Reason Roundup

Justin Trudeau Apologizes for Brownface Photo

Plus: A former judge loses a coaching job, Mayor Pete proposes "Medicare for All Who Want It," and more...

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Justin Trudeau issued an apology after a photo of him in brownface at a 2001 costume party surfaced Wednesday. The Canadian prime minister is currently campaigning for re-election, and this scandal could damage both his chances of winning and his reputation as a woke progressive.

The photo depicts a 29-year-old Trudeau dressed as Aladdin at an "Arabian Nights" costume party hosted by the private school where he worked as a teacher. As part of the costume, Trudeau darkened his skin.

"This is something I shouldn't have done many years ago," said Trudeau, according to The New York Times. "It was something that I didn't think was racist at the time, but now I recognize it was something racist to do, and I am deeply sorry. I'm going to be asking Canadians to forgive me."

The controversy has drawn immediate comparisons to the incident involving Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, who refused to resign he was accused of appearing in an offensive yearbook photo dressed as either a member of the KKK or a black person. (It wasn't clear which person in the photo was supposed to be Northam.) Northam's photo, though, was from 1984. The stigma around blackface and brownface was certainly much greater in 2001.

Trudeau does seem to have a thing for costumes. As the Times notes,

on a disastrous state trip to India this year, Mr. Trudeau attracted ridicule for wearing flashy silk and gold-embroidered outfits and pointed, red silk shoes. Though intended as a gesture of respect for Indian culture, it was widely seen in Canada as a cringe-inducing game of dress-up.

On Wednesday night, while repeatedly apologizing for the brownface makeup and the hurt it can cause people who have faced discrimination, Mr. Trudeau said that he had "always been more enthusiastic about costumes than sometimes is appropriate."

Mr. Trudeau said that he also wore blackface in high school while performing "Day-O," the Jamaican folk song.

Canada's election is October 21.


FREE MINDS

Remember Judge Aaron Persky, who was successfully recalled from office after a law professor mounted a campaign to punish him for supposedly showing leniency to Stanford rapist Brock Turner? He's still facing a witch hunt, and he recently lost his job as a high school tennis coach as well. The College Fix reports:

Persky confirmed the Sept. 11 firing in a statement to NBC Bay Area, saying that Superintendent Polly Bove "explained that she was motivated by a desire to protect the players from the potentially intrusive media attention related to my hiring." He called it a "privilege to coach the team, if only for a short time."

The cowardly school and district refused to even admit that it fired Persky, saying his employment "has ended" and that parting ways is "in the best interest of our students and school community."

The Times editorial board was outraged by the school district's response, denouncing the "spineless school bureaucrats" for treating Persky as "the attacker himself" and ignoring that his sentence "comported with the law as it existed" and the probation department recommendation.

Firing him as tennis coach is "ridiculously gratuitous, cowardly and off-base," the editorial continued: "The action helps turn the quest for justice into mob rule, the law into a popularity contest and the independent judiciary into an endangered species."

As I explained at the time of the recall vote, while Turner's sentence was indeed lenient, it was the one recommended by the probation department. Turner will also face lifetime sex offender status, which is a much harsher punishment than people realize.


FREE MARKETS

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg has debuted his "Medicare for All Who Want It" policy proposal in a Washington Post op-ed. He emphasizes the differences between his plan and the approach favored by Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D–Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.), which would outlaw private insurance entirely:

I've always said that anyone who lets the words "Medicare-for-all" escape their lips should tell us just as plainly how they plan to get there. The only way we'll rally Americans behind a reform that affects so much of our lives and our economy is if we're honest and straightforward about the details. So I'll be upfront: My plan will cost about $1.5 trillion over a decade, paid for by cost savings and corporate tax reform to ensure big corporations pay their fair share.

The plan "reflects the leftward shift of the Democratic mainstream," notes Vox:

The plan is more modest than what the most progressive candidates and voters support, which would be a single-payer system similar to Canada and Taiwan. But the Buttigieg plan is still ambitious and reflects the leftward shift of the Democratic mainstream: the more moderate candidates aren't willing to scrap private coverage entirely, but they are still pushing for a much larger government role in providing health care to Americans.

QUICK HITS

  • President Trump has chosen Robert C. O'Brien, the State Department's chief hostage negotiator, to be his new national security advisor. The man is likely to recommend a hawkish course of action against Iran.
  • Teen activist Greta Thunberg testified before Congress yesterday, urging action on climate change.
  • The authors of a new book on Brett Kavanaugh say the Supreme Court justice had agreed to be interviewed, but only if they wrote that they did not speak with him.
  • Jacobin says The Great British Bake Off promotes socialist values.
  • Are college campuses eroding free speech? At a recent debate sponsored by the McCain Institute, FIRE's Samantha Harris and I argued yes, while Georgetown Free Speech Project director Sanford Ungar and Wesleyan University President Michael Roth argued no. Read The USA Spectator's write up here.

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