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.