The Black Rod

The origin of the Usher of the Black Rod goes back to early fourteenth century England . Today, with no royal duties to perform, the Usher knocks on the doors of the House of Commons with the Black Rod at the start of Parliament to summon the members. The rod is a symbol for the authority of debate in the upper house. We of The Black Rod have since 2005, adopted the symbol to knock some sense and the right questions into the heads of Legislators, pundits, and other opinion makers.

Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

We are citizen journalists in Winnipeg. When not breaking exclusive stories, we analyze news coverage by the mainstream media and highlight bias, ignorance, incompetence, flawed logic, missed angles and, where warranted, good work. We serve as the only overall news monitors in the province of Manitoba. We do the same with politicians (who require even more monitoring.) EMAIL:

Friday, September 06, 2013

The bizarre ideologies behind the Manitoba NDP's racism and attacks on women

Reeling from the revelation that an NDP cabinet minister put his racist beliefs down in writing,  the government of Manitoba went directly to Premier Greg Selinger's primary defences --- smear and intimidation.

But when the brave women on the board of Osborne House, the women's shelter that uncovered the racist email sent by Deputy Premier Eric Robinson, refused to buckle under Selinger's contemptible attacks, the NDP had to come up with a Plan B.

Plan Bwhen caught red-handed espousing racism, redefine racism. Problem solved.

A week ago Selinger claimed Robinson had apologized (he didn't) and the NDP caucus, including former journalist and perennial prop Erin Selby, cabinet ministers Flor Marcelino, Kevin Chief, and abused ex-wife Kerri Irwin-Ross, clapped like trained seals in support of Robinson's right to express his racism against white people as long as the public didn't find out about it.

This week, it was different. Why apologize when you did nothing wrong?

This week, NDP supporters were popping up like weeds to sniff that Robinson's critics got it all wrong---that Robinson couldn't be racist against white people--- because only white people can be racists.

99 percent of Manitobans, all races included, went "Whaaaaat?"

The NDP dredged up a retired old politician, Tim Sale, former Minister of Family Services, who, during his term in office,  was linked to more funding scandals than anyone but Greg Selinger, the dirtiest politician in the province.

"So let's get first things first. What is racism?" he wrote in an op-ed published in the Winnipeg Free Press.

"Racism is a set of beliefs and actions that use the power of some to oppress in fundamental ways a less powerful group, based on their race."

"...when a government-supported agency serving abused women decides to raise money using a burlesque show, which clearly treats women as sex objects, and anyone, including an aboriginal minister objects privately to a staff person that this is both inappropriate, and an example of "white do-gooders," he is simply stating a fact. His remark may be pejorative, perhaps even rude, but it cannot be classed as racist."

Sale might have had a stronger argument is he bothered to get his facts right. 

Robinson's email was not "private."  He, himself, said it was "internal between myself and some staff members."

It was, in other words, official business. 

And he did not comment on "white do-gooders" as Tim Sale claims. Robinson wrote about "the ignorance of do good white people."  He introduced race.

To generations of Canadians who had been taught that racism was prejudice against other people because of their skin colour, this redefinition literally came out of nowhere. 
But, a few days later, up popped a bona fide academic to buttress Tim Sale's brand new definition of racism.

"What is racism?" asked David Camfield, who the Winnipeg Free Press described as 'an associate professor in the labour studies program at the University of Manitoba, where he teaches a course on racism and work.'

"Once we understand what racism is, we can see that in Canada today white people do not experience racism -- on the contrary. White people as a group are not oppressed on the basis of their so-called race."


"No one denies some individuals who aren't white may have hostile attitudes to white people (given racism and colonialism past and present, is this any surprise?). The important point is such prejudices don't carry a lot of punch in a society in which white people as a group aren't oppressed. Such attitudes aren't manifestations of racism."


"Once we take a step back and see Robinson's email in this larger context, it's obvious the allegations of racism against him are wrong and misguided."

See?  You can't be racist to white people.  Eric Robinson can insult white people all he wants and it's not racist. 

Who is the academic proposing this revolutionary new definition of racism?  It took seconds to find out. Google is your friend.

David Camfield is a proud Marxist who edits the New Socialist Webzine. Here's a snippet of an article he wrote:

"Working-class rule can only come into existence through a social revolution that puts ordinary people in genuine control of society through new, radically democratic institutions – socialist democracy. Historically, socialist democracy has only been established briefly and on a local or regional scale, with one important and tragically short-lived exception: the Russian Revolution."

By "short-lived", he means  Russian Communism just after the revolution, and ending in the Twenties.  Ahh, the good old days of collectivism and mass murder.

More?  How about this abstract from a paper he published:

"In order to conduct better class analysis, we need class theory that rises to the challenge of understanding class as a structured social process and relationship taking place in historical time and specific cultural contexts. The study of working classes as historical formations requires the replacement of underdeveloped concepts with theory adequate to the task. This theory should incorporate the knowledge that class never exists outside of other social relations such as gender and race, but is always mediated by those relations, and vice versa. Marx, Gramsci, Thompson and autonomist Marxism, enriched with the appreciation of the multidimensional nature of social being produced by feminism and other perspectives arising from struggles against oppression, provide important resources for the development of such a theory."
Yup. That defender of anti-white racism is a Marxist of the first order. Now you can understand where this redefinition of racism, with its emphasis on oppression and overthrowing the capitalist world order, comes from.

But that wasn't all.

A Google search turned up Camfield at something called The Fort Garry Lectures in History, Department of History, University of Manitoba, at which he introduced the keynote speaker, Dr. David R. Roediger, of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Roediger's keynote address was titled "How Whiteness Travels: Recent Studies Beyond and Within the United States." 

Yes, Roediger is an expert on Whiteness. 

