Saturday, 8 October 2016

Racism & Bigotry: One Canadian's Experience.


A few words on values, plus that which passes for news in these parts compose the latest post.

The search for humor in the face of relentless progress and its attendant madness as usual assumes first position among the writer's concerns.  While entertainment with certainty remains the focus however, a man must also make notice of the insanity that surrounds him, for history's sake if nothing else.

Only with trepidation however, does a man interject thoughts requiring more serious consideration here.

For it can be fairly stated I have made a practice of withholding reference to either specific opinion or personal political orientation throughout the course of what has been a most public life.  It must also be said this writer has made clear a disavowal of the practice of soapboxing by the unelected on matters of state, specifically as regards those fortunate to discover either fame or notoriety in the arts.  These opinions have mostly constrained the writer from declarations of serious political intent and for this both reader and scribe are best served.

Being aware that a single finger pointed elsewhere leaves three aimed at me makes MYOB a living philosophy often taken at face value in these parts.

Yet sometimes a man holding his tongue may both imperil society's peace and risk personal liberty.  At such moments, allowance must be made for circumstance extreme if those with a platform are to serve a greater good.  To place both reputation and safety at risk when encountering such a threat is here considered necessary if unwelcome.  For the forces of xenophobia and bigotry now lay siege to free society while power-starved politicians like piper's play a madman's tune, their avarice unperturbed.

Against such a societal backdrop the writer proffers this personal rumination.

For despite a less apparent amount of thought devoted to their consideration, discussion of values and beliefs lately assumes dangerous position on both national and international political stages.  The nation and its neighbor when forced to raise our collective skirts as result, reveal poor-hid undergarments of bigotry and racism underpinning attitudes and interests at all levels of society.

On national political stages and the streets of both nations a terrible debate rages, with life and death the issue for those in the visibly colored minority.

The shabby remonstrations of our political leaders and the popular media are revealed as little more than pleasantries mouthed to reassure a cowed majority in the face of weekly occurring and ever more terrible events.  An extended cacophony raised by the same majority in feigned surprise and real dismay at the face of outrage gives rise in this man ~ much to his dismay ~ to bitter recollection of personal experience of a despicable scourge.  Though desire to align in support or accordance with either faction does not here exist.

As required by his vocation, the writer remains an observer best served through disinterest in the outcome of the game.

To provide food for thought and nothing more, the writer likewise offers these thoughts for the reader's consideration. In the country where I live, citizens enjoy the relative freedom and protection afforded by a parliamentary democratic system.  As a nation, the rule of law is confirmed and enforced throughout the land, albeit with an assortment of flaws and inequities both unique to itself and common to systems implemented since time began.  Considered against its neighbor states, many of those living here do so with awareness of their extreme good fortune.

The majority of the citizenry including the writer is, rightly for the most part, secure in appreciating our luck.

In recent times however, the people of Canada have issued public declarations regarding the multicultural diversity of our nation.  The polls speak to a fading commitment to equality and cultural inclusion for all, values for which the nation in earlier times was applauded.  Despite effusive praise for our democratic freedom and social tolerance, the attitudes reported by a majority of Canadians veer now to racist bigotry and xenophobic nationalism.  From all corners, narrow claims are lately promoted with the smug assurance of privileged entitlement.

In the strident voice of assimilation, an emperor class that wears no clothes would dominate a land of ice and snow.

To preface the report with context, recall here in Canada each citizen of voting age is automatically granted the right.  As a democratic nation, Canada is a one person, one vote state, with citizens of voting age granted a single ballot.  In law and by constitution, men and women are equal in Canada. All citizens of Canada are assured equal benefit of the law, regardless of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age, or mental or physical disability.  While the information preceding is from time to time promoted as values, they paraphrase the civil rights ensured to all constituents of the nation.

In spite of being enshrined in the nation's constitution however, many of the country's citizens are by routine denied protection of these lofty sentiments.

The public assumptions claimed on behalf of life in Canada are similar to those found in many modern western democracies.  While not a matter of government policy, we are promoted as standing for values that enshrine equality and justice.  From time to time, proclamations describing the nation's belief in protecting the most vulnerable, the environment, and our democratic system are published.  With notable exceptions, national governments align with the most forward thinking and scientifically authenticated progress in matters great and small.  The country is, in the eyes of its citizens if not its neighbors, a good-doing nation founded on do-gooding principles.

The facts of private life in Canada however, differ in a variety of meaningful ways from public pronouncements on values, beliefs, and policy.

Also worth noting is Canada's status as a nation of immigrants.  From its first inhabitants to its latest, the peoples living within the national borders arrived from elsewhere.  While its Aboriginal residents arrived first, their European conquerors long ago assumed control of the nation and continent.

The historical narrative, much like the current news cycle, thus best reflects an image preferred by those in power.

