Alien Messages: Hate can spread like wildfire

Edmund Burke once said, “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

However, we see so many brutal killings in the world, so much senseless violence, we seem to have stopped talking about it. We see killings in Mosques, killings in schools, killings in clubs, at concerts, in the streets, and although we feel the inevitable pang of horror, revulsion, and pain, we simply shake our heads, make a sad comment and continue with our lives. Not today. Today we are talking to our Mexican friends about the racial massacre of El Paso in the U.S.

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Our friends have chosen to have their names changed in this article because they want to avoid repercussions for their words. This is an indicator of how the latest events and the anti-Mexican campaign in the U.S. is making them feel insecure, even here in Canada. 

Charo: “How do you feel, as Mexicans, about the massacre of El Paso?”

Silvia: “For me, it is a particularly sinking feeling because my first son was born in El Paso. So, in a way, it could have been me. I could have been in that Walmart buying diapers. El Paso is a magnificent, vibrant city that has been, for many years, considered as the safest city in the United States. People from Mexico normally go shopping there. They cross the bridge over Rio Bravo that separates El Paso from Ciudad Juarez. My parents, my siblings and their families go there quite often, like many other people from Chihuahua.”

Frida: “I feel a mix of sadness, anger, and powerlessness. To think that Texas, the land they feel we are invading, used to be ours, used to be Mexican, as was a great part of the U.S. It is ironic that they took it from us and now they want us out of it.”

Maria: “Unfortunately, the uncontrolled criminal use of weapons in the U.S. is not new. Not only they attack Latin American people, but also Muslims, and black people. Now, we have reached a critical point because of Trump’s harsh speech about Mexicans. I think it is very sad that we still have these backward hatred attacks in the 21st Century. The fact that weapons in the U.S. represent a high percentage of political campaign financing will make it difficult to solve this problem, but the fact that we, as Mexicans, can speak up against brutality in the media, gives us hope that we can start moving the system they have been imposing on us, which benefits a few, but marginalizes most.”

Frida: “As Maria says, this is not new. They have always attacked us. The hunting of undocumented Mexicans at the border is tragically frequent. There are people that just go out there and kill illegal immigrants as if they were animals. They are only young people who are desperate to get a better life for their families. Ultimately, legal or illegal, with our without documents, we are the working hands of America. Good, innocent, hard working people.”

Kalpana: “Do you feel safe and welcome here in Canada?”

Frida: “I personally do not feel that racial hate here in Canada. However, I have experienced discrimination and I have the distinct feeling that for some Canadians, we are some sort of invaders. I wish they understood that we pay taxes like them. We are making Canada stronger and richer with our work and we are trying to make a better life for ourselves and our families. Just like them.”

Silvia: “I feel lucky to be in Canada. I like my job, my children are thriving at school and I don’t fear they might be shot by a madman there. I have not experienced hate here. On the contrary, when my husband and I mention we are from Mexico, Canadians normally smile and show an interest in our culture. Our only fear is that the politics of our neighbouring country be taken as a model and applied to this wonderful nation.”

Charo: “This killing of El Paso reminded me of the Night of the Broken Glass in Germany, on November 9 and 10, 1938. The Nazis’ anti-Semitic speech had been on and on and on in Germany, present in everyone’s mind, but on that night, German civilians took action and put their hate into practice, openly attacking and killing Jewish people, breaking into Jewish homes and businesses and destroying them as the German authorities looked on without intervening. The Holocaust soon followed.”

Kalpana: “Yes, hate has the capacity to spread like wildfire. Maybe this time we can identify it and stop it on time.”

Charo Lloret is from Spain; Kalpana Loganathan is from India. Both call Fort St. John home. Each week, they’ll reflect on their experiences immigrating to Canada and settling into their new homes in Fort St. John through a series of dialogues called Alien Messages. 

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