Referring to increasing “right-wing nationalism, anti-Black racism, Islamophobia, and straight-up white supremacy,” Naomi Klein says the following in her recent article:
“The only way to justify such barbaric forms of exclusion is to double down on theories of racial hierarchy that tell a story about how the people being locked out …deserve their fate, whether it’s Trump casting Mexicans as rapists and ‘bad hombres,’ and Syrian refugees as closet terrorists, … or successive Australian prime ministers justifying those sinister island detention camps as a ‘humanitarian’ alternative to death at sea.
This is what global destabilization looks like in societies that have never redressed their foundational crimes — countries that have insisted slavery and indigenous land theft were just glitches in otherwise proud histories …all of it taking place on the violently stolen indigenous land on which North America’s wealth was built. And now the same theories of racial hierarchy that justified those violent thefts in the name of building the industrial age are surging to the surface as the system of wealth and comfort they constructed starts to unravel on multiple fronts simultaneously.
Trump is just one early and vicious manifestation of that unraveling. He is not alone. He won’t be the last.”
Klein alludes to a connection, here, that is noticeably absent from most conversations about current violence, racism and dehumanization: the connection between ongoing military occupations of stolen Indigenous land and the violence and racism that surfaces in various ways in Canada and the United States of America.
Folks often act shocked or surprised by present-day manifestations of violence and racism here in North America, yet our Settler nation-states were founded on white supremacist notions of terra nullius and the Christian Doctrine of Discovery, casting Indigenous people as sub-human in order to justify our own settlement and occupation of the land.
Canada and the USA, as Settler-colonial states, are houses actively haunted by the ghosts of colonial treachery, and are currently occupied by the descendant beneficiaries of that violence. Why then, do we think we are not going to be affected when we refuse to pay attention to that history and refuse to presently return stolen land to the Indigenous people who continue to exist?
I think the answer is this: it is inconvenient and uncomfortable and would require each of us to give up things we think we own. That’s no fun, so we figure we’re better off feigning confusion or surprise every time the white supremacist foundations of our land ownership rear their heads again and again in the form of racially charged violence.
As long as we, as Settlers, remain committed to ignoring the ongoing military occupation of Indigenous land in Canada and the USA, our attitudes and hearts likely will not undergo the necessary transformation toward respecting the dignity of all people.
Klein describes the work of righting past wrongs and repairing our relationships with one another as “work that is the bedrock of shock resistance.”