What is racism?
Apparently that's the question on everybody's lips. You can't pick up a newspaper without reading somebody's opinion of what racism is.
That's funny because for more than 50 years nobody has had any doubt about what racism is. Children and adults, men and women knew without question that racism was prejudice against someone because of the colour of their skin.
But now that we've discovered that Eric Robinson, the Deputy Premier of Manitoba, is a racist by that definition, journalists, academics, ethicists, commentators of all descriptions are racing to the ramparts to say it isn't so.
That we've been using the wrong definition of racism for more than half a century. That the true definition is a Marxist interpretation of class and power relationships, not skin colour after all. That Indians--oops, natives --- oops, aboriginals, have reason to be prejudiced against whites and shouldn't be blamed if they do. That there can't be racism against white people because they're the majority and you can't show racism against the majority skin colour.
Racism, understand, by their definition, isn't all bad.
Today, we're waiting to see how the Manitoba Human Rights Commission defines racism. Are we ever.
You see, the chairman of the human rights commission is Jerry Woods, "a proud member of the Couchiiching First Nation." In other words, he's aboriginal, just like Eric Robinson, against whom a formal complaint has been filed.
How he defines racism will determine if the old definition is valid regardless of who shows bias against whom, or whether we've entered Greg Selinger's Brave New World of Marxist Manitoba where class distinction is the only measure.
It's extremely sad, and equally frightening, to watch Robinson's defenders twist and turn the facts to try and accomodate his racist attitude towards whites.
A stark recital of the facts is in order.
* In an exchange of emails with government employees, Eric Robinson sneered at the "ignorance of do good white people." His email was never supposed to be seen by outsiders. It was part of a conversation of like-minded insiders in government.
The Legislature has been told that when the email was about to be released under a filing under the Freedom of Information Act, the deputy minister of Robinson's department blacked out the politically incendiary words. He cited a section of the Act permitting material to be redacted under certain circumstances, which, normally, would have ended the matter since how can you appeal to have released what you don't know is being hidden.
* Except that the recipient of the FOI material did know. She managed to decipher the blacked out wording. It was obvious the censoring of the inflammatory comments was done to protect the boss.
Three times she appealed to have the email released in its entirety, and each time, including personal appeals to Robinson, she was turned down.
Robinson was intent on hiding his opinion of white people from snoopers outside of government.
His defenders try to spin these facts to minimize Robinson's role. Premier Greg Selinger tried calling the racist email a private communication. It wasn't. It was from a government minister to government staffers, written on government time on a government computer.
Robinson certainly did his best to keep it private, that is, away from the eyes of anyone not in his government, and racial, circle. But those words coming from the minister, himself, makes them government policy.
* When Robinson's words were finally exposed, he DID NOT apologize, contrary to what his defenders allege. Robinson was first confronted with the email by a reporter for APTN---that's the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network. He told her he "absolutely" would not apologize, that he said what he meant, and "you and I know there's a lot of those types around."
So, speaking to what he thought was his own kind, his own audience, he simply repeated the racist slur.
* It was only the next day, when the story crossed over to the mainstream news outlets, that a statement was released, at 4:30 p.m. that Friday, over his name which said "I did not mean to offend anyone with the words I used."
Of course not, he didn't expect anyone outside of his staff members to read those words.
That's not an apology.
The statement then acknowledged that after "discussion with the Premier, the words I chose in the moment were regrettable and for that I apologize."
He apologized for using racist words, not for his racist attitude towards white people. His defenders hope you don't see the difference.
* Robinson has never apologized to the individuals he targeted with his prejudiced comments about "do good white people". In fact, he's publicly said he has a right to be racist against whites because he's suffered racism. We're waiting to see if the Human Rights Commission accepts that as a legitimate excuse for racism in Manitoba.
* Selinger has refused to discipline Robinson in any way. In fact, he's praised him and stated that Robinson is a Canadian hero for his activism. The NDP caucus applauds Robinson's racism in the Legislature and thereby endorses selective racism in the province.
Robinson's language was not the childish sniggering of a nobody backbencher who accused an Opposition MLA of being homosexual, and who was excoriated by the Premier. Robinson made a sneering remark intended to disparage and belittle whites. Even the term do-good was used in a derogatory fashion demonstrating his prejudice against people with white skin.
You can see why his defenders are so adamant to redefine the word.
* Arthur Schafer, an "ethics" professor, excuses the racism of aboriginal Robinson as understandable. We're waiting for him to offer the same understanding to anti-semites.
Schafer and the other apologists for Robinson find racism excusable under certain circumstances. But does anybody want to explore those circumstances?
U.S. President Barack Obama has a white mother and a black father. Can aboriginals be prejudiced against him on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and not for the rest of the week?
Will Manitoba NDP programs require people to bring proof of their race to qualify for benefits? What percentage of white blood is acceptable before the Manitoba Human Rights Commission offers protection against prejudice?
This is not a joke. Did you ever think questions like these would be legitimate? Did you ever think a government in Canada would endorse racism by its top leadership?
We thought that was a page in the history books, Germany in the Thirties.
But here we are, in Greg Selinger's NDP Manitoba, discussing under what circumstances racism is permissible, acceptable, understandable, even warranted.
* The shame is not on those beyond shame, Greg Selinger and Dave Chomiak, partisans who would do anything to get re-elected, including turning a blind eye to selective racism.
But what does NDP MLA Erin Selby tell her triplet daughters? Selby can be seen bobbing her head in the daily broadcast of Question Period in full support of Selinger's twisted defences of Robinson's racism.
Or Mohinder Saran, NDP MLA for the Maples, who issues news releases in support of the the annual March Against Racism conducted by Maples Collegiate. We can hardly wait to see his news release this coming school year. Maybe he'll call for renaming the March to March Against White Capitalist Oppressors.
The greatest shame is on those journalists and community leaders, and human rights hypocrites who are silent in the face of this abominable government inaction. They should be leading the call for Robinson's removal from office, mandatory racial sensitivity training, a declaration that racism is unacceptable in Manitoba, period.
Instead, there's silence from the opinion makers. For shame.