EDITORIAL: BY SURJIT SINGH FLORA
No matter whether you’re white, Black, Sikh, Muslim, Chinese or any other ethnicity, human beings have all suffered from racism in various and manifestations throughout the centuries. This is an unpleasant and recurring phenomenon that continues even today, both directly and indirectly. A recent example of this is the killing of George Floyd by a white police officer in the United States. Specific duties and quotas to fill were given to officers based on political compulsions, which are called to be politically correct in English.
Such rhetoric and action is not only severe, but it’s only being used as a smokescreen to cover themselves, or worse, acting like a sheep in the presence of others. But what about the speeches where the speaker freezes in front of the cameras for 21 seconds? Prime Minister Justin Trudeau paused at length last week when he was asked about U.S. President Donald Trump’s handling of anti-racism protests in the United States.
Is the silence of Justin Trudeau an indication of his introspection – or hiding sheepish tactics? If a Conservative or right-wing leader had fallen victim to such silence instead of Trudeau, the story would have been different today, from social media to the mainstream. Doug Ford’s statement that “there is no racism in our Ontario like the United States,” then retracting his statement, setting up a Premier Council for Black Community Youths, and providing $1.5 million to support Black families is a story in itself.
NDP leader Jagmeet Singh later posted on social media that, “A long pause means nothing. Silence won’t confront anti-Black racism; actions will.” It also seems strange for so many Sikhs in community institutions to remain silent about the situation after the death of George Floyd. No statement or action has been taken by any organization other than the Sikh Coalition. Ordinary Sikhs and organizations working at the local level may be considered not to have the necessary resources to respond to such sensitive issues. But it is surprising to see no statement from the World Sikh Organization, United Sikhs, Khalsa Aid, the Sikh Council in England, the Network of Sikh Organizations, the Ontario Sikhs and the Gurdwara Council or the Ontario Gurdwara Committee. When Wade Michael Page, a white racist, murdered six Sikhs at the Wisconsin Gurdwara in Milwaukee On Aug. 5, 2012, the final prayer was attended by people of all races, including the Black community.
Within a few hours of the massacre, then-U.S. President Barack Obama had personally called the President of the Gurdwara and asked him to send a message to the Sikh community not to discount America as their country because of the misdeeds of a single racist. The truth is that you belong to America, and America belongs to you.
Those who see the secret hidden in Justin Trudeau’s 21- second silence can also examine the reaction of Trudeau’s friend, Obama, and decide what sensitivity is. Don’t be afraid to name Donald Trump if you are sensitive. Congratulations to those who understood Trudeau’s response. Even first lady Michelle Obama visited the temple on Aug. 23, 2012 to show her support and meet with victims, including the families of Sikh temple shooting. Many people think Trudeau’s pause, and think it’s all about managing the image.
Style over substance. George Floyd’s murder should not just be raised because he belonged to the Black community, but because wherever an oppressed person is confronted, he deserves human sensitivity. It could be a rightwing Muslim in India, a Sikh in Afghanistan, an Ahmadiyya Muslim in Pakistan, a Christian in the Middle East, or a Black community in the United States. To dare to speak out against the atrocities committed by a human being against another human being is to follow the rule of human equality.