In Response to: Justin Trudeau is Far More Dangerous Than Donald Trump

In Response to: Justin Trudeau is Far More Dangerous Than Donald Trump

By Justin Gilmore

One of my friends posted this article to his social media account with the pronouncement that “Everyone should read this important article.” I decided to read it. I tried to read it with an open mind, but I found it underwhelming. While there were a few ideas I agree with, on the whole, I found myself furrowing my brow in disagreement. I found the arguments facile and derivative of dozens of other blogs, articles and chat rants. I found the author to be rather myopic, incited at..well, I'm not entirely sure what. In the end, I found it to simply be an angry rant.

In the following explanation, I am going to make use of a term I just invented: “Easy words”. It’s basically ‘jargon’, but I want to highlight these terms specifically.

If an economist writes an article in a publication about Economics, they tend to use jargony words. It is not unreasonable to assume that other economists reading the article know and understand these terms because it is assumed they have all received an education in Economics in which they become accustomed to using these words and have determined that they agree to their use. They assume that their readers are already initiated into the discipline and not lay-people who need explanations or definitions of the word.

My “easy words” are similar. They are short-hand ideas that the author is assuming his readers are initiated in, and implicitly understand the meaning of. But, I want to use a different term than ‘jargon’ to highlight them. The difference? There is no real way to know that we all share the same understanding of the word or term. In fact, I’m fairly certain we don’t.

Here’s an example: If one is asked if they believe in “God”, there is rarely debate as to what this word means. We all just ‘know’ what “God” means because we’ve been talking about God for about all of recorded histroy. However, the person asking the question may be asking whether one believes in a vastly different concept of God than the person responding has agreed they believe in. Without elaboration and explanation these people have no way of communicating the question or response properly. And while both parties believe they are talking about the same concept, they are imagining vastly different ideas of what the other believes in.

Another phrase I will use is “Selective Reasoning”. In this case, I suspect that someone has already used this phrase somewhere, so I will explain how I am going to use it to avoid confusion. Very simply, it’s when we use a certain pattern of logic or reasoning for a subject in a certain context, but refuse to use the same logic and reasoning for another subject despite the context being virtually the same.

In the end, this article doesn’t seem like much more than a directionless angry rant, with no real idea of why the author is actually angry. I’m going to attempt to explain why I think that.

 

Political Correctness

‘The tool we are being duped by is political correctness.’

‘"There's a police-state coming, get used to it. And it will all be done in the name of niceness". Well, it's arrived.’

While I can agree that Political Correctness can be a problem, I do not agree with the author’s assessment of what Political Correctness is. I should say that I’m not a fan of the term “Political Correctness”. It is a term that has been around for decades, that never really had a concrete definition, and has been applied in so many different contexts, in so many different ways, that it is very nearly a term without meaning. But in almost every meaning it is recognized as social restrictions on what one can say without a social reprisal. The most useful explanation of PC that I have found is that one’s actions and words may come with social benefit and/or social cost. One might say that if one is not prepared to incur the social cost in order to reap the benefit, then this is not an action they should take, or something they should say.

Here’s the thing, when Political Correctness is a problem (and I admit it is not always a problem), it is a social problem, not a legal problem. When it is a legal problem it is a problem of rights and freedom. It becomes an issue of freedom of expression, freedom of speech, and freedom of association. Right off the bat, the author and I are viewing this through very different lenses. I expect that we are differentiating between social issues and legal issues. The author conflates the two. Most likely because the term “Political Correctness” is one of those “easy words” I described above. There is no definitive meaning of this term, but for the right readers it’s meaning seems implicitly clear. I was not one of those readers.

But there is another, bigger issue.

‘Justin Trudeau is a master virtue-signaller. He also makes much use of the identity-politics game while constantly enforcing the political-correctness cult. Even when there is an Islamic terrorist attack in our country, he refuses to name the root cause.’

If demanding someone pay a social cost for something they have said is considered Political Correctness, then it is just as much an issue of Political Correctness when we demand that someone pay a social cost for not saying something. It is true that Political Correctness is being leveraged just as much when Donald Trump doesn’t condemn David Duke fast enough, as it is when he is condemned for his use of the name “Pocahontas” to mock someone.

