It would be a stretch to suggest that US President Donald Trump is to blame for the terrorist assault on a Quebec mosque Sunday.
At the same time, it would be naïve to suppose that the hateful rhetoric which characterized Trump’s bid for the White House, and that is now being put into practice through draconian immigration policies, is unrelated.
Hate validates hate. Intolerance propagates violence and ignorance fans its flames.
It took only days after his upset election victory for watchdogs to note an alarming increase in hate related crimes south of the border.
In just a week and a half the Southern Poverty Law Center recorded 867 hate incidents. Forty-three of those cases were tagged as “Trump General” – where the president elect’s name or slogans were evoked during an attack.
Letters were sent to mosques, threatening genocide.
High school bullies handed out “deportation letters” to Latino students.
A black doll was discovered hanging from a noose in the elevator of a community college.
And so on. And so on. And so on.
At the risk of putting too fine a point on it, Trump is a racist. Some of his most outrageous comments attack Mexicans, Muslims and black people.
His recently enacted immigration and refugee ban has sparked international concern and already is creating harmful diplomatic backlash.
Domestically there is friction, confusion and polarization resulting from the executive order.
Court injunctions have been put in place while tens of thousands protest at US airports.
And in Quebec City six Canadians are dead and a dozen more wounded – cut down by a gunman while they meditated in evening prayer.
Police have one man in custody, 27-year-old Alexandre Bissonet. Information from Bissonet’s now defunct FB page, as well as media interviews with acquaintances, portray the man as pro-Trump and anti-Islam.
The very day before the massacre Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a promise to immigrants and refugees displaced by the US refugee and immigration ban.
He tweeted: “To those fleeing persecution, terror and war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength.”
It is an elegant statement through action of what values shape and define Canada.
It is something to be grateful for in the face of a terrible tragedy, and to hold on to in the face of an uncertain future. -AD