My country, tears of thee…

Racism and bigotry are nothing new. In my youth, I assumed these scourges would fade away through enlightenment ensured by modern education, communication and human migration made easier in a shrinking world.

I was wrong.

Events leading to today’s state of emergency in West Virginia are more evidence that racism continues deeply embedded in America’s culture. Recently, it seemed less explicit – at least at official levels – but then came Donald Trump.

Alexis Okeowo wrote in The New Yorker about incidents of racism and xenophobia:

Such harassment occurred throughout Trump’s campaign, but now appears to have taken on a new boldness, empowered by the election of a Ku Klux Klan-endorsed candidate who has denigrated women and racial and religious minorities.

Perhaps neo-Nazis marching in America should not now surprise us. Our neighbours’ connections to Nazism are longstanding. From the Washington Post:

“In the early twentieth century the United States was not just a country with racism,” writes Yale law professor James Whitman in his book “Hitler’s American Model.” “It was the leading racist jurisdiction — so much so that even Nazi Germany looked to America for inspiration.”

In his startling new history, Whitman traces the substantial influence of American race laws on the Third Reich. The book, in effect, is a portrait of the United States assembled from the admiring notes of Nazi lawmakers, who routinely referenced American policies in the design of their own racist regime.


North of the border, we have only faint reason to feel superior. Evidenced by actions of Proud Boys in Halifax, what Andrew Mitrovica called, CBC’s tolerance of the intolerable,” the Fraser Institute’s racial fear mongering or public support of Ezra Levant’s repugnant, egalitarianism is unrealized in Canada.

During the race for leadership of Canada’s Conservative Party, journalist Michael Coren concluded that “the entire debate has been shamed by the implied racism and xenophobia” of some candidates.

Sadly, bigotry is too familiar in Canada today. 

Lawrence Ferlinghetti:

Pity the nation whose people are sheep,
and whose shepherds mislead them,
Pity the nation whose leaders are liars, whose sages are silenced,
and whose bigots haunt the airwaves.
Pity the nation that raises not its voice,
except to praise conquerors and acclaim the bully as hero
and aims to rule the world with force and by torture.
Pity the nation that knows no other language but its own
and no other culture but its own.
Pity the nation whose breath is money
and sleeps the sleep of the too well fed.
Pity the nation — oh, pity the people who allow their rights to erode
and their freedoms to be washed away.
My country, tears of thee, sweet land of liberty.

Categories: Prejudice

14 replies »

  1. Hi Norm: Some sceptics believe that technology will lead to the World’s annihilation.
    I’d like to believe that there is more good in people … than bad.
    Unfortunately, there are a few leaders who rise to become poor rulers. They have to be crazy to want the job…

    Expect that Trump will be hospitalized for a mental condition before the summer ends and Kim Jun will pass away by a mysterious heart virus shortly.

    Historically inhumain leadership:
    Russia, Venezuela, Cuba, Italy, Iran, Syria, Germany/Japan WW2.

    People should be speaking out, letting the bullies and their thug buddies know they will be caught, punished and imprisoned.

    The theory is that energy can neither be ” created nor destroyed, it just changes form.”
    This is “us”.

    There will be a solar eclipse tomorrow, as was predicted on Good Friday, 2000 years ago. There is order in the Universe … mankind has a steep learning curve and fortunately, few humans live to see 100 years.

    Hopefully, most souls are recyclable and should be around as long as the Universe exists.
    If the sun doesn’t rise tomorrow, “Houston, we’ve got a problem.”


    • “Historically inhumain leadership:Russia, Venezuela, Cuba, Italy, Iran, Syria, Germany/Japan WW2.” I see you have not saved one of Norms collected quotes (“Propaganda is to a democracy what the bludgeon is to a totalitarian state.” – Noam Chomsky) Emma Goldman once said “If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal.”


  2. No one doubts that racism exists in Canada, but, as a nation Canada is far more tolerable.

    There is no voter suppression of minorities, nor is there an educational bias in schools with minorities, All children, of all races, can go to public school.

    Private schools are another matter, especially religious schools and why I am so against religious schools.

