“I would start on the issue of anti-Semitism by not having a mayor who refers to us — the Jewish people in this room — with a derogatory name that starts with ‘k,’” he said. “We cannot have a mayor like that because that is where it starts.”
Ari makes a damned good point here.
Bigotry is something that exists in every society, seething just beneath the surface. It's particularly prominent in places where a population or subset of the population feels like they're getting the short end of the stick. Bigotry is always looking for validation by people of position, which enables it to push the envelope that much further.
There's a lot of anger out there right now, bitterness at the economy fueled by hyper-partisan populist nonsense at all levels. And as we all know, Jews are history's favourite scapegoats. At this particular juncture in history, our leaders don't get the luxury of "being human," if that means setting the wrong example for others to follow - which Rob Ford has unquestionably done.
The Fords don't see themselves as bigots, of course - from their point of view, they call a spade a spade. Black youth are in need of a white saviour, but make for good slumin' buddies; gay people are a menace to society; anyone who believes in social responsibility is clearly a weak-minded fool.
That their supporters feel empowered to use the Ford Nation brand when sending in hate-mail to elected officials is deeply disturbing. For elected officials to brush off or bait-and-switch on such issues of hate committed in their name is truly alarming.
While more polished candidates have been hesitant to poke the Ford Nation bear for fear of reprisal, Ari has the guts to call out bigotry for what it is.
Good on him. Now's not the time for good folk to do nothing. It's the time for them to speak out against bigotry with a strong voice.
As tension mounts globally and locally, we're going to need leaders like Ari unafraid to speak truth to power, even when personal risk is involved.
Ari's not the kind of guy to pick a fight - but he's certainly showing the willingness to end one.
I'm glad he's increasingly being included in the debates - his is a voice we need to be hearing more often.