You remember Whiteness. You read about it here first in The Black Rod.

That's the academic theory that white people are privileged because they make all the rules, and no matter how much they try not to be oppressors, they can't help being oppressors blah, blah blah. 

Or, simply,  White people bad. 

You can bet Camfield wasn't introducing speaker Roediger because he disagreed with him.

So, Robinson's academic defender is a flaming Marxist with a taste for Whiteness theory.

That rang a bell.

You see Eric Robinson wrote his racist opinion as a reply to an email he received from one particular government staffer, Nahanni Fontaine. We've been writing about Nahanni Fontaine for a long time now. 

Way back in 2008, for example, we outed her cop-bashing research partner, Elizabeth Comack, yet another university of Manitoba professor, who boasted of her Marxist roots.

You see where this is going. We kept digging.

We didn't have to dig far to uncover Nahanni Fontaine's interview with the Freedom Socialist Party of Australia.  The what...?

"We're revolutionary feminists, both women and men, who are organising to replace capitalism with an environmentally sustainable socialist society — free of sexism, racism, homophobia — based on planning and workers democracy."

Yeah, them.

It was Fontaine's companion who caught our eye.  None other than Leslie Spillett, who is, among other things, a recent appointee of the NDP to Winnipeg's new police board.

The Freedom Socialist Party of Australia loved them.

"Leslie sees that “the lack of political analysis” in many First Nations communities is “a really big problem.” We need to start talking about capitalism, imperialism and globalisation and how these things have impacted us.”

She reflects, “the children in Chiapas haven’t set foot in a school, but they know more about political and economic systems than we do, because they have an analysis of what’s relevant to their lives and they have some consciousness of race and class.”

Back here in Manitoba, Spillett has also been an advocate of aboriginal apartheid. 

Until they redefine that word, apartheid means separating people by race.

"Unless aboriginal people take over their own child welfare, Manitoba can expect 20,000 kids in care 20 years from now, said Leslie Spillett, executive director of Ka Ni Kanichihk Inc., an urban aboriginal social development agency. "We have to be in charge of ourselves," said Spillett."

"Most funding goes to four, big non-aboriginal agencies that serve mostly aboriginal people, said Spillett, the former clinical director at New Directions, the biggest of the four agencies. She'd prefer a "parallel development" funding model such as New Zealand's, where indigenous Maori organizations receive 80 per cent of the funding for Maori people, who use 80 per cent of the services."

Yep, separate but equal. We haven't heard that argument since the civil rights battles in the early Sixties.

Of course,  that was before racism got redefined by the NDP and Martin Luther King's definition got tossed out with the trash.

So we have a government minister sharing racist views with other government employees in an email he never thought would be discovered by the public. Coming to his defence, the entire government caucus literally cheers and applauds racism by their government officials, an ethics professor makes excuses for racism, and an academic redefines the word until it means that racism against white people is impossible. 

Mix in the white-bashing ideology of Whiteness and capitalist-bashing ideology of Marxism and you have the toxic philosophies driving NDP policy in Manitoba today.

Did you ever think you would live in a world where
- institutional racism was the policy of the government of the day,  
- journalists defended the racist government instead of challenging and exposing its wickedness, 
- university professors help redefine language to justify racism

Welcome to Greg Selinger's Manitoba.

And we weren't even finished exploring the jungle yet.
We came across Nahanni Fontaine's masters thesis.

"I choose post-colonial and feminist theory to form the core or the foundation of my research because I believe that for women oppressed by the patriarchal system and for indigenous societies colonized by Western powers they provide a sound mechanism at getting to one's own historical, social, political, gendered and spiritual truth. It provides researchers (or for anyone who is engaged in critical thought for that matter) the authority to question, challenge and dismiss Western patriarchal hegemonic ideals and legislative policies that seek, in my opinion, to repress alternative views about the condition of contemporary society and its causes."

In it Fontaine specifically thanks one of her mentors.

"Dr. Susan Heald's teachings and discussions have provided me with a new insight and a deeper in-depth analysis which has carried itself over from academia into the realm of politics and into the socio-cultural realm of my existence."

Who is Dr.Susan Heald?  She teaches in Womens Studies at the University of Manitoba.
  We checked and discovered she's big on post-structural feminism, one of the fringe branches of feminism out there.

Eyes glaze over.
We did research on post-structural feminism,  so you didn't have to. 

It's too obtuse to go into in much detail but here's a few highlights:

* Men oppress women
* Words oppress women.  Any word describing women is oppressive because it carries connotations of submission and subservience to men because men define those words to their advantage
* Even being a woman oppresses women. Society needs to eliminate the concept of gender entirely or else women will continue to be oppressed simply by being defined as a woman.


There's even a subset of poststructural feminists---Queer theory "feminists"---who argue that people are products of "social construction" and "open to revision."  These are the ones arguing against heterosexuality as the "norm".

Poststructural feminists are the arch-enemies of post-feminists, sometimes called sex positive feminists. 
The latter are modern women who have rejected the strident anti-male, humourless and hairy feminists of the Seventies.  Instead, they like being women; they like dressing up, wearing nice shoes and make-up, and attracting the attention of men (as long as they have the ultimate say in how far a relationship goes). 

They find their sexuality empowering and they express themselves in sexy outfits, bikinis, belly-dancing and, yes, burlesque.

Here, you see, is where the NDP's (and Tim Sale's) sudden concern about burlesque comes from.

Shrill post-structural feminists have become the voice of the NDP in its attack on women.

Marxism, Whiteness, Aboriginal Apartheid, anti-gender Poststructural feminism. 

These are the bizarre ideologies driving policy in Greg Selinger's NDP.

Ideologies the NDP caucus wants to keep hidden from public view.

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