How do you explain hate?
I am extremely privileged to not have the words.
I celebrated my fifth birthday on Dec. 6, 1989. My mother hosted a party at our house.
All the neighbourhood kids came. There was a dinosaur cake. We played pin the tail on the donkey. We were as happy and carefree as any other post-toddler youths living in a world where terror didn’t exist.
At some point during that Pleasantville-esque party, my mother must have sat down with her 10-year-old daughter and attempted to explain why a hate-filled, misogynistic terrorist had murdered 14 women because he hated women. Marc Lepine’s motives were clear.
Imagine having that conversation with a child. What words could you possibly use?
How do you explain that a monster killed women for being women and how do you explain it in a way that won’t paralyze a 10-year-old girl with fear?
What could my mother have said that would make her daughter feel safe walking into a classroom after the École Polytechnique massacre?
Something had to be said. Avoidance is not an option.
Canada spoke and spoke loudly. The conversations that followed the tragedy of December 6, 1989, led to the creation of Canada’s National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.
It is our responsibility to always remember what Lepine did because his terrorism reminds us to never laugh it off, or passively shrug, when misogynistic views are spoken.
Those views are not okay. Those views are not harmless. It’s our responsibility as Canadians to make sure that’s obvious.
As of this writing, police have not confirmed a motive for the act of terrorism that killed six people inside a Quebec City Mosque on Sunday. Little is known about Alexandre Bissonnette, the man charged with the murders, though The Canadian Press quoted a friend of his who offered some insight.
“He was not necessarily overtly racist or Islamophobic, but he had borderline misogynist, Islamophobic viewpoints…Unfortunately that’s become more or less acceptable these days.”
It has not become acceptable. It is not acceptable. We need to do more to make that more obvious. The idea that our kids have a reason to tremble at the thought of entering their local Mosque is as heartbreaking as it is offensive and it is our responsibility to make sure those kids hear our love and understand the hate that they’re hearing is not okay.
We’re all hearing that hate and we need to smother it, speak against it and surround those it’s aimed at.
I get that it’s tough not to just avoid it. The West Coast is far away from it all. Hate is hard to find in the paradise we have the privilege of basking in and, around here, we have no monsters to fear.
But, we can’t allow ourselves to be silent. Having nothing to fear means having the responsibility of speaking up for those who do.
Avoiding the disgusting Islamaphobia being spewed across the globe is as easy as turning off our televisions. We had an extremely clear view of the American airports full of it over the weekend. Those airports were nowhere near our backyard, but we live on screens now and the same rules apply. If you see something, say something.
Don’t just blame Trump and accept that the world is a scary place now. Islamaphobia is not America’s problem. It’s our problem and shrugging our shoulders about it is not a solution. Neither, though, is hating on hate.
If a Facebook friend posts Islamaphobic views, don’t break out the name calling; engage.
Help your social media circles understand why you don’t tolerate hate. Share your love. Cover your feeds with it. Talk about it.
Hate isn’t harmless. We need to make that more obvious.
Avoidance is not an option.