Rather than seeking to bring a sense of calm or perspective, Singh’s overheated remarks seek to demonize Canada and push the worst possible view of our country.
These concepts in psychology are highly relevant for the moment Canada faces.
Carl Jung’s insight was that the shadow – often described as the unconscious ‘dark-side’ of our personality – is regularly projected onto other groups, who then become objects of hatred.
We can see this shadow in violent and horrific acts, such as what took place in London, Ontario.
According to what police allege, the attacker was motivated by hate, and hate is often motivated by those who project all their negative impulses onto another group of people, and then feel some sort of sick ‘justification’ for committing horrible acts, becoming exactly what they thought they were fighting.
At a less violent, but far more common level, we see projection in politics.
You can see it on social media across the political spectrum.
As of late, we often see it when someone on the left will make some sort of sexist or racist comment, and then quickly attribute it to ‘how Conservatives think.’
Of course, the comment and pattern of thinking emerged within their own mind, then this emergence clashed with their public self-image, and so they found a group to project their own thoughts onto (conservatives), and then demonized the target group, to ‘purge’ those negative thoughts from any connection to themselves and once again move back in line with their self-image.
And that brings us to Jagmeet Singh’s speech in the House of Commons
At a moment when many Canadians are feeling a sense of fear, it is essential for leaders to first acknowledge that fear, but then also provide perspective.
Indeed, Canada is – objectively – a country where people from all around the world can live in relative safety, and be part of the life of the country in ways that aren’t possible for minorities in much of the world.
Jagmeet Singh himself is an example of that.
In an expression of his religious faith, he dresses in a way that is uncommon in the country as a percentage of the population, yet he has been able to become a Member of Parliament and the Leader of an official political party.
I would also be an example of this, as the son of an immigrant Father from Trinidad and a Mother who was born in this country, I am able to share my political views and have built an audience of Canadians of many different backgrounds.
All of this is to say that – while no country is perfect – Canada has certainly come closer than most, and provides tremendous opportunities for people from every conceivable walk of life.
And yet, in response to what happened in London, Ontario, Jagmeet Singh shared a stunningly negative and bleak notion of what Canada is:
“Our Canada is a place where you can’t walk down the streets if you wear a hijab because you will be killed—this is our Canada. We can’t deny it,” says Jagmeet Singh re: London attack.
“How many more families will be killed before we do something?” the NDP leader asks.”
"Our Canada is a place where you can't walk down the streets if you wear a hijab because you will be killed—this is our Canada. We can't deny it," says Jagmeet Singh re: London attack.
— CPAC (@CPAC_TV) June 8, 2021
Jagmeet Singh’s rhetoric here is horrendous.
He straight up says that people wearing a Hijab can’t walk down the streets “because you will be killed.”
How do you think people who are already afraid feel when hearing that?
It’s completely irresponsible, implying that every Canadian driving down the road is a future murderer, and that brutal death lurks around every corner.
Singh also says “Canada is a place where Muslims aren’t safe.”
It’s as if Singh thinks Canada is some sort of hellscape where monsters are constantly waiting for their chance to kill anyone who looks different, when in fact, the opposite is far closer to the truth.
Singh’s comments are totally irresponsible, and completely wrong.
Does individual responsibility no longer exist?
In his remarks, Jagmeet Singh repeatedly says “this is our Canada,” after listing horrific events.
He even says so after discussing the horrific crime in London, Ontario.
But let’s think about this for a second.
Is all of Canada defined by what one hateful person does?
Is every Canadian responsible?
Is the government responsible?
Is society responsible?
Is every horrendous individual act the result of broader forces for which we are all guilty of perpetuating?
Or, is there still such a thing as personal responsibility?
Do we each have the choice of how to act, and should we not judge people by their actions, not the actions of others?
How is there ‘collective responsibility’ for one hateful person committing a horrific act of violence towards an innocent family?
How does this somehow reflect on literally every other person in this country who did not commit such an act?
In a country of 37 million people, holding everyone accountable, or saying ‘we must all do better’ after every individual act of hate or violence reaches the point of absurdity, regardless of how nice that talking point may ‘feel.’
If you didn’t do anything wrong, then you aren’t responsible or guilty of anything. It’s a sign of how crazy things have become that we even need to say this fundamental truth.
Ironically, when someone from a minority group commits an act of violence, the first thing we are all told is that the act is only the result of an individual (an individual often deemed mentally ill), and that we can’t make any judgements about anyone else or any group based on the lone act of violence.
Why would that be different in this case?
Why are politicians like Singh speaking as if all Canadians are responsible for what one person did?
Singh spreads the division he claims to oppose
Jagmeet Singh’s remarks were a masterclass in fearmongering and dividing, all while cleverly claiming to do the opposite.
Few are willing to push back in the present moment, because Singh speaks with such confidence and emotion.
Yet, emotional moments are often exploited by politicians, who use temporary feelings to try and recast the terms of debate in a way that favours their interests, rather than seeking to bring calm and unify people.
It is essential for Canada’s leaders to recognize that there is much that is good about our nation (the fact that we are so horrified by such a violent and hateful act is because it is rare and contrary to who we are), and to push back against those who seek to turn a horrific individual act into a cudgel with which to bash an entire country and people.
Photo – Twitter