The Trump Factor: Warding Against Hate Across the Border

It’s been kind of a crazy week.  To put it mildly.

In my last post, I implored the American people to kick Trump and his hateful rhetoric to the curb.  So sure was I, that they would do the right thing, and do it decisively that I never even bothered to think what would happen if I was wrong.

And I was sooo wrong.  I watched stunned, as so many across North America did, as Donald Trump became President of the United States.  President.  Of the United States.

Now, some Americans might wonder why Canadians care so much about the outcome of their election.  It’s simple for all the reasons I stated in my previous post.  What happens in the U.S. almost certainly will have impacts on the lives of Canadians, in direct and indirect ways.

Some people are calling Trump’s win Whitelash, or white supremacy’s last stand in America.  And when I see how women and minorities are being targeted and assaulted post election, it’s hard to disagree with that.  It’s like every hateful thought anyone has ever had has been validated and normalized.  I’m afraid these behaviours will seep across our border, into our neck of the woods. We’ve fought so hard to become a more accepting and inclusive society, we must not step backwards.  My Canada includes all races and cultures. My Canada is kind.  My Canada supports all its citizens.

Sometimes it feels like Canada is an island of hope in a sea of hate and ignorance.  Not that we don’t have racism and discrimination in this country, we most certainly do.  But we decided during our last federal election what kind of country we wanted to be; one in which the persecuted of the world could escape to and be safe.  We must be vigilant in protecting these ideals.

Experts say that white America feels threatened, like they are losing their country.  And I’m sure there are people who feel that way here.  But where did this idea come from?  A place cannot be owned by any one group of people.  It can’t be owned by anyone.

We belong to this place, this place doesn’t belong to us.

We are its stewards; its caretakers only.  Canada doesn’t belong to us, and it never did.

As if Trump’s win this week wasn’t enough to send you over the edge, Leonard Cohen passed away, at the age of 82.  The Canadian singer/songwriter/poet extraordinaire, who gave us such iconic classics as the much-covered Hallelujah, among so many others.

It’s a melancholy song that perfectly matches many of our feelings this past week.  So much so, that SNL decided to have Kate MacKinnon open with it, in character as Hillary Clinton.  It was a powerful and cathartic moment.

We can take some comfort from the last verse of the song, with its themes of resilience and hope for the future:

I did my best, it wasn’t much
I couldn’t feel, so I tried to touch
I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come to fool you
And even though
It all went wrong
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah

 

 

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Dear America:  It’s Time to Decide Who You Want to Be

Dear America,

We need to talk.

Your 2016 election day is quickly approaching and we want you to know that no one is watching more closely from outside your borders than us Canadians. Most of us feel like we have a real stake in the outcome of this election. And that’s because we do. The economic well being of our two countries is inextricably linked. I’m no expert but I know that Canada relies heavily on our unique trade deals and the Maritimes, in particular, where I’m from, relies heavily on American tourism dollars.

But it’s not just about the money. We care about what happens to you. America is kind of like Canada’s mischievous brother, always getting into trouble wherever he goes and grabbing all the attention. Canada is like the good sibling: The one that causes no trouble, and sometimes feels overshadowed.

But we are family, none-the-less. With every tragedy that strikes within your borders, we grieve alongside you. Every mass shooting; every terrorist attack. We’ve watched, horrified, as the recent string of police shootings and their chaotic aftermath unfolded. Unable to look away but wanting to understand. Many of us feel frustrated, as we know you do too, because we know there is a better way.

But never have we been so confused as we have watching the events of this Presidential election unfold. How a dangerous, narcissistic asshat like Donald Trump even became the Republican nominee is incomprehensible to many of us. The epitome of negativity and chaos, Trump’s rhetoric is frighteningly close to that of another historical leader – you know who –  the one who started a World War and tried to exterminate an entire population of people.

no-joke

Don’t get us wrong. Canadians have had our share of troubles with elections that turn nasty.  Our last federal election had its share of moments. We had to choose between some very opposing views.  One anti-immigration and borderline racist, the other bright, sunny and all-inclusive.  We had to decide what kind of country we wanted to be: One that reached out its hand to fellow global citizens in need, or pushed them away to protect ourselves from our own irrational fears.

But even Stephen Harper can’t hold a candle to Trump. His racist and sexist statements, his lack of respect for President Obama and the other candidates, and his complete inability to admit when he’s wrong, has been well documented and doesn’t even bear repeating. But perhaps his most frightening strategy of all is his attempt to instill distrust in the electoral system. The system is rigged he says, and he hasn’t decided whether he will indeed concede defeat, if (and hopefully when) that time comes. This is dangerous territory, indeed.

The only way to show the world what kind of country you truly want to be is to go to the polls on Tuesday and send a message that Trump’s kind of thinking will not be tolerated, and to do so in such a resounding way that even Trump will be forced to accept the results.

We believe that you will do what needs to be done.

We are your neighbours, friends and family. And if Trump wins, we’ll be here to welcome you, but we hope it doesn’t come to that. Your country is already great, and it could be even greater, but Trump is not the one to take you there.

make-america-migrate

We’ll be watching closely on Tuesday, and we’ll be sending all our love and positive vibes from the Great White North. So please, Make America Great Again, and send Trump packing.  For all of our sakes.