defending the despicable

A 7-year-old girl shows up in class with a nazi swastika drawn on her arm. The teacher washes it off. The next day, the mother has redrawn the swastika on her daughter’s arm and sent her back to school. Provincial child welfare authorities show up at their home, find nazi flags and other symbols of neo-nazism, and decide to take the girl and her 2-year-old brother into custody. 

“It was one of the stupidest things I’ve done in my life but it’s no reason to take my kids,” the mother told CBC News at the time.

The mother is fighting Manitoba child welfare authorities who have applied to take permanent custody of the children. She says that while she possesses neo-nazi and “white pride” symbols, she is not a white supremacist. 

“A black person has a right to say black power or black pride and yet they’re turning around on us and saying we’re racists and bigots and neo-Nazis because we say white pride. It’s hypocrisy at its finest.”  

Consider whether the state should have the right to remove children from their families because the state deems the parents’ thoughts or beliefs unsuitable, unacceptable or dangerous. Then consider what you would do as a Mohawk parent if the state decided that possession of red power literature, symbols or a Warrior flag were justification for apprehending your children? 

Is it instilling pride or conditioning racial hatred?

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12 Comments

Filed under Aboriginal peoples, Canada, Canadian politics, Indigenous peoples, Indigenous rights, racism

12 responses to “defending the despicable

  1. KevinG

    It’s hypocrisy at its finest.

    I think justification for the label of hypocrisy is a little thin. For one thing, I think it’s fair to say that the Nazis were not a group resisting what they saw as injustice. Second, I think it’s fair to say that they went well beyond instilling pride in a heritage. When a group adopts the symbols of Nazism without distancing themselves from the racism and violence associated with those symbols it is not credible to claim that the group is merely expressing pride in a racial heritage.

    Having said that, it is profoundly disturbing to see the state intervene by removing children from their family based on the beliefs of their parents. It may be the lesser of evils to allow bigots to perpetuate their views through their children.

  2. shmohawk

    Yep, I agree that trying to equate the reasons for the black power or black consciousness movements with nazism and theories of superiority of the white race are ridiculous. But I wonder sometimes whether people condone or avoid confronting racism when they convince themselves or – worse – teach their children that as historical victims of racism they cannot be racist.

    I grew up with an extended family of hard hats and lots of machismo. So attitudes toward gays, blacks and other races, not to mention women, were pretty archaic. My immediately family was much less so. But I remember the talk and wondered where those attitudes came from and why no one ever confronted them. Then again, neither did I.

  3. kgulstene1

    Yes, that’s a good point. I thought about that when I wrote the comment. Many children avoid the social views of their parents either through their own predispositions or other environmental influences but that must be what the state is worried about. If not, why remove the kids?

    “… and wondered where those attitudes came from and why no one ever confronted them.” I wonder whether the frequency of confrontation is a good proxy for the frequency of opposing views?

    I remember, as a teenager, watching a TV commercial about black college funds in the US. Sitting beside me was one of the kindest, most generous ladies I’d ever met. To my utter astonishment she became outraged at the prospect of black kids going to college and shouted “that’s the most dangerous thing I’ve ever heard, giving those people an education!”

    No one confronted her at the time or later but my parents made it very clear on the way home just how wrong she was. They remained friends forever.

    It’s just an anecdote but I think that a tolerance of bigotry is not an acceptance of bigotry.

    I’m also not convinced that some tolerance of bigotry isn’t a good thing. Is it worse to have people enforcing a set of views and values on those who hold unpopular views or to leave unpopular views unchallenged and run the risk that they morf into outright discrimination or violence?

  4. KevinG

    Hmm, not sure why the author name changed between post 1 and three but they’re both from the same guy.

  5. shmohawk

    The name changed because you must be a super hero and now the world knows your secret identity. (muhahahahaha…)

    I worked with some journalists in western Canada and was one of the few darkies in the joint. A young Chinese lady joined us, to a lot of bad racial jokes and no small amount of racist insults about her and her work. One day, in video editing, my editor and I were held up by one her stories getting fed to the show for mixing. My vid-editor started making some of those jokes with me sitting next to him.

    I don’t know what possessed him. Why did he think it okay to spew that crap with me the only person there? It made me wonder what he said about me when I wasn’t there. I told him to knock it off. I didn’t like that shit. I wouldn’t take it. If he kept it up, I’d have to do something about it.

    He never said anything like that in front of me again. I doubt I changed his attitudes. We had been friends, but no more. Was it worth it? I think so, on both a personal and professional level. How else to let a boor know?

