That’s a pretty danged racist anecdote, lady

You can build all kinds of horrible stories around anecdotes, and here’s a perfect example. A woman’s mother is ill, and needs constant care. One day she starts to slide out of her wheelchair, and the woman rushes to prevent her from falling, and yells for their live-in caretaker…and that’s where it gets weird.

When I shouted for the personal support worker, I was panicked. Paralysed bodies are like dead weight — they are heavy and I wasn’t sure how long I could hold my mother up.

The worker, a visible minority and recent immigrant, was sitting on the couch behind my mother and couldn’t see what was happening. She slowly and deliberately put aside her homework — an open binder and some textbooks — and came to help me. Her annoyance at being interrupted was obvious. The emergency was taking her away from her real goal in life, becoming someone in her adopted country of Canada.

Ah. The relevant point here is apparently that the worker is a “visible minority and recent immigrant”, and wasn’t as solicitous of the woman’s mother as her daughter was. Let’s unpack an assumption or two, shall we? The first is that the minority status of this person was relevant; are foreigners just assumed to be more callous than True Canadians? Are we expected to believe that if the personal support worker were a real “someone”, that is a white native-born Canadian, they would have been more eager to drop their books and leap out of their chair to assist this rather unpleasant woman who is shouting at them? Is the problem here really that the caregiver is an immigrant, or that she is poorly trained and working for cheap?

And then the story gets worse.

As academics will tell you, relying on one anecdote to prove a theory is unwise, but I’m going to do it anyway

Oh. OK. As long as you know this is bogus.

Brace yourself for the ideological justification.

because this experience, which was only one of many, is emblematic of a deeper problem. There’s a disconnect between what many social justice warriors are doing — whipping up racial, gender and class tensions — and the real-life consequences they’re creating for those living off campus. In my panic, I’d spoken sharply to the young woman. I’d told her the angle at which she’d poised my mother was dangerous.

Wait. Who is whipping up racial, gender and class tensions? You’ve got a story — one story — about a woman who didn’t adjust a wheelchair properly, and suddenly it’s all the fault of “social justice warriors” creating horrible dangerous situations for True Canadians by giving jobs to immigrants. Maybe the problem is that instead of being able to hire a full-time, qualified nurse for the job, she’d hired someone who was actually more of a baby-sitter for a disabled adult, and has unwarranted expectations about their expertise.

Fortunately, though, True Canadians seem to have acquired the psychic powers of mind-reading and fortune-telling.

Her attitude became insouciant and knowing, and I realised that if I pursued the matter with the government agency that employed her, her race and immigrant status would likely become factors in my complaint, factors that would obscure the real problems, which were her lack of competency and interest in the job. In the Canadian version of the Biggest Victim Stakes, my mother, even with her age, disability and long-ago immigrant status, would lose.

Again with the racial assumptions. Maybe what was coloring the caregiver’s attitude, if there was one, was that her employer was lecturing at her, and clearly has a problem with her race. And the hypothetical consequences of firing her — and it’s telling that she’s considering this one incident with an immigrant to be cause for firing — hasn’t happened, and the only reason to think it would happen is her angry imagination.

I can agree that this worker lacks competence in wheelchair management, and that a paralyzed person falling out of a chair is a dangerous situation. But why keep complaining about the worker’s race and immigrant status? Why does she think that’s relevant? Is she so certain that a white Canadian, hired for the same job at the same rate, would be better? Has she considered that maybe the reason she’s hired an immigrant is that white Canadians are even less interested in taking on this kind of menial work?

She keeps coming back to this incident — it clearly is eating at her. At the end of the essay, after a meandering and incoherent tour of her outrage with Social Justice Warriors, she has to reiterate how terrible it is that this inexperienced immigrant worker could hold her hostage.

I started with an anecdote about my mother’s care because the practical (and troubling) effects of social justice warfare aren’t discussed often enough. That young woman who was careless with my mother knew she could use an accusation of racism to complicate any complaint I made. Home care — and I hope you’ll bear with me as I use another example — is a sphere where ethical hostage-taking is common. When I hired a live-in caregiver, through Canada’s live-in caregiver program, I was warned I could be hit with a nuisance suit worth several thousand dollars when his employment ended. Apparently, instructions for initiating nuisance suits is often promulgated at ethnic community centres and carried out by affiliated social justice lawyers, the kind of lawyers who specialise in narratives where families who can afford caregivers are naturally abusive.

