Leftist Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has managed the impossible: He has gotten conservatives to rally to his defense. All it took was media outlets revealing his passion for blackface.
Trudeau, who coasted to the prime ministership after an easy life of luxury and undue praise, has used dark body paint to mock people of color so many times that he cannot count them, or even remember them all. This according to Trudeau himself, who told reporters last week he was “wary” of claiming the public knows all the times he has worn blackface because he did not remember some of the ones now out in the open.
Trudeau called his past self a racist, leaving little room for anyone to defend him (although he refused to accept any consequences for his actions).
“What I did … hurt people, who shouldn’t have to face intolerance and discrimination because of their identity. This is something that I deeply, deeply regret,” Trudeau said during his second press conference to condemn himself. “Darkening your face, regardless of the context of the circumstances is always unacceptable because of the racist history of blackface.”
The three known instances are a strangely dark “brownface” get-up for an alleged “Aladdin” disguise in 2001, full blackface with matching afro and bellbottoms for a high school performance of a Harry Belafonte song, and an undated video in which blackface Trudeau appears waving his hands in the air and making faces. The most recent known incident occurred in 2001, when Trudeau was not just 29 years old — very much a grown man — but a teacher, a man placed in a position of authority over young people and elevated as a role model.
Each time, the joke was on people darker than Trudeau. The prime minister wore face paint not as an ill-advised attempt to celebrate human difference or to make some claim to racial accuracy in depicting a character, but because the idea of a black Justin Trudeau was funny to him. The joke is that someone as “refined” as Trudeau — scion of a prestige leftist family, a man who speaks perfect French, has never been seen in public with a hair out of place, and who gives the impression that he has never accidentally eaten an entree with a salad fork — would have dark skin.
The joke is only funny if you believe dark-skinned people are too “animalistic” to be refined.
This is the core joke that drove the “minstrel show” fad of the 1800s and early 1900s, of which Trudeau apparently remains a big fan. Blackface — the use of shoe polish or other dark substance to darken the skin, typically accompanied by red paint to accentuate lips and otherwise caricaturize black features — was the common thread in minstrel shows featuring insulting archetypes of slaves or black people generally. As the National Museum of African American History and Culture explains, “These performances characterized blacks as lazy, ignorant, superstitious, hypersexual, and prone to thievery and cowardice.” The through-line from the dehumanizing common in minstrel shows to the growing call on the American left in the 1910s and ’20s to “control” the black population is clear.
Progressivism has a long and storied history of extreme racism — from Woodrow Wilson’s embrace of eugenics theory to Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger’s call to use abortion for “racial betterment.” Che Guevara, a mass murderer and close colleague of Pierre Trudeau’s friend Fidel Castro, referred to black people as “lazy and indolent, spending their salaries on frivolities and drinking” — as opposed to “the European [who] has a tradition of working and saving.”
Trudeua’s photos are not a deviation from leftist tradition, they are its natural conclusion.
Inexplicably, anyone pointing out that Trudeau dehumanizing himself by darkening his skin for a joke is racist — including Trudeau himself — has been met with a tsunami of articles titled something like “Trudeau Is Not a Racist, He’s Just [insert insult here]” arguing that Trudeau’s real crime is being annoying.
The National Post, a right-leaning newspaper in Canada, published three opinion pieces making this case.
“[T]here was probably no intent to mock any racial or ethnic group in the several incidents that have been revealed,” columnist Conrad Black wrote in “Trudeau’s Not a Racist, Just a Hypocrite and a Weak Leader.” Black attributed Trudeau’s love of blackface and “enthusiasm” for wearing non-Canadian ethnic clothing to a lack of intelligence, though he noted they were “affected and worrisome.” But, Black insisted, they were not racist.
Similarly, Andrew Coyne wrote in the same publication that Trudeau was “a sanctimonious fraud,” but not a racist:
Perhaps the most damning thing that can be said is that, when the prime minister claims he was unaware, as a 29-year-old teacher in 2001, that dressing up as a member of a racial minority was offensive — that, in fact, it did not dawn on him until after he was elected as an MP, in 2008 — most of us believe him. It is difficult to believe he could be that racist, but it is all too easy to believe he could be that clueless.
“His delight in blackface appears to be of a piece with other aspects of his behaviour, such as his party trick of falling down stairs, and to stem from the same psychological wellsprings: the vanity, the insatiable desire for attention, the showy theatricality,” Coyne wrote.
