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Nov 19 2012

Oh, Canada…

It’s really easy (and fun!) to point out the raft of egregious racism that in many ways defines the American political landscape. Part of the appeal of framing racism in an American context is that cornerstone of Canadian identity: rage/jealousy of our bigger brother. Without our American counterparts against which to contrast ourselves, the challenging of forming a Canadian identity that isn’t just another colonial throwback to our British roots is challenging*. Another part of it is the fact that the hypocrisy of America proclaiming itself as some sort of bastion of freedom is belied by its history of deep hostility and belligerence when it comes to the freedoms of people of colour (PoCs). The idea that America is ‘post-racial’ or any such fantasy is only sustainable if you ignore major parts of reality (which, to be sure, Americans have traditionally not had much difficulty doing when it comes to other elements of their politics).

But a big part of why I personally discuss racism in an American context so often is because, quite frankly, that country provides me with a steady diet of material. I don’t have to scour the web for examples of racism to help illustrate some point or another. Last week’s blitz illustrates perfectly that I will never want for scintillating news stories. Some might argue that this is because Americans are super-racist. To be sure, some of the most shocking and dramatic examples of racism are present in American history, and its regular refusal to come to grips with its own history means that they are doomed to repeat it frequently and tragically. Some might argue, though, that the reason American media produces so much about American racism is because it’s newsworthy. It means people care enough to highlight it.

Which is why I find this story so interesting:

The Canadian military has launched a formal investigation after a racially charged video was leaked to CBC News. The video features an unidentified member of Canadian Forces Base Greenwood in Nova Scotia. The man is in brown makeup and wearing a turban, pretending to be Osama bin Laden’s brother.

The video was produced for a formal dinner on the base in January 2010, a time when Afghanistan was still a combat mission for Canada and there were about 2,800 Canadian military personnel serving there.

In a four-minute excerpt, the bin Laden character jokingly boasts of working directly for his brother. Speaking with a thick accent, he refuses to reveal where bin Laden is hiding. “It seems you silly infidels will never find him. I do not want to be talking about him. It is always about him. I get the guns, I steal the bullets, I make the bombs, I do everything. All he ever does is take credit for my shit.”

A second character in the video, a woman playing the role of a news anchor, asks the bin Laden character what he’s doing now that he is living in Vancouver. “What do you think I’m doing out here, you silly infidel? I am driving one very nice taxi.” He then moves off camera and yells, “Hey kid, get away from that car bomb — I mean taxi. It is very dangerous. Don’t be giving me your dirty finger. I am telling you, I will come to your home and I’ll hump your goat.”

In a time when the federal government is trying its damnedest to define Canadian history in terms of our military, and is also desperately pandering to what it calls “the ethnic vote” (to the tune of $750,000, in the case of one Minister), this story is a gaping hole in the hull of the Harper warship**. The video is plainly racist. Putting aside the obvious racism in the use of ‘brownface’, the video goes on to play on the stereotype of new Canadians from South Asia and the middle east as cab drivers (an unfortunately true stereotype, which should be cause for national concern rather than a cheap punchline) and, apparently, goat-humpers.

This would be disgusting and unacceptable from any person in Canada. The thing that raises it to the status of news is the fact that this is an officer in the Canadian military, and the video was broadcast publicly. You don’t put something like this out there unless you’re confident it will get a laugh from your audience, suggesting that the people involved in the skit felt comfortable that the blatant racism would be not only tolerated, but approved of, by members of the military. I will leave aside the question of whether or not the audience response was as positive as the “film’s” creators thought it would be. What I do know is that while military personnel are stationed in Afghanistan, purportedly with the goal of building positive relationships and representing Canada, the presence of this kind of attitude is deeply troubling to me.

A further note, the response from both the relevant commanders of the military and Canada’s Defense Minister have framed this as an issue of “religious and cultural tolerance”:

“Religious and cultural tolerance are important and necessary components of any national and professional institution, including the Canadian Forces,” [Defence Minister Peter McKay] said in a statement. I know the contents of this video do not represent the wider military community and its leadership.”

What is interesting about this language is that it completely bypasses the fact that this shit is incredibly fucking racist. It’s not offensive to religion or culture for a golliwog in brownface to talk about goat-fucking – it sure as hell is offensive to people of colour. But nobody can bring themselves to put a name to the demon. This complete lack of an appropriate response – “the portrayal of Saudis, Afghans, or any person from another ethnic group in this fashion is racist and unacceptable. Canada is a country made up of people from all over the world, and this video is a disgraceful betrayal of Canada’s commitment to not only tolerance, but of inclusion and participation from all of Canada’s people” – is part of the problem.

