Criminality Has No Ethnicity – OpEd


All Canadians are shocked over the recent awful events. Three people were massacred. Beyond being shocked, people have been full of fear for their families over the last fortnight until the discovery of the murder suspects bodies.

News bulletins were saying about Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky wanted for the 2nd degree murder. All Canadian newspapers were reporting the manhunt for the two suspects. Every day more and more details were being unveiled about the identities of the suspects.

Most of the information was focused on Bryer Schmegelsky. His devastated father gave an emotional interview to the Canadian Press. Following the interview, several articles appeared in some leading Canadian media. Regrettably, some journalists in the pursuit of shocking details and exclusiveness seemed not to care about ethical consequences of their reporting and articles.

It was reported that the ancestors of the Schmegelsky had come from Ukraine. In the meantime, Bryer Schmegelsky was claimed to share Nazi ideas, since fascist attributes and symbols attracted him. Canadian newspapers were full of photos of Bryer Schmegelsky wearing military style dress with a gun in his hands. Also, journalists attributed his predilections to computer games. Vancouver Sun and other newspapers reported that his profile picture for an online game depicted a logo resembling a swastika, which appeared to be from the far-right Ukrainian group Azov Battalion.

All these shocking details draw the image of a committed Nazi. Meanwhile, the information about his ethnic origin cast aspersions on all Ukrainian community in Canada. It is unacceptable.

Firstly, in reality, the murders had no nationalist or racist motives. All victims were white, and it’s unlikely that the murderers had something against Canadians, Americans or Australians. The most probable reason of the homicides were psychological issues of the murderers. The eighteen-year-old youth attracted to enigmatic aggressive symbolism could not be even aware of outrageous crimes of the Azov Battalion in Ukraine.

Secondly, it is inappropriate to mention ethnic origin of the criminals. Ukrainian Canadians are an integral part of the Canadian nation. They contributed a lot to the development of our country, together with the other Canadians they always stand against chauvinism and Nazism.

Journalists have to be responsible and not to give rise for any biased judgment. Criminality has no ethnicity. If we speak of somebody’s origin or skin color we will sow the seeds of anger and new violence, and we will not differ from the fascists those we condemn.

*Neil Karpenko, PhD

Neil Karpenko

Neil Karpenko, PhD, Ukraine’s history and politics researcher residing in Toronto. Contributing author to Haaretz, The Hill Times and Morning Star

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