California Forum

Comparison of new Canadian and U.S. leaders is mind-boggling

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets Madeleine Jamkossian, second from right, and her father, Kevork Jamkossian, refugees fleeing Syria, with cold-weather clothing as they arrive at Pearson International airport in Toronto on Dec. 11, 2015.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets Madeleine Jamkossian, second from right, and her father, Kevork Jamkossian, refugees fleeing Syria, with cold-weather clothing as they arrive at Pearson International airport in Toronto on Dec. 11, 2015. The Canadian Press

As a Canadian citizen, though long-time resident of California, I watched the seemingly endless presidential campaign and ensuing election with equal parts fascination and horror.

In contrast, Canada’s election lasted three months and a competent prime minister is now in place. Fortunately for Canadians, Justin Trudeau was elected without imposing embarrassing rhetoric on his countrymen. The man is smart. He’s funny. He’s kind. And he doesn’t massacre the English language or say hateful, inane things. Or lie.

And when confronted with refugees fleeing their homelands torn asunder by greedy dictators, by war, immigrants who have lost their loved ones, their homes, have lost everything, doesn’t threaten them with jail or deportation. Instead, he waits for them at the airport, greets them with a smile, shakes their hands, gives each one a warm coat and says, Welcome home.

The comparison with what’s transpiring in this country boggles the mind.

I spent almost 30 years teaching college English classes; those who manage to stay awake during critical thinking seminars ideally learn that the use of logical fallacies is a poor substitute for rational argument. Americans as of late have been exposed to hasty generalizations, false dilemma, ad hominem, bandwagon appeals that the president uses as evidence to support restricting access to scientific climate data, to change U.S. immigration policy, to dismantle programs that save lives, to silence journalists who disagree with him.

It is false evidence.

Readers of history know that writing is an intensely political act; poets and writers give voice to the people. Think Pablo Neruda, Milan Kundera. Writers give us hope; they give us courage. If honorable, they scout out the truth, root out lies that serve solely the interests of a special few. To attempt to silence the media is the work of a despot.

In the past the U.S. was seen as a haven for people of all nationalities; it was refuge for those escaping tyranny. This is what made America noble.

Such nobility is now in jeopardy.

Much of the civilized world now looks askance at what’s transpiring here; it is now more important than ever that journalists continue the often unpleasant task of apprising Americans and citizens of other countries of information necessary to protect the values upon which this country was founded.

America can withstand narcissism; it can withstand solipsism. What it cannot withstand is the loss of access to truth.

On occasion, someone will ask me why I’m not in Canada. The answer? Family has a way of rooting people to place. And during past administrations, many of the values of the U.S. were concomitant with Canada’s. Perhaps I’m naive, but I like to think that goodwill trumps acrimony, and that we’d all be better off if America had a leader who, instead of alienating millions, had the heart to greet refugees, shake their hands and say, Welcome home.

Judie Rae is a freelance writer who lives in Nevada City. She can be contacted at jrae@gv.net.

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