Canada, by contrasting itself as the “not-racist” alternative to the United States, has lost not only the ability to recognize its own racism, but even the words to identify it. We have, by propping up this absurd myth of our ideological purity, made it impossible to discuss even the most blatantly and cartoonishly racist actions by members of our armed forces (or indeed, by anyone), except in the meaningless euphemisms of “religious tolerance”. Until we do, we will similarly be stuck running against the treadmill of our own history, pausing only to wonder why no real progress is being made.

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*I have what I think is an excellent idea of how to define Canadians

**Reading that last part aloud provides a pleasing and entirely non-coincidental homonym

59 comments

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  1. 1
    jesse

    I’m not Canadian. But I can think of a couple things going on here.

    Canada doesn’t have the legacy of slavery. That changes things quite a bit. Being a peripheral beneficiary of the slave economy (as both the UK and Canada were in the 19th century) is rather different from having the institution at home; and it’s worth noting that while Canada’s whole attitude towards First Nations people is no better than in the US, y’all at least weren’t enslaving people. (Slavery of Native people was actually legal in the US until about , oh, 1880 I think, notably in California. They just didn’t call it slavery).

    I agree this video highlights the racism in Canada, and certainly the soldiers involved thought it would get laughs. But I am looking at it as a different flavor of racism, that towards immigrants. That’s not any better, but in some ways I think it’s a bit easier to attack. Soldiers in any area of combat develop some pretty terrible attitudes towards occupied peoples very fast, too. That mix is a pretty toxic one.

    And yeah, the higher-ups should have called it out. I can’t quite tell, but this response says to me they were as shocked as anyone else. (That doesn’t make their response less pernicious).

    (As an aside, if you can tell me I would love to know: what percentage of black folks are Canadians in the sense that African-Americans are Americans in the US, and how many are straight – up Africans and Caribbeans who arrived later).

  2. 2
    kraut

    Do you really think it is racism?
    I am an immigrant from germany, and you know what? I get a lot of flack regarding a history I have nothing to do with. Jew burner, oven builder are just some of the nicer things.

    It seems to me that it has not much to do with racism, but with a certain attitude by wasps and immigrants who can look back at having lived here for generations towards newer immigrants.

    In this featured case one has to also look at the fact that the portrayal is that of a relative of a major terrorist arsehole and religious fanatic unfortunately mixed with some racial stereotypes.

    If they had just ridiculed the Bin Laden’s family black sheep(s)- what would have been wrong with that?

  3. 3
    Crommunist

    Canada doesn’t have the legacy of slavery.

    We totally do, ours is just not as bad.

    For reasons of both the quoted statement and the parenthetical paragraph at the end of your comment, you should check out the series I did for Black History Month earlier this year.

  4. 4
    jesse

    Dude, link that! (The stuff on slavery) I would read the hell out of it.

  5. 5
    left0ver1under

    The inaction by the Harper comedy troop on this issue is as unsurprising as the overreaction by Carleton University in banning the term “Israeli Apartheid”. At least the then-Liberal government responded promptly to the scandal involving the airborne (a/k/a stillborn) regiment in 1995.

    “If you’re not with us, you’re against us” is generally an idiotic attitude. But when it comes to bigotry, if someone is not condemning it, he’s condoning it. Silence encourages bigots to say worse things.

  6. 6
    Brian Lynchehaun

    Hey Jesse.

    At the very top right of the page, there’s a field for doing searches. You might find it more convenient to use that yourself.

    Alternatively, since ‘Black History Month’ is February, you could check the archives by date and scoot on back to that month to check it out.

    I did a quick search, and this is the first of Ian’s series from this year: http://freethoughtblogs.com/crommunist/2012/02/06/understanding-black-history/

    You should be able to find the rest with just a few button clicks. ;)

  7. 7
    Valde

    Watch this movie

    Canada has a charming history of all out *genocide* on native peoples

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=88k2imkGIFA

    The church, big surprise, was behind most of it

    In order to enrich themselves, and big industry, they went balls out and literally murdered as many native indians as they possibly could

    /spit

  8. 8
    jesse

    yes, I found it. Good stuff. I get so used to crappy interfaces… :-)

  9. 9
    frankathon

    I think I read the first part of your blog wrong.

    I might be misinterpreting it. As I read it you are saying that Canadian’s identity is linked to rage and jealousy of America. That without them we don’t actually have an identity other than our British roots.

    Is that what you are saying?

