Suck it up… Margaret Wente is right

Yet another assault on a columnist by the PC Police. I have no time for professional victims, especially when my tax dollars subsidize them to the tune of 10 billion annually.

Here’s the link to the facebook site referenced below –
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=45016000567&ref=mf,

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Globe & Mail defends columnist who argued native cultures are inferior to European: more than 1800 people call for Wente’s dismissal via Facebook, letters

Thursday, October 29, Canada/ — Globe and Mail senior columnist Margaret Wente faced a firestorm of criticism, complaints and canceled subscriptions after she wrote a column arguing that Indigenous civilizations are less advanced than those of European descent, and that Indigenous cultures are “neolithic” and of no use in the modern world.

After a flood of letters and phone calls, the Globe and Mail published an official response today. Comment editor Sylvia Stead stated that “as a national columnist, Ms. Wente is paid to express her opinions… These matters are within the bounds of reasonable public discussion.”

Many critics, however, say that Stead’s response glosses over the real issue and did not address what they deemed Wente’s racism.

“Not only does the Globe and Mail not realize the blatant racism and ignorance of her article, but that Ms. Wente is in fact paid to be racist and ignorant,” wrote Niigonwedom James Sinclair, an English instructor at the University of Winnipeg, in a response posted to the Fire Margaret Wente Facebook group.

Wente’s article “is the very definition of racism, and it encourages Canadians to believe that European colonization and subordination of Indigenous peoples was somehow justifiable,” wrote Kalin Stacey of Toronto wrote in the same group, which now has over 1800 members.

“The Globe and Mail is much more interested in promoting and standing up for Ms. Wente,” added Flora Dayrider of Calgary, “than building the bridge of understanding with First Nations people.”

Wente’s original article has not been disavowed or criticized by the Globe’s editors.

“It is simply not permissible to say that aboriginal culture was less evolved than European culture or Chinese culture – even though it’s true,” Wente wrote of 17th century Indigenous people.

Wente extended the sentiment to the present day. “A neolithic culture cannot possibly give them a future. And it’s time for us to face that,” Wente wrote.

Response received from the Globe and Mail:

Dear [],

Thank you for your phone call regarding Margaret Wente’s column of October 25.

As a national columnist, Ms. Wente is paid to express her opinions. For our part, we understand that many people might find those opinions offensive for a variety of reasons. Indeed, we encourage our columnists to speak with strong voices.

In this instance, a blunt and simplifying headline amplified Mr. Wente’s column, while she herself called Dick Pound’s remarks “stupid” and found his “choice of words” to be “inflammatory, to say the very least.” She went on to discuss the differences between the aboriginal cultures of 400 years ago, on the one hand, and those of Europe and China, on the other. In her opinion, Europe and China were more technologically advanced. She also took issue with some views of history that she believes affect public policy today. These matters are within the bounds of reasonable public discussion. At the same time, Ms. Wente made clear that Aboriginals in Canada have been victims of grave injustice.

Editorials are the voice of the newspaper. On the same day as Ms. Wente’s column, an editorial strongly chastised Mr. Pound for his comments, calling them bizarre and offensive. The editorial said in part: “Let’s not kid ourselves. North America 400 years ago was not a paradise…But then China, under Mao, is credited with what some scholars believe was the greatest genocide in history. There is nothing North American natives can be accused of that can hold a candle to what the Nazis did to Europe’s Jews. And, oh yes, Europeans, in their efforts to spread civilization to the natives of the Americas, also spread microbial pestilence and practised what has been characterized as “purposeful genocide,” killing tens of millions of people.”

Columns by Gary Mason and Rod Mickleburgh also discussed the controversy in different terms from Ms. Wente. A number of Letters to the Editor were published chastizing her. We also published a comment article by native scholar Hayden King who explained why native civilization was superior to European civilization. We believe in free speech and robust debate accepting that at times it will offend.

The Globe and Mail has long been a leader in writing about First Nations issues, notably including the residential schools, and we are building on that record. We also understand that these topics are very sensitive and are sorry if the discussion upset you. We hope and trust that you will continue to read and engage with our newspaper.

Yours truly,

Sylvia Stead
Deputy Editor SStead@globeandmail.com

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