O INJUSTICE! Immigrant workers, who are doing work beneath True Canadians and doing it with low pay, are protected by laws to prevent exploitation. The Ethnics are secretly conspiring to abuse these laws to leech coin off of the True Canadians. I will remind you, however, that this plan to sue her is entirely in the mind of the writer, and that she discerned them because her immigrant labor looked “insouciant”.

I forgot to mention the title of this essay: When Accusations Abound Who Will Protect the Falsely Maligned? So far, the only accusations have been delivered by the True Canadian against the immigrant. Who is supposed to be protected here?

I left out the longish bit in the middle where she moans about feminists, free speech, and the righteousness of Jordan Peterson’s crusade, and how it is so unfair that a good Canadian can get called a racist or homophobe. Also, strangely, she claims that the basis for this ideological division is “between those of us raised in rural areas, where the division of labour is relatively equal, and those raised in urban centres”, which is just the most long-winded Canadian way to blame urban minorities for problems not present (she claims) in pure rural communities.

You know, I keep reading these ranty complaints against Social Justice Warriors and feminists, and I want to ask one simple question of them.

What do you want, and why?

I’d just like to hear a coherent answer sometime. If you asked me what this SJW/Feminist supporter wanted, I’d say something like “Equal rights and opportunities for all, because we are equal and discrimination offends my sense of justice.” But these bozos…it’s all contradictory bullshit. They yell about “Free Speech!”, but then they announce that they want to shut up the people who call them mean names. Or like this woman, who clearly just wants to be able to fire immigrants and people of other races with impunity, because she blames their shortcomings on their race, which is at least internally consistent, but when stated that way, sounds awfully nasty, and actually justifies accusing her of racism, which she seems to want to tell people they aren’t allowed to do.

I think what they all really want is to protect their little bubbles of privilege, and silence anyone who even mentions something that is uncomfortably challenging to the status quo.


  1. Onamission5 says

    The lesson I am supposed to take away from the women’s post is, if I support social justice, ‘obvious minorities’ won’t care about (white, I’m guessing) disabled people.

    The lesson I took away instead is, the multiplous attempts to pit one marginalized group against another in defense of the status quo has taken yet another insidious form.

  2. Jeremy Shaffer says

    That young woman who was careless with my mother knew she could use an accusation of racism to complicate any complaint I made.

    Well, if you’re truly, honestly worried about that and are dead-set certain you’re not racist, maybe you could do something to greatly mitigate that possibility by- oh, I don’t know- not constantly bringing up her ethnicity and immigrant status when your complaints should be limited to her ability or inability to do the job!

  3. Nekomancer says

    The woman here is being a jerk, definitely, and she is a danger to herself and her mother as well. My wife and son are both trained as first responders (I should get trained too, because you never know). I asked them what the woman should have done. She should have eased her mother to the floor. Lifting up a deadweight can hurt the responder, then there are two people who need help. After getting her mother safely onto the floor, then get help from the caretaker. It will likely take two people to lift the mom up anyway, but it can be done safely. The singular problem wrong with the caretaker is that she was sitting in such a way that she did not have view of her patient. That is a problem, which can be corrected with either a warning or further training. I worked in a mental hospital and we are all trained in these matters. The most important is that you must have line of sight. Mine was a security institution – we dealt with the “criminally insane”, so this was absolutely necessary, our own lives depended on it.

  4. wzrd1 says

    So, let me get this straight.
    She brings in a caregiver, has no set standards of duties or precise duties that the caregiver is to follow. That’s already a bit odd, as the state is involved and usually does have a list of responsibilities and standards of care at the level that caregiver is to provide.
    She then ensures no training is given.
    Then, goes straight to race and immigrant status.

    Maybe I’m just weird, but if my wife were wheelchair bound and I brought in a caregiver, I’d make damned sure that the caregiver knew how to place her safely in a wheelchair, how to operate the brakes and how to safely maneuver a wheelchair both inside of the home and how to enter and leave the house with the wheelchair in a safe manner.
    At a minimum skill and professional knowledge job, I’d ensure that standards are set, duties are assigned and training is provided.
    When there was a foul-up, I’d first look at what I trained and standards that I set, just to be sure it wasn’t my foul-up, as that would be the most likely root cause. Then, it’d become a training moment, while recovering from the foul-up.
    If it was something already clearly delineated as a duty and properly trained for, retraining and some counseling might be in order, with repeated errors documented and if necessary, forwarded to the state agency.
    If it was simply a case of intracranial flatulence, well, we all get those from time to time. On error, go to human. Chide and move on.

