Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Racism goes Blithely On. . .

I recently wrote a blogpost on racism toward Canada's Aboriginal people. I only received a couple of comments, one of which was depressingly racist in nature. I have since blocked that commentator's source-feed and as a result the comment is no longer visible (though my reply is still there). As a general rule I don't believe in giving racist opinions a platform on my blog, they can go to the mainstream media if they want that platform. I only accepted the comment because it so beautifully illustrated the degree to which racism is alive and well in Canada. And of course, unlike old-boy, redneck racism of the past, most modern racist discourse attempts to hide itself behind supposedly 'rational' arguments and so-called real, but difficult to hear, "facts" about the oppressed group. But, like most such discourse, this comment had a number of what poker-players would call "tells;" clues that hidden behind the supposedly "rational" discourse are opinions that are racist because they do one of several things - they paint an entire race with a wide brush of opinion and are therefore bigoted, they blame the oppressed group for their own oppression, they attempt to invoke some kind of 'reverse-racism' claim (they say that if we do anything for one particular group of people but not for everyone that is another form of racism), they ignore the long history of injustice and the cultural scars that that creates and claims that we just "have to start from where we are," or (perhaps most tellingly) they create an apologist discourse in which the say something to the effect that "well, all the pain and suffering is too bad but that is just how history goes."

It is this last opinion that I often find most shocking. I have heard this kind of argument for much of my life and always find it depressing. I once heard if from an in-law and it caused a rift that was never healed. This in-law said essentially the same thing that the commenter said - to wit: "well it was a war and "we" won because we had better weapons and technology (read - we are superior)  and that is just how history goes. It is too bad but that's just the breaks."

Besides being deeply offensive to any civilized person, this "might makes right" argument is, I think, inherently racist because it puts an inherent value on a 'race' of people based upon one particular standard - the military one. But one also knows that this approach is racist because it is such a disingenuous opinion, an opinion that one generally only ever hears from the colonial victor. If someone invaded your country and took everything you had just because they wanted to, it is unlikely you would adopt the opinion that says "oh well, I guess they are just superior to us and we should consign our culture to the 'dust-bin' of history. So it goes."

To make matters worse, this particular commentator not only invoked the "right makes right" argument but had the gall to say that the European colonization of Canada was more "humane" than most such efforts and that we adopted a "live and let live" attitude toward the Aboriginal people. This blithe and outrageous opinion implied that the native people should essentially be thankful that we, as colonial conquerors, were so tolerant and humane because we could have been much worse!

The comment in question was also filled with the typical reiteration of the myths that 'natives have an easy ride,' that 'they get everything for free,' and that they get a great deal more from government programs than the rest of us do. These claims are part of the systemic racism that infuses our culture because they simply are not true, and yet they are constantly reiterated as though factual.

But the last and most poignent tell in the whole comment came at the end when the commentator said, rather pathetically, "I just want my fair share." What a small, childish, and sad sentiment. For generations we have been stealing money, land, rightful royalties, and basic human dignity from the Aboriginal people of the region we call Canada. We have destroyed not only a way of life but the actual lives of hundreds of thousands of souls. Only a diminutive spirit would have the gall to think that the worst part of this legacy of hate and violence is that they, as a non-native Canadian, are being robbed of some supposed 'hand-out' that is going to an Aboriginal person.

So it goes.

1 comment:

thwap said...

I despise the ignorant and selfish (childishly selfish as you point out) mindset that is displayed every time the FN stand up for themselves.