By Pradip Rodrigues
Reading some columnists and listening to the news in the US and Canada would lead you to believe that we live in under South African-style apartheid. A whole industry is being created around perceived racism and righting all historical wrongs. Media outlets now have social justice reporters and race specialists who pounce on anything that could be construed as racism. Companies are employing pricey diversity consultants or contracting them to give their employees diversity training. Groups and organizations purporting to study or fight racism get grants and funding from government and private entities. Times are good for brown activists and anyone who wants to ‘fight the scourge of racism and Islamophobia in society’.
But despite all this talk about the rise of racism and Islamophobia from vested interests, little is being made about the facts that would threaten the multi-million dollar industry.
There was a report in the Economist recently about the decline of racism in America. (Yes, despite or inspite of President Donald Trump)
Researchers reported that the ascent of President Trump didn’t make Americans more xenophobic, but it made those holding such views feel comfortable enough to express themselves.
Now take the Charlottesville protests which you’d be surprised to know that there were just around 500 protesters (who the media wrote off as racists and Nazis) they were totally outnumbered by counter-protestors and had that racist not have ploughed his car into the counter-protesters and killed one woman, the narrative would have been different. For one, the outnumbered protesters would have found themselves beaten and bruised like it has happened at other protests in other cities in Canada and the US. But reading reports about any alt right or neo Nazis protests would lead you to believe that millions of gun toting racists were out to settle things with guns.
So really those who suggest that racism and Islamophobia is getting out of control need to be stopped by facts.
When the right-wing group La Meute held a rally in Montreal protesting illegals coming through our borders, Montreal Antifasciste an anti-fascist group along with other groups and individuals counter-protested against that demonstration.
The right-wingers were not only hopelessly outnumbered but the police had to shield them from violence. Some of them were hurt pretty badly by the same people who denounce hatred and bigotry. If you missed that report its understandable, it wasn’t played up and neither did commentators devote columns or airtime to it. Had alt right members beaten up those protesting their views, it would’ve been a different story. We would quite possibly have had our Prime Minister putting out a statement about the despicable violence going against everything Canadians hold dear.
In Boston, counter-demonstrations to a subsequent “free speech” rally organized by alt-right groups drew at least fifteen times the people who turned up to the rally itself.
A recent Marist poll suggests only 4% of Americans say they ‘mostly agree’ with the white supremacy movement.
Americans overall appear far less racist than in the past. Only 4% of Americans supported inter-racial marriage in 1958. By 1997 that was 50%; today it is 87%. Inter-racial marriages climbed from 7 to 15 percent of all marriages between 1980 and 2010. And racially and ethnically motivated hate crimes reported to the FBI fell 48% between 1994 and 2015.
Whenever there are reports of racism and Islamophobia in North America, thousands of protesters fill the streets and get quality air time where they denounce such behavior and acts in no uncertain terms.
So why then do you have many community leaders and politicians constantly talk about racism as if visible minorities are under severe threat?
Well, community leaders want minorities and especially new immigrants to be on guard and fearful that racists and Islamophobic individuals will accost them, assault them or worse.
Politicians, mostly white and now everyone hoping to run for political office all paint themselves as the only ones who can shield hapless minorities from those evil monsters otherwise called racists.
And yet, fewer people of color report being victims of racism today compared to decades ago. I know very visible minorities like bearded Muslims and turbaned Sikhs who flaunt their look in lily white towns and cities in North America and have never reported any racism despite being conspicuous in a crowd.
All this is happening at a time when demographics suggest that whites are poised to become the visible minority in a matter of a few decades from now. In more and more cities, whites are a rarity. Whites are making up a smaller proportion of the workforce but that isn’t being reported because commentators are fixated on whites dominating boardrooms and the corridors of power without taking other factors into account.
While there is no question racism exists in north America, it is not merely a matter of it being just whites who are the racists and everyone else being victims. I think whites who’ve been under sustained attack for historical sins and racism have been put under the microscope and any hint of racism from an individual or corporate entity is dealt with harshly. The truth is that non-white Canadians and Americans have their own version of racism, shadeism and in the case of South Asians even casteism which goes unnoticed and unchallenged because it is mixed up with culture, religion, customs and traditions which have to be respected. If at all a writer, commentator or social scientist was to point it out, they’d be accused of hate. Human Rights would be involved and if they happen to be white they could be ruined professionally and financially. Rather than deal with problems affecting immigrant communities, activists and community leaders are happy to be the moral policemen ensuring that whites behave nicely. They seem to be doing a good job because whites are more or less terrified of saying the wrong thing or looking the wrong way.
Just think about it, if a white columnist was to write this very exact column, he’d be called a racist but I’m brown!