Monday, 26 November 2007

If anyone ever calls you a "racist"... was probably made by one of these people.

Jonathan Kay: Adventures among the anti-racists

In fact, Worme proved to be tame compared to some of the speakers that followed. One anti-Black activist, for instance, claimed (without evidence) that Canada’s leaders “validate racism,” and argued that special Afro-centric schools should be set up for Toronto’s blacks because their culture is being systematically “denigrated” in multiracial public schools. Then he made my jaw drop by quoting – not once, but twice – from the poetry of Amiri Baraka, an anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist who believes Jews were warned to stay away from the Twin Towers on 9/11.

(I was further astonished to find out that this same activist is also a “consultant” who is employed by corporations seeking to rid their workforces of racism. I wonder how his client base would react if they knew that his literary hero is the same African-American “poet” who wrote these charming lines: “Who knew the World Trade Center was gonna get bombed / Who told 4000 Israeli workers at the Twin Towers / To stay home that day / Why did Sharon stay away?”)

Next came a Muslim activist who upped the ante by arguing that things in Canada are even worse than in Pakistan, where political dissidents get thrown into jail and Sunni suicide bombers explode themselves in Shiite mosques. Hatred in Pakistan, she argued, at least had the advantage of being overt. Here in Canada, on the other hand, it is subtle and hidden – which apparently makes it much more invidious.

Then my panel began, and a very nice middle-aged female academic launched into a stream of jargon-laden duckspeak about “white privilege,” “racialized spaces” and “existing paradigms of public discourse in the media.” I must admit to being rendered slightly dozy by the onslaught of post-grad verbiage. But the larger point seemed to be that media hotheads like me shouldn’t be allowed to write the sort of thing that the Donald Wormes of the world find offensive.

By the time my turn was up, I'd thrown out my prepared speech in favour of a strenuous take-down of what I'd just heard. All of it, I said, was proof that radical anti-racism had become not only a cult of censorship, but a mental toxin as irrational and destructive as racism itself.

And since I was in the mood to make friends, I went further. I told the crowd that conferences like these were actually hurting minority communities by giving them a one-size-fits-all excuse to avoid confronting their problems. Talk about gang culture, AWOL fathers, teen motherhood and shocking crime statistics in black communities, and “diversity consultants” accuse you of racism. Connect the dots between Canada’s radicalized mosques and the terror threat, and you get accused of Islamophobia. Write about the economic dysfunction and social pathologies that fester on native reserves, and Donald Worme accuses you of penning a new Mein Kampf.

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