A big part of my brain is currently screaming, “Charge us! Charge the United Church of Canada! Charge Canadian Quakers! Charge CUPE! Charge university groups! Charge millions of Canadians under Canada’s new hate laws and lose yet another case with the resulting Charter challenge! Make yourselves look even more like idiots who do not understand the Charter!” I’m also quite upset.
I’m not sure I can properly articulate just how upsetting it is to wake up and read in the news that the government has lumped you in with the same people behind the Charlie Hebdo attack, simply for boycotting Israeli products made in occupied territories, and now the government is considering charges under hate speech laws.
Part of my brain wants to joke that this is the conservative governments way of getting retribution against the United Church of Canada for its role in making same-sex marriage legal in Canada.
This conversation is so nuanced. Without writing a very long and dull post about not only the history of hate speech laws in Canada and the long history groups like the United Church of Canada, unions, university groups, etc., have had in social justice issues, I don’t think I could create understanding of these issues from this perspective. Religion and politics in Canada have some very unique aspects.
This isn’t the first time the United Church of Canada (UCC) has landed in hot water for a boycott. The UCC was also in hot water for its anti-apartheid boycott of South Africa in the 1980s. This isn’t the first time the UCC has landed in hot water for pro-Palestinian policies. The UCC has been facing criticism on this issue since the 1960s.
The UCC has a long history of being in hot water. From being pro-choice and ordaining openly homosexual ministers since the 1980s, helping draft dodgers in the 1960s, ordaining atheist ministers and transgender ministers, to teaching all religions are equal, and the list goes on, we, as a group, our proud of never taking the safe road when it comes to social justice issues.
I’m upset about all the groups, and the resulting millions of Canadians, who are now considered members of hate groups simply for believing Palestinians deserve a home just like every other person on the planet; a home free of occupation. It’s upsetting to learn that I’m a member of a hate group because I believe people have the right to live in peace, free from tyranny at the hands of their own government and at the hands of foreign governments.
There is nothing anti-Semitic about this. We are not advocating that Israel give up its land. We are advocating for the end of Israeli-occupied Palestine, and simply don’t want to buy products made in those areas. Somehow, this is now hate speech and propaganda under the new “‘identifiable group’ now includes any section of the public distinguished by ‘among other characteristics, religion or national or ethnic origin'” section of the Criminal Code.
Yet, it’s okay to make anti-Islamic statements. The entire Charlie Hebdo affair is an excellent illustration of the Harper governments hypocrisy on this issue. More recently, the Harper government’s stance on Omar Khadr is another example of how this has nothing to do with protecting people based on their ethnic origin, and everything to do with their attitude of, “If you are not with us, you’re against us and we will make you pay.”
Also, there is the whole issue that these hate speech laws are also supposed to help protect gay trans me, and now I could face prosecution under them. Yes, you can be a minority in need of certain protections and still be racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, etc. When a class of people are discriminated against for many generations, the things people say to validate the discrimination becomes ingrained in all parts of society, not only those doing the discrimination. It’s like growing up in an abusive home: You believe the lies and that you don’t deserve any better because you haven’t learned any different.
Then there is the whole, I’m part Jewish and my grandfather was the only member of his family to escape and survive Nazi-occupied Poland and make his way to Canada. So, I also understand the very valid need for the state of Israel. My history also makes me understand what it is like to be displaced and in need of a home, not only for Jewish people.
And today I woke up and learned that my government, a government that is tasked, among other things, to protect the people living in Canada, has now decided that numerous groups with extremely long histories of pacifism and working for peace and equality are now considered hate groups, and I can’t even…
I haven’t even touched on how Bill C-51 makes all of this even scarier.
I just hope that the people of Canada wake up before October.