Antidote to fear and prejudice: the Internet

1940s photo

President Donald Trump’s sweeping attack on the travel rights of individuals from more than a half-dozen Muslim-majority countries last Friday is an assault on civil liberties, using his authority and statute of the law to ban people based on their religion and nationality.

The current situation makes me afraid and I feel deep compassion for the people in U.S. and around the world of Muslim descent.

It reminds me of when my father and his family were uprooted from their households and lives and sent to prisoner camps in Canada during WWII because of fear and prejudice. The same happened in the U.S.

My grandfather was a citizen of Canada for several decades by then, buying property, settling the land and his family, and running a successful fishing business. My father and his siblings were born in Canada and were Canadian citizens.

When my grandfather was interned in the 1940s with some 21,000 Japanese-Canadians (14,000 born in Canada), he was heartbroken that the country he had come to as a young man and built a life, and loved dearly, would turn her back on him and all his family. He never recovered from this loss.

The government at the time, like the public that elected them, were for the most part fearful of and prejudiced against the Japanese. They were happy to lock up the Japanese-Canadians and profit from the taking and selling of their possessions that they were forced to leave behind.

The media that spoke about the Japanese were tainted too and only contributed to the prejudice and fear of the pubic through their biased reporting, which was the main source of information for the public.

While we have come so far some 75 years later, I am afraid because there is the sense of the same feeling behind the recent U.S. government action and people supporting it: fear and prejudice.

What good can come from locking up, restricting or eliminating what we are afraid of? History has proven to us time and time again that only pain and suffering for lifetimes can come from this, i.e. locking up the Japanese-Canadians and Japanese-Americans because they are “the enemy of the people”, sending the atomic bomb down on key Japanese cities and killing innocent men, women and children to stop them, show them.

Marshall McLuhan wrote in Understanding the Media: The Extensions of Man, “the medium is the message because it is the medium that shapes and controls the scale and form of human association and action.”

The big difference from the time of WWII is we have the Internet and that is where I believe the real power lies.

There are waves of outrage and condemnation at home and abroad from Trump’s recent actions, which we know mainly through the Internet. People are sharing information quickly through social media, revealing truths, speaking out, gathering collectively on-line and in cities around the world to say this is wrong and we won’t accept it.

This gives me hope and I hope reassurance to Muslim communities that there is a large collective of people around the world that believe that Trump’s actions are wrong and are outraged and concerned about their plight.

It is my deepest wish that love and compassion for our fellow human beings prevail, regardless of nationality, colour, religion and sexual orientation, now and always. It is the only way forward. Let’s remember our wrongs from the past and move forward.

I’m a lover of food, travel and life, in search of new taste memories and stories that connect us. My new book The Accidental Chef: Lessons Learned In and Out of the Kitchen is now available on Amazon