beyond the words, to the meaning

I once had respect for an editor at the National Post newspaper, a right-wing Canadian rag that has seen better days. But then, so has the editor in question. Once, in a former life, I even insisted that we bring him onto our national TV program to represent the intelligent right wing in Canada. Today, I would more likely be encouraging an examination of the racial intolerance in right wing journalism, so often cloaked in the the guise of free speech.

I respect people who can articulate an argument in a logical way even if I don’t agree with them. I look for people who make me think, who provoke. But in the end, I look for writers who share my belief in what should be a central plank in journalism (just as in medicine): First, do no harm.

My respect for this person, never great, has evaporated completely. It disappeared as Jonathan Kay’s writings on Indigenous peoples in Canada has become increasingly shrill, calling for the wiping out of entire Indigenous nations, whole cultures. He does so based on little more than racial prejudice. Gone is any trace of an open mind willing to listen, to see value in other points of view or opinion. Gone too is the wish to do good, the grudging respect, or at least any civility or politeness that may once have existed – if only in my own mind.

Like many anthropologists working with aboriginals, the authors were pressured to act as advocates for native cultural empowerment. But what they saw — sex and child abuse, violent crime, economic and social dysfunction, suicide, substance abuse and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome — soured them on the mantras being peddled by their peers. The most urgent task, they conclude in their book, isn’t heaping more powers and cash on band leaders, but providing natives with the education and cultural formation required to make it in modern society, so they can leave the reserves behind. Widdowson and Howard don’t call this goal “assimilation” — but I do.

Actually, Widdowson and Howard do advocate assimilation. They may not use the word but the meaning is crystal clear. They have just become the latest to join the far-right’s on-going attempt to obliterate the Indigenous in the guise of “civilizing” them; a centuries-old and completely barbaric approach that finds a parallel in the idiocy and madness that made one of the the Vietnam war’s great quotes possible: To save the village, we had to destroy it.

If you want to look further, just go here. Do your own search for other columns. See for yourself. Make up your own mind. Just don’t get mesmerized by pretty words – look at what they actually mean. See the ugliness for yourself. Then ask yourself: If this had been written about the Jewish people, would the Canadian media have let him get away with it?

In other words, the encroachment of Western values in aboriginal communities isn’t the problem — it’s the solution.



Filed under Aboriginal peoples, Canada, Canadian politics, Indigenous peoples, journalism, racism, writing

2 responses to “beyond the words, to the meaning

  1. Pingback: beyond the words, to the meaning | Right Views

  2. That was one article, I emailed Kay and sent him a response, he said he would post it. Here is that response.
    That was a pretty offensive article, you want native input, hope you can handle it.
    So first off, I think it is fair to say faith has little credibility with you: Even though it is an integral part of our make-up. However that would be pretty hard to prove, but maybe it isn’t. There were many great men and women who have been grounded in their faith specifically in the All-Mighty. So that argument is old as the bible, and so is the agnostic train of thought. Let me however remind you “The poor are rich in faith.” Faith is necessary when you have very little.
    If there is anything I can say it is that Native people do have to become more responsible for themselves, however it is pretty obvious that they have had little control. From the government to the dominant majority, native people have had to depend on them for their lives. So before you jump up and down try putting that info into your promoted idioms.
    Native reserves are a result of racial segregation. Native did not create the reserve system. However just as the majority tried to build their national dream by putting out other people, so it seems that because of the cultural exclusion natives have had no alternative but to create their own environments, at least there they can have some success.
    Operate on a traditional hunter and gather mentality-what a joke, can a person really think like that today??
    If whites had the solution they surely wouldn’t allow such a system as the Indian Act to be still in operation. I guess keeping people helpless is part of that superior pathology.


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