Trumpism Failed Its First Major Litmus Test: Lessons From The Quebec Terror Attack (VIDEO)
It’s Time For Conservatives To Re-Evaluate After Their Failure In The Wake Of The Quebec Mosque Terror Attack
On the evening of January 29, 27-year-old Donald Trump supporter Alexandre Bissonnette walked into the Islamic Cultural Center of Quebec City and started shooting. When it was all over, 6 people were dead with another 19 injured. This is the first North American terrorist attack since Trump took office, and though the administration seems obsessed with Islamic extremism and only Islamic extremism, it wasn’t an Islamic extremist who carried out the brutal attack.
Bissonnette was the exact type of Trump supporter that many had feared: Militant, far right, nationalistic, anti-immigrant, white supremacist – and deadly. This was the monster that Trump’s rhetoric and an emboldened right-wing were expected to produce. Who knew that it would be so soon into Trump’s presidency began that this would happen?
As Buzzfeed describes Alexandre Bissonette, “[he] was the anti-immigrant, meme-baiting, white nationalist trolling of the extreme elements of the pro-Trump internet.” He was the worst of the far-right internet demons come to life. A troll that took it too far.
— Hatewatch (@Hatewatch) February 14, 2017
Unfortunately, what should have been a wakeup call to conservatives in North America on how it has to change its ways and soften its tone on immigrants and Muslims, has proven to be anything but. Despite the obvious influence of Donald Trump on the young terrorist as exhibited by his Facebook page and his extreme defence of Trump during arguments with school mates, there was almost zero public acknowledgement from Trump himself that the incident even occurred. Worse yet, as Global News reports, his press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters that the shooting was exactly why a travel ban affecting Muslims from seven countries was needed.
Does that make sense? No. Not at all. But little does in Trump’s post-truth world. The idea that Muslims need to be banned because a Trump loving white nationalist slaughters Muslims makes little sense. And yet, it is reflective of the kind of weird approach some conservatives seems to be taking on this matter.
If far-right supporters aren’t praising Alexandre Bissonnette, they are engaging in bizarre conspiracy theories and spreading “alternative facts” about how the shooting was done by another Muslim, not a white nationalist. Some insist that Canadian government is covering up the real story behind the shooting because they are afraid to expose PM Justin Trudeau’s Syrian refugee program. They seem to be not only denying the problem of far-right white nationalist violence, but actually turning the incident around to be able to blame immigrants and Muslims.
In fact, Fox News itself can be partially blamed for the “fake news” that surrounded the story. In the early hours after the shooting there was confusion over who was involved in the shooting. Police initially said there were two suspects that had been apprehended. One was a Moroccan Muslim who was later released and determined to have nothing to do with the shooting. Unfortunately, Fox continued to perpetrate the lie that the shooter was this Moroccan man with a tweet to an article that didn’t even mention the actual shooter, Alexandre Bissonette, even after the information was confirmed by authorities.
According to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, this led the Prime Minister of Canada to intervene and chastise the news organization. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Director of Communication, Kate Purchase, called Fox out on twitter over their error.
“Sadly, this misleading information has been left to stand on the Fox News Channel’s twitter account and continued to circulate online even now. Canada is an open, welcoming country that stands by its citizens … we are stronger not in spite of our differences, but because of them. These tweets by Fox News dishonour the memory of the six victims and their families by spreading misinformation, playing identity politics, and perpetuating fear and division within our communities. If we allow individuals and organizations to succeed by scaring people, we do not actually end up any safer. Fear does not make us safer. It makes us weaker. Ramping up fear and closing our borders is not a solution.”
Fox News deleted their tweet and apologized, but it’s unfortunate that it took the Prime Minister of Canada to call the organization out before they did the right thing.
For the most part there has not been a collective, cohesive commitment to change rhetoric or tactics by conservatives who have been feeding off of anti-immigrant, anti-muslim sentiment even if their have been a few bright spots.
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The National Post reports that the far-right, anti-Muslim Pegida movement which began in Europe has a branch in Quebec. Their Facebook page had 18,000 followers, but has been taken down after complaints following the massacre at the mosque. The page was a hot spot for hateful speech and brutal pictures that completely demonized Muslims.
Another Facebook group, “Pas d’Islam radical et de charia au Québec (No to Radical Islam and Sharia in Quebec)”, was taken down voluntarily by the administrator who wrote a heartfelt apology.
“I cannot live knowing that I may have involuntarily contributed to radicalizing someone. Never will I forgive myself for having directly or indirectly contributed to the death of one or many human beings.”
CTV News also reports that the terrorist attack also prompted Quebec philosopher, Charles Taylor, whose argument for the maintenance of a secular society called for bans on overt religious symbols, such as hijabs, in places like courts to alter his views.
His ideas ended up being at the core of a controversial secularism charter that was seen as being anti-Muslim in particular. He now argues that this approach is no longer acceptable in the wake of the mosque terror attack and only helps to stigmatize Muslims.
“The time when the majority in our society can act without regard for marginalized minorities is over.”
But, this terror attack should be acting as a litmus test for conservatives as a whole and especially Donald Trump. So far, he has failed miserably and has not even attempted to take the attack into account in any of his policies or rhetoric. And, as someone who seems to be adored and mimicked by many of his followers, he seems to be completely oblivious to the behavior that he is inspiring.
And the behavior has been truly deplorable, according to The Southern Poverty Law Center.
“In the immediate aftermath of Election Day, a wave of hate crimes and lesser hate incidents swept the country — 1,094 bias incidents in the first 34 days…And more than a third of the incidents directly referenced either Trump, his “Make America Great Again” slogan, or his infamous remarks about grabbing women by the genitals.”
The reality is Donald Trump is making America hate again, and sadly his brand of hate does not stop at the American borders. It is a worldwide problem and it needs to be fought, and conservatives need to get in on the fight and start speaking out and reigning in the rhetoric. They need to take a close look at what happened in Quebec and understand the role people like Donald Trump are playing in these events and start calling him and others like him out before any more blood is shed.
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Feature image Alex Wong/Getty Images
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Chris Hearn is an ageing freelance writer located in wintery Winnipeg. He is a stay-at-home-parent, amateur stand-up comedian, and a guy with a lot of opinions, much to everyone’s dismay.