And then there’s this:

‘He has expressed a desire to see Canada as "the first post-national state" and said that "there is no core identity or mainstream in Canada". These are alarming statements, and yet, they have gone largely unnoticed…

‘Not one mainstream media outlet stopped to ask by what right Trudeau could decide that Canada had no core identity, and why he thought that he was entitled to allow its carefully constructed and unique society to be hollowed out and left to rot by his own personal agenda.’

I feel it is worth pointing out that Justin Trudeau has every right to a personal agenda as the author does, or as I do. Simply stating his wish for a Canada with no “core identity” does not in and of itself do anything. In the end, the author is expressing anger that Trudeau has said something, and believes that he should face some sort of social cost for it either by the media saying something, or his audience recognizing it. That’s a demand for Political Correctness.

The author says that Political Correctness is a tool to “dupe” us. What he ignores is that he wields that tool just as deftly as Trudeau does.

I’m not prepared to say that either case is right or wrong, but I recognize that these are just competing instances of Political Correctness. Thus, saying that Political Correctness is the problem is not examining the problem very precisely. I would suggest that Political Correctness has its place (the author goes on to remind us without prompting that he is not a racist. Twice!), and a blanket “PC is always bad” is not a particularly well thought out assessment. I suspect that it isn’t that the author has an issue with Political Correctness – he is just as willing to appeal to it as his target – it’s that he’s angry at something he can’t quite explain, and just uses a ready target to direct that anger at. Should I be less outraged when the author demands Political Correctness than when the Prime Minister or the left does it? Isn’t that selective reasoning? Maybe Political Correctness is not always bad, wrong or undesirable. Perhaps it depends on the identity of the person using it.

Now, I acknowledge that the author may not mean “Political Correctness” in a manner which I recognize. That may be the case, but without properly explaining his use of the term – or forgoing the term altogether - he makes proper communication of his ideas difficult, if not impossible. Of course, I don’t think I’m the intended audience for this article.

 

Canada’s Core Identity

‘He has expressed a desire to see Canada as "the first post-national state" and said that "there is no core identity or mainstream in Canada". These are alarming statements, and yet, they have gone largely unnoticed.’

I clearly missed something here. What is alarming about this statement? After reading it, I found that the author was taking quite a lot of ink following this condemnation to get to defining - or at least suggesting - what Canada’s Core Identity actually is. Actually, he never did. I was lost in the wind trying to figure out what I was meant to be angry at.

I stopped and thought about it for a while. Canada is a nation settled by both the British and French. It was a British colony for ages. It is still part of the British Commonwealth. It has been, and still is a nation of immigrants. It is America’s “Little Brother”. It literally has a recognized distinct society within its society. I am hard pressed to come up with a Core Identity that encompasses all Canadians that distinguishes them from all other nationalities or nations.

Then I started to see the appeal of not having a Core Identity. Suppose Canada had a Core Identity that did not include many actual Canadian citizens? What does that say about those Canadians? Are they not True Canadians? Is Canada’s Core Identity racial? Linguistic? Religious? Is it about temperament? Fashion? Athletics? Eye colour? Preferred climate? Favorite hockey team? Average weekly trips to Tim Horton’s? Proximity to the United States? More importantly, what if that Core Identity does not include you, or me? Does that mean we are not truly Canadian? As I thought more about it, I was hard pressed to really think of any nation’s “Core Identity”.

Then there’s the idea that what makes a Canadian Core Identity a special topic is that Canadians should all be able to agree to it. All Canadians should implicitly know and agree to it without debate. It would, after all, be their Core Identity as Canadians. If that cannot be done, or if that Identity cannot be expressed, then how do we claim that there is a Core Identity?

What's strange here is that I have never even heard of Canada's Core Identity prior to this article. I was a fresh slate. And yet, during the paragraphs where the author talks about it, all I really understood the author's argument to be was (paraphrasing): "What's up with that? No Core Identity? That makes me mad! Doesn't that make you mad?!" It didn't. The author had taken for granted that his readers were as outraged at this as he was. Thus, he delivered no Core Identity, no explanation for why it is necessary or desirable, and no explanation for why he or I should be angry about not having one. Shouldn't an article meant to convince people who disagree with the author contain an explanation and argument for why they should agree with him? I have to start with the assumption that Canadians do not have a Core Identity as I cannot identify it, and wait for someone to attempt to convince me otherwise.



