When I first came across the video of a woman emphatically berating a brown-skinned man in an obviously disruptive manner, I just kept scrolling. I’ve seen enough similar videos that I felt that it didn’t deserve my attention.
Now that it has become international news that goes beyond a singular incident of racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, etc. I have taken the time to watch and process it.
The video depicts Jennifer Bush interrupting NDP leadership hopeful Jagmeet Singh at one of his “JagMeet and Greet” functions in Brampton, Ont. Shortly after he began speaking to an audience predominately composed of friends and supporters, Bush got right in his face and proclaimed:
“We know you’re in bed with Sharia. We know you’re in bed with the Muslim Brotherhood. When is your Sharia going to end? At what point, when we’re throwing gays off rooftops?”
She posted a video after this happened and claimed that she came to “discuss” things with him, but it isn’t a discussion when you interrupt a speaker, point your finger in their face and start hurling accusations. You’re just harassing them. Singh has been praised for how he handled her behaviour — he basically just said that they love and support her.
He also didn’t explain to Bush that he’s a Sikh, not a Muslim, which left some wondering, why? To this he responded, via Twitter:
“While I’m proud of who I am, I purposely didn’t go down that road because it suggests their hate would be ok if I was Muslim. We all know it’s not. I didn’t answer the question because my response to Islamophobia has never been ‘I’m not Muslim.’ It has always been and will be that ‘hate is wrong.’”
In her video response, Bush points out that she knows that Singh is a Sikh not a Muslim, and later says, “I’m not a racist, I strongly support the Hindus, we work together on a regular basis.” Okay … but apparently not a regular enough of a basis to know that Sikhs and Hindus are also two different religious groups.
She said wanted to address his policies such his opposition of the Niqab ban and his support of M-103. Motion 103 calls on the Government to condemn Islamophobia in Canada, although Bush seems to think it’s a “blasphemy law.” Neither of these things pertain to Sharia, but they also certainly don’t put Singh “in bed with the Muslim Brotherhood.”
She never addresses that slanderous accusation, though she’s quite concerned Singh didn’t address “Khalistan Sikhs blowing up Air India Jet.”
It was reported that Bush is a member of Rise Canada, an organization whose Twitter account has called Islam a “barbaric ideology of hate that must be banned” and said “Muslims are rotten from the time they drop from the womb.”
Rise Canada said Bush isn’t a member of their group, but simply a “heroic independent activist.” And while someone from the group has said those Tweets were “unauthorized” they still probably aren’t the sort of group I’d want praising me as “heroic.”
We are living in an age where social media has become a powerful force; be it for social change, attaining celebrity status (or compromising it), or in this case drawing attention to A) a politician’s campaign, and B) one of the main issues facing him: misguided hatred.
Singh is social media pro. He talks about Snapchat with Rick Mercer. He has a video from 2011 with YouTube comedian JusReign. He’s on Instagram. He knows that this is viral gold. As he says in the original clip, he’s dealt with these sorts of incidents and people his entire life — it’s nothing new for him to be confronted with ignorant, blatantly rude behaviour.
Because this clip has gone viral, it has propelled him into new spotlights, giving even political dullards like myself exposure to his campaign and his platform; which by the way has more to do with holding the government accountable when they make promises for things like electoral reform and reconciliation with Canada’s Indigenous population than it does “blasphemy” or the Muslim Brotherhood.
If elected he would become the first non-white leader of a major federal political party in Canada. The actions of Jennifer Bush may attest to the fact that not everyone in this country is ready for that, but as long as there are cameras rolling when they choose to act out their ugly, internal issues, new opportunities to learn arise for the rest of the rational public.