The third National Post column defending Trudeau urges conservatives to reject “cancel culture,” presumably by embracing blackface.
In a bizarre article that begins with author Jonathan Kay apparently straining to remember every time he had seen someone wear darkening face paint in his life, the author condemns not Trudeau, but conservatives who have statedly plainly that blackface is racist.
“Trudeau’s Aladdin bit, while tacky and insensitive, had no connection to the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow. His 1980s-era Banana Boat act at Brébeuf, by contrast, is harder to defend, because it can’t be deflected on the basis of chromatic, ethnic or historical nuance,” Kay wrote. “But I still don’t think it would have been shocking to those who grew up in Quebec during this period, especially as regards Francophone norms.”
The real villains of the Trudeau blackface scandal, he concluded, are conservatives “cheering on Trudeau’s shaming” because, he explained:
They are legitimizing the very same witch-hunt culture that, in recent years, has led to the deterioration of our national politics into a hysterical bug hunt for incriminating Facebook posts, the spread of false allegations against men such as Steven Galloway, and the collapse of highbrow arts and letters into a name-and-shame ouroboros of perpetual wokeness.
Some conservatives in America have taken these writers’ leads, making the same point that accurately identifying Trudeau as a racist for thinking that darkening his skin makes him more ape-like, and not Trudeau believing this, is the real problem in today’s society.
“I would only call Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau a massive hypocrite — not a racist,” the Washington Examiner‘s David Freddoso wrote, explaining that he believes “in a culture of national forgiveness.” It is not clear what he is forgiving Trudeau of if he refuses to call Trudeau a racist in the first place.
“Trudeau’s blackface and ‘brownface’ costumes were in extremely poor taste, and they both came decades after such dress-up could be written off as an unfortunate product of the times,” he argued. “Still, I do not believe for one second that Trudeau hates people of other races, or that he would deliberately discriminate against them, or offend them if reasonably informed about the potential consequences of his behavior.”
“It’s just that I’ve never heard of Trudeau mistreating or disrespecting or singling out anyone because of their race. In defiance of today’s intersectional ideologues, we should all stand up and reiterate that this is the true test and definition of racism,” he concluded.
The worst offender in the conservative race to defend the world’s favorite leftist was The Federalist, where columnist David Marcus appeared to urge the world to embrace humiliating racial disguises. He makes the case by taking Trudeau at face value when he claimed that he painted his skin black for an “Aladdin” disguise, despite the fact that the fictional character is of Arab descent and no mainstream interpretations of the Arabian Nights story identifies him as dark-skinned.
“Now, setting aside the question of whether adults should wear costumes at all, one must ask, is dressing and wearing makeup to pretend to be a fictional character racist? In the vast majority of cases, the answer is no,” Marcus wrote, allowing that only blackface that makes “direct references to minstrelry” is indisputably racist. Since Trudeau did not try to paint large lips on himself and wasn’t caught eating watermelon in the images, the blackface itself, Marcus concludes, is not racist.
“But what really makes traditional minstrel blackface racist is not the makeup, it’s the narrative behind it, which generally depicted a well-intentioned, talented, but lazy and dumb black person,” he argued. “So donning that particular kind of makeup clearly references those odious ideas. This is simply not true of dressing up as Aladdin.”
The piece concludes with a dream of a new society, one in which “a white guy can put on makeup to be Black Panther and a black guy can put on makeup to be Donald Trump.”
Canada’s politicians, who have something to gain from Trudeau’s demise, have at least not all absolved Trudeau of his racism, instead condemning his political ability. His prime opponent in the October 21 election, Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer, stated that the photos and video prove “he’s not fit to govern this country, that he’s not willing to hold himself to the standards that he’s asked others to hold themselves to,” making only a political assessment of his rival.
Maxime Bernier, the head of the right-wing People’s Party, went out of his way to say he would not call Trudeau a racist but “definitely … the biggest hypocrite in the world.”
Bizarrely, all too many people ostensibly on the right have taken this route, refusing to call blackface fanaticism racist in a distorted attempt to combat radical campus leftism. In doing so they are buoying the fraudulent political career of a man who has made a lifetime hobby of promoting the narrative that dark-skinned people are less human than their light-skinned peers — and playing his racism for laughs.