It was January 1967, just after New Year’s, and my Dad came home from Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, where he worked as a doctor. He was preoccupied.
Jack Ruby, the man who had killed Lee Harvey Oswald – and Oswald being the man who had killed John F. Kennedy – was dying of cancer at the hospital, my Dad told us. The Warren Commission would later conclude that Ruby was a nobody. But, for a man considered so unremarkable by the powers-that-be, he had attracted a remarkable amount of attention from the powerful.
“There are FBI agents all over the hospital,” my father told us, a bit bewildered. “Dozens of them. None of us can get anywhere near the floor where he is. They don’t want anyone talking to him, or interacting with him.”
To us – Irish Catholic Canadians living in Dallas – Ruby’s fate was of more than passing interest. To us, Kennedy had been our hope, our liberator, our Obama before there was Obama. He was the first Irish Catholic to become President, and – from the perspective of my Irish Catholic family, then and now – he was murdered on November 22, 1963 principally because of that.
My maternal grandmother was succinct about it all, as she was about everything. “We are Irish and Catholic, and we were lower than dirt, to them,” she said. “They killed him because they couldn’t get over the fact an Irish Catholic had become president.”
“They,” of course, were the white, Protestant compact that had ruled the United States of America since its beginnings. And, if you ever doubted the extent of their power, you should have lived with our family in Dallas, Texas in the Sixties. Back then, Dallas was the epicenter of racism and injustice on the continent. It was a furnace of hate.
We didn’t have much money, because my Dad was starting out, and my Mom was at home raising my two brothers and me. We lived next door to a Mexican-American family, and their son David was one of my best friends. But David did not attend David G. Burnet Elementary School with me, where I learned (and still know) the Pledge of Allegiance. I didn’t understand why David didn’t go to the same school as me. But my parents knew.
One day, my Mom spoke to her closest Texas friend, Mrs. Stevenson, and said to her that – one day – David would be permitted to go to school with me. Mrs. Stevenson, who is one of the nicest people you could ever hope to meet, said this: “Well, on that day, I will go down to the school with my gun.” Sweet as pie. Just like that.
Dallas, Texas – where JFK was shot down in the street, like a stray dog – was like that. On the surface, it was big and friendly and warm. Underneath, the place was seething cauldron of resentments and prejudice. Guns and violence and casual expressions of bigotry were everywhere. Even as a kid, I remembered I was still a Canadian, and therefore a stranger in a strange land.
As the world again reflects on the anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination, there has been much written about his unfulfilled legacy. There has been much written about Dallas, too, and about its efforts to rehabilitate itself. Perhaps it has done so; I can’t remember the last time I was there.
I do remember, however, our family returning to Canada. As our station wagon edged towards the border, my Dad – who was not ever given to melodrama – said he wanted to get out and kiss Canadian soil.
All of us understood, and none of us looked in the rearview mirror at the departing United States – or Dallas, where our King was murdered, on November 22, 1963.
Pardon me? No, pardon you!
WAR ROOM: Will Trump pardon himself?. https://t.co/MyK1RhxVDs
— Warren Kinsella (@kinsellawarren) November 20, 2020
Justin Trudeau is a three.
The late, great Rafe Mair left us with one of the truest of truisms: in politics, if you are a three, it doesn’t matter — if everyone nearby is a two.
Never has Mair’s observation been more true than with Justin Trudeau. The Liberal leader may be a dwarf, politically, but he still dwarfs all the dwarfs around him. (True.)
Such was the case with one Donald Trump, soon to be a private citizen. Trump was the best thing that ever happened to Justin Trudeau.
Trudeau had no shortage of wounds, all of them self-inflicted. And in each and every case, however bad Trudeau looked, Trump could always be counted upon to look far worse.
Take Trudeau‘s commitment to ethics (please). Trudeau is the first sitting prime minister to have been found to have violated ethics rules multiple times.
Remember the Aga Khan scandal? In that one, Trudeau took gifts from a lobbyist – free flights, traveling to a private island, and then saying nothing was wrong when he got caught.
Well, it was wrong. Plenty wrong. So said the ethics commissioner, who found Trudeau had flagrantly violated conflict of interest laws.
Same with the SNC Lavalin scandal, otherwise known as Lavscam. In that one, Trudeau and his officials – including his finance minister, who hastily-departed in the middle of yet another ethics imbroglio — tried to bully his justice minister into giving a sweetheart deal to a Quebec-based Liberal Party donor facing prosecution for corruption.
Because she refused to go along with the scheme, Trudeau drove out his female and Indigenous justice minister. He was again cited for wrongdoing by the ethics counselor.
But, even after all that, Trump made Trudeau look like a rank amateur. Trump actually attempted to get a foreign power to investigate a detested political rival who was also an American citizen – one Joe Biden, Democrat — thereby, earning himself a full congressional investigation and a later impeachment.
Another example: racism. In the middle of last year‘s federal election, Justin Trudeau was found to have worn racist blackface no less than three times. He even admitted that he may have done it more times than that.
It was inarguably racist, and it made Canada an international laughing stock.
Well, Donald Trump outdid even that. After the terrible events in Charlottesville — where an innocent woman was actually killed by a white supremacist — Trump said that there were “fine people” to be found among the ranks of the neo-Nazis and white supremacists.
That’s not all: in the middle of his first debate with Joe Biden, Trump declined to condemn white supremacy and groups like the racist Proud Boys.
During the coronavirus pandemic, which has been the defining political event of our collective lifetimes, Justin Trudeau again found a way to unimpress.
At the start of the pandemic, his government actively discouraged the wearing of masks, sniffed that the risk to Canadians was “low,” and actually called those who wanted to shut the border to China racist.
In retrospect, not impressive. But once again, Donald Trump was determined to impress even less.
He said the virus would go away in the Spring (it didn’t). He said it was a hoax (it wasn’t). He said people should consider injecting themselves with bleach (they shouldn’t).
And so on and so on. Justin Trudeau is a three. But Donald Trump was always, always a two.
Heads up, Justin: Joe Biden may not be perfect, but he’s no two.
And compared to you, big guy, he’s pretty close to a 10.
Warren Kinsella worked as a volunteer for Joe Biden and the Democrats in several US states