Like so many residents of the GTA and beyond, I had no idea Henry Dundas who died in 1811 had a ‘troubling past,’ so much so that a shrill Leftist mob is demanding that Dundas Street and perhaps the town of Dundas has to be renamed. His crime? This Scotsman supported the delay on the abolition of slavery. Like Thomas Jefferson and other notable figures in history, he was a product of his times and I would imagine that the position he held had considerable support.
If one keeps that context in mind, it should matter little in 2020 when we have even bigger issues to deal with. However, if Henry Dundas was alive today or had passed away recently having lived through changing times and still held similar views and thoughts, I would oppose the naming a street or town after him and would support calls to rename anything in public bearing his name.
But given the era we live in and the scourge of racism now in the spotlight, the Mayor John Tory as well as other politicians across Canada risk doing and saying anything to appease social justice warriors. They are facing legitimate demands to address systemic racism but seem to be more inclined to change the names of streets and buildings in addition to toppling statues of ‘evil white men’, they are promising to study and look into the issue regardless of the cost.
In Mississauga, there are growing demands to rename Winston Churchill Boulevard because of Churchill’s troubling past actions and words. Haters of Mahatma Gandhi are getting closer to their objective of ridding his name and statues around the western world and in India as well.
One reason Canadian politicians are so quick to consider renaming their towns or maybe even themselves if they happen to have a name that evokes memories of a racist is because it gives them a visible sign of progress on dealing with racism. They can imagine themselves cutting ribbons and giving sanctimonious speeches against racism while inaugurating the renamed streets and buildings.
By training the spotlight on street names, they keep the mob distracted to the real problems afflicting people of color. It is easier to right a historical wrong and to apologize for the actions of another generation than it is to deal squarely with the problems existing in this one.
Cities and businesses, especially large ones have already started throwing money at organizations committed to fighting racism. They will pick and promote promising black individuals to showcase their commitments to diversity.
In the US and probably in Canada, there are renewed commitments being made to support black-owned businesses. Not a bad idea except that these sort of things end up helping privileged and educated blacks and not the community at large.
Organizations, companies and politicians are already promising jobs, contracts and all kinds of lucrative deals to blacks and black-owned businesses which in itself is not a bad thing. But, when it is done in this manner, it ends up making other races, white, brown and Chinese feel they are victims of reverse discrimination.
Furthermore, if blacks or black-owned businesses are offered jobs, promoted or given contracts because of a quota and not exactly merit, it will end up breeding even more resentment against the new privileged class.
If this is the way city leaders, businesses and society as a whole deal with anti-black racism, they are only helping a sliver of educated and privileged blacks, leaving behind the ones in the community who really need the help.
Affirmative action in many parts of the world ends up helping the rich and privileged within that designated group, community or caste in the case of India. Those educated blacks and black business owners who are in a position to stake their claim for jobs and contracts will get it, nothing wrong with that, but I suspect that companies and governments will simply showcase these individuals and companies as proof that they’ve atoned for anti-black racism and the ones still stuck in the hood will remain mired in poverty and hopelessness.