28 May 2017 – Press Articles

The original sin of white privilege, M Wente, Globe & Mail

Justus Walker was enjoying his Grade 11 class in sociology. Then came the lesson on white privilege. The teacher handed out a checklist with instructions for the students to score themselves on how much of it they had. The questions included things such as: “I can go into a supermarket and find the staple foods which fit with my cultural traditions.” The answers would determine their “privilege points.” After they had completed the exercise, the students were asked to line up in order, from least points to most, and discuss the impact of white privilege on their lives.
Some of the questions were hard to answer, because Justus is multiracial – some Scottish, some Jamaican, some Indian, and so on. Which cultural traditions is he supposed to identify with? He doesn’t self-identify by race, ethnic origin, or skin colour. “I just am Canadian,” he says. As for ethnic food, “I can find Jamaican food in a grocery store but I can’t find haggis.”
White privilege is now a part of the Ontario school curriculum. It is taught in teacher training, and is a routine part of anti-bias education. The idea is that white people benefit from unearned advantages based on race. Canada is depicted as a deeply racialized society where people are automatically advantaged, or disadvantaged, by their skin tone, race and (by extension) gender.
They move seamlessly from academia into government, art, and activism. It’s almost summer, but it’s not too late for one last campus absurdity. At Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash., biology professor Bret Weinstein is reportedly no longer safe on campus: As a biology professor for 15 years at Olympia’s The Evergreen State College, Bret Weinstein has seen his share of protests, but he’s never been afraid of being on campus until this week. “I have been told by the Chief of Police it’s not safe for me to be on campus,” said Weinstein, who held his Thursday class in a downtown Olympia park. An administrator confirmed the police department advised Weinstein it “might be best to stay off campus for a day or so.” His principal crime was dissenting from a so-called “Day of Absence,” an event in which white students and faculty were asked to leave campus for a day. In response, he wrote a letter to all faculty and staff containing arguments like this: There is a huge difference between a group or coalition deciding to voluntarily absent themselves from a shared space in order to highlight their vital and under-appreciated roles (the theme of the Douglas Turner Ward play Days of Absence, as well as the recent Women’s Day walkout), and a group or coalition encouraging another group to go away. The first is a forceful call to consciousness which is, of course, crippling to the logic of oppression. The second is a show of force, and an act of oppression in and of itself.
From 9/11 to Manchester, D Henninger, WSJ
Now we have Manchester and its 22 dead, many of them children. Somehow, we always end up back at 9/11, leaving flowers and candles again.
A political constant since 9/11 is that terrorism inevitably changes U.S. presidencies. I think the events this week—the president’s overseas trip and then Manchester—may have a similar effect on Donald Trump.
On Inauguration Day in January 2001, George W. Bush’s mind no doubt was filled with plans for his first term. Months later, his was a war presidency and would remain so.
Several things sit in my memory from the politics of that period. One is President Bush’s face as he addressed Congress on Sept. 20. He was a changed man. Also remembered is the solidarity of national purpose after the attack. The final memory is how quickly that unity dissipated into a standard partisan melee.
The Democratic point of attack became the Patriot Act’s surveillance provisions, a legal and legislative battle that ran the length of the Bush presidency. By the end of his second term, George Bush had become an object of partisan caricature and antipathy equal to anything President Trump endures now.

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