In last week’s post, I wrote about the biblical story of Epiphany, about the wise men following their vision, seeing the light, and returning by another route, no longer on the path of position, privilege and power. This week, on January 6th, the actual day of Epiphany, we saw on the news not a vision of hope and salvation but one of hatred and violence. We witnessed an attack on the U.S. White House that Rolling Stone Magazine described as one of “white supremacy on parade:” https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/political-commentary/trump-mob-capitol-attack-jamil-1110820/
If there is one positive thing that has emerged from this event it’s that the existence of white privilege, white supremacy and institutional racism has been made so very visible. Having read about peaceful demonstrations in which black protesters were met with excessive use of police force, it’s shocking to see law enforcers in Washington having selfies taken with the white rioters storming the White House. Surely, it will now be difficult for any politician to deny that systemic racism and white privilege exist. Let’s hope we are all becoming motivated to do something about it.
It’s not just in the U.S. that far-right groups exist. A recent CBC documentary referred to alt-right rallies happening in Canada every week and noted that hate groups here have formed coalitions:
The comments in response to this program included many disturbing remarks about “PC nonsense” and “the government using identity politics, social issues and covid to keep us at each others throats.” On the afternoon of the rioters storming the White House, a small group of Pro-Trump demonstrators gathered in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery. It was only a small group, but still disturbing, as are the frequent demonstrations by anti-maskers. Canada has a long way to go to overcome extremism and racism in our own country.
Over the past few years, many institutions have engaged in what they call “difficult conversations” about racism. It’s a start. The talk is good, and sometimes it feels satisfying, but the picture hasn’t really altered much. There’s a long way to go, and we need to change direction.
Arnold Schwarzenegger in a surprisingly emotional speech compares the January 6th event in Washington to Kristallnacht in Germany in 1938: https://www.ctvnews.ca/entertainment/arnold-schwarzenegger-says-trump-is-a-failed-leader-and-urges-unity-after-capitol-siege-1.5261029
He speaks, poignantly, about people he knew then who were not Nazis but “just went down the road, step-by-step,”
Let’s not do that. It’s time to stop, think, and choose another path.