So, on Monday my post about why I think Toronto’s Permanent Residents should be allowed to vote in the municipal elections went online.
And boy did that open some kind of floodgate.
It’s like most of the commentators there can barely resist the urge to spit at immigrant-looking people when they enter the subway trains in downtown Toronto. And then they get home, tired and irritated of dealing with all the brown people in the city, turn on their computers and innocently browse the internet, and, whoa, a blog headline about immigrants.
Empathy switch: off. Raving jerk mode: on.
The comments range in the spectrum of single one-off declarations — no Citizenship, no vote — to the classic insecure, drive-by “who the hell do you think you are, you dirty immigrant? Get out of Canada if you don’t like it here” raging type. There are some supportive, well thought-out responses too, but they are pretty much deluged by the barrage of negative, vitriolic words.
There is a deep and pervasive sadness inherent in all the bile because it gives you a glimpse of the type of person who is basically just desperately clutching on to one of the few cards left in their life to grant them the exclusive, privileged pass to knock a person a notch or two beneath them.
It's one of the few instances when they can hold their nose up high and say "no", even though no one is asking them to give up anything.
It’s also sad because the moment they hear that the immigrants are demanding something, they react as if we are encroaching on their rights, while the immigrants live a life of blissful comfort and convenience. They must think that immigrants just spend the whole day twirling around their apartments while drinking wine from silver goblets paid (just) by Canadian citizens' taxes.
As if by suddenly opening our mouths and not being a Canadian, we know nothing about what it means to be a resident or a person. As if the only reason we want to have a voice in the city that we love and live in is so that we can disrupt the lives of the normal, decent, hardworking and law-abiding Canadian citizens who have to put up with so much nonsense from immigrants all the time.
It’s sad that most of them probably didn’t even bother to read what I’d written. Instead of talking about how immigrants can be better integrated into the country, or why this might be a bad idea because [insert study or fact] shows that it's not effective, all they care about is knowing whether the person who's lived in Toronto for five years, owns a house, participates in the community and cares for the city, has a passport or not. If you don’t have one, you’re SOL as far as they’re concerned.
In their knee-jerk rationality, all the immigrants in Toronto only care about are avoiding the duties and responsibilities that only Canadian citizens carry the burden of. And we even actively avoid becoming a citizen because, man, life's too gravy just living without an identity and purpose.
And alright, here’s the last part about it being sad: to hear Torontonians complaining that granting municipal voting rights to immigrants is sacrilegious because it shreds the fabric of Canada is like that neighbour who throws a hissy fit when you ask him if he can lend you his step ladder so that you can help clear the gutters of his garage roof. He won’t because it’s his ladder and his roof, goddamit. Never mind the fact that he rarely, if ever, uses the step ladder.
But if there’s one comment on my blog post that takes the cake, just on sheer awesomeness and ridiculousness, this one has to be it:
Landed immigrants need to understand what landed means. It sorta relates in Canadian terms, to a bark canoe touching a sand beach, and the occupants being europoeans seeking furs and fortunes, crept ashore. They often were made welcome at the campfire of the local chief, and they could participate in the life of the locals, but if they pushed to hard, they were scapled, tortured, and they died a death of pain and humiliation for offending the resident hosts. This ridiculous rant captures the mood of those early visitors, and perhaps the writer might want to reflect on that, if he ever thinks of traveling in the north, or indeed anywhere outside the warped out, sold out, gaped out city of Toronto. The federal cabinet minister who told David Miller to F-Off, had it right.
There are so many things wrong with the person that took the time to type that paragraph out. It’s almost hard to register whether the response was written by a conscious person or a series of algorithms based on malice, satire and ignorance.
1. That he refers to how the early settlers were welcomed by the First Nations people in Canada. Seriously? This coming from a person whose forebears violently claimed, looted, desecrated, pillaged and killed the natives out of their land? That he somehow contextualizes my post about municipal voting rights for immigrants against the backdrop of a bloody and tragic history of Canada which to this day affects Aboriginal people and has reduced them to being second-class citizens in their own lands? There must be some kind of prize for this kind of warped audacity.
2. Threatening me with violence. I’d just like to know that when I do get scalped, tortured, and die a death of pain and humiliation, will the commenter at least have the decency of signing off his property, family and life to the new settlers? Because, you know, I need that. It’s what the immigrants dream of when they land in Canada.
3. He (or she) most likely doesn’t even live in Toronto. So, to put it bluntly, what the hell does he care? I mean, this doesn’t concern and affect him the least bit. Why does he feel the need to stick his neck out like that and forever be branded with this toxic concoction of stupidity, insecurity and malevolence. Why?
Oh, and you know what’s the craziest thing in all of this? I am a Canadian citizen. And this is the response I get when I voice an opinion: get out of Canada.
You stay classy, Toronto.