Some things bother me. Things that make it impossible for me to be silent. I should bite my tongue... but then, I would dishonour the memory of my grandfather, my Papou.
You see, both of my paternal grandparents were immigrants.
My grandmother Mary came to Canada (via New York) from Northern Ireland for the chance at a new and better life... and from her I get determination and fire.
My Papou also followed the same route starting off in Greece. When he arrived in Canada, he joined the Greek community in Montreal. Shortly after arriving, he was told (by many people in that community) it would make things easier for him if he changed his name to an "anglo" name, Greeks (and many other ethnic groups) weren't seen in a positive light. He was determined to be a success in his new country. In an effort to lessen the discrimination and "fit in", he changed his name. I was kneehigh to a grasshoper when he passed away and never got a chance to ask him how he felt about that. Yet with all this, he was still proud of his adoptive country and I am certain that, while my grandmother was beside herself with worry as her baby boys signed up with the military (Dad with the Army and Uncle John in the Airforce) during WWII, my grandfather's chest swelled with pride.
I was asked recently if I believed that there was no discrimination in Canada... Ha! Instead of unleashing the "fire", I stayed on topic and continued to express my views on the discrimination faced by seemingly the current target of choice, Muslims.
This question came during a discussion about a case that was settled in the States recently. The case of Raed Sarrar, a man who was harassed and treated like a terrorist by the folks at Jetblue and two officials of the TSA. He had been found not to be a threat after two levels of security inspection. He was discriminated against because he wore a t-shirt with Arabic script. People had complained (as their right to free speech allows), they felt uncomfortable.
I was disturbed that what seemed to preoccupy people the most was that a victim of discrimination was given a settlement for 240 000$, but the fact that the airline and the TSA never admitted they had acted improperly wasn't of concern. I was outraged that blame for this mistreatment was put upon the shoulders of the victim because he wore a t-shirt with Arabic script in an airport. I saw many people comment that he should have known better, that he was "looking for trouble" and failed to use common sense. Which made me wonder... where is the line supposed to be? What is this common sense? Because I would like to think that I am not totally lacking in this area and yet I don't see how he seemed to have had a "common sense brain fart". What is acceptable? Who decides this? Could someone post the rules? Wanting to restrict items based on the level of threat they can pose is one thing, but a t-shirt? Because it makes people (racists) uncomfortable?
Step on my freedoms for that?
I think not.
Mr. King, we still have many miles to go before we can rest... but we've made progress. (Folks, I really hope you watch this video.)