At a recent town hall meeting in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took a tough question about Canada’s immigration policies. Trudeau’s low-key and respectful reply to the obvious anti-Muslim bias of the questioner’s comments was a deeply depressing lesson in the contrast between the hysterical and factually deprived rantings of the Trump administration on immigrants and immigration and the intelligent tenor of the discussion by our neighbors to the north.
To say that Trudeau’s off-the-cuff erudition and informed grasp of the nuances of immigration policy are light years away from the dumbed-down, factual deprivation of Donald Trump would be a gross understatement. Frankly, it’s hard to believe that these two heads of state even exist in the same space or time. One is thoughtful and informed, broadcasting a message of tolerance and shared interests. The other is factually challenged and blustering, cynically playing on our worst instincts of bias, prejudice, and fear.
After listening to Trudeau school his audience about the social, cultural, and economic benefits of welcoming immigrants, and his pride in Canada’s making good on its humanitarian goal of integrating 40,000 Syrian refugees, I could feel a familiar sense of anger and shame welling up inside of me. Anger because Trump has cynically steered American discourse, particularly on immigrants, toward a dark, ugly, and dangerous place. Shame because nearly 50% of my fellow Americans continue to be either silent or complicit in this march toward xenophobia and racial scapegoating.
Frankly, it all makes me wish I could join a caravan and beat a path to the northern border—and beyond. But if that’s not realistic—and it’s not—then, please, just offer me an American politician in 2020 who can muster even just a little bit of what Justin’s got.