Virtue-Signalling

‘It is not those on the Right who are the racists; although, some of them are. The real racism comes from the Left, with all of its diversity talk, political-correctness, and endless virtue-signalling. The politically-correct types and the diversity-is-our-strength types and their ilk, are actually engaging in what Michael Gerson called "the soft bigotry of low expectations". They also engage in flat-out racism when they praise an elected person who is, say, South Asian and wears a turban, for the sole reason that the person is not a white male. It's done in the same tones and with the same sickening and patronizing attitude that a mother displays while praising her toddler for using the toilet for the first time. It's blatantly racist and anyone who does it should be ashamed of themselves. We are currently experiencing this with Jagmeet Singh, who just won the leadership of the Federal NDP. Those on the Right only want to know about two things: his character and his policy proposals. The Left only wants to talk about his race. They won't shut up about it, even for a second. And of course, from Justin Trudeau's CBC, we get: "Jagmeet Singh, the first turban-wearing Sikh to sit..." This is actual racism and the Left owns it.’

This was one of the author’s issues with “Virtue-Signalling”.

Again, I have issues with this word. For one, it has been around for quite some time and is very much associated with Psychology, Sociology, Biology and Economics. In economics an example would be a movie producer who lists the awards his has movie won on the film’s poster to entice movie-goers into a theater. In biology, a peacock displays his tail to demonstrate his genetic fitness. In Psychology and Sociology we list achievements listed on a resume in order to get hired. In these disciplines, the basic idea behind virtue-signalling is actually very clear: It is the display of honestly-earned virtues to gain attention from others. Somehow, the author uses it as something of a pejorative to simply mean the act of displaying showing off a false virtuousness. Although, I admit, I’m not entirely sure. I’m deriving this from context, as once again, this is a term which is being used outside of its usual use with no way to bring clarity to the reader. Again, despite its misuse here, I’m sure the intended audience somehow understands it.

But what really had my head scratching:

If this is a prime example of “Politically Correct”, “Virtue-Signalling”…

‘Those on the Right only want to know about two things: his character and his policy proposals. The Left only wants to talk about his race. They won't shut up about it, even for a second. And of course, from Justin Trudeau's CBC, we get: "Jagmeet Singh, the first turban-wearing Sikh to sit..." This is actual racism and the Left owns it.’

…Why isn’t this?:

‘To those people I will only say that I am not a racist, nor am I anti-immigration, and that much of my inspiration for this piece comes from people with Muslim backgrounds, African American thinkers, Russian and Polish writers, Jewish writers, as well as a long list of British writers.’

If we should only care about Jagmeet Singh’s credentials and not his racial and cultural identity, doesn’t it also stand to reason that we should only care about the ideas and philosophies of the writers the author has studied, and not their racial and cultural identity? Really, shouldn’t we only care about the ideas of the writer? Heck, isn’t saying “I’m not a racist” in itself, unprompted, also “virtue-signalling”?

Again, what I’m trying to suggest here is that it isn’t “virtue-signalling” that has the Author so enraged – indeed, he is just as guilty of virtue-signalling as everyone else - but rather at something else that hasn’t been expressed, and so this “easy word” has been used as an easy target. Perhaps virtue-signalling is not in itself wrong, but is only wrong depending on the identity of the person doing it.

 

“Diversity is our Strength”

‘To aid in Trudeau's dangerous, nihilistic, and suicidal desire to transform our country into a borderless, ghettoized, and completely unrecognizable country, he prefers to use easily spreadable and empty platitudes and avoids serious and rational discussion. For example, he frequently recycles the phrase "diversity is our strength". The glaring stupidity of the statement is quite enough to deal with.’

‘If you had a group made up of, say, a fentanyl dealer, a rapist, a pilot, and a circus clown, you would have a pretty diverse group. Under Trudeau's formula, this should be a pretty strong, harmonious, and desirable group.’

Plainly, this is not the best reasoning. Diversity equals strength is not a stupid concept. Eco-systems do better with biodiversity. Species are literally stronger through genetic diversity. Economies with industrial diversity have greater economic power. Nutritional diversity is essential to a healthy diet. This is hardly a pie-in-the-sky idea. As a general thing, diversity does make us stronger. To discount the concept out-of-hand might not be reasonable.

Of course, the author creates a suspicious gang of people in his “diverse” group that ‘disproves’ the concept of ‘diversity is strength’.

