At the Whitecaps’ matinee against The Philadelphia Union this Saturday, April 27, we joined the protest walk-out organized by The Southsiders, and other supporter groups, at the 35th minute. It didn’t feel like a difficult decision to make. The allegations were serious, the organizational response lacked empathy, and a show of solidarity with the protest organizers cost nothing. In our section, we were among the few. The idea of protest, even at this most basic level, eludes most Canadians. Were those who stayed in their seats in favour of sexual abuse? I doubt it. No, obviously they were not. But they were way more in favour of keeping their heads down and minding their own business. Sometimes it’s hard to do the right thing when the one thing you’ve been trained to do your whole life above all other things is to not the rock the boat, don’t rock the boat, baby. People looked at us with horror as we walked out,like they had suddenly been caught in the tear gas of democracy and they longed for someone strong, and armed with a truncheon, to swiftly restore order.
That same night, the 27th, marked the (delayed) start of Morrissey's Canadian tour. The former singer of The Smiths wasted no time dog-whistling to the alt-right, proclaiming, apropos of nothing, that he was a “Christian” and telling the audience he had “heard of Faith Goldy.” He then invoked Burnaby’s Marissa Chen--killed by a Syrian immigrant. Strange to do so in Toronto. The idea that Morrissey cares about a murdered, Chinese-Canadian from Vancouver outside of it supporting his oft-stated political stance--that immigration doesn’t work--seems implausible: mentioning it in a public concert offers no relief to Chen’s family, and serves only to agitate his audience against multiculturalism.
Much more topical in that city would have been a mention of Bruce McArthur. McArthur, a white guy, liked to kill recent gay immigrants of Middle-Eastern descent. They were easy for him to prey on: they had few friends and family to miss them. Took a minute for Toronto police to care about missing gay immigrants, I think that’s fair to say. Even if you’re one of the fortunate few to make it out of a war zone with your hide still intact, a place where you’ve been persecuted maybe for your sexuality, there’s still a shit load of tough sledding ahead; never mind that you’ve forever left behind everything you’ve ever known, and that the loneliness that waits for you is sublime, a whole bunch of polite people are going to treat you like you’re less than they are, and even when someone kills you, if he’s a friendly-looking white dude, the police are still going to take his side over yours. The “Murdering Gene” is not a trait of nationality or race. But when you mention Christianity, Faith Goldy and the murder of Marissa Chen all in a row that is precisely what you are asking your audience to believe.
Morrissey’s shows at the Sony Centre in Toronto were sold-out, euphoric affairs--despite a two-decades long record of the singer using his fame to promote intolerance and dangerously reductive ideas of race. I think that, at this point, even if Morrissey were to personally behead a gay Syrian in the name of cosmopolitan Christianity, he’d still sell out his shows in Toronto. As long as the beheading occurs to “Suedehead” the loyal are still going to swoon. The Whitecaps’ supporter groups were, and are, far more progressive than all the progressive alternative and indie people who know full well they shouldn’t still support Morrissey. But do. And will—forever. Because The Queen is Dead.
The Whitecaps’ lone goal of the game occurred during the protest: we saw it on tv, from inside the concourse where we watched with other fans who had walked out at 35. It was a header, off a set piece, scored by Doneil Henry, the team’s Canadian central defender. Morrissey played five songs from Viva Hate, his debut solo record. (Credit where credit is due, I guess: when Morrissey said Viva Hate he really meant it. Morrissey has been fanning the flames of racial hatred faithfully these past thirty years, as much as any other singer, musician or songwriter—not named Ted Nugent—you can name.) That album changed my life. I would have been thrilled to hear those songs played live, by him. There are definite advantages to keeping mum and not letting pangs of conscience impinge on your good times. In the eternal battle between doing what’s right and doing what feels good, it’s reassuring at least to know how many Canadians continue to place individual happiness, conformity and the pursuit of ephemeral pleasure above all else.