  10. 10
    Crommunist

    A big part of how Canada talks about itself is by talking about how not-American it is. There are (comparatively) few things that are asserted as distinctly and uniquely Canadian, aside from the “hockey and syrup and beavers” stereotypes. We do not, for example, embrace our First Nations heritage as being something that distinctively defines us (because, at least generally speaking, it doesn’t, although I think it should in a much bigger way). Even our popular descriptions of our multiculturalism – the thing that I think is most distinctively Canadian – are set in opposition to the assimilationist United States (unless we are talking about the reserve system, in which case assimilation for all!).

    If we didn’t have the United States to contrast ourselves against, the only recent attempt to assert Canadian national identity that I have seen comes from those circles that wish to play up our links to colonial Britain. This too is misguided because a) it seeks to gloss over the profoundly negative elements of that history, and b) contemporary Canada is not colonial Britain, nor is it contemporary England.

  11. 11
    jesse

    So how do the Australians do it? I am no being flip, but I am sort of curious as to why you think they managed to carve out a distinctly Australian thing whereas Canada, if I read you right, did not.

    I mean, speaking as a non-Canadian who lived nearby (upstate NY) if I were to think “Canadian” I might think “French/English” but I freely admit that could be colored by being in the east, where French Canadians are a much bigger presence and even have distinct communities on the US side (Lawrence, MA, Maine, Manchester, NH, to name a few). They (French speakers) are known for showing up as tourists in Lake Champlain.

  12. 12
    Crommunist

    The Australians do not share a border with a economic/cultural superpower. A relevant comparison, I would think, would be to ask how New Zealanders differentiate themselves from Aussies. What makes ‘Kiwi culture’?

  13. 13
    frankathon

    Your West is showing. You’ve completely ignored the fact that more than one third of Canadians do have an identity not AT ALL linked to the U.S.

    Perhaps my East is showing but the beginning of your blog is not only insulting but lacks insight and knowledge which is unfortunate considering you are Canadian.

    I’ve lived in many Common Wealth countries and they all have distinct identities even if they have English roots.

    Incidentally please do not disregard our French ancestry as if it never existed.

  14. 14
    Crommunist

    You are absolutely right, and I should have been much more clear in my language.

    There are many Canadians who do not see themselves in opposition to the United States, or who indeed do not consider the United States whatsoever in their self-identification. Canada is a melange of several different cultures with rich historical ties to a variety of places and times. I was personally struck by the rich and ever-present cultural distinctiveness and pride of the people of Montreal, for example, when I was there. Much of my experience is filtered through the time I have spent in Toronto and Vancouver, two cities that share many characteristics and are not representative of all groups within the country.

    That being said, in terms of having “a national identity” – that is, a single set of characteristics that defines Canadians as ‘Canadians per se‘ – we are largely left without much to draw from. Specifically in the context of this post, the way in which I’ve seen Canadians address our history when it comes to racial issues, it has been to contrast Canada The Good with America The Bad. In other contexts as well, be it things like politeness or peacekeeping or immigration policy or humour or health care or other social policy, we have a tendency to contrast ourselves against the largest and most obvious comparator country. This is in contrast to asserting an identity that speaks to Canada’s distinctiveness and unique accomplishments.

    My own approach to a Canadian national identity involves recognizing that we are a land of great distinction that constantly works to find ways of including all voices. We fail at this quite often, but it is the only way that we can survive. I see that I have failed to uphold that idea by failing to adequately reflect in my own writing the fact that not all people fit the stereotype, but my intention was to invoke an overarching theme, rather than to speak to each individual or group.

  15. 15
    left0ver1under

    A big part of how Canada talks about itself is by talking about how not-American it is.

    I don’t know if you would agree, but to me the biggest differences are old sayings about the countries, how reasonable and how each acts in each situation:

    (1) The US is a “melting pot”, and Canada is a “mosaic”.

    The US expects people to assimilate and give up their different cultures, while Canada tells people to come in and live as they are. Fitting in is more voluntary in Canada. (See also Europe’s “When in Rome do as the Romans do” compared with Japan’s “The nail that sticks up must be hammered down.”)

    (2) In the US, it’s how the west was won. In Canada, it’s how the west was negotiated.

    Not to stereotype the US (which is easy to do) but the “shoot first ask questions later” mindset is very American. Leroy Jenkins could only have ever arisen in the US.

    (3) Americans don’t flinch at extreme violence in the media, but a single breast or profanity is unacceptable.

    I lost count of how many times I heard Canadian politicians using “unparliamentary language”, how many times I saw nudity on CBUFT or even English language news. The way people in each country react to those things is very telling – Canadians cringe at violence (e.g. the shooting at École Polytechnique), while Americans ran for cover from Janet Jackson’s nipple, and TV shows are fined for unscripted profanity on air that the show did not cause.

