Spanish – He came to power with a carefully constructed public image: a mix of rock star and Hollywood celebrity. Besides the political lineage, he also captivated the press, crowned himself monarch of selfies and tweets, and became a champion of all progressive causes: environment, transparency, women’s rights, LGBT, minorities, and immigrants.
Not to mention human rights and democracy, although in reality a somewhat old agenda for the vanguard of today’s progressive enlightenment. In other words, a product opposed to its southern neighbor, his filigree has always been to be the “anti-Trump,” a message that his communication strategy projected with care.
The problem is that in this era of politics in social media simultaneously, it is easy to die from what you live. And some of this seems to be happening to Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada.
First, it was a corruption scandal that led to a cabinet crisis. A construction firm, SNC-Lavalin, was accused in 2015 of obtaining contracts in Libya through bribery. Jody Wilson-Raybould, the minister of justice herself and attorney general rejected Trudeau’s team’s proposal to reach a settlement with the company, and avoid a thorough judicial investigation. She was then moved to a less significant portfolio.
The crisis occurred last March. Immediately afterward, in June, a 1200-page report was published about the violence suffered by indigenous women and girls, the outcome of three years of hearings and more than 2000 testimonies. The report documents that racism and misogyny are part of the fabric of Canadian society, structural violence hidden for generations. The document concludes that what happened deserves to be characterized as genocide.
Trudeau had initiated the process by creating the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. The official presentation of the report took place at the Museum of Canadian History, in Gatineau, Quebec, his own province. Deeply moved, the Prime Minister said in his speech that it was an “uncomfortable but essential day for Canada.” He recognized that the justice system had failed. He did not once utter the word “genocide,” a term that appears 122 times in the report delivered to him at the ceremony.
These are unfortunate episodes, to say the least, especially for those whose agenda is reconciliation with indigenous peoples and other ethnic minorities. Well, one more of this sort took place this very week. Three videos of Trudeau were leaked at different stages of his life, as a teenager and as an adult, where he is seen at costume parties with his face painted black, imitating being an “African-Canadian,” it should be said.
Blackface, a once acceptable theatrical make-up and parody technique, is today a socially reprehensible form of racism. This forced Trudeau to apologize and express retroactive regret.
“What I did hurt them, hurt people who shouldn’t have to face intolerance and discrimination because of their identity. This is something that I deeply, deeply regret.” He also clarified that he never informed the Liberal Party, his party, about these facts. “Quite frankly, I was embarrassed,” he told reporters. In an election year that has already been an annus horribilis so far, Trudeau’s rivals preferred to use the word “hypocrite” as ammunition.
Today’s “progressivism” is peculiar; I emphasize with quotation marks. It has the logic of a religious sect because its political correctness makes it extremely dogmatic. This is how it proclaims a moral superiority that nobody granted it, rather than expressing a political project based on rationality. And this is how its moral superiority often collapses.
It is that progressivism as an idea is a product of the Comtian positivist philosophy, “order and progress,” precisely. As such, it cannot be anything other than pragmatic, reformist, in favor of scientific knowledge and technical progress; that is, the very antithesis of dogma and ideology. Moreover, besides, it is evolutionary. I would never believe that history begins with one nor ends with one.
Maybe Trudeau was a racist in his youth, we don’t know, and it wouldn’t matter. The only important thing is if he was a racist now. Maybe he was, and he changed. Congratulations, democracy is also made with the converts, not only with the just, the honest, and the virtuous. In short, politics is a complicated game where it is difficult to find pure, virtuous participants. The problem is that these progressives today end up being victims of their own medicine.
The word hypocrisy is fitting, however. Not so much because of what Trudeau thought in his teen years, but because of what his foreign policy does today: allying himself with Cuba and trying to convince us that the Castro regime will have a prominent role in the democratization of Venezuela. Justin Trudeau seems to ignore the past, the simple civil and political rights, those that the Cuban dictatorship has been violating for six decades.
These pseudo-progressives make it very difficult to be progressive.