Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday September 20, 2019
Justin Trudeau — a self-appointed moral steward in blackface
It is almost too obvious now to point out the rank hypocrisy of the Trudeau brand: one that has zero tolerance for inappropriate touching, except for his own; one that preaches respect for Indigenous Canadians, except when you can get a cheap laugh at a Liberal fundraiser.
One that claims to run government differently, but uses the same old tactics to get its way; one that lectures about standing up to oppression, except oppression in certain ridings.
One that insists it is working in the interests of the average Canadian, but tries to curry favour with the above-average Canadian in private. One that renounces the politics of fear and division, except when the politics of fear and division can be politically advantageous.
And one that has spent its entire political existence proselytizing about tolerance, inclusivity, sensitivity and acceptance, all the while knowing — and hiding — a past that includes multiple instances of dressing up in blackface.
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau made one good point while delivering his apology Wednesday, after Time magazine published a 2001 photo of him wearing brownface as a 29-year-old teacher at an Arabian Nights-themed school party.
“If everyone who is going to be standing for office needs to demonstrate they’ve been perfect every step of their lives,” Trudeau said, “there is going to be a shortage of people running for office.”
Putting aside the enormous chasm between being “perfect” and wearing blackface three times, Trudeau makes a valid point about the need for a political machine that makes allowances for human flaws. If we don’t allow people to grow and change, we end up with slates of sanitized candidates who planned their political careers from birth and wore suits to middle school, which is, without a doubt, a most hellish version of politics.
But Trudeau’s argument would carry more weight had his war room not spent the week prior furiously digging up reasons why his opponents should be disqualified — reasons that include what they once said, once advocated for, or with whom they previously associated.
None of those claims were close to as bad as a grown man wearing blackface on multiple occasions. Had Trudeau been a regular candidate of any party, including the Liberals, he would’ve been closing up his campaign office by now.
Earlier this year, the United States was grappling with a political blackface scandal of its own: Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam was accused of wearing blackface in a 1984 yearbook photo.
That was the time, if ever, for Trudeau to own his actions, instead of being cornered into acknowledging them, as he has been now.
Instead, Trudeau carried on as if — to borrow his own words — he had been perfect every step of his life, with the Liberals then launching a co-ordinated attack on the Conservatives, accusing them of being soft on white supremacy.
Knowing what we know now, if you imagine Trudeau wearing black makeup and singing Day O while accusing Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer of refusing to take racism seriously, the attack loses its potency. (CBC)