On Tuesday, March 20th Faith Goldy was scheduled to speak at Wilfrid Laurier University. Her talk was part of a series called Unpopular Opinions, aimed to test the limits of free speech on campus. Goldy was to give a talk on “Ethnocide: Multiculturalism and the Future of White Canadian Identity.” She never made it past the introduction.
A substantial protest had formed to voice their discontent that Goldy had been offered a platform at Laurier and was going to be allowed to speak. The University, for its part, remained neutral and issued a statement saying, “Wilfrid Laurier University does not limit the peaceful and lawful expression of ideas.” However, one of the protestors decided to take matters into their own hands and pulled the fire alarm.
The hall where the talk was scheduled was vacated, and the event ended with some remarks being made outside and Goldy vowing to return a give the talk at a later date.
This is where the journalism ends, and if you’ve had enough of this story, I advise you to stop reading. What follows is my own reaction to these events, and a plea for rationality and civility in the exchange of ideas.
First, kudos to the University for standing behind the student group that booked Goldy. They provided a venue and took no position on her views, which is exactly the function of an institution of higher learning. They are supposed to provide the rooms and materials for diverse groups to exchange ideas in. This is the essence of higher education and what makes universities vital to the function of a free society.
I reject the notion that it is the University’s job to police the opinions of the people invited to speak there. It is the responsibility of professors to advocate for good ideas and reject bad ones, but that must happen within a free debate. Hate is included in a free debate - it just happens to be the weakest and most repellent of rhetorical devices.
Next, Faith Goldy is a reprehensible human being, no argument there, but the focus of the protestors is, in my view, misguided. She is reprehensible not for her bigotry - which is difficult to refute, just take a gander at her twitter – but for her intellectual laziness, shameless endorsement of identity politics and frankly inane approach to her cause.
It is a difficult thing to try to sift through an individual’s views, item by item, and not find some that will fall into the bigot-bucket. The fact is that most people see themselves as the victim and are eager to point to an exterior cause for their perceived misfortunes. Other groups are an easy target.
What makes Goldy’s brand of bigotry so offensive is her embrace of it. She is an open advocate for a white-Catholic ethnostate. She has appeared on white nationalist podcasts and repeated the 14 words, “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.” When she did so, she insisted that those words are not controversial, and anyone should be comfortable uttering them about their own ethnicity.
She believes in no uncertain terms that segregation of society on racial lines would be beneficial – and has exactly no information to back that up. Listening to her speak, as I have had the great misfortune of doing to write this piece, it to listen to her point to other hateful rhetoric and say, “Why can’t I do that too?”
A point which I must cede to her – there should certainly be equality among bigots. She has as much right to continue to promulgate outmoded notions of difference based on race as any other idiot out there. Far be it for me to stand in her way.
However, she also has a nasty habit of seeing white genocide, a term I will never really understand the foundation behind, in the kind of ho-hum identity politics that are endemic to university campuses. She sees every black student group and indigenous cultural club as a threat to some unified white identity as yet unnamed. She can see a kind of hypocrisy in racialized grouping, but her response is declaring herself part of a racialized group undergoing an imaginary genocide.
Which is what makes her so irritating. She’s not as bothered about the intellectual dead end of identity politics as she is about the inability of majority groups to participate in oppression narratives. Which is bogus to the nth degree.
Indigenous cultures are legitimately under threat of disappearance in Canada, and groups who would like to preserve their history should be afforded the right to do so. A right that they were also, in a very real way, denied by federal systems and residential schools. That gripe has substance. So does the reality that Canadian citizens of color are unfairly targeted by the police.
These communities are seeking equality because their race has been used against them by systemic authority. Not by white people, by systems of government. These folks are not trying to start a race war - they want their race to stop defining them.
Faith Goldy wants a society stratified and defined by race, and that just doesn’t hold water. No responsible sociologist, economist, or ethicist would get behind that notion – it’s been tried, and it has failed to great suffering and long-lasting scars.
Last, what is truly sad about the sequence of events on Tuesday was that no students at Wilfrid Laurier got to come to my conclusions after listening to Goldy speak. They were denied the opportunity to hear bad ideas and reject them. She is a racist, a bigot and has truly terrible notions about the world.
And knowing that for yourself is better than me telling you on the internet.