Thursday, February 09, 2017

Anger is a sin...

A frightened and an angry face, left and right respectively. Engraving, c. 1760, after C. Le Brun.  from Wellcome Images, a website operated by Wellcome Trust, a global charitable foundation based in the United Kingdom.
C. Le Brun.  from Wellcome Images
via Wikimedia commons
As Margaret Lawrence's lyrics about the oppression of Metis people ironically put it: "those [people] must learn that anger is a sin".

Our society, and the pundits, academics, publicists and others who speak, or claim to speak for it, frequently display a profound unease with the anger of the oppressed. That unease frequently manifests itself not in cogent criticism but in unthinking rejection, or worse, violence: the violence of a direct attack or the violence of a judicial blind eye.

Recently, Sun Columnist Anthony Furey provided an example of this kind of reaction to the anger of the oppressed: front of the U.S. consulate something more troubling was underway.
At an anti-Trump rally, Black Lives Matter Toronto co-founder Yusra Khoghali took the mic. She wouldn’t celebrate the trending hashtag #PrayforQuebecCity because, she claimed, “Quebec City is a white supremacist settler colony.” Then she explained “Justin Trudeau is a white supremacist terrorist”.“ 
Rise up and fight back,” she told the cheering crowd. “Look at us, we have the numbers.” This is the same Khogali who tweeted out a year ago: “Plz Allah give me the strength to not cuss/kill these men and white folks out here today.”
 Nobody has to agree with what Yusra Khogali said. Reason may answer what she said; her rage should have an answer based on something more than fear. Calling her rhetoric "troubling" appeals only to fear without specific and clear answers to the claims she makes. Answering the rage of the oppressed with fear, and worse, with repression based on fear, produces nothing but gross injustice.

Darcy Sheppard Photo by Christopher Kaiser reproduced by special permission
by Christopher Kaiser reproduced by permission
Consider the well known and still painful case of Darcy Allan Sheppard. Darcy Sheppard suffered all his life from an assault he suffered before he was born, in the form of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. That assault came, in part, from injustices visited on his family and his people over the centuries. In Toronto, working as a bike courier, he took the brunt of a debased car culture that often has no regard for the life of anyone outside the steel cage and crumple zones.

Darcy Sheppard was angry. After his fatal encounter with Micheal Bryant, photos surfaced of him expressing anger at another motorist. That doomed his hopes for any kind of justice. Once the defence could portray Darcy Sheppard as a man who got angry, the prosecution said they saw no hope of a conviction.

MadChester via Wikipedia
by MadChester via Wikipedia
Fearing the anger of the oppressed serves many of us, temporarily, very well. It lets us out of answering a multitude of awkward questions about where our money comes from, about what justifies our position, our consumption, our privileges. Make no mistake, though: denial of justice based on fear does no more than put off the reckoning, and reckonings postponed into the future only grow harder by the day. For the sake of the future of all of us, or if not us then our children or grandchildren, do justice. Do justice even in the face of rage. Give due justice to those whose rage at past injustice frightens you.

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