    The weird thing is, that’s how I handled things in the military and now, in my daily civilian life. Always and ever in search of a trainable moment.

  5. David Eriksen says

    Re: wzrd1 @5

    I was reading through your comment thinking, “This is pretty much the way we’re supposed to do things in the Army.” Then I saw your last line. It’s nice to see that some standards persevere.

  6. wzrd1 says

    @numerobis, that’s certain, as she was wrestling with mom’s dead weight, when the standard is to guide the falling person to the floor safely, then get help in lifting the patient, as Nekomancer mentioned in #4.

  7. unclefrogy says

    people just do not like to actually think about stuff very much it is all pointy fingers, it is someones fault that other person is different so they are at fault before anything goes even wrong.
    uncle frogy

  8. vaiyt says

    Gee, I wonder why someone who flies off the handle like that ends up called racist by others.

  9. robro says

    …the practical (and troubling) effects of social justice warfare aren’t discussed often enough.

    What? Is Canada in the Cone of Silence? She can’t get Fox? I think the effects of SJW…whatever that is…is talked about way too much. Dog whistles are supposed to be silent, but this one is more a train whistle.

  10. says

    Well, as long as we’re sharing anecdotes, my wife is in home hospice and in addition to VNA we have caregivers 12 hours a day. One is a semi retired “white American”. One is from the Dominican Repuplic. One is from Sierra Leone. One is Cambodian. They’re all truly caring and helpful, from playing board games to sharing cuisines. And all the immigrants are her for the same reason my grandparents came here- to make a better life. Pues, asi es siempre.

  11. ck, the Irate Lump says

    robro wrote:

    What? Is Canada in the Cone of Silence? She can’t get Fox?

    Canadian social conservatives like to often complain about the fact we have hate speech laws, and like to imagine hundreds of thousands of people being imprisoned under them. And Fox News North (Sun News Network) recently went under due to poor viewership numbers. That’s just more persecution or social conservatives, no doubt.

  12. says

    ck@14, social conservatives at least have talk radio to listen to up here. A lot of Canadian talk radio types swing in one way or another in the right wing direction. And if they’re really hard up for Fox News style material they can subscribe to Fox News on their cable or satellite system.

  13. gijoel says

    As a carer with 17 years experience with physical and intellectual disability I’ll tell you one thing that you should do with a falling patient/client. Let them drop, cause if you try to catch them you’ll do your back or shoulders. Which has happened multiple times because I reacted, rather than thought. And you’re no use to anyone if you’re crippled over in pain.

    Maybe if the mother had been on a ventilator you might catch her, but even then I’d let her drop and reconnect and loose ends whilst she’s on the floor. I’d probably also call an ambulance, just in case the mother had stroke, or injured herself in the fall. Better safe than sorry.

    Carers are often placed in vulnerable positions because we are given a lot of responsibilities, but next to no authority. There’s no real metric we can point to to say how well we’re doing our jobs, and people with funny ideas can make our lives hell because they’ll complain about trivialities that any other reasonable person wouldn’t care about. Family members of clients can be your greatest advocates, but more often than not they’re a millstone around your neck. Because they have odd ideas, like say bringing their grandchildren to visit their intellectually disabled offspring even though he would repeatedly grope them till they were in tears.

    That did happen and despite repeated complaints to the parents, management, and social services nothing happened. The woman in this article complains that she can’t lodge a complaint against the immigrant carer. That is complete and utter bullshit, as every care agency in the western world would have to investigate any and every complaint. If only to cover their butt.

    I feel for the carer in this story as I imagine her every work day is filled with overbearing demands, and constant micro-aggressions. I hope she’s found another job elsewhere.

    And now I’m getting off my high horse. I hope I’ve explained my case well, but this has pretty much come off the top of my head. The people we care for are some of our most vulnerable members of society. The idea that a family member’s complaints wouldn’t be treated with diligence and concern is laughably wrong.

  14. wzrd1 says

    @timgueguen, my wife and I are quite sorry that we didn’t accept the strong suggestion that we move from Qatar to Canada, before a specific year of age was attained. For after, we’d be somewhat disadvantaged.
    If given the knowledge of the US today, especially in a political stance, we’d have moved to Canada with him and his family.

    I really should have known better, I never got a bad guidance from an old SAS type.

  15. wzrd1 says

    @gijoel, thanks for that good information!
    It most certainly removes any notion of an information vacuum, from one directly involved in a home care caregiver.