  16. 16
    Perry Bulwer

    Some good thoughts on this subject in an article on rabble.ca. Here’s an excerpt:

    http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/michael-laxer/2012/11/rob-ford-metaphor-real-culture-entitlement

    …Modernity and inclusion, regardless of class, does not really work out for the group who has historically benefited, no matter what their class, educational or income background, from knowing that they had a predominance socially due to the simple fact that they were born white or male. And this predominance is not ancient history; it still exists.

    Historically in the Canadian context there is no question this is true. We like, as Canadians, to pat ourselves on the back and feel good about how much “better” we are than Americans, though often this difference seems to come down to some pride in health care reforms that happened a generation ago or the fact that we apparently play hockey well.

    We chose to forget, and are not reminded, that our history, with a few small exceptions, is every bit as racist and assimilationist as the history of the United States. Canada also has a long history of appalling exclusionist immigration policies (including policies that helped to lead Jews into Nazi gas chambers), systemic racism against Asians and people of colour and a basically genocidal attitude toward the Aboriginal and First Nations peoples. On the issues of the rights of women, our policies and histories are different from the US in only incidental ways. And, given our federal government, these become more incidental as you read this article.

    Whites generally, and white men more specifically, benefited from this way of doing things, and are largely in denial of the fact that they did. For the entirety of our history, and until very recently, the overwhelming bulk of our business, political, media and even union leaders were male and white, as were those in every industrial or other profession that made a real income. This is a demonstrable and historic fact.

    And this was not true due to any effort on their part. It was due to the simple fact that they were white and male. They had to do nothing else to have a greater social status than those who were not. Equality of opportunity, in so far as it existed, existed only within this context. It existed only for white men. …

  17. 17
    ischemgeek

    It’s institutionalized prejudice targeting people of color. Textbook racism.

    Nothing says racism and xenophobia are mutually exclusive.

  18. 18
    ebutler

    There’s also the issue of Canadians relying on the U.S. for their defense, freeing up resources for things like health care that they might not have otherwise. There’s also that fact that Canadians relying on the U.S. for defense helps prop up the jingoistic and exceptionalistic culture in the U.S. that is used to justify not having universal health care. There’s also the super-loose immigration policy that, through the loophole created by that and the U.S. and Canada historically having weak border controls, helped cause 9/11, which propped up a jingoistic and exceptionalistic culture that had been in decline. We’re just now trying to finally get rid of that culture so we can get some freaking health care and we don’t need Canadians screwing that up again! We’re going to have health care, too, Canada! Yeah, sure, that will take away one of your things, but hey we need it here sorely, too.

  19. 19
    Crommunist

    I don’t know if you’re joking or not, but I’m laughing either way.

  20. 20
    Valde

    I am not sure if erikabutler is joking or not

    She said something similar over at lousy canuck:

    “I hope you enjoy your health care off the backs of the American worker. All that military protection you enjoy from the U.S. helps free up your resources for it while continuing to feed the beast in the U.S., resulting in a jackboot being placed on the American worker’s throat. I really hope you enjoy it.

    If Canada really care about the plight of the American worker, it would reject all military assistance from the U.S., and any and all policies that help feed the beast. Otherwise, Canada is complicit.”

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/lousycanuck/2012/11/18/thoughts-on-savita/#comment-89376

    ———–
    /boggle

  21. 21
    dccarbene

    Interesting discussion – how we Canadians seem to have tried to define ourselves in reference to the USofA. I used to think of us as being a lot like Jimmy Olsen, Superman’s Pal – so OK, we can’t fly, or smash into any bank in the United States, etc., but we could always call for help, Kryptonite can’t hurt us, and we sort of have a life. Sort of.

    I think we have changed a bit – I now think of us more like Seinfeld – we are a Show about Nothing. Except that – just like on TV – every day is an adventure. I think people have more of a chance to be sort of bicultural – both shared culture and culture of origin. That’s what the mosaic is supposed to be, anyway.

    But I’m disturbed that I have to use US cultural references [ok, Superman = 50% Canadian - thanks, Joe Shuster] to make the points. On the other hand, on my one and only trip to Europe about 25 years ago, I was bemused to see that a big whack of what little TV and cinema I had time to view was mostly American. Hmm.

    BUT: I’m afraid that this talk of Canadian identity is side-tracking us from the main issue – the shocking display of hate that has been whitewashed [so to speak] by Team Harper. Damn right it is racism – I am [not for the first time] humiliated by our government’s downplaying of this sort of issue and their attempts to morph it into a “tolerance” issue. Sorry, no sale.

