The Left’s Social Contract Is Broken. Here’s How to Fix It
A relentless focus on dubious forms of ‘oppression’ is alienating traditional leftists. Saving the progressive movement means returning it to its liberal roots
Toronto is one of the most tolerant, multicultural cities in the world. And yet, according to many of its progressive journalists, academics, and politicians, it’s actually a den of systemic racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia. Unless you’re a straight white man, daily life is supposedly an exhausting and dangerous struggle. If you live in the United States, the UK, Australia, or elsewhere in Canada, I’m guessing you’ve been told similar things about your own society.
I’m a gay man for whom these reports bear no relationship to the real world. Certainly, hate-crime statistics show a sharp increase in physical and verbal abuse against specific demographics, including my own. And there are even rare incidents of murder and arson. But to suggest that minorities live under constant threat from a bigoted majority is apocalyptic nonsense. This is especially true of Canada, an especially open, diverse, and welcoming country. Western nations, more generally, are incontrovertibly the most tolerant on the planet.
My heretical view (among fellow progressives, at least) may be due to my “positionality” (this being a faddishly woke jargon term that most English speakers would call “perspective”). The Holocaust and the internment of Japanese North Americans ended a mere six years before I was born. The pass system that turned Canadian Indigenous reservations into open-air prison camps was still in force. The United States was segregated by Jim Crow and redlining. Cross burnings and lynchings went unpunished. Marital rape was legal. Spousal abuse and unequal pay were commonplace. Gay sex and cross-dressing were criminalized, with outed individuals losing their jobs and children. “Fag bashing” was treated as public entertainment.
In the relatively few decades since, western governments have implemented universal civil and human rights protections for racial and sexual minorities. The speed and depth of this transformation has been so remarkable that it seems inconceivable that we ever lived as we once did. Has any other culture critiqued its failings and set about reforming itself so quickly?
This is not to suggest that everything is sunshine and lollipops. Human nature has not been repealed. Police departments without effective civilian oversight, for instance, continue to invite corruption and abuse. Nonetheless, we now have the tools to press for accountability, such as human rights tribunals and whistleblower protections.
Categories: Culture Wars/Current Controversies