    But I get your point. Do I go around looking for confrontation? No. Should I? No. But when confronted, do i back away? I don’t think so.

  6. KevinG

    Oh great, and I just finished gluing the stars onto the mask — kinda moot now!

    Everyone get’s to draw their own line in the sand and that is very much as it should be!

    There was a some sort of study or paper published recently on this topic. Two actors in a room of subjects and one makes a racist or off-color remark ( can’t recall the details exactly ) about the black actor. I wasn’t all that concerned about the observation that none of the subject confronted the remarks ( for the reasons above ) but I was disturbed that the bigot was chosen more often than the target of the bigotry when the subjects were asked to choose partners. I should probably look it up and read it.

  7. shmohawk

    I read stories on that study. I think I wrote something on it.

  8. shmohawk

    https://shmohawk.wordpress.com/2009/01/09/rise-up-stand-up/

    I did. I couldn’t past the link in the previous reply tho.

  9. bob

    This incident could have very easily been taken care of as soon as it broke. This women might or might not be a racist. Child welfare might or might not have been right to take away her children. But has anyone even bothered to tell her or the thousands who have commented on this incident on the internet what the REAL Swastika is? NO, no one has.

    1. The Swastika is an ancient Indian symbol, but is common in other ancient cultures. The word itself is from Sanskrit (an ancient Indian language)- refers to a lucky or auspicious symbol.
    2. Aryan is an Anglicized form of the Sanskrit word “Arya”- meaning noble. People from Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, etc., are Aryans. NOT Germans or others “white” people. After the killing of millions of Jews by the Nazis the second biggest crime they committed was hijacking the Swastika and the word Aryan and claiming it as their own. It is a historical, ethnic, linguistic, and mythological mistake to refer to Europeans as Aryans.
    3. This women, as are all her supporters, ignorant of history. However, many commentators on this subject are equally ignorant. As someone who is from India, and considers myself to be an Aryan, and holds the Swastika in highest regards, I am offended by people’s lack of knowledge on his subject. google it!
    If anything she should have her children taken away because she does not even know what she is drawing on her daughter’s arms. I wear a tattoo of the swastika not because I am a neo-nazi skinhead racist bigot. I have it because I am a true Aryan.

  10. shmohawk

    The original story is about a white woman with neo-nazi and white supremist symbols around her house. The only connotation with the swastika was with the neo-nazi movements, and none other was meant or implied. I’m quite aware, as are many others, of the origins of the swastika. This symbol also shows up in Indigenous Central and South American cultures as well.

    I understand your anger at the misappropriation of the swastika by the Nazi Party during World War II, and the neo-nazis and other white supremacists of today. However, my post was not about this or any other symbol. It was about parental responsibilities.

  11. roadrunner

    I really think people should check out the Winnipeg newspapers’ coverage before formulating any opinion on this. The children were not taken because of the racist views. The racist views are what caused the school to call CFS. When they investigated CFS learned of a number of things that caused them to ask for permanent guardianship. Drug & alcohol abuse, not sending girl to school, emotional abuse of the child, exposing the child to programs, information etc that is far from age appropriate. These would be of concern regardless of whether the parents were skin heads or not.
    The step dad has tried to turn this into a case about freedom of speach. It isn’t. It’s about CFS asking for permanent custody because they really don’t believ that the parents will be able to adequately care for their children.

  12. shmohawk

    I’m not arguing for one side or the other in the Winnipeg hearings. I’m using that story to raise questions about parental responsibility, racism, social attitudes, conditioning, and instilling in the child lessons about free will.

    I’ve read some accounts on the hearings in Winnipeg, perhaps not as much as I might. The media reports that I have read seem to concentrate on the racism/hatred aspects and not on those other factors that you rightly point out, such as concerns by child welfare authorities on safe or healthy home environment, parental substance abuse, etc.

    The media seems to ignore or downplay the aspects you raise, rightly or wrongly, to portray this as a question of balance between the welfare of the child and freedom of thought, or a parent’s right to teach my children whatever I want no matter how ugly or repugnant.

    So your warning to read up on the issues is valid, because the volume of stuff in the media identifying racism as the main reason for intervention is overwhelming.

    Like others commenting here and elsewhere, however, I raise certain questions about parental responsibility for what we – as individuals – teach our children. I ask whether teaching certain values or cultural aspects to our own children might be construed by some authority as detrimental to the welfare of the child?

    I recount personal misgivings about my own family and upbringing, when I was a child, and wonder if that might be construed as grounds for intervention today? My focus is on questions about our own perceptions of responsibility to our children, and to society, and where they meet or not.

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