The most recent issue of MacLean’s magazine features a story by the magazine’s associate editor Nancy Macdonald that suggests that Winnipeg, the capital of the province of Manitoba and the city in which I have lived for the last sixteen years, is or is becoming the most “racist” city in Canada. Now this is a very serious accusation against our city and after giving the matter much consideration I decided that there might be something to this. After all, everywhere in this city where you can expect to encounter a sizable number of people – malls, coffee shops, theatres, etc. - you are likely to find at least one person wearing a brazen declaration of a sense of racial pride. I refer, of course, to the ubiquitous baseball cap that reads “Native Pride”.
What’s that you say? That is not what MacDonald of MacLean's had in mind when she accused our city of racism?
Of course it isn’t. The MacLean’s cover story is very much in keeping with the conventional anti-racist narrative – the bad guys, the racists, are all white, and the good guys, the victims of racism, are all non-white. Indeed, in the case of this article the victims are one specific non-white group – the group whom MacDonald calls Aboriginals but whom I shall call Indians both because I refuse to obey the dictates of the sham pseudo morality that is political correctness and because as a dissenter from the conventional anti-racist narrative I will be called a racist anyway and one might as well be hanged for a sheep as for a lamb.
Any thinking person cannot help but dissent from the conventional anti-racist narrative because the holes in that narrative are large enough to drive tanks through.
Consider the question of the definition of racism. Does pride in one’s own race constitute racism? According to the conventional narrative it is racist for a white man to express pride in his race. If someone were to go around with the words “white pride” on prominent display anywhere on his clothing most people would assume that he adhered to some form of Hitlerian ideology. Yet the narrative never condemns similar expressions of pride on the part of people of other races. There are businesses in this province that display signs saying that they are proudly owned and operated by Indians. Imagine what would happen to a business that put up a sign saying that it was proudly owned and operated by white men.
It is more usual to define racism in terms of negative attitudes towards other races. The attitude of looking down upon, disliking, or wishing harm to another person because he is of a different race than one’s own or a member of a specific disliked race is what most of us think of when we hear the word racism. Here too, however, the conventional narrative does not apply the definition in a manner that is consistent. Outright expressions of racial hatred directed against whites by Indians are not condemned and treated as evidence of a dangerous, irrational, prejudice that requires re-programming in the way that much more qualified and moderate negative statements flowing in the opposite direction are.
In the course of her article, Macdonald accuses not just the city of Winnipeg, but the entire prairie region of being more racist than the rest of the country. In support of this accusation she points to polls conducted by such impartial, objective, and utterly reliable – yes, I am being sarcastic - organizations as the Association for Canadian Studies and the Canadian Race Relations Foundation. Shockingly, it appears that nine in ten Manitobans reported “hearing a negative comment about an indigenous person” as compared to the six in ten in New Brunswick. If that isn’t evidence that the entire province ought to be put into re-education camps I don’t know what is. I wonder if they checked on whether for every ten people polled, nine separate negative comments were reported or one comment heard by nine people? For that matter, what does a negative comment about an indigenous person constitute? Twelve years ago people were saying a lot of things about Chief David Ahenakew after he made some interesting if unwise remarks about Hitler and the Jews in an interview with the Saskatoon StarPhoenix. The things said about him could fairly be described as “negative comments about an indigenous person”. Were they also examples of racism? Somehow that doesn’t seem likely.
According to another poll Macdonald references one in three Prairie Canadians believes that “many racial stereotypes are accurate”. The problem with using this as evidence that we are all horribly racist out here in the sticks is that “many racial stereotypes are accurate” is a true statement. Stereotypes, whether positive or negative – they can be either – do not necessarily provide us with accurate information about an individual member of the group to which they apply. They can, however, often provide us with fairly accurate information about group averages. This is because, unlike the dogmas of antiracism, stereotypes arise out of experiential knowledge.
Sometimes an inaccurate negative stereotype is formed by unfairly extrapolating the bad impression a single individual has made to apply to his entire group. Usually, however, stereotypes, whether positive or negative, are formed out of multiple experiences with several individuals which the mind then averages out to form a kind of group picture. These tend to be more accurate. Most people who are not rigid adherents of an ideological dogma that declairs all stereotypes to be false and harmful, while recognizing the accuracy in these psychological group portaits, also realize that it would be unfair to judge individual members of the group by the portrait. This is because most people are not the cartoonish bigots of antiracist dogma.
The MacLean’s article is actually rather illuminating in a way it was not intended to be. It provides us with a picture of how removed from reality and the thinking of normal people antiracist doctrine actually is. Macdonald points to polls in which people express a degree of uncomfort with the idea of living next to Indians. She also talks about the high murder rate in Winnipeg’s North End. A normal person would conclude that the latter goes a long way towards explaining and even partly justifying the former. Macdonald, however, points to the poll as evidence of racism and blames racism for the murder rate and other problems afflicting the impoverished Indian neighborhoods in the North End.
This lack of contact with reality is why articles like this one will ultimately do more harm than good to the people on whose behalf they are ostensibly written. As long as the only explanation offered for the very real problems afflicting the Indian community is “racism” the only “solutions” that will be available will be more of what we have seen in the past. These will include apologies by grovelling politicans, “truth and reconcilliation” meetings that produce nothing but lies, bitterness, and division, harsh crackdowns on people who make racially offensive remarks, and basically nothing that could effectually help anyone. Winnipeg’s mayor, Brian Bowman, newly elected, possibly on the basis of his physical resemblence to television’s Jon Cryer, has already stepped up to the role of grovelling politician, increasing his resemblence to the weak and wishy-washy character played by Cryer on Three and a Half Men (maybe we should have offered Charlie Sheen the job instead). Things are already proceeding according to pattern – and will continue to do so, until we finally lay the tired old, long ago discredited, “white racism is to blame for everything”, narrative to rest once and for all.
A Protestant Christian, patriotic Canadian, and a reactionary High Tory with a libertarian streak, at the same time a monarchist, indeed a royal absolutist, and a minarchist.
You can e-mail me at gerrytneal(at)hotmail(dot)ca