Saturday, March 28, 2015

Identifying the adversary

Not surprisingly, Charles Taylor's keynote address and discussion on political inclusion has neatly highlighted both the importance of finding commonalities at the personal level, and the dangers of government fomenting prejudice toward minority groups. But I'd think it's worth drawing a distinction between the problems being addressed at the personal and the political levels.

At the personal level, it's true prejudice which is best addressed through relationships and shared experience. And we should expect a concerted effort to connect to minority communities to put an end to the underlying fear of the other which politicians may seek to use to their own ends in trying to build a voting coalition through the demonization of others.

But the choice to pursue that path - with the Cons' attempt to conflate Islam in general with an inchoate threat to Canadians serving as a particularly jarring example - arises out of something more cynical and dangerous than individual prejudice based in ignorance or unfamiliarity, and which deserves to be called out as such when carried out as a deliberate strategy.

The best label for it may be something along the lines of exclusionism: the inclination and/or deliberate choice to exacerbate prejudice for the purpose of diminishing the public participation of minority groups. And it should be a relatively easy matter to build consensus around the need to fight along those principled lines, even if each particular case also involves the challenge of countering some level of personal prejudice.

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