What Wente wrote was really dumb âe" and also racist

Please chip in to support rabble's election 2019 coverage. Support rabble.ca today for as little as $1 per month!

Globe and Mail columnist Margaret Wente went over the line.

Not normally known for pulling punches, the controversial columnist provided an apology and justification for Olympic Committee member Dick Pound's assertions that "Canada was a country of savages" a few hundred years ago.

In her article, "What Dick Pound said was really dumb âe" and also true," Wente goes on the offensive against all those who were offended by Poundâe(TM)s comments, and makes the case that Natives were indeed savages, and that's why Canada should continue its plans to erase their "neolithic culture."

Wente asserts, "North American native peoples had a neolithic culture [sic] based on subsistence living and small kinship groups ... They had not developed broader laws or institutions ... evidence based science ... or advanced technologies ... until about 30 years ago, the anthropological term for this developmental stage was 'savagery.'"

Until about 30 years ago, the technical term for this would be ignorance. Today, it is just plain racism to argue cultural inferiority and pretend that all Native peoples are the same.

Apparently Aboriginal problems today can be explained by the fact that we have a "relatively simple neolithic kinship-based culture" trying to make it in a world too complex for us. Broken treaties, residential schools, police discrimination? Not a problem!

She goes through great pains to de-romanticize Indigenous cultures, including arguing that modern drugs have no relation to Native medicines. Maybe Wente should take an Aspirin, a medicine derived from willow bark, a traditional medicine. This is beyond the point. She could do her homework, but she has other motives.

She feels it is wrong for Canadian society to feel collective guilt, since Native peoples had âeoeabsurdâe spiritual beliefs, weren't ecologically sensitive and basically were good-for-nothing. And this guilt is what's pushing us to try and protect Aboriginal cultures âe" effectively dooming them.

"[A] neolithic culture cannot possibly give them a future. And it's time for us to face that."

She's a brave one, concerned for poor little Indians, calling for us to accept racist policies like the ones that resulted in residential schools and Native leaders in jail. No, Margaret Wente's town isn't big enough for more than one culture, unless it's based on White values.

This kind of thinking and writing is unacceptable today. Dick Pound may have made some unsavoury remarks that he regretted, but this is just appalling. Within one day, a Facebook group had been created with over one hundred members calling for Ms. Wente to be fired.

Ms. Wente should not be allowed to keep her position at the Globe and Mail after publishing such virulent lies, while Mr. Pound should resign his Olympic Committee position and McGill Chancellorship.

The newspaper should distance itself from her remarks and work instead to build understanding of different cultures. I am urging people everywhere to write letters to the editors, to Wente and to her boss, letting them know you're not buying the paper.

We have to stop allowing such racism to go unchallenged in our society. We must demand respect and understanding for all.

Further Reading

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.

Comments

We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:

Do

  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.

Don't

  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.