In my childhood long ago, Canadians used ethnic slurs without much thought. My east Vancouver family, not hateful people, disdainfully labelled central and eastern European war refugees as DP’s or Bohunks. In those days, a black child was a Pickaninny or a Tar Baby; their parents called Spades, Spearchuckers, Coons, Spooks, Niggers or Porch-Monkeys. The corner store was operated by Chinks, Chinamen or Slant-eyes. Italians were tagged as Wops or Dagos; Mexicans as Wetbacks. Men wearing turbans were Pakis, Towel-Heads or Hindus, all of them. Aboriginal men were Injuns or Redskins; the women Squaws. Light skinned natives were Half-Breeds.
And, of course, there were Hebes, Yids and bloodsucking Christkillers. When father negotiated for a better price on anything, he was trying to “jew-down” the seller.
Progress came slowly and its not achieved universally but today, those expressions are deeply offensive to nearly all of us. Not all, unfortunately. Reprehensible hate-speak is still acceptable to some in our country.
Here’s a sample reported by The Canadian Journalism Project in Ezra Levant under investigation for alleged hate crime surrounding Roma broadcast:
“In the broadcast, Levant accused the Roma of cheating the Canadian refugee system, and stereotyped them as criminals. He said:
” ‘These are gypsies, a culture synonymous with swindlers. The phrase gypsy and cheater have been so interchangeable historically that the word has entered the English language as a verb: he gypped me. Well the gypsies have gypped us. Too many have come here as false refugees. And they come here to gyp us again and rob us blind as they have done in Europe for centuries … They’re gypsies. And one of the central characteristics of that culture is that their chief economy is theft and begging.’ “
I suspect this is the carefully considered output of a shallow, empty-headed egotist who will do or say aything that draws attention. Levant’s hero is probably Ann Coulter, another serial troll whose contributions are calculated to produce outrage and, more importantly, notoriety.
Cliff Lee’s words in the Globe and Mail could easily have been about Levant:
“Coulter is no better than an immature school-aged bully who uses words to hurt others.”
I wonder if the present styles of Coulter and Levant are rooted in school days when they were not the bullies but were the victims of bullies