    One of the greatest books ever written about Canada is The Vertical Mosaic by John Porter. Because it showed that there was a hierarchy of privilege in this country, and it was defined by race and country of origin. It’s a deadly dull read if you don’t love tables of data, but I think the conclusions stand. We are far from an egalitarian society, and shame on us for pretending differently.

    So what do we do about it? Crommunist, lead us!

  22. 22
    kraut

    “There’s also the super-loose immigration policy that, through the loophole created by that and the U.S. and Canada historically having weak border controls, helped cause 9/11″

    Hmm, isn’t it the duty of the US to watch their border for incoming persons? We have enough to do to prevent illegal weapons entering Canada from the US.
    The same bullshit that 9/11 had anything to do with Canada, when it is clear hat they entered (again, who’s responsibility is that, remind me?)either from Saudi Arabia, Lebanon or Germany.
    None of the perpetrators ever entered Canada.

    And we are at fault for the jingoistic violent nature of the US society? And why would the creation of a US health care system take away ours?
    Is it ok to call a person stupid who holds such idiotic opinions, or simply completely nuts?
    Or is that just a fine example of poe

  23. 23
    kraut

    And here I thought they were targeting a person for holding dear the ideas of terrorism. That it is a person of colour (arab) in this case is surely based on some historical facts…like that most or the perpetrators of 9/11 came from a country where persons of colour (arabs) are in the majority, and have government officials and private backers who like to to perpetuate their brand of religion by any means possible…Bin Laden stood not alone, he was receiving funding from Saudi Arabia at all times.

  24. 24
    ebutler

    You must understand the fear of akathisia. Death leads to akathisia so you want to wait as long as possible for it but without health care you head toward death and akathisia too quickly. Canada is avoiding akathisia on the backs of the Americans who must experience it.

  25. 25
    Crommunist

    Akathisia is, by the way, restless leg syndrome. So… yeah. Either this is Mabus’ sister or a hilarious joke. I’m still not sure which :P

  26. 26
    besomyka

    There’s a kernel of truth in the idea that the US is acting as the world’s policeman and that, as a result, we are bearing a disproportionate amount of that cost, but I think you’re getting into conspiracy theory territory with the 9/11 stuff.

    What makes you think that Canada’s immigration policies (which isn’t, as far as I’m aware, as loose as you imply) has anything to do with the USA’s ability to conduct it’s own immigration security?

    As to what I think is your core point, I think you’re aiming criticism in the wrong direction. Canada has a strong military consisting of all disciplines. Their snipers, I’m told, are particularly adept. They also have the capability of producing nuclear weapons. To suggest that they are relying on us for their own security grossly overstates the actual situation.

    It’s not that Canada is spending too little on defense, it’s that the USA is spending way too much. We should get our own house in order. No need to disparage other countries.

    I have to ask — what’s with the preoccupation with akathisia and death? I don’t understand that at all.

  27. 27
    Crommunist

    The question is whether America’s military is as larger as it is due to some inherent necessity, and I don’t think it is. The United States is the largest military in the world, economically speaking, by a factor of 4 or 5 times its next largest competitor. The assertion that somehow the defence of Canada from our many international enemies (like… hmm… maybe like Norway or something? If there’s a dispute over fisheries) is responsible for the USA’s military budget is not even worth treating as though it were a serious topic for discussion. It’s absurd. The United States faces a bigger existential threat from Canada’s trade policies than it does our military vulnerability, and even then the risk is a teensy one.

    All of this is to say nothing of the fact that the United States spends more (at a per-capita level) than Canada does on health care. Y’all are wasting money on both sides of the equation. It’s not that the USA can’t afford better health care policy because it’s too busy guarding Canada, and neither is it that Canada can afford to be so profligate because the USA is causing all of our enemies to back down.

    It’s also more than a little insulting considering how much Canadian time, effort, money, and human life has been spent in support of our friend the United States in the pursuit of peace in Afghanistan. We supported you and continue to support you because we recognize that our fates are intertwined, and because of our shared history, the barely coherent ravings of a lunatic with restless leg syndrome notwithstanding.

  28. 28
    besomyka

    Here’s the story I remember hearing on NPR: http://m.npr.org/news/front/165052133?start=10

    Quote:

    “The U.S. has been the guarantor of the sea lanes and the Gulf producers because we felt that was vital to U.S. energy security interests,” says Herberg of the National Bureau of Asian Research. “As we become quasi energy-independent it’s likely that there will be questioning here in the U.S. ‘Do we really need to carry that load?’ ”

    Security For Key Shipping Lanes

    If protecting the Persian Gulf oil supply doesn’t matter so much anymore, would that justify some U.S. disengagement from the Middle East?

