Opinion: Just say NAH (Never Accept Hate)

Opinion: Just say NAH (Never Accept Hate)

We live in an age of hate

Hate against the Asian community.

Hate against health-care workers.

Hate against the media.

Hate against the government.

Hate against the LGBQT community.

Hate against Muslims.

Hate against Indigenous people.

Hate against anyone who disagrees with you.

Or who doesn’t look like you. Think like you. Act like you.

Hate has become the new pandemic. It’s online. It’s daubed on bus shelters or synagogue walls. It’s angry and it’s dangerous. And it’s time the good guys — because most people in this province and this country are good — pushed hate back to the margins instead of accepting it as part of the mainstream of our lives.

A new anti-hate campaign, called Never Accept Hate, is being launched in British Columbia this week. The broadcasters of B.C. are playing a key role in the campaign, with private radio and TV broadcasters donating $2.5 million in airtime over the next 12 months.

“Broadcasters in B.C. have been reporting on the dramatic rise of acts of hate in our province. Many of our journalists have themselves been targeted, especially those who face discrimination in their public roles because of their ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity. That’s why private radio and television broadcasters are supporting the Never Accept Hate campaign” said Rob Germain, President of the BC Association of Broadcasters. The message, he said, could not be more timely or important.

Never Accept Hate NAH campaignPanelist at the NAH campaign launch. Shown left to right: BC Human Rights Commissioner Kasari Govender; Alvin Wasserman, NAH Collective; This is Vancolour‘s Mo Amir; Andeen Pitt, NAH Collective; BCAB Pres. Rob Germain – April 27, 2022 at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Gardens in Vancouver.

It’s a great idea.

I’m convinced that those who spout hate or aggression are a minority. That’s why the majority needs to step forward.

When you witness racism, be it overt or easy, casual, racism, call it out.

By saying “NAH.”

Never Accept Hate.

The campaign organizers are going to be putting out ads that have people calling out NAH for racist jokes, for racist stereotypes, for casual racist or sexist or hateful comments directed at various groups.

More than 30 years ago, when I was editor-in-chief of The Vancouver Sun, I set up a cultural diversity committee to look at how the newspaper could better represent, and cover, the community. And how to be less white in a rapidly changing community.

The committee had representatives from various ethic communities in the city. I got some internal pushback from one or two editors. One staffer quietly told me he hated the idea of the committee. “I don’t like what’s happening to our city. I liked the old Vancouver.”

Yet the committee proved helpful, and instructive for most of us. It told us about stories we were missing, issues that we needed to address quickly, how to be more inclusive for a community that was both scared and confused by some of the reaction to them.

I wrote back then that our job was to bring our community together. By creating understanding. “Ignorance is fear,” I wrote.

It saddens me that three decades later we are dealing with hate in various forms.

Vancouver, ahead of Montreal, New York and Toronto, leads the way in reports of anti-Asian hate crimes.

Sixty-nine per cent of trans and non-binary people in B.C. say they have experienced verbal abuse.

The violence and aggression directed towards our healthcare workers during the pandemic has been disgraceful.

There are, the new campaign suggests, no easy answers to hate. But nudging all of us in the right direction is a great way to start.

It’s a good idea to consider the definition of hate. It is, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, “intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or a sense of injury.”

It’s the hostility that holds my attention these days. The intense anger to other people who are different or don’t hold your views. We hope for respectful understanding of the other person…too often those who disagree with you just throw verbal grenades.

The other week, in London, I saw a fantastic play based on Andrea Levy’s novel Small Island. The book, and play, is centred around West Indians who went to England after the war. They had fought for King and Country and Empire and thought they would be welcomed with open arms. Instead, they faced instant racism, were denigrated, were refused housing because of their colour, and were made third-class recipients of unbelievable hate.

In one scene, a married black man whose family is being evicted from a small apartment, makes an impassioned, powerful speech to the racist white landlord. He tells him that no man has the right to enslave or subjugate another man because of the colour of his skin. That we all deserve respect and dignity. We are all equal. Being white does not allow you to humiliate and hate and diminish your fellow man.

There is a hush in the audience. The white man looks at the black man for a while. And then he says,

“I’m sorry…”

A beat. Another beat.

“… I don’t understand a word you’re saying.”

I said above that we live in an age of hate. But we know hate has been with us since time began. All minorities have been persecuted at some time or other. We see it everywhere in the world, to varying degrees.

Yet this hate we see now is a shock to our system. This isn’t Canada. This shouldn’t be Canada. This isn’t our British Columbia. We thought we were better than this. We should be better than this. Most of us came from somewhere else, some fled persecution, some for a better life, a better, fairer world. A world of equality, dignity and respect.

A world that has hate of any kind in it should be unacceptable. And we all need to call it out.

That’s why Never Accept Hate is a great place to start. A nudge in the right direction.

You’re going to be hearing NAH a lot over the next little while.

And if you need to say NAH — say it like you mean it.

Veteran journalist Ian Haysom is consulting editor with CHEK Media.

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