It’s more like an ordeal, than a year. That has been 2020.
In A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens famously declared that “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”
But you can’t really say that about these times. They are the worst in living memory. There is no glorious revolution to celebrate, as Dickens did.
The three horsemen of the current apocalypse are well-known: the coronavirus, the collapse of the world economy, and the lethal racism that seemingly permeates too many institutions. It is not an exaggeration to say that these three things have reordered our present view of the world.
Indeed, against those three things – Covid-19, global recession and widespread systemic racism – many have been measured. Many have been judged.
Many have been found lacking.
So, Donald Trump will lose in November because he has failed the test of all three. He called the coronavirus “a hoax.” He repeatedly promised an economic rebirth that never came. And – because, he is in his essence a white supremacist – he badly miscalculated how to respond to the historic rebellion against police racism and brutality. His response: threaten to send in American troops to confront the American people.
But others are in the process of being judged, too. And not just in the United States.
In the middle of an unprecedented global uprising against racism, Conservative leadership candidate Erin O’Toole issued an unambiguous dog-whistle, proclaiming he wanted to “take Canada back.” From whom, he didn’t say. He didn’t have to: his is, and was, the party of the barbaric practices hotline.
Justin Trudeau was caught wearing racist blackface, and was so completely lacking in self-awareness – so incapable of shame – he later turned a Black Lives Matter protest into the backdrop for a photo op. Plunging into a crowd on Parliament Hill when, just the days before, he had exhorted us all to keep away from crowds.
The RCMP, once our proud national police force – once even a symbol of the country itself – is being judged, too. As the Mounties’ leadership plays semantic games about what “systemic racism” means, its membership shoot an Indigenous woman to death during “a wellness check.” They gun down an Indigenous man in a New Brunswick street – why, we do not know. And they brutalize and beat another Indigenous man – a respected chief in Alberta – in a parking lot. All this, from a police force whose Commissioner told the Globe and Mail “we don’t have systemic racism,” before reversing herself.
Many media have done a commendable job documenting all of these serial failures by those who are supposed to know better. In the grinding, grueling Spring of 2020, our media have mostly served us well.
Not CBC, however.
CBC recently decided to destroy the career of Wendy Mesley, a Gemini-winning journalist who has worked at the national broadcaster for 40 years. Her offence? To express concern about a possible panelist who might use the N-word.
Mesley did not say the word on air. She was in a private meeting with CBC staff, discussing the suitability of the guest who might say it. She expressed disapproval.
That didn’t matter to the craven, dissembling cowards who run the CBC. They summarily cancelled the remaining episodes of Mesley’s show, and suspended the award-winning journalist. Mesley had apologized, quickly and unambiguously. Veteran CBC journalists like Neil MacDonald and Bruce Dowbiggin had come to her defence. But the CBC’s “leadership” was undeterred. Mesley was gone, and few expect her to come back.
This would be the same CBC, of course, who once gave a platform to the founder of the American Nazi Party to spew white supremacy and anti-Semitic bile on-air. The same CBC who brought robed Klansmen onto a show to advocate separation of the races. The same CBC who hosted Anne Coulter, who calls non-white immigration “genocide.”
The same CBC which, not long ago, gave an uncritical platform to Gavin McInnes, the founder of the white supremacist Proud Boys. While the clueless CBC host did precisely nothing, McInnes advocated “issuing a bounty” on Indigenous people. McInnes – who had previously written “Ten Things I Hate About Jews” for Rebel Media, and called Muslims “sandbox savages” – was permitted by CBC to spew racist invective without opposition, without context.
The CBC, in its scramble to look tolerant, now looks like something else entirely: a farce.
We live in profoundly troubled times. We are at risk of losing much to a troika of grim threats – coronavirus, recession, systemic racism. We need leadership.
Too often, this year, we’re not getting it.