Saturday, 2 November 2013

If You Don't Like What Someone is Saying, Hurl the Word "Racist" at Them

A few years back being called a "racist" would often silence someone you did not like or who was saying something distasteful (like the truth).

Here we can take a leaf out of the books created by Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.  Any high profile case where a Black person can be perceived as the victim of a White person, Jesse and Al are sure to be there.  The ace up the sleeve of both is that the institution of slavery was an abomination, and there was justifiable anger towards those who did the chaining (literally or metaphorically).  So if the person was White, he was probably a descendant of the overseers or plantation owners whose ancestors fought for the "stars and bars" during the Civil War.  So for years after emancipation and the more recent civil rights movement, one way of controlling the outcome was to say that the act or words were those of a "racist".  It must have been with some frustration that in the recent unfortunate Trevon Martin killing by one George Zimmerman, that the "perpetrator" obviously a racist and the act was racially motivated.  However, despite the surname, Zimmerman was Hispanic.  That muddies the waters.  With Whites you can play the race card and evoke feelings of guilt for past wrongs of White people at some time in history.  The technique has worked very well.  Sure, some of their targets were probably racists, but others were merely stating the obvious - why are Black so greatly over represented in the prisons, and why do so many Black fathers desert their families resulting in many to most Black children being raised in female only households.  Well, we don't talk about those things, apparently it is "racist".

It was not long before the technique was being used in Canada, not so much in relation to Blacks (whose numbers are very low), but in situations involving aboriginals where a Native versus non-Native dichotomy could be inflated.  Indeed there may be those who have seen the extraordinary domestic and substance abuse problems (worse in the far north), whose view on Natives is not all that positive.  Life's experience tends to colour how one sees the world - try as one might to be fair and reasonable.  Racism may at times rear its ugly head - but if so it does tend to be subtle, unless one is looking to see it under every rock.

Under the watchful eye of radical union, communist, and anarchist advisers, local Natives have learned that this is an effective non-violent tool to use when faced with an uncomfortable situation.  If someone is protesting against the blockade of a road, well they are racist.  That method may have worked for a time - perhaps due to the stories of atrocities against Native people - whether in the dim distant past or yesterday.  Over and over since the 2006 contest in Caledonia we have seen people endure signs and voices calling them racist, because they for example did not want to have illegal smoke shacks pop up in their neighbourhood.  Racist, racist, racist.  If you say this word enough times without firm evidence of its presence, it will begin to lose its effect. 

A question arises in relation to being a racist.  Is it only White people who are racist?  They seem to be the only ones being labelled with this epithet.  Could Indians be racist, but conveniently ignore this reality - again believing themselves to be something they are not.  The answer is that Indians are probably as racist as anyone else - it is not something characteristic of Whites alone.  Perhaps an example will serve to make this point more clear.  By the 1860s the Six Nations and the Council were having more difficulty in finding how best to integrate members of the disparate tribes who inhabited the Six Nations Reserve in terms of representation in a Council that was geared toward the standard 50 Chiefs of the Confederacy.  Suitability for Chiefship was at one time affected by not only ones tribe and lineage, but also ones racial mixture.  In "Delaware Nation versus Michael Anthony", the tribe attempted to depose Anthony for a variety of infractions.  However, it appears that the biggest issue was Anthony's ancestry.  Indeed he was of a Delaware family, but one which included Shawnee and "Negro" ancestors.  It was reported that, Anthony was of Negro extraction.  This fact would, disentitle him to chiefship where he was the Delaware representative to the Six Nations Council.  So if this is not "racism" I don't know what is.  See, John A. Noon, Law and Government of the Grand River Iroquois, Viking, New York, 1949, p. 160.  Have Six Nations magically expunged racism from their community?  That is highly unlikely - humans are humans, frailties and all.  So when one hears the word "racist" being directed toward some non-Native person, it is probably a case of the pot calling the kettle black (so to speak).

The problem is compounded by not only the White radical supporters, but also the world of academia, usually found in publications issuing from North American university departments of Sociology, History and Political Science.  It seems that it is expected that in talking about any matter involving Indians and Whites, it is the "racist" behaviour of the latter that underpins so many of the problems endemic to the Native communities.  In writing about the application of the law to Native communities in the 19th Century, and specifically in relation to the Six Nations, Harring asked the question, What underlay the dispossession of the Six Nations from most of their Grand River lands?  It seems fair to say that, in part, the issue was racism and ethnocentrism, forces at work in the expansion of the British empire and the formation of colonial settler states (p. 54).  See, Sidney L. Harring, White Man's Law: Native People in Nineteenth - Century Canadian Jurisprudence, Toronto, University of Toronto Press, 1998. 

More recently and closer to home is, Laura DeVries, Conflict in Caledonia: Aboriginal Land Rights and the Rule of Law, Vancouver, UBC Press, 2011.  Here she constantly uses the buzz words common to all apologists and those who can only find fault in Canadian society.  So Canada, and all White colonial settler societies, show characteristic "tolerant intolerance" (p. 67), whatever that means.  One does not have to read between the lines to see that the author is taking sides, and concludes that the people of Caledonia are blatant or latent racists.  There is a huge "blame the victim" factor at work here.  The book is entirely a polemic on the theme so often called upon by Marxist academics, where the the capitalist military - industrial complex has so oppressed the Natives that they are taking actions as justified "resistance", the matter of Native violence is seldom if ever mentioned.  However, I would ask whether the author has ever read all the pertinent documents, rather than interviewing Native radicals and giving their radical views legitimacy.  Since the conclusions mirror those of the Six Nations on every subject, I suspect that their views and their take on the land controversy are being spotlighted. Very "politically correct", and expected behind the walls of academia these days, but without doing the "homework" of seeking correct information, one can never present a balanced account, one that attempts to find the truth of the matter - in all its complexity.

It would seem that to some degree using the word "racist" has become pathetic, "is that the best you got?"  Surely no one likes to see the word on a sign, but eventually one becomes so tired of the same old same old that the sign is seen for what it is, an attempt to manipulate the situation with emotionally laden words.  There will be no dialogue and understanding as long as this word is being tossed around indiscriminately.  Hopefully the Natives will stop listening to the puppeteers and come to the realisation that the person out there is simply angry because you are blocking their road home.  They are tired and frustrated since this is not the first time that this sort of thing has occurred - so anger mounts against whoever is blocking the way - Native, Black, White - it doesn't matter.

There appears to have been an inoculation that has happened to those who have heard the word "racist" thrown at them for no apparent reason - other than they disagree with the blockade or whatever.

It was very heartening to hear, via the letters and articles in the recent issue of The Sachem, that both Councillor Grice and Mayor Hewitt are tired of disruptive blockades, suggested that in the future the traffic be re-routed through the Reserve rather than inconvenience the (long suffering) people of Haldimand County who are by in large fed up with this nonsense.  Both said they don't care if they are called racist.  We citizens know well that neither are racists, and that they have now reached the end of their rope.  Kudos to our local representatives.  No longer will the word "racist" cause any locals to cower in fear that this accusation will be believed.  The technique has been used far too often, and the word is becoming essentially meaningless hereabouts.


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