March 21 will be the 58th anniversary of the Sharpeville Massacre of 1960, when South African police killed 69 demonstrators against that country’s apartheid “pass laws” which segregated the population into arbitrary racial categories. Out of this tragedy came the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, an annual tribute to carry on the struggle for a racism-free world.
But decades later, advocates of the ugliest and most vicious racist ideologies are on the offensive again across Canada, the United States, and Europe. Donald Trump has inspired a new wave of racist terror, fanning a wide range of neo-nazis, Islamophobes, xenophobes, white supremacists, bigots, misogynists, anti-semites, anti-Communists, and other enemies of peace, democracy and social equality.
Canada is not immune from this danger. While openly racist and fascist groups may be smaller than in some other countries, these forces are busy spreading hatred, promoting violence, and recruiting followers in cities and towns in many parts of Canada. To name just a few, the white supremacist “Proud Boys” are active in the Canadian Armed Forces, “La Meute” (“The Wolf Pack”) marches openly in Quebec, groups like the World Coalition Against Islam hold regular hate rallies at city halls and mosques, so-called “Three Percenters” are organizing into armed racist militias, and the Canadian Nationalist Party spreads vile fascist propaganda from its base in Toronto. Indigenous peoples are still the targets of racist violence, as the death of Coulten Boushie and the acquittal of his killer made so clear.
This year, it’s crucial to get out into the streets, to openly condemn racist and fascist violence. Unless millions of us stand up for diversity, equality, and an end to all forms of discrimination, the bigots and hate-mongers will continue to spread their poison. Let’s make March 21 a day for action!