Trudeau’s latest scandal is anything but black and white.
Let me be clear: I don’t think Trudeau is a racist.
In fact, between its gender-neutral cabinet and $92 million inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women, the current Liberal government is likely the most politically correct in our history.
Was what Trudeau did wrong? Today that answer is a resounding yes.
But what about in 2001 — was dressing up in black or brownface seen as wrong?
Yes and no.
Did people understand the concept of racism back then? Of course.
As a result of events such as the 1992 Los Angeles and 2001 Cincinnati riots (the latter of which occurred the same year Trudeau was photographed in brownface and an Aladdin costume), a North American-wide discussion on things such as the use of racial epithets and race relations was, undeniably, at the forefront of the cultural zeitgeist.
Furthermore, Google analytics suggests it was around this exact time (2001-2002) that the term blackface saw its peak usage in literature.
But while people knew that dressing up in dark makeup in 2001 to derogatorily stereotype another race was wrong, the same cannot be said for cultural appropriation.
In other words, while someone likely understood that dressing up in blackface and negatively stereotyping African Americans was wrong, they might not have seen, for example, dressing up as an “Indian” because they like Cleveland’s major league baseball team to be an issue.
So then why the current attacks against a Prime Minister who, when compared to his predecessors, has tried to address racially-systemic issues across the country?
Because Trudeau would not allow someone who had done what he did to run under the Liberal banner.
Don’t believe me?
In November 2014, Trudeau suspended MPs Scott Andrews and Massimo Pacetti following harassment allegations by two unnamed NDP MPs.
In March 2015, following an investigation (which was never released publicly), they were expelled from the caucus.
Trudeau’s quote on his decision is especially interesting.
“The action must be fair, but decisive. It must be sensitive to all affected parties, but, recognizing how difficult it is to do so, it must give the benefit of the doubt to those who come forward.”
I’m not here to assert Andrews and Pacetti (who both denied all allegations on multiple occasions) are innocent or guilty.
All I’m saying is if Trudeau were to hold himself to these same standards, he would resign: a fair-but-decisive decision made with the sensitivities of all affected parties (in this case, racialized Canadians) in mind.
His words, not mine.
Beyond highlighting Trudeau’s hypocrisy, the story also exemplifies the inherently McCarthyist nature of political correctness.
In short, when you build yourself up as a paragon of equality, diversity and multiculturalism, don’t be surprised when your political opponents try to dig up every bit of dirt that could possibly contradict that image (even if it’s 20 years old).
Again, I feel like most people aren’t mad because Trudeau donned brown and black makeup for racially-insensitive costumes a few times in the 90s and early 2000s.
They’re mad because these actions, which Trudeau consciously hid from Canadians (while campaigning on a platform of politically-correct platitudes) paint a picture of a man who is the antithesis of everything he built himself up to be.
Call it a poetic ending to a man (oops — person) whose entire political career has exemplified political correctness.
As a side note, don’t misinterpret my critique of Trudeau as an endorsement of Scheer.
Just three days before the story broke, the Conservative leader said that “as long as someone takes responsibility for what they’ve said, and addresses the fact that in 2019 some things that may have been said in the past are inappropriate today,” he would accept their apology, in response to a question regarding MPs whose past mistakes in private life or on social media come to light.
Guess his answer doesn’t apply to elected officials in other parties.
Almost makes you wish there were more than two parties to vote for.
Oh, wait, there are.