The year was 2003, and I was on my way to work, this was when I had first moved to Mississauga, it was a long ride. This bus traveled right through the heart of the city, through the suburbs of this metropolis that curves around Toronto, with all its multiculturalism. Half way up that long ride, a full hour it took to go all the way from Lake Ontario up the highway where I worked, a group of women with their young children got on the bus, they were Muslim women, with their hijabs and their layered traditional dresses. Coming from a small village in rural southwestern Ontario the stream of different nations that I encountered on public transit was new to me, and Muslim women out for the day with their children was still a rare sight.
As they got themselves settled in their seats, one of the young boys with the group stood on his knees against the back of the bus seat, facing us, and it was then he brought out from his jacket this black toy semi-automatic rifle, and proceeded to play with it by pointing it at us. The woman, I assume his mother, said nothing to him, didn’t tell him to sit down, didn’t tell him to behave, she didn’t say a word to him.
Let’s just say I was a bit stunned, given this was a mere two years after 9/11.
It was not until the woman I shared the seat with pipped up and told the boy as much, to sit his little bottom down, dripping with this derisive tone in her thick Jamaican accent.
That experience has stayed with me, not because they were Muslim, but that the women seemed completely oblivious, at the very least. I was disheartened, but it was a stark reality I had just never encountered, and so I filed it away.
The world has rolled along after those early years of awakening to a new threat to North American shores, a threat that back then was a constant as the Bush Jr White House had begun those terror alerts, and everyone’s world had changed, as we all adjusted to this new threat that had made its way to our shores, no longer immune to these terrorist acts that had been commonplace in many other parts of the world.
To look down yonder past that 49th parallel at that place where I was born today, and where my father grew to adulthood in those dying days of the Jim Crow south, and I can not stand idly by and watch as they devolve, can not let some things go quietly, unvoiced, unsaid.
That commander of chaos plays to his base, the ones who put him there, who think he’s magnificent, divinely chosen, this base of 40% who can not be swayed from that view.
To them, it does not matter what he does, or says, or tweets, or the consequences. Today right-wing conspiracy theories have gained legitimacy at the feet of a man who parrots the worst of it, egging them on. Where once far-flung nonsense delegated to the darkest corners of the internet are spouted by FOX news – they are organized, with lingo and methods and manifestos, and with real semi-automatic rifles.
Some with the election of this POTUS gained a legitimacy for their most racist tendencies, they are more than willing to do his bidding, for free, asked explicitly or otherwise, these right-wing zealots see what they want to see, what they need to see, to justify their violent and radicalized points of view – they believe they are warriors, one of the “tough guys”.
This POTUS is not the cause, he is but the symptom of a systemic rot at the core, of capitalism run amok, of a shrinking middle class, of those who have become so disenchanted with futures that look nothing like what they once expected.
Hidden amongst the average right-wing loyalist, isolated within that miasma of humanity left behind, lies the lonely, depressed, the product of a once hidden tribe of race-fueled hate towards those who are different, who pray differently, usually men, they are easy marks for the powers that be that wish to instill terror, who profit from terror, who profit from the chaos it incites, to mold, to sway to the dark side. They bring with them their rough justice, their authoritarian strong man, to save the day, and feed off the fear and hatred their rhetoric ignites.
The war on terror failed.
Dynamic and healthy societies do not thrive within these racial and religious restraints, monocultures are inherently weak systems dependent on force, eventually devolving as the many become like a hamster on a wheel – feed the rich, feed the rich, feed the rich.
Healthy societies swing to the left, swing to the right, balance a bit at the centre, and the winds of change blow the many to the left, to the right, and back to centre, over and over, like chimes in the wind.
If you try to control the narrative, if you hold too tightly, you lose the ability to sway back and forth, lose the natural flow, the give and take, and go out of sync, divided, easier to conquer.
When some now look in the mirror do they realize they have among them the thing they fear? This narrative of hate has spawned within their ranks the terrorist, fanatic, the extremest, they have become the very thing they think they are protecting themselves from.
But what they do not see, what they fear, that multitude of voices, of colours, of ideas, of dreams, of faith and belief, that is not disarray… that is harmony… with different voices… that is all.