Sunday, November 15, 2015
Of Courage and Cowardice
I'm beginning to fear that our society is more seriously, intractably divided than I had imagined.
The Harper Decade of Darkness was spent focusing on the dark art of wedge politics with fear mongering and appeals to base instincts and biases. These are the tools Harper employed on his supporters. He made them fear the "other" lurking about waiting to pounce on rightwing righteousness.
Harper knew that he didn't have to get that many voters to claim power, even an outright majority. He knew that, with the fearful and the bigots, he was a shoo-in.
In the wake of the Paris bombings I've read a lot of rightwing reaction to Justin Trudeau's decision to end Canada's participation in America's hapless bombing campaign in Iraq and Syria. They uniformly slam Trudeau for cowardice.
Cowardice? What is that but a fear reaction in the face of some threat of death or bodily harm? If withdrawing those six CF-18s is cowardice then sending them must somehow be courageous. When it came to Harper I never saw any sign of courage. In fact the only event I can remember is when Harper bolted into the janitor's closet leaving his caucus to possibly face the gunman firing outside. That was cowardice. Ordering a little dollop of jet fighters hither and yon isn't courageous, it's politically expedient.
Yet as I read these remarks there was something almost Tea Partyish to them. They seemed disconnected from fact. I began to sense that Harper may have actually radicalized at least a good segment of the rightwing base which may ensure that we'll remain a sharply divided society. These types are quite venomous. We've had their kind on the Left also but we didn't really tolerate them much less cultivate them. The Right, however, may see these radicals as the building blocks for their restoration and I think that should worry all of us.
The presence of a radical right could well surface if the moderates seek to reclaim the Conservative Party from its Reform wing. We'll just have to wait as the leadership candidates emerge. If the radical right is cultivated, mobilized for the leadership contest, then I think we're looking at the continuation of a sharply divided society for years to come and just at a time when we need social cohesion more than ever.
A divided society is not simply unpleasant. It's a weakened society, one that invites, even rewards, somewhat more extreme political ideologies. This, in turn, makes it more difficult to find the common ground that unites all of us. Politics becomes a feud. I so hope we don't succumb to that.
Cross your fingers.