Members of the KKK are escorted by police past a large group of protesters during a KKK rally July 8 in Charlottesville, Va. Some white Southerners are again advocating for what the Confederacy tried and failed to do in the 1860s: secession from the Union. So-called Southern nationalists are within the group of demonstrators who are fighting the removal of Confederate monuments around the South. They say it’s time for Southern states to secede again and become independent of the United States. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Members of the KKK are escorted by police past a large group of protesters during a KKK rally July 8 in Charlottesville, Va. Some white Southerners are again advocating for what the Confederacy tried and failed to do in the 1860s: secession from the Union. So-called Southern nationalists are within the group of demonstrators who are fighting the removal of Confederate monuments around the South. They say it’s time for Southern states to secede again and become independent of the United States. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

COLUMN: Return of racism imperils all of us

We as a society agree racism is bad, but there are differing viewpoints on what racism is

One thing you and I probably agree on…

Killing someone over ideological differences or cultural backgrounds – or simply to make a political statement – is obviously insanity.

This sounds all too black-and-white, but given the evolving sociopolitical climate in recent days, it bears saying out loud. After all, there are grey areas in which not all agree when it comes to acceptable violence, e.g. wartime, invasion of one’s property, defence of one’s family, defence of one’s honour…

However, when it comes to violence over culture, remember it wasn’t long ago that racism was considered unacceptable, when a call to arms over an issue as all important as ‘politics’ – whether from a white supremacist or an enabling leader – would be frowned upon.

Now, the pendulum has swung back again, and the blur between overt racism and historically accepted subtle racism seems to get a little more hazy.

Now, modern Nazis sport their swastikas as a badge of honour, Klansmen march with hoods off revealing their proudly patriotic faces for all, and a sympathetic U.S. president calls for middle-ground between those who fight specific races, religions and cultures, and those who are willing to fight the racists.

It’s often been suggested that one shouldn’t be judged by their strange bedfellows, but I think it’s fair to make an exception when one’s bedfellows are in bedsheets.

Which brings us to the aforementioned more subtle – some call it covert – racism.

I and you – those who have stuck with this column long enough without throwing it down in disgust or, ahem, ‘swiping left’ – agree that racism is bad. Clearly. But I’m not sure we agree what racism is.

We at Peace Arch News have certainly seen more than our share in recent months, as readers share our stories online, often commenting their own opinions on their own social-media websites as they go. And so many feel the need to reference a story subject’s race or appearance or gender, as they proclaim for all their online ‘friends’ whether the person is good or bad, innocent or guilty, friend or foe.

Perhaps I’ve used the word ‘subtle’ incorrectly. Nothing subtle about this form of bigotry. And I worry how public acceptance of such publicly expressed thoughts leads to violence, whether it’s the kind we saw this month in Charlottesville, Va. that claimed the life of Heather Heyer, or, closer to home, the terrorist attack that claimed the life of White Rock’s own Ian Moore Wilson one week ago while he was vacationing in Spain.

At the heart of both murders – it is all too clear – is hate. But I take heart in knowing that family members of both victims say that their killers – the terrorists – have not won, that their victims’ messages of love will live on.

And for those of you who see these murderers by the colour of their skin or representative of their cultures or any religious faiths, I question your reasoning. I have yet to see evidence of a civilization without its extremists, and it’s only the extremists themselves who should be judged.

For the rest of us, I worry about our future.

Insanity? I fear the pendulum has not quite found its full reach just yet.

Lance Peverley is the editor of PAN.

 

COLUMN: Return of racism imperils all of us