There is an outpouring of academic texts about the horrible dangers that have overtaken the world, and most of them do not end on an optimistic note. One can hardly make sense of what the world has become. It frightens you when think of it in the context of the generous era you once belonged to.
I got a scholarship to MacMaster University to do my Masters. At that time, the Canadian High Commission was located in the Bank of Guyana building. All I had in my life when I applied for the visa were the clothes on my back. If you had to show any form of money or asset, they would have chased me out of the building. If your parents had to have a reasonably paid job, then I couldn’t get a Canadian visa.
I remember the day very well. I wore an old pair of sandals which was all I had as footwear, an old pair of denim jeans and a worn out army jacket. I had a basket hat on my head and of course the usual haversack that all university students carried with them. I walked in and the visa officer was chatting with a White woman. When the woman opened her mouth to speak, it was with a pure Guyanese accent. She was Guyanese Portuguese. The visa officer looked at my scholarship offer, took my passport and I was out of the place in minutes.
That world that I saw back then is now dead. A non-white person faces literally millions of hurdles to get a visa to a developed, white country. It is impossible for any person today whose poor station in life mirrors my own back then to get a Canadian visa armed only with a scholarship letter.
I went to Canada when there was a great democratic liberal that ruled it – Pierre Trudeau. The Trudeau species is long gone. I don’t think there is any White politician, including Bernie Sanders in the US or Jeremy Corbin in the UK, that was as great a socialist as Pierre Trudeau. The last time I hung images of great people on my office door was at UG. If I decide to hang a few on my bedroom door, Trudeau will be among the faces.
Today, a non-white person in any country in the White, developed world lives in danger of being harassed. All the White countries in my time as a teenager have now descended into serious autocratic lands, some being semi-fascist, with the exception of Canada. But Canada today is not the same place as under Pierre Trudeau. It was shocking to learn that Canada has refused refugee status to four persons from Sri Lanka and the Philippines respectively, who are facing imprisonment in their respective countries for harbouring Edward Snowden when he was held up in Hong Kong.
Has the entire White, developed world become xenophobic, where non-White people are seen as inferior? The facts are frightening. I grew up with the knowledge that Sweden was one of the freest nations in the entire world and a country that was warm towards non-White people. It had a leader, Olof Palme, who was as great a liberal leader as Pierre Trudeau was. When the American invasion of Grenada took place in 1983, I was offered asylum in Sweden. Today, Sweden has joined the bandwagon of countries where the racist far-right is in power. Sweden is becoming seriously undemocratic and racist.
A laid back, Mediterranean country like Italy has elected to power an ugly racist party whose asinine leader reminds one of the rants and rhetoric of Adolf Hitler. Italy’s first African Cabinet minister was called a monkey by a parliamentarian. Last month, a high profile African-Italian athlete was spat on.
Last week ugly violence took place in Germany for three consecutive days when neo-Nazis rioted and picked on non-white folks, seriously injuring many. The European Union requires the practice of democracy, free press, rule of law and free elections as requirements for joining. Poland and Hungary have elected dangerously racist, semi-fascist leaders. In Poland, the rule of law died last month. France elected Macron who wants to give France away to the rich elites.
In the US, the far-right marchers use the symbol of “blood and soil” in their demonstrations. That symbol was first invented by a minister in the Nazi Government. In what must be a dehumanizing shock to the world, the United States has become frighteningly racist. I have been reading widely about the increasing fascistization of power in the US. The 1933 racist hate of Nazi Germany has returned in 2018.
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Last week, the pool of philosophical souls in Guyana got thinner with the loss of Dr. Benjie Singh, of the medical profession,... more
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