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Monday, 9 January 2017

McGill's half hearted email is an insufficient response to neo-nazism

McGill's half hearted email is an insufficient response to neo-nazism
- In late November, flyers were posted near McGill’s downtown campus, with the words “tired of anti-white propaganda? It’s time to make Canada great again!” emblazoned over a maple leaf. The posters included links to white supremacist websites and crossed-out symbols that represent Islam, communism, and homosexuality. In response, Christopher Manfredi, McGill’s VP Academic, sent out an email on December 12 (“Flyers posted near downtown campus”) which denied any association between the posters and the University. The email stated: “To the best of our knowledge none of the flyers appeared on campus; nor do we have any information to indicate that the flyers are associated with any member of the McGill community. Nevertheless, I want to state unequivocally that the message communicated by the flyers, both in their text and the pictograms appearing on them, is contrary to McGill University’s values and firm commitment to inclusion and respectful discourse.” While the administration rightfully denounced the content of the posters, their priority was ultimately to absolve the University of any responsibility, rather than to protect affected students and staff, and take concrete steps to opose discrimination at McGill. The vague and defensive tone of Manfredi’s email was an insufficient and unacceptable response to the current resurgence of neo-nazism in the public sphere, and in the U.S. following Donald Trump’s election campaign.

The slogan on the posters echoed Trump’s campaign slogan: “Make America Great Again.” Trump’s overt Islamophobia, xenophobia, and homophobia have emboldened bigots across the U.S., with a sharp uptick in hate crimes since he was elected. While many in Canada have taken Trump’s election as opportunity to boast about this country’s supposed comparative ‘tolerance’ and ‘inclusivity,’ Canada, too, has seen an increase in hate crimes and racist violence.