Two faces of Toronto and the European We

“Hitler didn’t do a good job” (a liveleak video of an anti-Isreali marcher in TO, from SDA)

The guy that said that hits the camera of the guy who asks him what Hitler should have done better. So that’s positive – he isn’t proud of his hatred.

So I wonder why it is that opposing immigration that includes cultures with people who will hold rallies and yell things like that is automatically racist in some people’s eyes.

Yeah, it can be. The first comment to that Small Dead Animals post refers to “savage Arabs”. There’s racism on the right. Yet I am far more comfortable to be conservative, and in terms of racism and racial thinking more than anything else. This started with Jim Pankiw’s run for mayor of Saskatoon. Pankiw is a pretty unpleasant guy who is barred from the Conservative party. The major flashpoint of the controversy around his run was a pamphlet he put out titled “It’s Clear Who The Real Racists Are” – a collection of racial and, to be honest, racist quotes of a few native leaders in Saskatchewan. I don’t like Pankiw and it’s pretty clear that his campaign against any special preferences for any racial group was as the voice of white resentment. Yet. In truth I decided that while I rejected Pankiw’s motivations and his tone was ugly I was and am more comfortable even with Jim Pankiw and the people that voted for him than the people opposite. It actually mattered to Jim Pankiw that an aborigional leader would say racist things. Now, Jim cared as a white person – he didn’t like having those things said about him and it frustrated him that white people always get the racist rap when there were aborigional leaders saying things no white person publicly would. I think it is fair to say that Pankiw’s motivation was racial, and arguably racist from the perspective that he was demanding a level playing field without reference to the pretty obvious fact that native individuals are generally born into disadvantaged circumstances.

The thing is this – I realized that the people that didn’t care at all that there were aborigional leaders who had said racist things didn’t care as white people. I noticed that there was always this unspecified reference to a “we” that clearly didn’t include natives. It’s the European We in the Canadian discourse that is specifically and almost unconciously white. And the people speaking as the European We didn’t care at all that there was plain racism on the part of some aborigional leaders. They cared very much that a white man named Jim Pankiw was advocating for no racial preferences in Saskatchewan and that he got 10% of the vote for mayor.

If it matters to “us” that even Jim Pankiw’s level of racial thinking got 10% of the vote for mayor of Saskatoon it should matter to “us” when plain racism is voiced by an aborigional. If it’s important for “white” people not to be racist it should be important for aborigional people not to be racist. We all know that racism hurts the culture or individuals who are racist as much as the people they are bigoted towards. It can debilitate a culture into always  blaming someone else for their problems when the truth in the long run is that nobody can help or hurt you as much as you can help yourself. To be completely unaffected by aborigional racism is the definition of soft bigotry, and the racially chauvanist message that soft bigotry sends – that it’s all and always “our” fault – is more damaging than all but the hardest bigotry of the far right. I believe that this is the difference between Canada and America for natives – we have soft bigotry and they have hard bigotry. American natives are better off and it’s because Canadians are racist in a worse way. It may not be worse for our souls but our souls aren’t my first concern.

And the European We even make issues like reserves more about white people than the people that actually live there. My heart sunk listening to a caller say on Sonic 102.9’s vent your spleen feature that “we” should be ashamed to even think of ending the reserve system. “We” took their country and to take the reserves too would be truly shameful. To “us”. How incredibly disgusting. This person was evaluating the merits of rethinking the reserve completely on the basis how it affects white people. The European We think people should be kept on reserves because of how it makes “us” feel. Whatever the arguments about reserves, at least let them be based first on the people that actually live there.

… I had no idea I was going to take this post this way. What was I talking about, Toronto? Because Toronto has another face that is much, much more appealing. It’s not quite safe for work maybe although it’s all video of public areas ; ) It’s vibrant, it’s alive and Canada can do with a bit of that…


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