They didn’t stand a chance! The poor, so called “racists” and “white supremacists” protesting in front of London City Hall a few weeks ago, against what they see as the slow creep of all things Islamic, were, belittled, insulted, shouted down, and in a few instances assaulted in an outpouring of “tolerance.”
There wasn’t much tolerance toward that rag tag group expressing their right to free speech. The so-called racists conducted themselves with decorum compared to the vastly larger group of five hundred who opposed them, many of whom came off looking like a bunch of hooligans, bent on mayhem. (the name given to this group is Antifa or Antifascist and unlike many peaceful protesters on either side, are often the ones promoting violence)
Nonetheless the ‘Patriots of Canada Against the Islamization of the West’ (Pegida) stood their ground and whenever an opportunity was presented tried to explain their concerns about Sharia Law in Canada, female genital mutilation, honour killings, and an imam inciting jihad at a local mosque.
There is much to parse from these interactions, which are becoming all too common these days but two of the take-aways seem to be that since Donald Trump’s election, groups around the world, have been emboldened to express, what have for the longest time, been considered, hateful, racist views, and, that many far-right groups, who usually lurk outside of the political mainstream are becoming elected and gaining influence.
It is foolhardy to wade into these debates since most people find these fringe views, at minimum distasteful but more often than not racist. The word “racist” has increasingly been flung around to stifle reasonable debate and any use of it is pretty much a game changer which leads to hostility.
“Racism,” is most simply defined as the “hatred or intolerance of another race.” The best example, for our purposes, is racism against blacks in America and indigenous people in Canada. There is no argument that criticizing these historically marginalized groups for no other reason than their race is racist but to cast light on, say, corruption or misappropriation of funds in a band council or to quote statistics, that more blacks are incarcerated in America than any other group are just statements and whether they are true or not or what should be done about it might bare further investigation and are not, in isolation, racist.
So, it might behoove many groups to at least give an airing to views that at first blush seem offensive and point out where they are weak, untrue, or, actually racist. Screaming at someone is rarely the best solution.
In the case of the Pegida protest in London, taken as bullet points, the idea of Sharia Law has been part of political debate in many parts of Canada and there is no denying that even if not officially sanctioned is being practiced in many Muslim communities ; although illegal in Canada female genital mutilation is practiced and being openly debated by Muslim leaders ; there have been honour killings in Canada ; there is no denying the fact that youth have been radicalized in mosques in Canada and many have gone off to fight for Isis.
At the very least we should listen to what these people have to say before we paint them with the racist brush.