    Persian Gulf oil will remain important, and somebody will need to secure those Gulf shipping lanes. China, poised to become the No. 1 buyer of Gulf oil, is now benefiting from the huge U.S. security presence in the region. Perhaps the United States could turn over security responsibilities in the Persian Gulf to China.

    I don’t think turning over naval security to China will happen any time soon, and even if we did it’d just get shifted elsewhere.

    Whole thing is a sidetrack to the health care issue. Money is not the reason we don’t have universal healthcare in the US. We have PLENTY of money. We spend PLENTY of money on it already. The problem, as I see it, is that we treat health care like any other marketplace and it just isn’t. The most shopping around I do, the most decision making I do, is in picking a primary care physician – restricted, of course, by doctors that are on my insurance plan.

    I do not choose that insurance plan – my employer does.

    I do not choose which emergency care I get.

    If I need a test, I do not get to choose who does it.

    I do not know the costs of medical care before making the few choices that I do have.

    The US military budget has jack-all to do with any of that.

  29. 29
    ebutler

    I had severe akathisia a week ago and it was terrible. I had to keep getting up and pacing, then I had to sit back down, then I had to get back up. There was this biting diabolical nervousness inside my abdomen that would be satiated only a little by the pacing. For 3 hours I experienced this.

  30. 30
    Crommunist

    And this was Canada’s fault. Because of American military jingoism. And is caused by death. Because reasons.

  31. 31
    ebutler

    Thank you for the funny response. :)

    Still, I feel kinda hurt and left out. To me, these are all connected, and thinking of one immediately reminds me of the others.

  32. 32
    Allegra

    May I recommend some guaifenesen for those restless legs, while we’re making lunatic comments without any substance or science. Hey, I can practice anedotal medicine with the best of them.

  33. 33
    No Light

    l, I feel kinda hurt and left out. To me, these are all connected, and thinking of one immediately reminds me of the others

    If you’re being serious, that somehow the USA is protecting Canada from attack, that Canadians are communist despots slamming Americans into the dirt whilst cruelly cackling, and that this is all bound up with thanatos and restless legs? Then I recommend haloperidol and lorazepam as a refreshing rest cure.

    They truly are the panacea for what ails you,

  34. 34
    WMDKitty -- Survivor

    America. Yeah. We do have a lot of racism here — some of it is so blatant a blind man could see it, most of it is subtle under-the-radar stuff that’s, it’s societal, it’s “just the way things are”, we “can’t change” it (both absolute lies). Some of us are aware, and do whatever we can to help change things. Unfortunately, a lot of Americans are apathetic, or believe that the Civil Rights movement of the ’60′s “fixed” things, or just aren’t AWARE of what goes on around them.

    The good news is, we also have people who are active and open and putting all the (metaphorical) shit out into the light of day where it can be seen for what it is and cleaned up. Because of this, we are discussing things — racism, ableism, homophobia, to name a few — that otherwise would be hushed up and accepted as “normal”.

    So, um, we’re not perfect, but we’re trying and I believe that we are (slowly) improving on these fronts.

  35. 35
    ebutler

    i have a penis and will be stuck with it for the rest of my life as punishment. i just got out of the hospital where i was housed with the men bc of my penis andnow i have a big bill. u happy about that, canadians? this stupid american getting what she deserves?

  36. 36
    patterson

    Lets see

    Brown face
    Taxi driving joke
    Goat fucking joke
    Sheep fucking joke
    Use of broad comical Indian accent for someone supposed to be Saudi

    I think you have to be pretty disingenuous at this point to fail to see the racism.

  37. 37
    No Light

    OK, seriously, why are Canadians at fault for the US system?

    Your country has out and out rejected socialised healthcare, due to idiotic cold-war era paranoia about communism, and total and utter lack of any sense of a social contract. It’s all “Why should my tax dollars help anyone but me?” and “Taxes are oppression!”.

    Look at the fucking furore over a step as basic as the ACA.

    Also, Canada is not to blame for America’s penchant for “liberating” oil-rich countries on false pretences, or engaging in decades-long grudge matches in order to justify the military industrial complex. In fact, as a Brit, I’d like to say “Fuck you. very much” to the US MIC for the money burned and lives lost and ruined in this country, while backing up their war games.

    Or if you want to ignore the trillions pissed away by your country’s MIC, how about
    the billions spent on the new Jim Crow laws Prison Industrial Complex, where private companies are given YOUR money in order to keep MOC off the street on one hand, thereby demonising WOC as “Welfare Queen single mothers” on the other.

