Daniel Francis

Reading the National Narrative

Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid

Oct 1, 2015

There is a very disturbing and depressing article about the federal election on The Guardian website today. Is this really the way we want the world to see us, as a country consumed by intolerance and paranoia?

Historians like to draw parallels. I see a lot of similarities between our present political discourse and the Red Scare of 1919 (about which, of course, I've written a book). During the immediate post-World-War-One period, the government raised the spectre of Bolshevik terror in Canada in order to discredit calls for progressive social change. In the same way today the Harper Conservatives are inciting fears of "the other" in order to justify repressive laws and foreign interventions, appealing to the worst in us in order to win re-election.

We are supposed to be afraid of Muslim women, penniless refugees, terrorists who want to kill us, climate change "alarmists" who want to sabotage our economy. Have I left anyone out?

Actually the only thing I'm afraid of is that Harper will win another majority and his particular brand of paranoid politics will continue.