And now for the full story on the Jag­meet Singh heck­ler in­ci­dent

The Chatham Daily News - - OPINION -

It’s the story that’s been read around North Amer­ica and even shared by the daugh­ter of Martin Luther King Jr. It’s serv­ing as a teach­able mo­ment for how pub­lic fig­ures should deal with brazen racists. And one Cana­dian politi­cian is be­ing hailed a hero.

The only prob­lem is, the story, as it’s been told, is a to­tal mess and only half the truth.

A few days ago a video emerged of fed­eral NDP lead­er­ship can­di­date Jag­meet Singh re­spond­ing to a heck­ler at one of his cam­paign events in Bramp­ton, On­tario.

A very an­i­mated woman gets up and starts shout­ing and ram­bling about sharia law and the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood, ac­cus­ing Singh of be­ing in ca­hoots with the ex­trem­ist move­ment.

While the crowd shouts her down, Singh re­sponds by re­peat­edly telling the woman she’s loved and in­cluded. He doesn’t of­fer her any fuel, so even­tu­ally she just goes away.

This clip alone proves Singh’s a master politi­cian and, if he wins the lead­er­ship, will give Justin Trudeau a run for his money.

Re­porters wrote a sim­ple story about a prej­u­diced heck­ler and the man who took the high road to dif­fuse the sit­u­a­tion. Colum­nists then jumped in opin­ing about racism in Canada.

“Jag­meet Singh ex­plains why he didn’t tell that heck­ler he’s Sikh, not Mus­lim”, a Huff­in­g­ton Post head­line read.

“Singh is Sikh. ‘Sharia’ refers to Is­lam, a dif­fer­ent faith,” the Globe & Mail head­lined on their video of the in­ci­dent. This is where it all goes off the rails. Any­one who’s been fol­low­ing the NDP race — and this ob­vi­ously in­cludes Singh — would have im­me­di­ately re­al­ized there’s a whole dif­fer­ent layer to this tale.

The Lib­eral gov­ern­ment in Que­bec is cur­rently work­ing on a bill that bans niqabs from the pub­lic ser­vice. Jag­meet Singh is 100 per cent against it. How­ever his ri­vals Niki Ash­ton and Guy Caron have had more cagey re­sponses.

They’ve both spo­ken about re­spect­ing the Que­bec leg­is­la­ture and its pro­mo­tion of sec­u­lar val­ues, while also sug­gest­ing they’re not crazy about the bill.

Singh has called them out for try­ing to suck and blow at the same time. He’s got a point.

When I first watched the video, I guessed that Singh’s po­si­tion on the ban was ac­tu­ally what this woman was rav­ing about. And, sure enough, she later posted a video to Face­book con­firm­ing this was the case.

It tells us she had a par­tic­u­lar pol­icy dis­pute with Singh and wasn’t mis­tak­enly launch­ing an anti-Mus­lim tirade against him as an in­di­vid­ual, which bursts a large part of the me­dia nar­ra­tive.

There’s a big­ger ques­tion, though: The me­dia act like they’re against any glim­mer of in­tol­er­ance, par­tic­u­larly when it comes to Is­lam.

Mean­while, we’ve got a whole sub­set of NDP mem­bers who sup­port a much broader niqab ban and lead­er­ship can­di­dates en­abling them. And yet the lib­eral me­dia have prac­ti­cally left them all alone.

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