Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Visible and the Invisible

Post 44--:

Hypocritical UN Accusations
Maclean’s Magazine triggered something within me with Alex Derry’s article “Political Correctness Gone Mad?” (Aug 5, 2011). The subtitle goes “The UN upbraids Canada for its use of the term ‘visible minority.’ The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is challenging Canada’s use of the term as being out of step with the aims of this UN committee. My initial and instinctive reaction is the malign thought that, in view of this UN challenge, there must be something good in Canada’s approach to merit such attention. Though I favour the existence of the UN, I am often very skeptical of the work of its departments and committees. The member nations represented on these committees are often blatantly guilty of the challenges they hurl at Western nations, often much more so in fact. I sometimes wonder whether these challenges are not the result of these members being offended at, in this case, Canada’s behaviour, because the contrast exposes them and puts them to shame. Rather than correct their own, it is easier to cook up some Western misbehaviour and yell loud enough to cover up theirs.

Today's Canada Racist?

The term “invisible minority” is a racist expression, according to the UN committee. It is said to “somehow indicate that whiteness was the standard, all others differing from that being visible.” Racism? Canada accused by a UN body of racism? People who have read my books know how embarrassed I am about Western imperialism in all its forms and how ashamed I am about Christian participation in it. It is a major theme in my writings and has been ever since my doctoral research during the 1970s opened my eyes to it. I am not one to defend the West, though Canada, being of young age and small in population, is thereby also one of the “smaller sinners.” But to accuse Canada of racism?! And that by members of the UN whose countries are rife with the stuff, whether it is racism or tribalism? Get off the pot!

Canada's Open Doors
That there is a high degree of racism in Canada I do not deny. But which country has and continues to invite people of all races more than Canada is doing presently? Oh, of course, there is Canada’s vested interest in immigration. It does not all come out of a national heart bubbling over with generosity. China, India, Nigeria—just name any non-Western country. Not to speak of that jewel of modern development, Japan, one of the worst when it comes to racism. Which of them have opened their doors more widely to people of other races than has Canada?

Racism among the "Visibles"
Again, Canadian Caucasians, of which I am one, can be faulted of racism, but let me tell you that Canada has imported more racists than you can shake a stick at it. We have more racism and tribalism in Canada now more than ever! And most of it is imported. Just ask any Korean what they think of Blacks! That’s racism. And just get two Nigerians, an Ibo and a Hausa man, living in Canada, to work together—only if they have discovered a common enemy and only in so far as that enemy affects them. That’s tribalism, complicated and made worse by religion.

"Reverse" Racism
For Canada to be accused of racism because of her use of the term “visible minority” causes me to laugh with derision. Well, yes, there is an element of racism in the concept. It is applied to me, a Caucasian immigrant, and when I think of it being applied to me I do more than laugh: I am now offended. It is racism. Living in the Vancouver downtown, I often feel like a minority, what with all the people from every Asian country around me, not to speak of Eastern Europeans, Latinos and Blacks from everywhere. In restaurants, on the bus, along the sidewalk, lined up at some counter, I definitely experience minority status. That does not bother me, for I got accustomed to it during my 30 years in Nigeria. But what is so invisible about me? I am as visible as anyone else. And I am discriminated against. Let any Caucasian try taxi driving. He is not likely to get in: Indians have sowed it up for themselves. Same for the trucking industry. Or let any Black chef try to break into the Asian-dominated restaurant industry. Now it’s “visible” vs “visible.” The term does not prevent discrimination, for the prevention of which, I understand, it was coined in the first place.

Challenge to the Visibles
And so I end up agreeing with this UN committee after all. Let’s get rid of the term along with the notion behind it. Regardless of the past—and there was that past—Canadian Caucasians can hardly be accused of racism today, unless all my Asiatic neighbours have the finger pointed at them first and work at their governments opening their doors to others the way Canada has to them. Japanese-Canadians, are you listening? Chinese-Canadians? Indian-Canadians? African-Canadians?

But regardless of all this, welcome to Canada. Many of you “visibles”, unlike my “invisible” self, were born here. Thanks for letting me in!

No comments:

Post a Comment