    Trillions of dollars there, burned in deserts, drowned in blood, and wrapped up in steel bars and orange jumpsuits.

    America is to blame for your inability to transition without spending $50k.

    America is to blame for it’s refusal to introduce equal rights legislation that would prevent trans* people being treated as subhuman.

    America is to blame for a “healthcare” system that bankrupts people for daring to be physically or mentally ill.

    America is to blame for your maltreatment, persecution, and misgendering.

    Attacking random Canadians does not do anything to help your cause or your case. Sit down at lunch today and “thank” America for fucking you over, because despite what deluded exceptionalists claim, the USA is not #1 at much else more than fucking the 99% over.

  38. 38
    Crommunist

    I get that you’re upset, and I get that you’re hurting, but that doesn’t make your argument valid. Canada is not the reason why America has shitty health care. America spends MORE on its health care system than Canada does on ours. The problem is that your health care system is structured badly and is incredibly wasteful. That has nothing to do with any imagined military overspending because of the need to protect a country that HAS ITS OWN MILITARY.

  39. 39
    ebutler

    how does any of this help me? it doesn’t, and that’s the beauty of it. you set me down this little rabbit hole that doesn’t get me anywhere, and you canadians can just laugh yourselves all the way to the bank. it’s clear i’m being punished for my transgressions, but who is doing the punishing? that bout of akathisia was really painful.

  40. 40
    composer99

    erikabutler: your perception of being punished for transgressions, real or imagined, has nothing to do with systemic racism/xenophobia in Canada, which is the topic of the OP.

    It also has nothing to do with the off-topic threadjack you brought into play, comparing US & Canadian health care & military spending.

    It also seems to me that if you require some sort of immediate help, this is the wrong place to go asking for it (especially if you are resorting to off-topic, prima facie false claims).

  41. 41
    ebutler

    oh sure lets force erika to suffer by herself. that would be convenient, wouldn’t it?

  42. 42
    No Light

    Erika – You need psychiatric help. I know that the unit you were in was a horrible experience due to being misgendered, it must have made you horribly dysphoric, but are there no other local facilities, or outpatient programs?

    Aside from that, your paranoia and persecution complex are apparently messing with your reading comprehension. I’m not Canadian, as I’ve already mentioned. Canadians aren’t mocking you or laughing at you. They have no idea who you are.

    Again, it’s your country who are punishing you for being trans, for having a mental illness. That’s how the kyriarchy operates.

    If you’re on psych meds, there are a few anti-psychotics and anti-anxiolytics that cause akathisia and dyskinesia. If you’re taking one or more of those classes of drugs, having painful sensations and clearly still suffering with paranoia and delusions, then you should try and see your psych liaison ASAP, if you have one.

    If you don’t currently have care, and need to know where there might be free/low cost mental health services in your area, then you could call United Way on 211.

  43. 43
    Holms

    … this story is a gaping hole in the hull of the Harper warship**.

    Defenitely not hearing any homonym here. Do I need a canadian accent or something?

  44. 44
    Crommunist

    Warship. Worship.

  45. 45
    medivh

    So how do the Australians do it? I am no being flip, but I am sort of curious as to why you think they managed to carve out a distinctly Australian thing whereas Canada, if I read you right, did not.

    Australian culture seems to be an organic growth from having been a British colony with special focus on the culture from being a convict and lower class dumping spot. New Zealand I know less of, but have a much stronger tie to the lower class bit than the convict bit, with a lot more appropriation of the Maori culture than Australians do of the Aboriginal culture.

    Which is not to say Australia is doing better there… We seem to be attempting to kill our First Nations citizens off, much like Canada seems to be trying to do. The Maoris don’t seem to mind as much either, especially with the obvious example next door of how it could be worse.

    If I’m reading right, Canada never managed to get much past the colonial bit before becoming exposed to international scrutiny. Australia did most of it’s growing up in public where Canada was allowed to do it in private by way of being founded earlier. Australia, thereby, had inscentive to forge an identity; Canada kind of realised much later in the process that it needed an identity that wasn’t “used to be British” and went “not USA” for lack of anything more obvious.

  46. 46
    medivh

    So, uh, maybe it’s because I’ve got the wrong accent or maybe because I suck with words…

    I don’t get this bit:

    his story is a gaping hole in the hull of the Harper warship**.

    **Reading that last part aloud provides a pleasing and entirely non-coincidental homonym

    Which homonym should I be thinking of?

  47. 47
    ebutler

    I’m fine, and I was in for suicide and am not suicidal now. I was just wondering about why I can’t have SRS, and I think I’ve found the culprits. I just wanted to have a little discussion on it, that’s all.