Firstly, his group - “a fentanyl dealer, a rapist, a pilot, and a circus clown”- is not necessarily a diverse group. This description could be referring to a single person. A trained clown who deals fentanyl, has committed rape, and has a pilot’s license.

Secondly, I don’t think we expect our society to consist of four people. I tend to think that the expectation that a diverse group of people from various walks of life, cultural backgrounds, racial backgrounds, religions, industrial backgrounds, and philosophical backgrounds, sharing their ideas for the benefit of all parties is better than a divided, single ruling class making decisions for everyone.

Finally, the idea that diversity can be a strength depends on all parties being willing to work together. The author seems to equate certain demographic groups as being the cultural equivalent of fentanyl dealers, rapists, and circus clowns (no offense to actual circus clowns).

But here’s the thing. The author even seems to believe that taking ideas from people from different ethnic, racial, and cultural backgrounds makes for a stronger thesis, and can in fact be inspiring:

‘…and that much of my inspiration for this piece comes from people with Muslim backgrounds, African American thinkers, Russian and Polish writers, Jewish writers, as well as a long list of British writers.’

That is a diverse set of writers to be informed by. And that makes sense. A democracy is supposed to be a guard against tyranny. A representative democracy is based on the idea that we can take the best ideas from multiple points of view, multiple disciplines, multiple backgrounds, multiple religious positions, and multiple sets of values – or a diverse population – and we would be far better than a monarchy, or dictatorship. So, why is it a good thing when the author eludes to it, and yet, a ridiculous, stupid statement when the Prime Minister suggests that it’s vital for Canada to do it? Again, I think this is “selective reasoning”.

I would be curious what the author’s views are on segregation, political division, racial and cultural division, castes, ruling classes, and democracy itself. I don’t know that the author has developed fully formed ideas in this regard, or what those ideas might actually be. I just know that this particular argument is not particularly convincing.

 

Identity Politics

‘Those on the Right only want to know about two things: his character and his policy proposals. The Left only wants to talk about his race. They won't shut up about it, even for a second. And of course, from Justin Trudeau's CBC, we get: "Jagmeet Singh, the first turban-wearing Sikh to sit..." This is actual racism and the Left owns it.’

‘It is the Left that wants only to categorize people into identifiable groups and then to rate each group on things like victim-status or on their level of perceived oppression.’

“Identity Politics” is another one of my “easy words”. It is a phrase that, like “Political Correctness”, has been used for decades, but with no concrete meaning. It gets used by different people in different ways at different times. Once again, my knowledge of the term is different than the author’s seems to be. I understood it as using someone’s political, religious, racial, cultural (educational, occupational, etc., etc., etc.,) identity as a means of division with other identities. An early example shown to me was that of John Kennedy, whose Catholic faith was used as the crux of an argument among Catholics to support his candidacy, and among Protestants to oppose him. Likewise, we saw the same among various ethnic groups with Barrack Obama, not to mention those who opposed or supported Mitt Romney simply because he is a Mormon.

Which is why I find it odd that people use the term to condemn people. We all use “Identity Politics”. The passage above shows how the author is eager to show the virtuous “Right” and how they only care about a candidate’s credentials (this is the leader of the NDP, right? Why does the “Right” care?), but how the “Left” only cares about his race. Is this true? Not likely. The virtuous “Right” looks at the individual, but the “Left” breaks people down into groups, and assumes that everyone in that group is essentially the same. Why is Identity Politics more acceptable when the author does it than anyone on the “Left”?

The same author begins the article by stating his own political identity (“either a classical liberal or left-leaning libertarian”) to lend his argument credence among his target audience. The same author used the cultural, racial, and ethnic identities of his “inspirations” to validate his views, and to assure us that he’s not a racist. The same author points at people who identify as Muslims across Canada and Europe and expresses fear and anger at them. The same author condemned Justin Trudeau for daring to suggest that our country did not have a Core Identity and for suggesting that diversity is a good thing. In all honesty, on its face, this seems to me to be the polar opposite of Identity Politics as it asks you to participate in our democracy not simply regardless of race, creed, religion, culture, or politics, but precisely because we all have something different to offer our society. It says you are Canadian despite your identity. The same author questions whether diversity is greater than division. From where I sit, division would seem to be the basis of Identity Politics. There is no honest, virtuous “Us” without the evil, wicked “Them”.

This is clearly a case of “selective reasoning”. It is clearly multiple cases of Identity Politics. But again, perhaps it isn’t Identity Politics which is inherently wrong, but is wrong depending on the identity of the person playing at it.

