I am writing this letter to convey my deep disappointment with the speech made by the legion speaker at the Airdrie Legion Remembrance Day Service.
I have been attending the Airdrie Remembrance Day ceremony for many years, and it is normally a beautiful event. While there were many aspects of the ceremony that remained so, the Legion speaker was not in any way appropriate. It was by far the most offensive speech I’ve ever heard at a Remembrance Day ceremony. There were many things that he said that made me want to stand up and leave.
The only thing stopping me was respect for Remembrance Day and its meaning. Remembrance Day is there to honour and remember the sacrifice made by our soldiers in wars. It is an event about honour, patriotism and respect. It is not, and should never be, a political event.
There were three main things that bothered me about his abhorrent, bigoted speech. First, the fear mongering encouraged by him in suggesting we be suspicious of refugees and immigrants.
I know many individuals who came here from other countries for various reasons, and this rhetoric is not only not based in any kind of fact, but also upsetting to the thousands of people that we save from war-torn countries. These are people who contribute to our country culturally and fiscally, and should not be made into scapegoats using statistically unfounded strawman rhetoric. Second, he suggested the need to be “politically correct” was part of the problem. I have yet to hear anyone use that phrase except when one is looking for an excuse to be unkind, impolite or even harmful to our fellow citizens who are part of sexual, religious or cultural minorities.
Such statements stand in direct contradiction to what Remembrance Day is about: the safety and freedom of all Canadians. Third, on several occasions, he referred to “them” and “us,” targeting the horrible terrorist plots that have happened recently. These events are terrible, and I’m not trying to minimize that, but to mention those events exclusively and with that wording displayed very thinly veiled islamophobia, and was not at all appropriate. Terrorists are terrible. The Muslim faith is beautiful. In much the same way that Kony is terrible, but the Christian faith is beautiful. Again, Canada is a welcoming place for people of all faiths, not just your own.
It has been said the only thing needed for evil to prevail is for good people to do nothing. With that in mind, I call upon everyone to stand up against the evils of hatred and bigotry and those who promote it. I sincerely hope that a different speaker with a more appropriate message is chosen for future ceremonies, and also those fifteen minutes of horrendous bigotry will not close off the hearts and minds of the citizens of this beautiful, diverse and welcoming country that we call home.