Black Lives Matter Toronto called Justin Trudeau a “White supremacist terrorist” two years ago. The social justice group made the accusation against Trudeau because his immigration policies are more restrictive than they hoped for. At the time, Black Lives Matter Toronto had a favourable reputation in the media, but their accusation against Justin Trudeau received little or no attention from the Canadian mainstream media.
The accusations were well before images (and a video) of Justin Trudeau in Brownface and Blackface in at least three separate instances were released to the media.
Prime-minister Justin Trudeau has since apologized for wearing Brownface and Blackface, labelling his actions as racist. Trudeau suggested that he’s since become a changed man, crediting his ethnically-diverse riding in Papineau for reforming him. And he referenced his leftist, social justice record as prime minister as proof that he’s not a racist.
Trudeau’s Blackface and Brownface photos have become one of the biggest political stories across the world this year, and it’s received almost all the attention from the Canadian news media since Time Magazine released the Brownface photo on Wednesday night.
However, despite the enormous attention around the story, the Canadian media is significantly less outraged and less condemning over our prime minister’s racially insensitive actions than they are over American president Donald Trump’s supposedly racially insensitive words.
Frederick Douglass suggested in the nineteenth century that Blackface is generally morally neutral. Douglass suggested that Blackface at the time was usually practised by White American actors to mock Black people as genetically and socially inferior to White Americans. However, for Douglass, there were occasions when Blackface was applied in a respectful manner to affirm the humanity of Black people.
Wearing Blackface might prove a person’s ignorance and insensitivity, but it doesn’t necessarily prove that they are racist.
Nevertheless, Justin Trudeau labelled Blackface and Brownface as racist, and he apologized. The Canadian (and international) media have commended him for his apologies. Trudeau’s Liberal Party politicians and voters are also commending him for his apologies. And throughout this entire story, no prominent reporter or politician has denounced Trudeau as a White supremacist—the way many denounce Donald Trump and Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer as a White supremacist.
If we agree with Justin Trudeau that wearing Blackface and Brownface photos are racist, then there’s more evidence to suggest that Justin Trudeau is more of a racist and a White supremacist than Donald Trump and Andrew Scheer.
However, Justin Trudeau says all the right leftist things and he believes all the right leftist things. So he cannot be considered a White supremacist by the media and the Liberal Party.
Following the Brownface and Blackface photos and Trudeau’s apologies, the Canadian media immediately pointed to Trudeau’s apologies and his social justice record to defend him. For instance, the Toronto Star wrote:
“At the same time, though, Trudeau’s government has taken concrete actions to fight discrimination and support diversity, everything from cabinet appointments to funding anti-racism measures to setting generous immigration quotas.
People who feel badly let down by the brownface/blackface incidents will have to measure all that up and decide whether Trudeau is a lost cause or a flawed individual with the potential to do better.”
And journalists from international news outlets like The Guardian, The Spectator, and CNN have also defended or commended Trudeau since his apology. Trudeau’s Liberal Party members and voters have also made similar remarks.
Their reactions wouldn’t be troubling if they applied the same charitable sentiments to politicians and voters who do not share their political views. But their supposed immense and unwavering hatred for racism seemingly applies only to conservative, dispensable political peasants, unlike progressive princes like Justin Trudeau or Democrats like Virginia Governor Ralph Northam.
If photos of Donald Trump or even Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer in Blackface or Brownface in three separate occasions surfaced online, I cannot imagine that the media would be nearly as charitable as they’ve been with Trudeau. In fact, Trudeau’s Liberal Party and many within the media suggest that Andrew Scheer and the Conservative party have ties to White nationalism.
And last year, when Trudeau was interrupted by a heckler who disagreed with his handling over illegal immigrants and asylum seekers, he simply responded with: “Your racism has no place here.”
Politicians like Trudeau have created an environment where everything is stripped to either racist or anti-racist. And in that environment, supposed anti-racists are too pure to get cancelled and supposed racists are too impure to receive forgiveness. And that way, progressives get to win elections to save the world from conservatives.
If we played by the standards set by people like Justin Trudeau, we would have to conclude that Justin Trudeau is a racist and a White supremacist. We would have to conclude that the Liberal Party who stand by him, the media who defend him, and the millions of Canadians who will vote for him are White supremacists too—the same conclusions many make about those who support Donald Trump.
But it’s unreasonable to follow leftist standards. It’s unfair and unkind to believe Trudeau and his supporters are White supremacists based on the photos. Blackface can be offensive. But I am much more offended by Trudeau mocking my intelligence than I am about him mocking my skin colour.
Trudeau and leftist politicians tend to wear political Blackfaces to secure Black people’s votes. That’s offensive. Trudeau portrays his political opponents and Canadian system as racist to seemingly scare Black people into voting for him. He portrays himself as a White saviour who can atone for White people’s sins. He makes the bigotry of low expectations a major part of his platform, suggesting that Black people cannot be as successful as some White people are without the Liberal Party’s handouts.
It’s so offensive, but in our political climate, it’s so effective. That’s why people defend him.