The Plague-Ground – The herd has moved.

You can scratch and claw and fight and hope and despair, and for years nothing changes.

Then one day, everything changes.

We are living one of those days now.

Malcolm Gladwell called it The Tipping Point, “the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point”. He’s built a career on this 20-year-old belief that “Ideas and products and messages and behaviors spread like viruses do.” Rebecca Solnit, on the other hand, says that the road to sudden change is slow and meandering. “Before the uprising comes the work.”

Whatever theory you hold for why so much has changed in the last three weeks, there’s no denying that our values have shifted suddenly and astoundingly. These changes aren’t percolating in from the fringe, but exploding at the core.

The herd has moved.

When Oxford’s Oriel College decided last Wednesday to remove its statue of the Imperialist Victorian Cecil Rhodes; then on Saturday when Princeton University decided to remove the name of its (and America’s) former President Woodrow Wilson from its School of International Affairs; then yesterday, when the Mississippi State Legislature voted to remove the Confederate symbol from its state flag…..when all three organizations had fought tooth and nail for years not to do what they did this month… change is in the air.

Here at home, Toronto City Council is also doing something unheard of: actually talking about cutting the Police budget by 10%. The motion was voted down on Monday by 16 to 8. But they approved a package of reforms from Mayor John Tory which includes body cameras for all members of the Force.

I ask you: when was the last time the Toronto Police were denied anything at budget-time or said yes to body cameras?

As for the RCMP, their gawping ineptitude with the Nova Scotia mass-murderer and their assault on Indigenous Chief Allan Adam might have led to shelved reports and job-shuffling if they’d happened before May 25th when George Floyd was executed in Minneapolis.

Not now.

In Canada, the herd is shifting.

But in America, it’s galloping.

Take the issue of hate speech and fake news. Since the 2016 US election, social media have said they’re just a platform. They’re not media. They don’t censor. Their dog’s not in this fight. But this has only spread the pandemic of disinformation, finger-pointing and hate.

Then on May 26th, Twitter slapped a fact-check on one of President Trump’s posts. The next day he threatened to “strongly regulate” Twitter or even shut them down.

Then on June 17th, the Anti-Defamation League, Patagonia and The North Face said: “Enough, Mark Zuckerberg. We’re pulling our ads from Facebook.” By this morning, that #StopHateforProfit boycott had grown to over a hundred companies like Coca Cola, Starbucks and Unilever, the world’s 4th largest advertiser.

Then yesterday, Reddit banned Donald Trump’s biggest fan club, called r/The_Donald, as well as 2,000 other communities it claims spread hate on its platform.

It seems social media is as susceptible to pressure as the rest of us.

When they feel the heat, they see the light.

So here’s to a long, hot summer of our discontent.

Change is in the air.

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14 replies
  1. Avatar
    Bernie Lucht says:

    Schopenhauer: “All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as self-evident.”

    Reply
  2. Avatar
    Louise says:

    I taped then watched for the first time,a show which has played for 20 years: BET Music Awards. In fact, I haven’t ever watched BET.
    Their audience may include everyone but the mandate is to support African Americans and their world. It was, I am somewhat embarrassed to say, an eye opener. Of course 99% of the commercials had AA actors or non actors, 99% of the performers were AA – the content of their music strong, angry, beautiful, hopeful. A few days earlier I watched the rebroadcast of the gala opening concert (which took place sometime in late 2016) of the Smithsonian African American Museum, which originally aired January 2017. The audience was both The Who’s who and who is that, as well as the former President and his wife (remember when Presidents attended or hosted cultural events and smiled at them?). The focus of both events was I AM WORTH IT, WE ARE WORTH IT.
    BLACK LIVES MATTER (as do all lives matter, equally).
    With the swell of big change on the ground, and body cameras on police, toppled statues and redesigned flags, let us hope this tipping point cascades in the right direction. Change is not easy even if it is needed or wanted but perhaps if we all start our shifting together…

    Reply
  3. Avatar
    Penny says:

    About a month ago I felt despair for my friends south of the border. I felt that they were destroying their democracy and listening to the divisive garbage they were being fed constantly. Then George Floyd was murdered and became the catalyst for change. All of a sudden, people of different races, genders and ages joined together in love to fight back. I now have hope. I pray that they continue to fight….up to the election in November and beyond. I am encouraged that they want to see a different world. Keep it up.

    Reply
  4. Avatar
    Chris Rudge says:

    Bob…always knew you could be this good…look forward daily to your sharing of a broad range of thoughtful reflections on the evolving would….when you get back to
    Pape Ave. and get to whatever is next (normal no longer exists) hope you keep this going.

    Reply
    • Bob Ramsay
      Bob Ramsay says:

      Chris — I started the blogs as a way to get out of bed in the morning. But yes, I hope to keep them going.
      There’s just SO MUCH to write about. You are where geographically, by the way?
      Cheers.
      Bob

      Reply
  5. Avatar
    The Drifter says:

    And “The Terror” cannot be too far behind as represented by the recent initiative at the University of Wisconsin to bring down, of all people, the statue of Abraham Lincoln.

    Reply
  6. Avatar
    Leah Power says:

    Support democracy by supporting local newspapers and journalists. Support means paying for the news you consume. It’s all connected. If you’re getting something for free, you’re the product.

    Reply
    • Bob Ramsay
      Bob Ramsay says:

      Leah — I keep forgetting that last line, and yes, I agree. It’s all connected.
      Thanks for checking in. Cheers. Bob

      Reply

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