Editorial: Fighting hate with acceptance

Photo By Tanzeel Sayani

On Sunday, Jagmeet Singh was officially elected the leader of the federal New Democrat Party. Singh won this vote by an absolute landslide, which I think comes as no surprise to anyone who has been following the elections process.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t this the first time that a visible minority has been elected to lead a federal party in Canada?

That’s a huge step, but it’s not coming without it’s share of racism already.

In a video that went viral a few weeks ago, a women accosted Singh for being a Muslim and for pushing Sharia law on Canadians. Despite the angry woman yelling and gesturing in his face, he encouraged a stance of love and compassion for everyone, including the woman.

Singh is not Muslim. He’s a practicing Sikh and could have easily said so to get back to his campaign rally without much more of a fuss.

But there was no point in that – that would be putting the hate on Muslims and distancing himself from the problem of discrimination.

Instead, he faced the problem with dignity and with love. He didn’t correct her because that wouldn’t fix the underlying issues of her statements and it wouldn’t do anything for the Muslims who are also just trying to live peacefully in Canada.

Whether this was a political move or not, I can appreciate that Singh stood up for all Canadians in his words and actions, not just the ones like himself.

That’s what I want to see in a leader. Even if he is pushing his own image, he’s making a difference while he’s doing it.

Unfortunately, I’m sure this is just the beginning of what we’ll see on the road to the next federal election.

Canada is, by far, not immune to the hate that’s going on to the south of the border. There are undeniable anti-immigrant sentiments and a discrimination for the Muslim community.

Singh, through his outward appearance and to the uneducated mind, may appear to be a beacon for both of those things. He’s an outlet now, a man in a leadership position, that can be targeted with hate for how he appears.

It’ll just be an amplification of the micro-aggressions that regular Canadians face every day. That’s specifically why I think he’s great for the position that he’s in.

No matter how the NDP ends up polling in the next election, having Singh as a voice, both literally and symbolically, for minority Canadians in the House of Commons is a comforting feeling.

If he continues to follow on this path of acceptance and education he has paved throughout his campaign, I have little doubt that he will make a difference in Canadian society and will end up in the history textbooks for years to come.

While there’s no one right way to respond to racism and discrimination, Singh’s compassion on a national level will hopefully start some discussions about modern racism and what it means in a Canadian setting.

Bringing these issues to a larger platform will mean that people will have to pay attention.

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