Toronto's legendary Pride Parade is a festival of inclusiveness – a good-natured rainbow coalition that embraces every letter of the LGBTQ alphabet. It's so inclusive that even straight people march in it. Its message is: Loud, proud and unbowed. Nobody can bully us any more.
Well, almost nobody. The new bully on the block is Black Lives Matter, a tiny group of noisy activists who borrow their branding and their belligerence from the United States. They've proved they can bully just about anyone, including city hall, the mayor and the provincial Premier. The Pride Parade was a pushover.
Black Lives Matter was this year's guest of honour at the Pride Parade. They graciously returned the favour by accusing their hosts of "anti-blackness," and halting the parade until their demands were met.
"We are under attack," shouted Alexandria Williams, one of the Toronto group's co-founders. "Pride Toronto, we are calling you out!" Ms. Williams said, as reported by the Toronto Star. She accused Pride of "a historical and current culture of anti-blackness" that is "deeply embedded in the festival."
You'd think, just weeks after the slaughter in Orlando, that they might have chosen to cede the spotlight to the dead and wounded, who really were under attack. But no. The Black Lives Matter activists are firmly convinced that they are at the very top of the pyramid of oppression. Only after the parade's executives meekly agreed to all of their demands (basically, more money for their projects) did they allow the show to go on.
Most of these demands were harmless. But one was not. BLM insists that the Pride Parade has to kick out the police floats, which have been a popular staple for years. This is wrong, and sad, and bad. Police participation in the parade is a welcome symbol of solidarity and inclusion – and also an important message to the public that gay people exist in every walk of life. But BLM activists loathe the police, who, they believe, are racist to the core. So they have to go. (Side note, for what it's worth: Toronto's police chief is black.)
The short history of Black Lives Matter in Toronto proves that so long as you're the victim group du jour, bullying and intimidation can win you obeisance from officials, to say nothing of reverential coverage in the media. When they staged a sit-in outside police headquarters to protest police racism, the Toronto Star depicted them as freedom fighters. After they demonstrated outside the home of Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, she met them on the steps of Queen's Park and declared, "I believe we still have systemic racism in our society." When they accused the city of racism for shortening the schedule of an African music festival (the neighbours had complained about the noise), the city hurriedly restored it. In response to their demands, both the city and the province have called for investigations into the racist practices of the police – despite the obvious fact that Toronto is one of the most racially peaceable cities in all of North America.
We're not problem-free, of course. There are the usual controversies over random stops by police, and to what extent these stops amount to racial profiling. The police recently killed a mentally disturbed man who was black (although there's no sign his skin colour was a factor). These issues are worth discussing. But we're not Ferguson, or anything like it. By pretending that Toronto is just another racist hellhole where police routinely gun down black kids, the Black Lives Matter folks do not create a useful forum for discussion. Nor do they pay much attention to the black kids who are gunned down by other black kids. Don't those lives matter, too?
Don't ask. Identity politics trumps everything these days, and the more minority identities you possess, the greater is your claim for recognition, redress and a soapbox. For instance, Black Lives Matter co-founder Janaya Khan describes "themself" as a "Black, queer, gender-nonconforming activist." Which means there's probably no better place to be on Earth than here. Better here, at any rate, than Jamaica, Mexico or Istanbul, where the Pride Parade was broken up by tear gas.
The trouble is that when bullies get their way, they just keep on bullying. Sometimes the victims are so cowed they'll even thank them for it. Toronto is planning to bestow this year's award for race relations on none other than Black Lives Matter. I can't wait to see what they'll demand when they get it.