By Charles Mwewa
He is one of the youngest and privileged Prime Ministers. He is the Prime Minister of Canada. Eighteen years ago, he did something that can only be labelled, “racist.” He has apologized. Meanwhile, the photos and a video where he is clad and painted in “Black/Brown” and wearing an Islamic religious symbol, silhouetted among beautiful women, mostly White, have gone viral, both local and worldwide.
Is Trudeau really that bad a person? Is he a moniker of the prevalent White privilege? Is he truly sorry or he is simply pandering to political fallout? Will it cost him the Prime Minister’s office? Will he recover, and still clinch the October election and emerge a winner?
Trudeau was raised wealthy, White, and privileged. Trudeau is the son of one of Canada’s decorated Prime Ministers, Pierre Trudeau, who patriated the Constitution from the British Parliament in 1982 and gave to Canada the most coveted Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Trudeau rose to power, chiefly, riding on his father’s fame. Without his father and the name, he carries, Trudeau would not have arisen, in all reasonableness, to the throne of Canada, probably.
However, we should not be blinded by the unpalatable commentaries that have blanketed the Internet. Trudeau is a decent human being – and he has also evolved, contrary to expectation, into a very good Prime Minister. He has done one thing that every politician should learn: He has publicly, and contritely apologized. I believe that his apology is sincere.
Those who are rushing to indict Trudeau and wish his political career ends here, should be educated of the history of racism. Racism was not just a personality trait; racism was a politically-correct ideology. It built nations, created enormous wealth for most, and was seen as norm in the old days. The more racism one was, the more privileged and accepted they were. Racism built the “White” House. Racism conquered distant and colonial territories. Victims of racism, mostly Blacks, were not seen as humans; they were things, properties to be owned and free labour to be manipulated. Even the Great Canadian, John MacDonald, was a seasoned racist. And yet, and ironically, it was because he was racist that he probably became a successful Prime Minister. The mentality of that ancient society was born, nurtured and fashioned in a racist eon.
I should submit, nevertheless, that the story of Trudeau does not even come close to a moment of “We catch him.” At the time, eighteen years ago, it was probably even socially expedient so to do. Society now has changed. Blacks and most visible minorities have increased acquired rights and freedoms they were denied. The “Me Too” movements has continued where the Rights Movement left. There is now more awareness of the inviolable and inherency of the equality of all races. And most people would find it repugnant to even contemplate racist – honestly speaking, it isn’t profitable or funny any longer.
Trudeau has demonstrated, in his tenure as Prime Minister, that he is above that childish schemer he was eighteen years ago. Admittedly, he was 29 years old and a teacher (and so, he should have known better), but he was also a victim of a society that celebrated privilege and Whiteness. He was, in that sense, a victim of his own social milieu.
What we all need to do is to reflect – most of the mentality that informed the 1980s and early 2000s are now obsolete. Trudeau is embarrassed, he would not have, had it not been due to the progress that has been made in the race relationships across the globe. We are all sinners, we may not be racists, but we may be liars or worse. We need to remember the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, “He who is without sin, cast the first stone.” Indeed, we should not encourage behaviours and actions that disparage others or belittle or downgrade the minorities, but we should not be hypocrites, either. We may be pointing our single finger on Trudeau but the four fingers may be casting a spell on our own secret deeds. This even or discovery should not cost Trudeau the office – the voters should vote their consciousness.
Trudeau is a good leader – because he has a sense of repentance, even for the deeds that happened years before. Bad leaders think they are always right, even when they do despicable acts in secret. Good leaders own their mistakes and change. Bad leaders condemn others while they themselves are simply white-washed tombs!