‘Moving Beyond Race’

“I believe that it’s the civic duty of Canadians, especially our elites, to promote social, political and legal arrangements that lessen race consciousness — that appeal to our higher and better instincts as expressed by our liberal values…ERBLMovingBeyondRace800x800“The arrangements comprised of the ‘Indian Act’ and all its manifestations, and now ‘Haida Nation’ and ‘Tsilhcot’in’ and all of their manifestations…are increasing negative, exclusionary, race consciousness in Canada.

“These new arrangements being foisted on Canadians emanate from exclusionary race-thinking and, as such, are retrograde and stunting to the human spirit. They contain no social scaffolding upon which to build social relations based on forward-looking, racially-inclusive, universalist, aspirational, rational thought. 

“And so I argue against the permanent presence of the ‘Indian Act’, reservations and race-based rights and entitlements – against ‘Haida Nation’ and ‘Tsilhcot’in’, and the permanent, psychologically-baser sense of racial apartness they represent.

“History, self-reflection, common sense and the daily news all teach us that racism and ethnic chauvinism have been common to all human cultures at all times, including the present.

“The degree to which a country can be regarded as truly civilized is marked by the extent to which it tries, through its institutions, behaviors and modes of speech, to render the darker and more dangerous side of our genetic hardwiring — of our human nature — a civic non-issue, or at least tries to cause it to be channeled only positively. 

“Canada was doing a pretty good job on that account until recently. We were one of the best countries in the world on that score – maybe the best.

“But now, as I argue, epitomized by ‘Haida Nation’ and ‘Tsilhcot’in’, we’re seriously falling down on that job. Our elites are dismantling that old liberal, humanist social scaffolding that for so long served us so well. It’s hard to feel that our excellences are being nurtured any more. There’s a lot of dangerous and unhealthy emotion being churned up by this jurisprudence, and by what our elites are doing, or failing to do, about it… BlackCanadaFlag“Canadians — on the whole so tolerant and decent — are being unfairly pushed to the limits of their toleration. Moderate, progressive, rational thinking that presumes and promotes our essential equality and common humanity is being ignored and marginalized, thus dangerously leaving the field open to extremists.

“That humans have a racist side to their makeup, which should never be forgotten, overlooked, downgraded or minimized, is indisputable…

“Now, to our present elites, seemingly naïfs all, man is apparently just a misguided angel and anything not nice about him can and should be socially engineered out of him. Good luck with that!

“It’s a groundless, dangerous and irresponsible counterculture-type notion that, with just the right amount of funding, education, alteration of social circumstances and “raised consciousness,” we can eradicate all traces of the more beastly, irrational aspects of our human nature, like race consciousness. We can’t…

“I think ‘Haida Nation’, ‘Tsilhcot’in’ and their legal progeny, present and future, all fail on this account. They go too far. They go too much against the grain of human nature. They threaten to push the situation beyond the bounds of reason.

“Our elites, knowing (or deemed to know) our human nature and then failing to vigilantly guard against its negative manifestations by letting expressions of the worst of that nature (race-based laws, race-based thinking) remain a permanent and increasing part of our society — by letting the worst of that human nature leak further into the ways we organize ourselves socially, politically and legally — are acting irresponsibly and in a manner dispiriting to ordinary Canadians (who are obviously far more idealistic than our leaders).

“There’s been a failure of moral leadership on the part of our elites. It’s making Canada, to the extent that we are giving into — and allowing further into — our civic space manifestations of that darker hardwiring that is a part of all of us, a less civilized polity than it used to be…

“Thus, ‘Haida Nation’s and ‘Tsilhcot’in’s vaunted, purported “reconciliation” of the Indian and non-Indian peoples of Canada is rendered virtually impossible, when the underlying legal and political basis for it is one that increasingly focuses on the emotional triggers of racial differences and racial apartness.

“This just increases…fear, resentment, anger and a sense of divisiveness on everyone’s part.TearingCanadianFlag“The present and ever-expanding ‘Haida Nation’-based status quo and the harmful conduct it is creating – the cynical, ‘danegeld’ shakedowns of the consult-and-accommodate industry; unpoliced and unpunished civil disruptions; continuing and relentless accusations of genocide and racism (even after a formal apology for aspects of it was formally given by Canadians); aggressive and unchallenged “warrior” and “nation-to-nation” talk; and now, with ‘Tsilhcot’in’, large parts of Canada to be legitimately claimed and declared as non-Crown, quasi-independent, race-based Indian lands…to name only a few examples – all of which are so negative and inflammatory… this all needs to be moved away from.

“The vast majority of interactions between non-elite Indians and ordinary Canadians are positive and racially indifferent. This needs to be emphasized and become a greater part of the Canadian narrative.

“The best and most inspiring examples of these interactions: the Gambler; homesteader John Hall in desperate times sharing his potato crop with Obidgewong Chief Bill Shabidon and his granddaughters; Willard Hall’s Indian friends sitting at his death bed, patting his face and smoothing his hair — these examples need to be extolled as ideal Canadian behavior and attitudes to emulate. unity-md“New policies must be adopted de-emphasizing race as the controlling factor, and putting new focus on racial harmony, thus creating…appropriate contexts in which to permit…those “higher learning centres” i.e. our reason, our idealism, our liberal values – the better angels of our nature – to light up, predominate, challenge and defeat our instinctive “Dark Side”…so as to better “mediate” our beast within, and relegate him to the deep, back recesses of the dark cave of Canada’s collective psyche.

“Canadians want to be led to this Promised Land of racial unity, where those better angels dwell.

“Mexico has a much worse record than Canada of colonial mistreatment of its indigenous peoples. But, perhaps because they never had a reservation system, there’s a strong movement in that country to celebrate and define themselves as a new “cosmic race” resulting from the complete integration of their European and indigenous peoples into a country of “futurity and newness”.

“This is what Canadians want.

“But it seems that our elites, by almost willfully ignoring human nature here, or at least by pushing us so recklessly against the grain of it; by refusing or neglecting to maintain and strengthen our traditional, liberal, humanist social scaffolding; by refusing to exhort us to listen to the voices of our better angels and act accordingly — are bound and determined to thwart us from even starting on that hopeful journey.”

–Peter Best,
‘The Amygdala Factor: Our Civic Duty To Give No Legal or Political Effects to Race-Thinking’

More at:
http://nodifference.ca/essay/chap43
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“Through painful trial and error, the Western world has developed a form of polity – liberal democracy – which, though patently imperfect, confers upon ordinary people a degree of freedom, respect and security of expectations unmatched in any other political system. Do we really want to jeopardize this accomplishment by embarking upon the troubled waters of racial and ethnic politics?” 

– Tom Flanagan,
‘First Nations? Second Thoughts’

http://www.amazon.ca/First-Nations-Second-Thoughts-Edition/dp/077353444X
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