Yellow Peril Redux
Predictably, Margaret Wente is at it again, fussing out loud about Muslim immigration. She's in good company: the present Pope wants to keep the infidels out of Europe too. As the sickening drama of tit-for-tat unfolds around the globe, racist undercurrents are bubbling to the surface.
More than a century ago, the target of this benighted fear-mongering was known as the "yellow peril." Unrestricted Japanese and Chinese immigration was the nightmare then. The Hearst chain ranted against this alleged threat to civilization. Sometimes the phrase "yellow terror" was substituted. Labour leader Samuel Gompers put it in blunt terms by today’s standards: "The superior whites had to exclude the inferior Asiatics, by law, or, if necessary, by force of arms."
Er…sound familiar? Here is Wente: "The bitter truth is that it’s not Tony Blair's support for the war [in Iraq] that’s come back to haunt him, so much as Britain's lenient asylum laws…It's not for nothing that London's nickname is Londonistan.” Across Europe, she continues, "unassimilated Muslims are a growing problem."
Following every incident like the London bombings, Muslim communities in Europe and North America wait for the other shoe to drop, and it doesn't take long--the death threats, the vandalism, the assaults, the smears. These communities are composed of decent folk, who have not been slow to speak out against the attacks. Thank goodness the media is beginning to report this, giving the lie to claims that moderate Muslims have been "silent."But there is always a handful of columnists, provided with a privileged soapbox by the press, who positively enjoy whipping up intolerance. Bob Fulford over at the National Post has been pounding away on the anti-Muslim drum for some time now: his latest contribution to outreach and understanding was a vitriolic attack on Canadian Muslim leader Mohamed Elmasry, not for failure to denounce the London bombings (he did), but for worrying out loud about the inevitable backlash against ordinary, decent Muslims.
And today we have Margaret Wente, a right-wing American import who had openly derided what she calls Canada's "flourishing racism industry," referring, of course, to our institutional efforts to counter racism. Clearly unsatisfied with merely defaming whole communities this time, she also takes a nutty and libellous swipe at fellow-columnist Rick Salutin, calling him an "apologist for terror."
Good copy, maybe. But lousy, mean-spirited, inflammatory contributions to public debate.