Many of us around the globe were shocked and saddened at the unnecessary killing of 50 innocent people praying at a mosque. This brings me to two urgent issues which are Islamophobia and hate; and gun control. These are applicable to Canada too so below are my thoughts. Some say this is too early to discuss this, I argue now is exactly the time.
On Islamophobia, we have seen a real reason in hatred towards Muslims and also many other non-white groups. This doesn’t just cause hurt feelings, it costs lives. As such I believe we need to do everything to make hate not acceptable in our societies since when it festers out of control this is what can happen. This is not the first hate attack, we had Norway in 2011, Sikh temple shooting in Wisconsin in 2012, Quebec City mosque shooting in 2017, Charleston shooting of Black worshippers in 2017, Pittsburgh Synagogue massacre, and now this. All of these were driven by hatred towards people different than their own so we cannot call this an isolated incident as it is not. While we cannot stop all hate, there are things we can do to help reduce it and here are my suggestions.
1. Penalize politicians who pander to bigots even in the form of dog whistles. Politicians needs to understand they are leaders and when they do this, they legitimize such views. They need to understand for every bigot vote they win, they will lose many non-bigots.
2. Social media needs to start taking stronger responsibility by monitoring hate and banning those who promote hate as well as shutting down sites who do this. Due to sheer volume this may be tough but software can be used to help detect it as well as individuals have a responsibility to report individuals or sites promoting hate so they get shut down.
3. As individuals we need to speak out when someone makes a racist remark. If one your friends or family members says something along the line of Muslims are taking over the West, don’t just sit there and say nothing, speak out and call them out for it, but more importantly explain why they are wrong.
As for response by politicians, I believe Scheer should have mentioned it was Muslims attacked in first tweet or at least linked it to a fuller statement. I realize some others like the Queen didn’t mention this, but rightly or wrongly Tories have an image of being intolerant so doing this just further plays to the idea they are sympathetic to bigots or at least turn a blind eye to it and that needs to stop. In fact if they keep up with dog whistles they can kiss my vote goodbye this fall. However, Maxime Bernier’s response was disgusting and whether he is a bigot himself or not, he clearly wants to play footsie with this group and is unworthy of any political power. Scheer should stop worrying about losing some racists to Bernier’s PPC and instead do what is right and tell bigots they have no place in his party period. It is better to be right and lose than to win and be wrong.
The second issue is gun control. The killer purchased all five of his weapons legally and New Zealand has more lax gun laws than his native Australia where between 2 to 4 of the guns he owned would be illegal for civilian ownership. Thankfully it looks like New Zealand will take action and since Canada has fairly similar gun laws although slightly stricter we should also take action rather than wait. As per earlier blog, this just confirms why I believe semi-automatics with detachable magazines need to be banned. At the bare minimum, magazines that accept more than 10 rounds even if pinned to 5 rounds as required in Canadian law need to be made illegal. Some gun owners will claim they are unfairly being punished for the sins of others, but while most gun owners are law abiding and would never do anything bad, no system is 100% full proof and therefore guns that are too dangerous and have little civilian use need to be banned. This is not about punishing gun owners, this is about promoting public safety and as a society sometimes we have to accept that we cannot do everything we want. Many of us hate paying taxes, but without taxation we wouldn’t have many of the things that build a stronger society. As such gun owners need to accept it is not about them, it is about the country as a whole. If gun owners can prove owning such semi-automatics is necessary (wants for such dangerous a product isn’t good enough, one must prove a need as such guns are not ordinary products), narrow exemptions can be made for those who absolutely need them, but so far no one has shown me any legitimate reason why civilians should be allowed to own weapons like the AR15. Having fun at the range is not sufficient and neither is hunting as you can hunt just fine with a regular bolt action rifle that takes no more than 2 rounds, a semi-automatic is not needed. So with Bill Blair doing a review on a handgun ban and assault weapons, I urge the government to take action and all parties to include this in their platform for this Fall’s election. On handguns I also think either an outright ban or a strict limit to competitive target shooters and no one else needs to be implemented.