I am told that the revealed blackface photos of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are “shocking.” I can think of several different words to describe them — “hilarious” certainly being one — but I would not personally call them shocking. Anyone who has been paying attention cannot be shocked that the wokest white boy this side of the Atlantic has this sort of thing in his past. And when you consider his widely recognized penchant for dressing in ethnic attire — as Trudeau himself said last night, he has “more enthusiasm for costumes than is sometimes appropriate” — it would, if anything, be shocking if the man had never once donned blackface.
But is it racist? So far, we know that Trudeau adjusted his complexion for an Aladdin costume (in a remake that was at least better than Will Smith’s, we have to admit), and to perform a Jamaican song at a talent show, and in at least one other as-yet-unclear context. Objectively, none of this is necessarily racist. Stupid? Yes. Insensitive? Perhaps. But it doesn’t compare to the explicitly dehumanizing blackface worn by minstrel show performers in the early 20th century. This kind of blackface is a joke. Maybe even a tribute. It is not automatically racist, and, all things being equal, it doesn’t matter what dumb costume a dumb guy wore 20 years ago.
And yet, all things are not equal. This blackface stuff is irrelevant and un-racist only by the objective standard of reasonable, sincere people. That is to say, it is relevant and certainly racist by the absurd standard of unreasonable and insincere people like Justin Trudeau. Leftists deserve to be held to their own standards for a change. What makes Trudeau’s blackface scandalous is not that it is bigoted, but that it directly contradicts his carefully curated brand as a racially enlightened progressive. This is a hypocrisy scandal, not a racism scandal. And on that level, he ought to be raked over the coals.
Consider the leftist argument against men like Mark Sanford and Larry Craig. They say that they — the leftists — don’t much care if a man has an affair in his personal life, or solicits gay sex in a restroom, but it’s an outrage in the case of conservative Republicans because of their “family values” brand. These Republicans are the very people — so the argument goes — who trumpet their Christian virtue and attack others for falling short in that regard. It is the height of hypocrisy for them, of all people, to be doing the toe-tap in a bathroom stall. I don’t necessarily disagree with this logic. And it’s this exact logic that should be applied to leftist public figures who have racially insensitive skeletons in their closets. In the name of consistency, and for the sake of punishing hypocrisy, they ought to be treated exactly as they would treat anyone else who has done the same thing.
And how, precisely, does the Left treat such people? Well, consider what happened to Megyn Kelly when she merely talked about blackface on her NBC show. All she did was argue that sometimes blackface isn’t racist — sometimes it’s meant as a tribute, not an insult — and for that, she was pilloried, attacked, and eventually fired. The Left demanded Kelly’s head on a platter for defending exactly the thing that Trudeau actually did. So how should it treat Trudeau? Should we not insist on consistency? If the Left wants to give Trudeau a pass, like they gave Virginia Governor Ralph Northam a pass, then they must be similarly generous with anyone and everyone who has done or said racially inappropriate things in the past. This seems like a perfectly fair demand. One standard — not two.