Is Racism Contagious?


I lived in Canada for two decades before coming to America, and I was shocked to read a story this morning about a Canadian woman shouting racist slurs at an elderly Filipino couple on the Vancouver Sky Train.

Canadians don’t do that kind of thing. At least, they didn’t when I lived there.

So what’s happening? Has America’s rampant racism spread across the border?

I suppose racism could be contagious. People reading about the bad behavior of others could feel empowered to act the same way.

I believe trends in America influence events in other countries, especially a neighboring country like Canada, which shares America’s British colonial heritage. I think, for example, it was the resurgence of economic-austerity theories in the US that sparked a similar “conservative” movement in Canada.

If I am right, that means Trump is not just an American affliction but a global danger. If he and his deplorables get away with their show of strength, the rest of the world could be infected with their racist virus.

Of course I know racism is already a global plague.  But if Trump’s minions continue to grab the headlines with their racist rallies, I fear racist elements in other societies will follow suit.

So what’s the antidote to this threatened pandemic?

I know it’s not violence. Fighting fire with fire might seem appealing, but it’s the worst response in this case. If we act like the thugs we deplore, we cannot prevail.

Those of us who deplore racism must make our feelings known, but in doing so, we must occupy the moral high ground without being smug or condescending.

Perhaps the Bible has the answer after all.  Jesus is quoted as saying:

Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

I know, that goes against our instincts. But I think it could work.

By countering contempt and hatred with forgiveness and kindness, we just might soften the hearts of our persecutors. Love begets love as hate begets hate.

It could be worth a try.

Read the Canadian story.