As a less visible member of an Aboriginal minority group, my experience of life at home is unlike that of most of my fellow citizens.  Born into the Metis Nation, my pale skin and near Caucasian appearance has long been ascribed by my elder brother as due to being born on a cloudy day.  Meanwhile, the experience of both casual and institutional racism remains a fact of daily life for people of visibly apparent Aboriginal heritage in Canada.  With personal ethnic persuasion less apparent, the extent to which it permeates the society in which I live and work is revealed on so regular a basis it long ago ceased to shock.  It has never failed to disgust and anger the writer.

For due the relative paleness of his skin, the writer is often mistaken for not being what with routine distaste I hear referred to in Canada as a 'dirty native'.

In most cases, the mentioning party is blissfully unaware the 'dirty native' they refer to is, unbeknownst to them, me.  For in the only ways that matter ~ by birth and blood ~ the writer in the most absolute sense is the 'dirty native' toward whom the slur is directed.  The casual bigotry and racist epithets endured as result ~ often much worse than the example provided and voluminous ~ is outweighed only by the extremes of patience required to prevent what a younger man by habit considered a well-deserved physical assault in response.  As attorneys working on behalf of that young fellow assured, walking away is the only sure method of avoiding a lifetime of incarceration.

A fact worth noting by younger cousins; despite shameless racism and recalcitrant bigotry being a wide acknowledged personal assault, the only legal individual response is to ignore it.

The routine experience of racism directed at Aboriginal people here in Canada should be near impossible in a nation governed by high-minded principles.  If policy statements issued by national and regional government were factual, neither could it exist within the institutions of a nation whose official position is multiculturalism.

Yet at all levels of Canadian society and government both slobbering racism and its idiot cousin bigotry not only persist but thrive.

To those who would deny the experience of me and the thousands of people sharing my Aboriginal heritage, the writer invites you to review the public record.  Actions have always spoken louder than words and the acts of Canada's government and its institutions are undeniable.

While making up less than four per cent of the nation's population, Aboriginal peoples approach twenty-four per cent of Canada's prison population.

The historical record despite adjudication after the fact also speaks, clear and with brutal eloquence, for Canada.  As the son of a survivor of the Residential Schools, in this writer's case, it shouts.  The opinions here expressed are thus qualified by heritage, confirmed by history, and informed by a lifetime of living and working here.

The writer learned through bitter personal experience that racism and bigotry of all stripes remains an evil flourishing nationwide in Canada.

This knowledge must inform any discussion of national or individual belief or value, political or otherwise.  For the writer like all Aboriginal people in Canada, lives under the ever present yoke of racism and bigotry each day.

Those unwilling to accept these facts are willful or ignorant in denial of this greatest of all stains upon the national character.

That the writer is fortunate to live a life of relative leisure and comfortable routine as result of birth into a western democracy of secular progress and democratic freedom is not here denied.  Likewise neither is innocence claimed, nor call for revolution raised.  A man with respect for not only good fortune but its alternative, evolution is the path both promoted and desired.  For though a stain so public and shameful can seem ineffable, to surmount it as a nation we must first accept it lives within our institutions and in the hearts of many citizens.

With the 21st century now well under way, the time for consignment of Canada's racist and bigoted beliefs to history long ago passed.

This has nothing to do with reparations.  It has everything to do with respect.  Here you will find no interest in public apologies.  A demand for education and establishment of personal equality takes its place.  As a law-abiding citizen and taxpayer, the writer seeks no individual special treatment.  Freedom from the ongoing persecution of Aboriginal peoples by the narrow minded, bigoted, and ignorant here in Canada is desired.  In such a country as that, any man would be proud to call himself a citizen.

In exchange for it, a man could live in harmony and at all time be relied upon to celebrate the greatness of the nation.

With the continued absence of such a Just Society however, and in all matters either individual or societal, disagreement in a democratic nation is expressed via the ballot, not the bullet.  This is a hard and fast rule of our way of life, essential to our civilization, enshrined in our constitution, and protected by our laws.  Through conflict and disagreement of all kinds, we must always preserve in the name of our shared freedom a commitment to law abiding and peaceful discourse.

The writer without hesitation commits and submits to the evolutionary process of securing justice for all as prescribed by the rule of law.

Turning now to matters more pleasant upon which to report, I'm thrilled to remind the reader my second novel Grand Opening publishes next month!  With the mighty Amazon again providing service as publisher, November 12, 2016, is the date of release in both paperback and eBook for the Kindle.  To pre-order your inscribed and autographed paperback copies by mail order now, contact me here by email.

I hope you enjoy Grand Opening.

For those seeking additional insight into the local madness meanwhile, a mailing list is now under construction.  If you would like to join it, you're invited to contact the writer via email with ADD ME in the subject line.  The list proposed is virtual, meaning it will operate via email only.  Intended to function informally while featuring the usual mystifying array of subversive intentions, it will be largely personal and entirely private.

The address is available by clicking the profile.

Thanks for being here and thanks for sharing the blog.

  • TFP
    October 8, 2016

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