  48. 48
    No Light

    . I was just wondering about why I can’t have SRS, and I think I’ve found the culprits.

    So you think Canadians are somehow conspiring to prevent your transition?

    What’s blocking your progress is the messed up American for-profit “healthcare” system, and the fact that your country does not view you as fully human due to transmisogyny and cissupremacy, and therefore denies you equal rights under the law.

    I’m glad you’re no longer suicidal, but your thinking is still clearly disjointed and not quite based in reality.

    Practice self,care, give yourself time to work through what’s happened to you, and see if you can talk through your recent traumatic experience with a professional. Put your energy into that. Conspiracy theories are entertaining diversions, but ultimately unproductive.

    There are people who’ve lived what you’re living, and can empathise with you, as well as giving you support

    http://transgender.livejournal.com/
    is one example of such support.

  49. 49
    medivh

    Ta. It does seem to be a wrong accent thing, then – I tried that and didn’t think it was close enough :P

  50. 50
    ebutler

    Thanks. I’ve started taking my medicine again. My mind feels less cluttered, and I’m no longer making all these connections between things. For some reason, though, the Canada-death-akathisia-no SRS-health care issues-punishment connection still has appeal to me. Still, I have been arguing with voices in my head and getting agitated, and I want to talk to my psychiatrist about this. Too bad I can’t talk to him until Monday. Maybe I need to switch my medicine.

    Thank you for your help.

  51. 51
    No Light

    These things always happen over the holidays! It is truly awful to be in that space between not needing emergency care, but not suffering something that’s trivial enough to comfortably wait out.

    Big hugs. It’s hard when that voice nags you, contradicts your every thought, makes connections between everything, turning the world into a terrifyingly complex webbed maze.

    Hopefully, once your meds are at a proper therapeutic level in your bloodstream, you’ll feel less agitated.

    Take care, yeah?

  52. 52
    Rutee Katreya

    Seconding cyber hugs if you want them, and a bit of relief at things getting a little better.

  53. 53
    John D

    As an American, I have to say that I do not believe we are super racist. If that were true, then Obama wouldn’t have been re-elected.

    I think the reason that you see so many race-related stories is that U.S. seems to be a super-consumer economy (everything is predicated on consuming the latest and greatest in everything from McDonald’s to laptops).

    Also, almost all of the news agencies are huge publicly traded companies. To generate more money, they have to print salacious stories. That’s why you see so many stories of fathers and mothers slaying their children, or stories of wives dismembering their hubsands: it’s all about the bottom line.

    I believe the U.S. has come a long way in the fight against racism. I just wish the uplifting stories could be trumpeted a lot more and the shitty ones be put on page 16 more often.

    This is my favorite race related story:

    http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2009/02/12/40_years_worth_of_thanks/

    I would like to see a lot more stories about the good of humanity. These stories are woefully under-represented in the media and give a skewed impression to both blacks and whites to be on guard of each other.

  54. 54
    Crommunist

    I just wish the uplifting stories could be trumpeted a lot more and the shitty ones be put on page 16 more often.

    Yeah, and I just wish you would get your own fucking blog and leave mine alone, but I guess neither of us are getting our wish.

  55. 55
    No Light

    As an American, I have to say that I do not believe we are super racist. If that were true, then Obama wouldn’t have been re-elected

    Ahahahahah, that’s a good one! Just like how the UK won the battle against all sexism when Margaret Thatcher was. elected as PM in the late 70s, amirite?

    Oh. Oh wait… you’re fucking serious?

    Wow. I can’t even…

  56. 56
    John D

    Still smarting from my pointing out your hypocrisy huh? Did I leave a welt?

    Way to deny responsibility for your own hypocritical stances.

  57. 57
    John D

    No light,

    There will always be assholes of every type and color. But, if you don’t think that a majority of white (in Obama’s case) or male (in Thatcher’s case) voting for these candidates is improvement, then you’re stuck in a glass half empty stance.

    You can continue to measure things in how far there is to go until NOBODY holds these views (in which case you’re going to be waiting a VERY LONG TIME).

    Have we stomped out these views being held by a single person?

    Clearly not. But when a majority of men (or sizable minority) vote for Thatcher or a majority of whites vote for Obama, then that is proof that a majority of those people are willing to look objectively at the world and are not haters.

    That’s a huge improvement from the time where if a black man dared talk to a white woman he could be summarily executed or terrorized by bigots with a blind eye from cops.

  58. 58
    mythbri

    I’m not racist – I have a black President!

    That’s even better than a black friend, right?

  59. 59

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