After the G20 smoke clears, what have we learned?
By Fabiola Carletti
In the aftermath of the G20 summit in Toronto, the outrage will blaze on for longer than any police cruiser ever could.
Ideology is highly flammable, you see.
Shakespeare famously wrote that all the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players. Indeed, this weekend, the international audience was introduced to a familiar cast of characters: heartless or noble police officers, righteous or savage protesters, watchdog or propaganda-spewing journalists, innocent or nosy bystanders.
Why are we so attached to these false dichotomies?
The conversation will not advance as long as we divide the world between “punks” and “pigs.”
Examples: Even if you think the community of dissent shouldn’t disown certain factions, it is never okay to hurl a brick at someone because they represent something you disagree with. Even if you think the police were just doing their job and controlling “bad guys,” it is never okay for officers to beat peaceful protesters and threaten female detainees with rape.
If we want to be critical people who navigate within a complex world, we have to acknowledge that people on our “side” can be wrong too. Regardless of where our sympathies lie, we must speak truth to power and to our peers.
Let’s lift the blankets – it’s not just about police maintaining security OR protestes maintaining solidarity. Neither side has a monopoly on virtue or vice.
I’m contrasting sides for effect, but I emphatically believe that we must not forget the spectrum.
It saddens me that more people know exactly how many police cruisers were burned on the street than the number of decisions that were made behind the fences. The political reverberations that come out of this conference are much more difficult and long term than the theatrics that took place in “Fortress Toronto.”
But they’re not either/or important. The streets became a caricature of the power dynamics that were also playing out amongst those inside THE room. It may be easier to have an opinion on the black block than fiscal consolidation, but that doesn’t make it more important.
I think we need to start by admitting that our world is rapidly changing and in many ways deteriorating. We are facing increasingly complex social, environmental and economic crises, and the decisions made by our world leaders will affect the children of press, protesters, police and politicians.
If the Toronto summit was a failure, which I would argue it was, it has less to do with what was destroyed and more to do with what was not built.
But that’s a whole other blog post.
Fabiola Carletti is a Toronto Star radio room reporter and graduate student at the UBC School of Journalism. She recently graduated summa cum laude from York University, having earned an honours double major in Professional Writing and Communication Studies. Her digital footprints are all over the internet, but you can learn more about her by reading her blog, or chasing her around on twitter.