parties are not the actual ones in power. Back then, it was a different historical context.
As Mr. Blanchet explained well, he is against systemic racism like his colleague and like everyone else. He also added, we still have “buckets” of leftover of this systemic discrimination in our institutions and this is what everyone is agreeing to address (see earlier post, further below).
Isn’t this consensus a positive development?
Why are our politicians playing with identity politics like that, recklessly taking us in a direction that could backfire on us all, as matters backfired on Lebanon in 1975?
The irony is that despite its real/current DEEP issues, and despite the grasp of Hezbollah (and indirectly Iran) on Lebanon, it still has diversity of political and intellectual opinions (at least for now).
In Canada, it seems increasingly harder to keep the beauty of this diversity (which is likely widely present in the silent majority of the population).
The danger of identity politics can take the form of radicalism, absurdity, totalitarianism (even for noble causes like anti-racism), accusations of this and that (witch hunting and shaming).
It is unhealthy, and dangerous, to make some of us holier than the rest because of a visible difference (a hijab, a turban, a skin colour, an accent if we open our mouth, etc.).
Bambi is part of a minority in our town/province/country and she is saying so.
Bambi would have been perhaps part of a majority somewhere else and she would still say so.
We are ALL Canadian citizens.
We are ALL Québeckers (for those living in this province or those from there).
Canada is NOT racist (even if some people are or some institutions still carry the residue of systemic discrimination, etc.).
Québec is NOT racist.
Canadians/Québeckers as a whole are NOT racist (even if some are).
Our politicians (all of them, including Mr. Singh, Mr. Blanchet, Mr. Therrien, and Mr. Trudeau) are NOT racist. They are just being unwise.