You wouldn’t know about it if a certain lovely someone (he knows who he is) hadn’t helped me discover the genius of Warren Zevon but I am here to tell you that it is entirely possible to be witty and funny while pretending to complain that you’re being badly done to.
Alas, that’s not what Conservative voters in this country are doing. A disturbingly large number of them are actually, seriously, genuinely concerned that the people who are the most discriminated against in Canada today are… white people exactly like them.
Let me say it again, using numbers this time. Fully 35 percent of Canadians, or more than one third, say “white people are discriminated against more now than those from visible minority communities in this country.” And of those 35 percent of Canadians who say that, fully 53 percent, or more than half, are Conservative voters.
I got this from a tweet by my old buddy David Coletto of Abacus Data.
David and I used to work together at the mercifully defunct Sun News in the early 2010s. He is, in my not-at-all humble opinion, the smartest pollster in Canada. I would rather not elaborate on the number of political bets I’ve lost to him in those few years we worked together. I’ve never met anyone I lost more bets to. C’est tout dire.
He’s more right than most when it comes to reading the mood of the country and also predicting election results. And you can’t deny he has a certain flair for knowing how to ask the kinds of questions that are sure to elicit newsworthy answers.
There are several ways to explain this particular poll, none of which are anywhere near good. Basically the choice is between assuming a third of Canadians have their head up their ass so far it’s coming back out through their thumbs and that’s why their views on things are completely distorted, or they’re so fucking angry they can’t see straight.
And while I’ve learned over the years never to discount the possibility that some people clearly are stupid, I don’t think that’s the answer. I mean, they could also be ignorant. Maybe some of those people have never been off their farm and don’t have a sweet clue what BIPOC face in Canada today.
For instance, Indigenous lawyers being mistaken for accused criminals or crime victimsand rudely told to get out of barristers’ lounges. Or a person of colour being asked, “no, but where are you really from?” after answering “where are you from” with Etobicoke or some such.
Or black people getting stopped for things that never trip a white or white-passing individual. Like failure to signal a turn. Do you want to know how often I’ve forgotten to use my turn signal in 35 years of driving? Enough times, including this morning. And while I’ve been nabbed three times for speeding (I sped more than thrice in 35 years, I promise you) and once, memorably, for an illegal u-turn when I was still a teenager, I have never ever come close to having anyone pull me over for being in the turning lane and actually turning without having broadcast my intentions with a little light that blinks.
Do I need to bring up numbers on the shameful over-representation of Indigenous, blacks and people of colour in the Canadian justice system or is that not necessary since you’re neither stupid nor evil enough to deny that we have a racial problem in this country and it’s not because people of colour discriminate against whites?
And that’s saying nothing of people who experience discrimination based on things other than race. But these weren’t asked in David’s poll so I’ll leave them out for now.
So, anyway. While some people are no doubt stupid, and others are deeply ignorant (on purpose or not), I don’t think this explains the poll. I have been around conservatives too long to believe that.
What I’m about to say does not apply to all conservative voters. Only to those who think white people are the ones who really need a leg up in Canada today.
I know they’re angry. They’re pissed off that “real” Canadians like them (I’ve heard this more than enough times in their mouths to know it’s not a linguistic accident) are no longer running things. They’re mad that “polite society” thinks they’re hicks, gun nuts, jesus freaks or a ghastly combination of all three.
They’re so mad that the part of society that has progressed past the 1950s is now ignoring them for being stuck in the way-back-whens, and they assume that not being in charge of shit is the same as being discriminated against.
Anger is a powerful drug, but it’s also a very dangerous one. Not everyone who is angry about something turns violent, thankfully. But every person who is a violent radical (not just right-wingers) starts by being angry. Anger is violent extremism’s gateway drug. Polls that reveal how angry a significant portion of Canadians are over things that are incomprehensibly ass over tea kettle are a sure sign that, left unchecked, that anger will turn to more extremism and become dangerous to real people sooner than we think.
There is nothing funny about that.