Do I ind some of the claims and de­mands of many young pro­gres­sives to be shock­ing? Yes. But does that mean that they are wrong? No.

StarMetro Halifax - - VIEWS - Michael Coren is a Toronto writer. MICHAEL COREN

The one con­stant and re­li­able con­clu­sion about peo­ple who ar­gue that racism no longer ex­ists is that they are white. And naive of course. It’s a crass state­ment, to be thrown in with claims such as unions have out­lived their use­ful­ness and poverty is a re­sult of lazi­ness. The lions of the sub­urbs preach­ing, as it were; grat­ingly com­fort­able and darkly un­worldly in their in­vin­ci­ble smug­ness.

The bunch of ba­nal­ity can usu­ally be dis­missed but lately a num­ber of in lu­en­tial and re­spected jour­nal­ists have joined in. Some­times they couch their ar­gu­ments with a vague in­tel­li­gence, of­ten in tabloid hys­te­ria, but the theme is repet­i­tive: tra­di­tional val­ues are un­der at­tack, po­lit­i­cal cor­rect­ness is op­press­ing us, free speech is mori­bund, and rad­i­cals are vi­o­lent and un­rea­son­able.

Most of the writ­ers are mid­dle-aged, as am I. In my case not only mid­dle-aged but a white, mid­dle-class man to boot. As such do I ind some of the claims and de­mands of many young pro­gres­sives to be shock­ing? Yes. But does that mean they are wrong? No. If I can break out of my com­fort zone there’s no ex­cuse for any­body else.

Thing is, ag­ing needn’t be syn­ony­mous with con­ser­vatism. In fact, the maxim that we be­come more right wing as we grow older is of­ten the op­po­site of the case. Life ex­pe­ri­ence, an in­creas­ingly safe dis­tance from the daily eco­nomic strug­gle faced by younger peo­ple, the sober­ing re­al­ity of mor­tal­ity, should all lead one to be­come more em­pa­thetic and rea­son­able.

It should also make us braver and not more fear­ful, but it’s fear — even hys­ter­i­cal fear — that seems to char­ac­ter­ize so many of the com­ments from this new right col­lec­tive.

Judg­ing from what they say and write they are threat­ened and in­tim­i­dated by the anti-fas­cist move­ment, by Black Lives Mat­ter, by stu­dents ask­ing for lan­guage to be more in­clu­sive than it used to be. Yet while th­ese may be new move­ments in their speci ics, there is noth­ing new in a fresh gen­er­a­tion want­ing a bet­ter world. Com­pla­cency is the last refuge of the priv­i­leged. It’s nasty in the bar or the so­cial club but un­ac­cept­able in the pages of na­tional news­pa­pers. This in­creas­ingly mil­i­tant wal­low­ing in nostalgia, this rev­er­ence for a time that never was, doesn’t ex­pand but sim­ply de­stroys the de­bate.

In the case of racism for ex­am­ple, it might be one thing to ques­tion some of the ac­tions of rad­i­cal groups in the Black com­mu­nity but quite an­other to refuse to un­der­stand why they were rad­i­cal­ized in the irst place. The ma­jor­ity, those who en­joy power, is al­ways fright­ened by anger but that does not mean that anger is not justi ied. Terms such as racism, sex­ism, ho­mo­pho­bia, Is­lam­o­pho­bia, trans­pho­bia and the rest did not de­velop from a vac­uum and with­out cause. They are, alas, un­de­ni­ably real.

Get­ting old is in­evitable, be­ing young at heart, mind and soul is a choice. Do not go gen­tly into that dark night of ir­rel­e­vance.

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