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Canadian Elections: View from the USA

The Expansive Prejudice: Israel vs. Muslim citizens - A Matter of Democratic Social Virtue

Wednesday 7 October 2015, by Charles Amjad-Ali, Ph.D., Th.D.

In light of the upcoming elections in Canada, I googled “Stephen Harper’s pro-Israeli stance.” The result in Google Images was a whole plethora of his Israeli/Jewish connections with most pictures of him with Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu, quite a few with him in front of the Israeli flag and some of him wearing a Yarmulke (a truly ironic manifestation of a fundamentalist Christian identifying himself as a Jew, while denying a similar identity marker, i.e. hijab, for Muslims), etc., etc. Looking at those pictures, I was left wondering if he was actually running for the premiership of Israel rather than of Canada. After all he is determined to maintain a pro-Israeli position, however abhorrent Israel’s actions may be vis-à-vis the Palestinians, even against all global opinion, whatever price the Canadian people must pay for it. Harper is of course more “virtuous” in his stance than the anti-Apartheid Nobel laureate Archbishop Tutu who cried at the wall around Palestine as being worst than the Afrikaner policy in South Africa - they at least never built a physical wall around their Bantustans. There is one attention-grabbing satire of Harper with the caption “Crime Minister.” This makes sense of his deep appreciation for Bibi, thus my appropriate confusion of the interchangeability of the location for his “Crime Ministership.” Watch out Bibi!!

There was also a fascinating image juxtaposing him with Sarah Palin of the “You can actually see Russia, from land, here in Alaska” intelligence quotient fame. (Personally I prefer the Tina Fey version: “I can see Russia from my house.”) She was clearly the right person to approve his stance vis-à-vis Israel. I suppose this picture and others like it must give Mr. Harper a grandiose feeling that he is an intelligent and bright man, but given the kingdom of the blind who surround him in this medley he is at best Reagan-Thatcher-Bush lite. There is a general problem with conservatives in that they consider intelligence a highly dubious, if not dangerous, characteristic and therefore negate it outright. The most depressing result of this attitude is that conservatives do not trust or accept those with intelligence as they are incapable of doing anything “right” - they innately lean towards the left because of their concerns for the social virtues of freedom, democracy, equality, justice and peace. This may perhaps explain why having entered the University of Toronto (that bastion of wrong thinking, ranked the top university in Canada), Harper dropped out within two months. He then moved from the city of his birth to Calgary where he was employed in the mailroom of Imperial Oil (please note the name) where his father Harris was employed. No conservative virtue of “pulling oneself up by one’s bootstraps,” but clearly a nepotistic perpetuation for Mr. Harper. (By the by, 70% of Imperial Oil is owned by Exxon, no wonder Exxon’s influence over Canadian politics and its oil spills and pipeline issues over the last decades).

Harper was 26 when he graduated (7 years after high school) and then took another six years for his masters, i.e. thirteen years of tertiary education. While he is now ruthlessly bent on cutting funding for all public and social sectors, including education, when he was at university at least 80% of its budget was coming from provincial and federal sources which obviously benefitted him. Gratitude may not be the best of virtues, but ingratitude (even in the most unvirtuous person) is an unacceptable vice. He is obviously trying to gut the whole societal network and politics of providing for and promoting the marginalized and victims of our society (a system for which Canada has long prided itself), to ensure a permanent underclass to feed the ever-growing need for cheap services for the rich and powerful (practically Republican US-lite!). A vicious political practice in a democratic, participatory, sustainable, and just society.

The thing about conservatives, like Harper, which is truly repugnant, is that having utilized all the wealth in the system for their own personal benefit, they become vociferously “anti-socialism” vis-à-vis others befitting even slightly from a system that tries to overcome the ever-growing disparities and gross inequalities. So while they were eating free oats with all four hooves in the trough, they are very critical of the socialism that tries to meet even the barest needs of the people. In this way they aid and abet the racist and selfish prejudices in society rather than providing virtuous ways of social dwelling and interaction. As Danny Williams of the Progressive Conservative Party, no liberal here, rightly said, "[Harper] doesn’t care if he isolates the issues of women or if he isolates the issue of minorities, and even crosses, possibly, that racism line. It doesn’t matter to him. It’s all about getting elected at the end of the day." This prejudice and selfishness should be recognized as “the Fall,” which Mr. Harper, given his fundamentalist conservative Christian background, should be highly cognizant of.

Given his constant vitriol against Muslims and their theology for exclusivity, he should now and then look into the mirror and acknowledge the beam in his own eye before pointing to the straw in others’. As the head of a highly multicultural and multi-religious state, he should stop giving expression to his chiliastic theological interpretation of the state of Israel for his fundamentalist Christian apocalyptic agenda - as all Christian Zionists do. This is utilized to support Israel unquestioningly (mind you not the Jews) while maligning Muslims simultaneously. It is shameful that he does not operate on a democratic fairness vis-à-vis the 3.2% Muslims (and 3.8% Canadian First Nation People) but with unfair religious and cultural bias towards the 1% of Canadian Jewish population. I suppose receiving the Presidential Gold Medallion for “Humanitarianism” by B’nai B’rith in 2008, and an honorary doctorate from Tel Aviv University in Israel in 2014, has been the right kind of incentive and recognition, these being clearly more important for him than being a Canadian.

My worry is, now that we have correctly recognized the gross injustices and sins against the Jews in the western Christian society, we think we have acquired the right to use similar vitriol and prejudice with impunity against the Muslims, forgetting that it was this prejudice which produced a fascistic wholesale holocaust of “the other” in Europe. Similar trajectories are visible in their attitude towards the Muslims for it is now kosher for the contemporary leadership in the west to express themselves in the vilest prejudicial way against the contemporary “other” viz., the Muslims. So even for a semblance of democracy and peace, even if we are only minimally committed to virtuous institutions, we must ensure that such leadership is not allowed to lead us to the path of ever expanding prejudice and conflict. May we see the light of the day in this ever expanding darkness. To end with Danny Williams, "Over time we’ve seen that this man cannot be trusted. He had no integrity. He’s trying to stifle democracy. There’s no end to what he’s doing… He’s a lousy prime minister who’s divisive."