    Interestingly enough, we took in a homeless couple, initially met while they used a rented lawnmower, to try to make enough money to eat.
    They were taken in to care for my wife while I was at work, as she’s taken recently to severe falls. She also has a rather complicated medical history, with the number of acute issues being quite significant and falls would be expected to be really, really bad.
    They’re quite conscientious, learned what is needed quickly and are extremely dedicated.
    I’d love to refer them to a position to perform such duties for a state assigned duty, once we manage to get my wife’s medical issues under control, but unfortunately, the US has a regressive attitude with those convicted of any crime and the male half of the couple has a conviction for misdemeanor DWI and a domestic situation, of which I have a good idea and none were angels.

    I’ve always been big on second and third chances, etc. The only problem we ran into with this couple, after three months has been that of ethanol retention, the male half of that couple tending toward consuming that which is available. That’s been counseled upon, with mention of it feeling like we’re living with a teen, rather than an adult man a decade junior to us.
    We’ll see if we need to take it to substance abuse addressing levels, avoiding bullshit like twelve step religious nonsense.
    If I can go from three liters per week of whiskey to zero, in preference to food, he can learn to govern impulsive consumption. They’re both quite bright kids.

    Besides, once, early on, the female half of the couple had asked me, quite concerned when I popped into the kitchen, “Is she alright alone?”, I replied to the affirmative, immediately afterward, a loud crash resounded throughout the house.
    A fall.
    We’ve since located her issue, her diabetes and insulin dosage becoming an issue and requiring adjustment.
    Something that’s confused doctor for a bit. But then, doctor doesn’t live here and get access to repeated testing after a problem. That’s for later this month, with full charting of glucose levels.
    Knocked me down a few steps though, with all of my medical experience. Alas, that was largely trauma care, not chronic care.
    So, we all listen to each other and watch my wife like the proverbial hawk.

    And for the record, I’m scared shitless over my wife’s condition. Something rather novel for me.

    Oh, for fun, I suffer from hyperthyroidism. This isn’t doing me any good, stress wise, but the stress has massively lowered, courtesy of this couple. To the point where my aortic dilation has remained static and my beta blockers remain at an all time low dosage level.

    So, our respect, after caring for my father for the last five years of his life and our current experience is quite positive.
    Any errors are training moments.

  16. Meg Thornton says

    I’d amend PZ’s question with one subclause:

    “What do you want, why do you want it, and why do you think your current behaviour is going to help achieve this?”

    Seriously, I do want to know why a lot of these people, who are against various social justice movements and blame them for the ills of the world, think that whining about things over the internet is going to help.

    Exhibit one, of course, would be the MRAs, who have taken this particular course to the level of becoming an art form – they call themselves “activists”, but I suspect the only place you’d find a less active group of people would be the coma wards. They appear to be under the impression that if they just whine for long enough, things will magically go the way they want them, without them having to lift a finger or do anything else.

  17. jrkrideau says

    Hey, I’m a True Canadian. That writer has a weird foreign name! We should never have let her into the Country!

    We should never have let anyone in who was not from France or the British Isles. It has led to the complete corruption of society.[1]

    @ 14 ck, the Irate Lump

    And Fox News North (Sun News Network) recently went under due to poor viewership numbers.

    No it was clearly a Liberal Government plot to wipe out the principled opposition. Justin will do anything to destroy the Sun and the National post. Totally incompetent management and complete ignorance of the market had nothing to do with it. Ezra, himself, told me this.

    Note: I nearly choked typing the word “principled” there.

  18. jrkrideau says

    @ 18 wzrd1

    unfortunately, the US has a regressive attitude with those convicted of any crime

    Yes it seems that it does. A great way to create a criminal class. Just don’t hire anyone with a criminal record so they have to steal to survive.

    Recently, (last 15-20 years?) Elections Canada has been working hard to get voting polls into prisons so that inmates can vote.

    A workmate of mine got a job with a US-owned company and then got fired because he had a criminal record–no idea what it was but I suspect something non-violent. Excellent worker and anyone’s valued employee. Bloody stupid to say the least.

    On the other hand, he now has a much better job with a locally owned company and I won’t patronise that US-owned company.

  19. Siobhan says

    @14 ck,

    Now that you mention it, Canada’s hate speech laws are very topical. Jordan Peterson is entering week six of his hellfire and brimstone screeching, arguing that Bill C-16 will have people arrested for using the wrong pronoun with a trans person. I think I can count on one hand the number of people who’ve been convicted for hate speech under the Criminal Code in–what–the past 5 years? Is Dr. Peterson constantly containing “death to all trans!” outbursts every time he opens his mouth? Like what the actual fuck is the conservative complaint here?

