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Racism is a real problem in all countries — including Canada and the United States. And it will never be completely eradicated because human brains are wired for tribalism. But as anyone who’s actually bothered to look at U.S. voting data knows, the 2020 election actually featured a welcome narrowing of racial voting differences: Despite his often genuinely racist rhetoric, Trump picked up voter share among non-white voters, as compared with 2016, while losing a large portion of his white base. Moreover, as numerous experts have argued convincingly (including Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang, who I don’t think has yet been cancelled for white supremacy), the Trump phenomenon maps pretty well onto the areas of the United States that have been decimated by outsourcing, automation, income inequality and downward mobility. These root causes don’t excuse racism or mob violence. But it’s worth noting that they’re exactly the sort of issues that leftists (including those at the Star) once used to care about, before they realized they could earn more hand-clap emojis by tracing every spasm of political discontent to this or that Protocol inscribed by the Elders of Whiteness.
In his recent documentary, What Killed Michael Brown?, African-American writer Shelby Steele offered a convincing explanation as to why Americans, on both sides, remain so fixated on race. When confronted by violence and suffering (such as the killing of Michael Brown, Steele’s central case study), he explained, we all tend to retreat to “poetic truths” that offer deceptively simple explanations for complex problems. For the Antifa mob that tried to burn down a federal courthouse in Portland (with people inside it, I should add), the poetic truth of America is that of a racist hellhole fatally infected with the twinned diseases of capitalism and white supremacy. For the mob that took over the Capitol on Wednesday, the poetic truth of America is that of a proud and free society captured by sinister leftists. Both sides trade in lurid hyperbole, and denounce the other side’s extremism as pathological, while defending their own thug tactics as brave and morally justified. Neither acknowledges that they are the other side’s exact mirror image. (Indeed, when I tweeted out a comparison between Antifa and the Capitol mob on Wednesday, I was delighted to see that extremists on the left and right alike saw my “both-sidesism” as equally offensive.)