But again, I’m fairly certain I’m using the term “Identity Politics” differently than the author does. I really can’t tell.

 

Echo Chamber

‘Readers of the above statement will likely fall into one of two categories: those who knew this all along, or those who will find the statement absurd. I am putting this argument out there for the latter category and hopefully it will be read with an open mind. If you are the type of person who does not have the ability to question their own beliefs, and prefer the comfort of an echo-chamber, then this piece is probably not for you.’

‘To aid in Trudeau's dangerous, nihilistic, and suicidal desire to transform our country into a borderless, ghettoized, and completely unrecognizable country, he prefers to use easily spreadable and empty platitudes and avoids serious and rational discussion. For example, he frequently recycles the phrase "diversity is our strength". The glaring stupidity of the statement is quite enough to deal with.’

‘…[T]ake your identity-politics, your political-correctness, and your sleazy virtue-signalling, and go fuck yourself.’

As I said, Identity Politics begins with dividing our society into “Us” and “Them”. The author says that he is putting this argument out there for the people who disagree with him, in the hopes that they will have an open mind. I do not believe this to be a statement made in good faith.

The reason I talk about the “easy words” and “selective reasoning” is ultimately because of the very things the author talks about: “Political Correctness”, “Virtue-Signalling”, and “Identity Politics”. The use of these phrases is meant to make communication easy among those initiated into a certain group-speak. These are phrases which have, for some time, been used in certain political ideologies, and not in others. It’s why, despite the misuse of the phrase “Virtue-Signalling”, and the ambiguity of ”Political Correctness” and “Identity Politics”, the author’s target audience immediately has a sense of what he means by these words without explanations. They're words, that when used in the proper context, elicits an emotional response. They've seen these phrases used (and misused) in the same articles, blogs and chat rooms as the author, and internalized these phrases. There is no reason to communicate or explain these phrases to those already initiated into the ideology. Meanwhile, those who disagree, and are not initiated into the ideology, are lost trying to understand what the author is actually saying and why. There is no genuine attempt at communication outside of the echo chamber.

Early on, the author uses the adjectives dangerous, nihilistic, and suicidal to describe Trudeau’s desires. While those are wonderful adjectives for inciting anger or for reaching out to those who are already angry, it doesn’t do much for those who are not. Indeed, without some sort of justification or explanation, it is a very confusing sentence. Justin Trudeau’s desires are nihilistic? I’m not even sure how that works. Why are they dangerous? No explanation offered. They’re just really great angry words that get a great emotive response, but aren’t much for appealing to reasoned argument. These are not enough to convince people who disagree with the the argument to suddenly agree with it.

It occurs to me that, perhaps, nobody really understands what this anger is about. Perhaps, they don’t agree on the meaning of these terms. Perhaps, they are all as lost as I am, but not willing to say so. Perhaps, like the use of the word “God” this is one of those things that cannot be articulated, and so these phrases become the object of that wrath. Terms which are different for each person, while it is assumed that we are all angry at the same thing. I say this because the author cannot really be angry at the use of “Identity Politics”, “Political Correctness”, and “Virtue-Signalling” while he – and indeed pretty much everyone – does precisely the same thing. So I find myself wondering, what is he really angry about? Why is Justin Trudeau more dangerous than the author? Is Political Correctness, Identity Politics and Virtue-Signalling only wrong when it’s done by people the author disagrees with?

And that’s kind of the problem with division isn’t it? We all run back to our corners and ingest the safe news we want to ingest, and share the articles, views, blogs and chats that already reflect our views, inflating each other’s anger, talking in different exclusive language and sneer at the people in the other corner for exhaling CO2, and opening a soft-boiled egg at the wrong end. We already know what they think, we don’t need to ask. They’re all the same. They should know better. Especially, when we’ve been trying to tell them!

I did my best to look at this with an open mind, but like I said, I was not going to stop thinking critically. I did not get much from this other than an angry appeal to other angry people so that they can all share in the anger. I found the author’s reasoning faulty and selectively used where reasoning appeared at all. I did not, and do not understand why the author is as angry as he is, and because I am not also angry, much of the article was lost on me. This is really no way to communicate ideas. Maybe there are really good ideas under all of that, but I cannot discern them. But then again, this article was not intended for anyone who did not already agree with the author.