Justin Trudeau, the young, telegenic Canadian prime minister, last year chastised a young woman who was asking him a question for using the word “mankind.” Trudeau interrupted her and said, “We like to say ‘people-kind,’ not necessarily ‘mankind,’ because it’s more inclusive.”
It may come as a shock that Trudeau’s inclusivity doesn’t include pro-lifers. Before the 2015 election in Canada, he declared his party wouldn’t support pro-life candidates if they didn’t agree to vote in favor of abortion. His position is consistent with his party’s platform, but he enforced it without any qualms about “inclusivity.”
We knew that he had a weird inclination to dress up in traditional Indian garb, as he and his family put on display during his state visit to India last year. It was hard to say at the time if he was channeling The Beatles during their visit to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi or making fun of his hosts, but the Indian press and Twittersphere had a field day with his attire.
Now we also know that Trudeau had a penchant for more inappropriate disguises. During the last two weeks, pictures and videos have surfaced showing him in blackface. Of course, Trudeau is dutifully repentant. While preaching to others about ethnic diversity and cultural sensibilities, he kept his own sins hidden. Now that they have been discovered, he is showing a newfound humility.
The story would be typical of the political class if it weren’t for two details. The first one is that Trudeau sometimes behaves as a self-appointed champion of political correctness. The second is his explanation for his latest misstep.
Confronted with his embarrassing faux pas, the poster boy for “wokeness” decided to plead the “affluenza” defense: “I came from a place of privilege . . . but now I have to acknowledge that that comes with a massive blind spot.”
In other words, if a poor person had worn blackface, we should condemn him or her as a racist, but we have to cut some slack for Trudeau because he was so rich and privileged he didn’t know better.
Trudeau has faced his share of scandals before — from the conflict of interest of vacationing on a private island to the murky SNC-Lavalin affair — without visibly losing any of his abundant self-regard. The blackface episode, however, has shown his hypocritical side with cringe-provoking transparency.
Trudeau, who is puritanical when judging the political correctness sins of others, surely deserves the political price he will pay for his own trespasses. But I wonder if there is another, more general lesson to be learned from this story, and that is, aren’t we all sometimes like Justin Trudeau?
We usually see other people’s shortcomings with more celerity and clarity than our own. This is especially true when it comes to racism. We tend to think, for example, that by denouncing the evils of discrimination and prejudice, we automatically become immune to the sin of racism. And because we don’t live in the public eye like Justin Trudeau does, we don’t have anyone doing opposition research on us.
But after criticizing Trudeau or any other politician for their shortcomings —and making them pay the political price we think they deserve — it would be useful to look at our own lives and ask ourselves how many times we have failed to treat some of our brothers and sisters as equals.
How many times have we accepted discrimination against certain groups or races as “normal” or “inevitable”? How many times have we told or laughed at racist jokes that perpetuate discrimination in our minds? How many times have our acts and attitude toward our brothers and sisters of other races been less than Christian?
We all need to understand that racism isn’t just a problem of other people. Racism is a sin that we must confront every day in our hearts and minds with the same passion and consistency we use to condemn the racist actions or words of our politicians and celebrities.