Opinion

Symbols and appearances don’t matter

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They say a case against Jagmeet Singh for leadership of the federal NDP is Quebec’s discomfort with religious symbols. Now, this is a little rich considering that their legislative chamber still prominently displays a crucifix behind the Speaker’s chair, and also a little suspect when you think about how an across-the-board stance against the display of religious symbols by public office holders does advantage those whose faith doesn’t emphasize the wearing of symbols or signifiers. Many of the faiths that do make that an important touchstone just happen to be not Christian, for example. Funny how that works out eh?

Now, the idea is that you don’t want the appearance of faith having a role in decision making, power, and authority. But if ideology shapes the policies proposed, which lead the laws enforced, then won’t a person’s individual faith always play a role regardless of whether or not they are openly practicing? It’d be one thing if Jagmeet was the leader of a political party only for Sikhs — but he’s trying to become the leader of the NDP, which has balanced the religious convictions of its members with a commitment to a neutral state that respects Canadian’s rights. (Charlie Angus, a Catholic, was denied communion by his church for voting in favour of same sex marriage.)  

I think this kerfuffle is mostly superficial, which doesn’t speak highly of the assumed (I mean, they could surprise us, pundits practically have it wrong at least half the time) voting habits of Quebecers and “Old Chicken Stock” Anglophones. They seem to be more concerned with the appearance of impartiality, secularism, or whatever else conveys good governance, than with understanding the real motives, interests, and outcomes of that governance.

I mean, in a roundabout way, I think there is an inverted parallel to the furor over Trump’s behaviour and professionalism. Yes, he’s a small-minded, useless, blaring asshole. But he also has the same small-minded, destructive, and gross policy goals as countless politicians before him. They just didn’t go on Twitter, and kept their ugliness hidden. And it seems that for every nasty outcome of his power, there is a disportionate amount of time spent complaining about how he announced it. Trudeau gets a pass on so much — from weapon sales to broken promises — because of these lowered expectations on respectability.

To sum up? We should let go, we should focus on the outcomes that matter. A person may or may not wear their ideology on their sleeve; but their sleeve might not tell enough anyways. Bush was a friendly scamp, didn’t make him any less of a war criminal.

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