Canada's Cultural Show Trials Show Free Speech Now A Myth In This Country
An appeaser, wrote Winston Churchill, is someone who chooses to feed a crocodile in hopes that it eats him last.
In the case of the arts industry in Canada—which has been slavish in its devotion to even the most unhinged fringe groups— the appeasers have provided a very tasty dish for the culture crocodiles the past few weeks. Here’s a brief summary on the appropriation fiasco now devouring several dedicated editors. (https://goo.gl/EeHksS)
A gentleman named Hal Niedzviecki used the spring issue of Write magazine to suggest that perhaps creative artists did not need to be black or Asian or native to write in the voice of one of those communities. His puckish idea,“I say: Write what you don’t know. Get outside your own head. Relentlessly explore the lives of people who aren’t like you … Win the Appropriation Prize.”
For this advice, Niedzviecki was met with a storm of wrath from the sort of people who make wrath their life’s work. There was high dudgeon about not taking native issues seriously. “Systemic oppression”, the Outrage Industry’s ordinance du jour, was sprayed at The Writer’s Union of Canada.
Calgary scribbler Nikki Reimer posited that the piece “marks Write magazine as a space that is not safe for indigenous and racialized writers.” Give me what she’s smoking.
Here are the high crimes committed in the name of appropriation, courtesy of white-guilt purveyor Josua Ostroff: “It's the act of hipsters wearing headdresses at music festivals. It's the act of white girls dressing up as "Sexy Squaws" on Halloween and, as Niedzviecki of all people should be aware, it's the act of Joseph Boyden claiming indigenous heritage to sell books, occupying a too-limited space in exhaustingly white and middle-class CanLit that could have gone to indigenous writers.” (http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/joshua-ostroff/cultural-appropriation_b_16562760.html)
The horror, the horror. In short, it’s a Nuremburg Trials of bad form. Summon a firing squad.
The concept that, say, Harriet Beecher Stowe, might write Uncle Tom’s Cabin seems inconceivable to such people. In the 1852 book, Stowe (a white woman) used the experiences of slaves to illustrate the inhumanity of the business. Stowe’s novel shocked the USA about slavery and was a contributor to the Civil War.
But to today’s castrated culturalists of CanLit, Stowe would assaulting the sacred idols of diversity for her effrontery at imaging someone other than their own precious self. When the going got tough, TWUC caved, offering apologies in every direction. The desiccated hacks, suckled on the public teat for so long, thought Niedzviecki’s piece offered “brazen malice, or extreme negligence.” Whatever. The crocodile must be fed.
As if apologies might salvage some future in this hellish business, Niedzviecki quit his post— all the while gurgling trite mea culpas from the beast’s belly.
Next on the menu was Walrus editor Jonathan Kay. He, too, thought his reputation as a friendly voice to the rote nonsense of cultural diversity might spare him. Poor boy, he found out otherwise and is, now, the former editor of The Walrus. (Kay says appropriation was just one in a serious of elements causing his resignation.)
Wednesday it was the turn of CBC exec Steve Ladaurantaye to take the drop. The National’s senior exec hadn’t appeared to take the TWUC purge with sufficient gravity, either, and when the screaming meemies of CanLit targeted him, it was inevitable that the squishes running CBC News would do their bidding.
Ladaurantaye’s emails reveal his hysteria as he tries to save his job.
✔ @ladurantaye I've had a lot of conversations about this in the last day, and I will have many more, as many as it takes for as long as it takes.
Words matter. Ripping off someone's culture isn't funny. I feel ashamed, and I should know better.
No you shouldn’t, you ninny. You should defend the right of artists to express themselves, not succumb to cultural intimidation. His Show Trial apologies didn’t matter. He was "reassigned".
It should be noticed that several prominent voices such as Kenneth Whyte and Andrew Coyne tried to intervene in the nonsense. But with the politicians lined up to lubricate the egos of the cultural censors, it was a forlorn hope. Some pigs, as Orwell noted, are more important than other pigs.
(I have tried all week to find someone to appear on my podcast to critique this issue. None will enter the “minefield” as one of them described it. The intimidation is complete. Free speech, as we know it, is captive to extremists who demand unanimity on their pet issues.)
Thus a tiny unelected cabal of cultural sandinistas-- who few read and no one cares about-- dictate what is art or culture in Canada today. The Write purge not enough for you? See the demands of Toronto’s Pride Parade that police may not walk in their parade if they wear their uniforms or carry weapons. All the while demanding that the city keep funding their frivolity. It is elitism of a corrosive type.
Those who choose to find any of this absurd are crushed by publicly funded zealots and a media that sees reform, not journalism, as it new job description. As Niedzviecki discovered, it’s worth your career to dissent.
When government and media have charged the lunatic fringe with deciding art we have reached the world of Costa Gavras’ Z, where intimidation is the goal of society.
As Theodore Dalrymple writes, “I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, not to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity.
“To assent to obvious lies is...in some small way to become evil oneself. One's standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control. I think if you examine political correctness, it has the same effect and is intended to.”
In a time when the money is needed for health care and infrastructure, it’s time to tell the crocodiles to go feed on what they kill, not be handed bodies for their amusement and appetites. Buy who will step into the swamp to stop the performance?
Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy.is the host of the podcast The Full Count with Bruce Dowbiggin on anticanetwork.com. He’s also a regular contributor three-times-a-week to Sirius XM Canada Talks Ch. 167. A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada's top television sports broadcaster, he is also the best-selling author of seven books. His website is Not The Public Broadcaster (http://www.notthepublicbroadcaster.com)