Response by Phil Henderson
Often when we choose to speak indicates much more than whatever it is that we might say. Larry Miller's most recent editorial letter, which I read on the Hub on June 16 th , proves this.
Here, Miller expresses how "saddened" he is over the Pulse nightclub shootings in Orlando - an act which he says "demonstrated the height of intolerance". However, through the rest of his letter, Miller's words only compound the intolerance. Two major issues with Miller's response bear consideration.
While "Islam", "Muslim", and "terror" are used frequently, Miller seems unable - in his more than 500 word letter - to even do the dignity of naming the system of intolerance that targeted Pulse: homophobia. It is important, as Miller himself notes, that we recognize that Pulse was "specifically" targeted because of its associations with the LGBTQ2 community. But why, then, does Miller not say the word homophobia even once? It shouldn't go without mentioning that Miller has repeatedly used his office to undermineLGBTQ2 rights, and education around these issues. It seems the height of hypocrisy, and of immoral politicking, for Miller to use the deaths of LGBTQ2 people to advance his own agenda. It would also be wrong of me not to note that this attack is distinctly racialized, as many of the patrons and victims were members of the Latinx community.
Second, the letter takes enormous ire with the decision by President Obama (amongst many, many others) to avoid referring to this attack as an act of "radical Islam". Miller is concerned that this might cause us to "mislead" ourselves in our responses. With all due respect, I'll re-quote the President: a "different name does not make [the threat] go away". It's insulting to those charged with national defence to pretend they aren't capable of identifying their opponents because your political talking points aren't being used.
Moreover, it is telling that Miller only climbs onto a soapbox when acts of terrorism happen to be perpetrated by Muslims. Where was his letter condemning Dylan Roof - a fervent white nationalist who massacred a black congregation in Charleston last year. Can we expect another letter this week, denouncing the utterly vicious murder of British MP Jo Cox - killed June 16 th in another act of white nationalist terror? Miller claims to recognize that not all Muslims are terrorists, but he seems to only comment on terrorism if it lets him denounce Islam. Security can be a convenient cover for bigotry.
Finally, no letter to the editor from Mr. Miller would be complete without shoehorning an oblique assault on the Trudeau government into the mix. Setting aside that this blatant politicking, Miller yet again reveals his own hypocrisy in the latter portion of his letter. In concluding his remarks, Miller bemoans that the Trudeau government "won't even say that ISIS is committing genocide". This is true, and it certainly violates the principles of morality and the "sunny ways" we were all promised. But since when - please do tell - has the Conservative Party of Canada been morally consistent on the issue of genocide? I seem to recall stonewalling from the Tories when the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and the Chairperson of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission dared use those utterly fitting - and all too mild - words "cultural genocide" to describe Residential Schooling. In decent circles this fact that is not up for debate. Similarly, where was Miller's moral outrage over the genocide of Tamils in Sri Lanka, or of the ongoing genocide of RohingyaMuslims in Burma? Only some lives appear to be worthy of Miller's concern. That, and that alone, is the source of his outrage against Mr. Trudeau.
In closing, I'd like to speak to Mr. Miller directly: On Sunday night I went to vigil in solidarity with the victims of the killing. It was a beautiful event put on by the LGBTQ2 community. All of the organizers, and all the participants, were keenly aware that they had not - I repeat, not - been attacked by Islam. They were attacked by a bigot, and bigotry is not the property of any religion, colour, or creed. The LGBTQ2 community in the US has been under heavy assault for years: consider Stonewall, Matthew Shepard, and the more than 200 pieces of anti-LGBTQ2 legislation introduced throughout the US in the past several months. Mr. Miller, if you want to end intolerance, embrace the LGBTQ2 community. It's currently Pride Month, given the clear concern you've conveyed in this letter, I expect to see you at local Pride events - the colours will look good on you. And, if you've really chosen to combat intolerance, embrace the local Muslim community. It's also Ramadan, send a letter to the Owen Sound Muslim Association, ask their permission to attend festivities and try to repair your relationship with them.