Diverting Diversity
Years back during my days of school there was a quiet, shy student who had fairly recently immigrated to Canada from South Korea. The polite courtesies were exchanged as cautioned by the teacher, who also levied a statement asking for accommodation that I now find peculiar. "He comes from a society unlike ours, one that is more oppressed". Oppressed? By that time this Asian country had a number of years of genuine democracy and peaceful transfers of power. How could a country that was so advanced worth that label?
I wished I spoke to this student about his journey here. All I remember was that he didn't disclose whether or not he was here as an exchange student or as an aspiring Canadian. We never spoke so his teacher, who probably encountered the most oppression waiting at a drive-thru for coffee, assumed he had to escape something; we believed him without question.
Years later at a high school in the same town, ions after I attended, there were reports a student was expelled from all schools across the board for a physical confrontation with a bully. Media reports carefully made sure we knew he was of Korean background, and students gleefully took to the streets, abandoning class by picketing "against racism". Whether or not he was taunted for his race, the reports also stated he was bullied for a noticeable period of time beforehand. Why didn't his classmates intervene on the actual bullying as it happened? Again, no word from the student, and other people assumed for him.
No wonder a provincial commission, headed by former Toronto Mayor Barbara Hall, had to investigate racism in the town.
Today it's about Syrian refugees. Our campaigning Conservatives used their favourite keyword, "security", to cast at least a hint of doubt over these desperate people. At least one MP posted (and later withdrew) photos of what he thought were refugees disguised as ISIS members. Which is probably a group many claimants were running from in the first place!
What happened to our country? We were champions of tolerance and of democracy, and of giving the benefit of the doubt knowing that our fellow human beings have a story to tell. In all the above stories we see people making assumptions that we can't determine are correct, anecdotal trysts spun like the truth.
People can immigrate here hoping for a better life without running from someone, and assuming the latter cheapens that pursuit.
How do you nip bullying in the bud if you can't escape simple differences in race?
Why are we whining about refugees (who make a small minority of total immigration to Canada) having ulterior motives when our own born and bred can harbour violently extreme views (remember the CN Tower plot)?
Canada has one major tradition: kindness. Our assumptions amount to an asterisk that shows an ugly, heinous side that should not be there.
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