By Michael Lashley
There are times when we do not know whether to laugh or to cry.
At present, there are some developments which we can celebrate as hard-won successes.
After centuries of mainstream bias against persons, groups and practices that did not conform to the established norms, we have seen Barack Obama, the son of a Black Kenyan and a white American, win two terms of office as president of the USA.
Sadiq Khan, a Muslim born of working class immigrants, has defeated a member of Britain’s richest elites to become mayor of London. Right here in Canada, the city of Calgary has given us our first ever Muslim Mayor, Naheed Nenshi.
The federal government of Canada has just proposed legislation to protect the human rights of transgendered persons. Black Lives Matter Toronto has secured a re-examination of the circumstances surrounding the police shooting of Andrew Loku, a Black mentally challenged man; an audience with the premier of Ontario; and a public meeting between the mayor of Toronto and Black community groups including Black Lives Matter itself.
Notwithstanding those successes, my focus today is a peculiar challenge we have on our hands, or rather at our doorstep. Is it proper to request of the citizens of an independent country that they save themselves and us from the perils of electing a particular candidate for the highest political leadership of their own country?
In that connection, I seem to remember making a commitment in one of my previous columns that, for reasons related to professional and personal ethics, I would not resort to calling anybody a nincompoop. The use of such a term would suggest the person described thusly deserves contempt, ridicule and condemnation for doing or saying something that smacks of crass ignorance, arrogance, disrespect for human rights, and some type of overbearing superiority complex.
That feeling of superiority is a fantasy, an illusion supposedly based on one or more factors like race, culture, level of academic training, religious or political beliefs and / or a host of other dubious credentials. There is generally a clear indication of racism, or sexism, or xenophobia or homophobia, or any combination of those traits.
It is to be noted, on the other hand, that a nincompoop is merely a person who has erred because of lack of knowledge, a slip of the tongue or a slip of the mind. In other words, we can dare to hope that a nincompoop may, can or will redeem himself or herself.
In the context of these two terminological options, how should I approach the sovereign right of the American electorate to give serious consideration to any and all of their presidential choices? What should I say to Americans about one of their candidates who publicly says and does things that fully qualify him for the title of His Imperial Highness Kingcompoop The First?
When I consider the effects that one country’s electoral decisions can have of the rest of the world, I know that, whereas I am entitled to laugh, there are times when it would be irresponsible of me not to cry.
So here is my unsolicited advice to the voting citizens of the U.S of A.
“Dear citizens of the United States of America:
I strongly recommend that you evaluate your presidential candidates in five (5) areas of competence and that in so doing you use the services of the advisors whom I recommend in each of those areas:
In the area of Immigration Policy: the representative volunteered by the Government of Mexico.
In the area of Economic Integration: the two representatives of the Government of Canada, specialized in the automobile industry and in softwood lumber.
In the area of Community Policing and Race Relations: Mike McCormack.
In the area of Human Rights: Stephen Harper.
In the area of Religious and Ecclaesiastic Affairs: The representative of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.
But whatever you do, I beg of you one more time, do not choose His Imperial Highness Kingcompoop The First to be your new president.”
And now it is your turn, Dear Readers. It is up to you to decide whether to laugh or to cry.