Yukon News

The violence in Quebec City can happen here, but we can stop it

EditorialChris Windeyer Wednesday February 1, 2017

Joel Krahn/Yukon News

vigil.jpg

People hold candles at the vigil Jan. 30.

By any rational measure, it was a small thing.

Monday’s vigil in downtown Whitehorse for the victims of the terrorist attack on the Centre culturel islamique de Québec, that left six dead and 19 wounded, drew perhaps 200 shivering souls, huddled around flickering candles.

It was all over in half an hour, following brief remarks from community leaders and a moment of silence. Some words, symbolic lights, people standing in a circle in a small, out-of-the-way city.

Kwanlin Dun First Nation Chief Doris Bill called the violence directed at the Muslim community “despicable.”

“I look at the news and I’m absolutely disgusted by what I see,” she said. “And I think if we can make our little voice known here in the Yukon, we should.”

It remains a bleak reality that so many lives can be snuffed out by a single man with a heart full of rage, a brain full of nihilistic garbage, and the seemingly gleeful intent to inflict indiscriminate cruelty upon strangers.

Yukoners came out to huddle in the cold with strangers to show solidarity with the city’s Muslim community and to grieve the six men who died so needlessly. And also because of the fear that our little city is not immune to the cancerous type of hatred that can flare up and spoil so many lives.

“The only way to overcome our fear and grief in these moments is through love and unity,” said Muhammad Javed of the Yukon Muslims Society.

Sunday’s mass killing, for which a 27-year-old Quebec City man faces 11 charges, including six counts of first-degree murder, came on the heels of U.S. President Donald Trump’s racist and haphazard ban on all refugees, and citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries. It was a grim week, and many of us rightly fear things are going to get worse.

The election of Trump to the presidency triggered a lot of concern that the new administration would stumble, whether by incompetence or malpractice, into a needless and destructive war with, say, Iran or China.

But I think the much greater risk is that Trumpism will trigger a wave of violence undertaken by the extremist and white supremacist underbelly of his coalition. Far more likely than a shooting war over Taiwan is the spectre of even more spasms of civic violence in our own societies.

The common thread running through the most extreme of this new, extreme ideology has nothing to do with any policy debate over taxes or crime or the economy. It’s rooted instead in the gleeful will to punish and hurt its perceived enemies, be they immigrants, Muslims, women, leftists, or anyone else (the list is long).

It is an anti-politics: the desire to end such pesky obstacles to manly action through the use of intimidation, and, all too often, raw violence.

Jessica Lott Thompson of the Yukon Human Rights Commission told the gathering Islamophobia “must be spoken by name to be eliminated.” The first part of that statement is true. The latter is probably too optimistic. Poisonous beliefs cannot be fumigated from our democratic arena like an unwelcome insect. The best we can hope for is to name and confront the menace with facts and with love, and to sideline it as much as possible. This requires the constant work of democratic politics. Progress is rarely linear and success is never final.

The chance that this kind of xenophobic violence could stain our own communities here in the Yukon is remote, even infinitesimal. But it’s not zero. Ugly sentiments bubble up occasionally, and that’s just the tiny portion of such thought that shows up online. Northerners have always been good at looking out for one another. That’s never been so important.

The English poet W.H. Auden wrote a line on the beginning of the Second World War that Lyndon Johnson later repurposed (and slightly misquoted) for a speech warning of the perils of nuclear war.

“These are the stakes: to make a world in which all of God’s children can live, or to go into the dark,” Johnson said, before closing with Auden’s line. “We must either love each other, or we must die.”

Contact Chris Windeyer at

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7 Comments

Mark wrote:
6:50pm Monday February 13, 2017

I think Muslims should take what happened in Quebec as a warning. Canadians will never accept your religion and Sharia Law. Our little boy Prime Minister is walking with his head up his posterior end if he thinks we will watch the pollution of our culture.After watching what’s happening in Europe right now enforces our resolve.
An Islamaphobia law would be the beginning of the end of freedom of speech in this country.
My advice to Muslims…..when you come here,leave your crap behind you and conform to our ways.We will not conform to yours. That’s a fact you need to learn.

Josey Wales wrote:
5:46am Friday February 10, 2017

Gee….comrades, nine days later and a mere five comments on such a hot potatoes of a “article”?
Clearly nothing was learned by our media in the absolute implosion media is rightly experiencing south of us….a result of being willfully ignorant in current events and concerns of those you allege you serve.
Keep up the good work comrades, no point in changing now…eh?
The drama teachers papa would be proud of his media minions.
May the peace of shit rest…

North_of_60 wrote:
5:02pm Thursday February 2, 2017

@Max Mack says it well.  “Virtue signalling” is a leftist affliction to make them feel good about their hatred for anyone who doesn’t agree with their beliefs.  They’ve clearly shown us how much they love to hate; today it’s Trump, before it was Harper.  They’ll always find a scapegoat for their hatred;  it’s what defines who they are.

Alan wrote:
10:04am Thursday February 2, 2017

Josey, I suspect the silent majority agrees with you. Our large cities, Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal no longer look like they did 10 years ago and not in a good way.

Josey Wales wrote:
9:42pm Wednesday February 1, 2017

If absolutely diluting Canada, flooding it with 3rd world cultures completely diametric to ours and the real world is so damn important….?
Why do I hear so much about contact and displacement, cultural genocide and everything else that feeds the grievance industry of cultural elitism?
Can we stop it?
Yes by ceasing to import 7th century sycophants, and turning Canada into a 3rd world hell hole…as we rapidly are…in my mere opinion.
Can we still have…an opinion in Canada, or has Shariah been passed though yet?
...I mean it is after all 2017, destroying all your people built is all the rage in the virtue signalling event of epic eeeeepic proportions.
Diversity is our strength says the idiot in Ottawa, and clearly many here.

Max Mack wrote:
8:16pm Wednesday February 1, 2017

It is possible, perhaps even likely, that this was an act of hate - but we don’t know yet. The authorities are still investigating, we don’t have all the evidence, and prematurely declaring this as an act of hatred is simply that; premature.

And attempting to link this to Trump or his “xenophobic base” is just sad and says more about your own political orientation than anything else. You are simply being opportunistic. And, I would say, you are being deliberately provocative.

Are you really so ignorant to think that everyone who voted for Trump is a dumb, hick racist? Good idea, Chris. Keep stoking that fire.

Where was your moral outrage when the great “humanitarian” Obama banned Iraqi refugees in 2011? Where was your moral posturing when your hero dropped bombs on at least seven predominately Muslim countries? Where was your pen when Obama was roaming the world, drone assassinating whoever he felt like killing - also predominately Muslims? What about the continued use of torture under the Obama administration, often used on Muslims? How about the record number of illegals deported under Obama - more than all US presidents combined?

Hatred takes many shapes and forms, apparently.

Marilyn Phillips wrote:
2:43pm Wednesday February 1, 2017

Well written, well researched, sensitive, and so accurate.
All of us around the world will be affected by this loose canon….Trump , not to be referred to as “Mr President”..... the “Mr” and the ” president ” are both ill defined! 
Well done. Marilyn

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