The question today is: could activism contribute to further violence toward the minority and allies employing it? We know that activism contributes to further prejudice, frustration, and resentment, and indeed that will be demonstrated, but could that boil over into increasingly violent pushback?
I was born and raised in Canada, and lived in three different provinces as a child. In my country, tensions between the Aboriginal and caucasian populations have been high ever since the first settlers arrived and began a long-standing, and currently continuing, attempt at cultural genocide against the people who were already here. It didn’t take long for the government to impose a territorial structure known as the “reservation system,” in which the caucasian ruling class designated rough and out-of-the-way areas for Aboriginal people to live in. This system ultimately inspired the infrastructure used to impose apartheid in South Africa, and the effects of the heinous crimes committed by parasitical priests in Canadian residential schools (the last of which was closed in 1989) will continue for generations to come. It is now 2014, and the Aboriginal people who live within Canadian borders have been fighting back for a number of decades. While small steps are being taken to improve the situation and honour their rightful claims to territory, the protests, blockades, and outcries for justice have given rise to further bigotry and stereotype. The actions taken by the Aboriginal population in their own defence, have contributed to a culture in which caucasian children are taught that the “natives/indians/redskins” are lazy, have no respect for property, can’t handle alcohol, are violent, dirty, and prone to engaging in criminal activity. Activism meant to protect the rights and freedoms of this particular group has also contributed to an attitude of frustration over the fact that they dare to speak up and push back against oppression.
Now, examples of how activism contributes to further scorn are not exclusive to the many Aboriginal communities in Canada. The LGBTQ community suffers further bigotry from this as well. How many times have we heard about the “gay agenda” or the “gay lobby” trying to corrupt our children, and ultimately, destroy civilization? How many times have we heard about the supposed perils of raising children in a same-sex household, or about the “slippery slope” that we may fall down if we allow same-sex marriage in the first place? How many times have we seen a smiling face in the news, only to learn that the person we are looking at has fallen victim to a brutal attack motivated by their sexual orientation or gender identity? These reactions are often spurred by the many movements popping up in the fight for social equality; and what it all translates into is “how dare they try to take our right to oppress them? How dare they fight back?” This is a dangerous attitude. Activism, while effective and necessary, must be carried out with caution.
The question of whether or not activism could contribute to further violence is complex, but our roles in the matter are simple. This is because the question depends on us. We are responsible only for our own actions, and that makes us responsible for the impact we have in this world. Whether you’re having dinner with 2 friends, or speaking in front of 200 people in a lecture hall, you have an amount of influence. How you employ your activism for your specific cause(s) will depend on your levels of education, bias, empathy, and passion, and how you react to the activism of others will depend on the same. If we all celebrate the knowledge we have, accept the knowledge we don’t have, admit our biases, work to empathize with one another, and use our passion in the spirit of honesty, violent pushback against social activism is less likely to happen. If we continue to close our ears, and in turn become agitated at the constant barrage of discussion about equal rights, privileges, and benefits, nothing will change; and the violence we are currently seeing against minority people will continue on its upward trend. Could activism contribute to further violence toward the minority and allies employing it? It already is. The real question is whether that has to continue, and the answer is a very big “NO.”