  20. taco_emoji says

    What do you want, and why?

    This reminds me of this anecdote from This American Life (bear with me):

    Minnesota Congressman Tom Emmer is holding a town hall in St. Cloud, where people are whining about the influx of Somali refugees into their city. A white woman, Sue, has the mic:

    Sue: You’re our only chance.
    Tom Emmer: For what? Sue, what is it that you want?
    Sue: OK.
    Tom Emmer:What is it that you want from me?
    Sue: I think I speak for a lot of people. I think the city of St. Cloud needs a breather. And we need to assimilate with the people that are trying to–
    Tom Emmer:What does that mean? What does that mean?
    Sue: It’s a break on the influx for a period of time. So we could take a little breather.
    Tom Emmer:Your last statement, though, “take a little breather.”
    Hey, if you guys can just hold on. Say it out loud. Are you suggesting that no more immigrants should be allowed to come to St. Cloud?
    Sue: A moratorium for the whole United States!
    Tom Emmer: All right, all right. Here’s the thing. All I can do is respond as open and honest as I can, Sue. That’s not something that I can do. That’s not something that our Constitution says that we do with people who are–

    At this point Mr. Emmer unfortunately bends over backwards to paint Sue in the nicest possible light, calling her “not a xenophobe, not a racist”, as though there are some other magical criteria a person could possibly have to meet for those labels to apply.

    Anyway… A perfect illustration of the contortions people put themselves through for the sake of plausible deniability.

  21. says

    I can agree that this worker lacks competence in wheelchair management, and that a paralyzed person falling out of a chair is a dangerous situation.

    My sister is a trained paediatric nurse who also worked many years in geriatric care. She was the best, most dedicated, careful, loving and wonderful caregiver our grandma could ever have asked for. One afternoon in late autumn we were all outside at my grand/parents’ home and it was getting chill so we packed up to move inside again. My sister made a mistake. She underestimate how steep the ramp is, how much grandma and the wheelchair weighed and how little she weighed and could pull in comparison. Grandma started to slip out of the wheelchair while my sister was pulling it up the ramp. I started to run, but I didn’t make it in time. Grandma fell out of the wheelchair and hit her head.
    Funny enough, she was clearer in the head after that shock than she’D been in a long time, but I don’t suggest hitting little old ladies on the head. Don’t try this at home.
    Yes, even trained and qualified people make mistakes. Sometimes they have horrible consequences, sometimes not.

    When I shouted for the personal support worker, I was panicked. Paralysed bodies are like dead weight — they are heavy and I wasn’t sure how long I could hold my mother up.

    The worker, a visible minority and recent immigrant, was sitting on the couch behind my mother and couldn’t see what was happening. She slowly and deliberately put aside her homework — an open binder and some textbooks — and came to help me.

    In my experience, there’s this panicky absolute urgency tone of voice that will get people running. Or make them stop. It’s the one that will make my children obey immediately because they know they’re in serious danger. Unless you employ it regularly for non urgent situations. So I guess the worker thought “díos mío, ?por qué está gritando esta vez? Se cayó el bolígrafo?” (My god why is she yelling again? Did the pen fall down?)

    YEah, people (and healthcare systems) are not willing to pay what it costs to hire qualified professionals for a living wage, but then they wonder why the people they hire to work long hours, wipe shitty asses and get little pay may not be the most dedicated workers.

  22. applehead says

    I think the unspoken problem here is: what about the INvisible immigrants?! How do I know my state-supplied servants don’t stem from weird countries like Slovenia or Croatia, aka Ethnic Europe, who can pass for white?!?

    Maybe we could make all phony Caucasians wear armbands?

  23. numerobis says

    Giliell@24: I’m only barely willing to give the complainant presumption of truth. Still, the description of the event is consistent with the carer springing into action and helping right away. When you’re in a tricky spot and you don’t know what you’re doing, a few seconds feels like an eternity.

  24. smrnda says

    There seems to be a bit or resentment that the care workers is studying to become something else.

    “The emergency was taking her away from her real goal in life, becoming someone in her adopted country of Canada.”

    Maybe the author could just admit that being a home health aide is a shit job, one that most people would prefer not to do if there are other options, and enquire about why that is and how it could be improved? But her tone suggests that these lowly immigrants should be good servants.