    The ingrained racism in the USA has never ceased and the Trump type white supremacists, who tramp around in white hoods or brown shirts are a throwback to Jim Crow days.

    This is the cancer that the USA must stamp out, not imagined terrorists or Mexican illegals.


    • Educational bias in schools has always existed, at least in the textbooks , and how race issues were presented. Even today emphasis is on the positives of colonialism rather than what it was a civilizing process through slavery. The native people paid a huge price and only now are some of these issues addressed. In British Columbia, the law and education classified First Nation People and Asians as inferior. First Nation People during the fur trade and the Asians during the construction of the CPR played an important role in the economy. As these economies declined residential schools were used to assimilate the native population while harsh economic and immigration laws exclude Chinese from most professions, jobs and immigration. British North American Act 1867 made education a provincial responsibility and Victoria segregated education forced native children into missionary run school. Asians were segregated within provincial schools reinforcing the stereotype that native and Oriental children were inferior. Further, curriculum and textbooks indoctrinate the children to glorify “everything British”. Textbooks were racist in content and represented Canada as inseparable from the Empire. At test time, in order to pass, students parroted the textbooks. The textbooks, while glorifying imperialism, Native issues were classified as civilizing the ‘wild cruel savages’ and giving them a British character. British virtues, morality, loyalty, and bravery were represented in poetry and stories instilled in student that only character worth anything was the British character. These same textbooks presented Japanese as ‘ants’ and the Chinese people as ‘oddities’. The textbooks describe the ‘Chinamen’ as aliens without family wife or children; however, the textbook did not say that this was due to Canada’s immigration laws. Geography textbook classifies the white race as ‘smart’ and others as ‘stupid’. The dumb ones would become the workers while the smart one’s managers. Schools indoctrinated and institutionalized this attitude in BC. Both the working class whites and the ruling class accepted the stereotype learned in school.


  3. Thanks for the copy. I’m glad you mentioned the CBC albeit in passing because left-wing or “progressive” intolerance is bad and getting worse too, such as some people wanting to silence or even jail climate alarm deniers, campus radicals denying free speech, gays hating Christians, feminists demanding quotas etc etc. In other words this problem is a two-way street. I choose to watch cbctv news less than others and rarely listen to CBC cuz they’re so dominated by political correctness tho we have little choice but to watch cbctv national. Of course global BC TV is bad and getting worse too… Thank goodness for social media. J

    Liked by 1 person

  4. In my experience racism is thriving in Canada. I personally know several people who are anti immigration and firmly believe that muslims will bring Sharia Law to Canada. One person I know actually thought Harjit Sajan was a muslim and decried his position as DefMin. I pointed out to her that he is sikh and not a muslim, and also that he is a well respected Canadian veteran. Did not change her mind. I also pointed out that the beloved mayor to her hometown is, in fact a muslim. Another who believes the Obama is a muslim birther story. When you look at colonial history, it is steeped in racism and continues today in places like Thunder Bay and Winnipeg, but everywhere else as well. Human trafficking, murders of Native people, You can’t even comment on indigenous stories on the so called progressive CBC. Racism is getting worse with the commodification and defunding of public schools. In fact Carl Sagan warned us about this the year before his death. Twenty years later, I see that he was right. Sadly.


    • “It’s September 7, 1907, and a parade has just started on Main Street, just outside Vancouver’s City Hall, with hundreds marching to the tune of “Rule Britannia.” The song was a strange choice, given that the protesters were actually objecting to Britain’s rule, which had recently told the province of British Columbia to stand down when it tried to get tough on Asian immigration.

      By the time the group reaches Chinatown, it degenerates into a riotous mob of several thousand angry individuals, armed with “For a White Canada” pennants and the righteous anger that comes from watching the Lieutenant-Governor burned in effigy. It was the beginning of a two-day terror campaign against residents of Chinatown and “Japtown,” the latter of which endured the brunt of the hostility and suffered the most damage.” read more here


  5. Thank you for printing Lawrence Ferlingetti’s marvelous poem. It’s modern and so is Pogo even though it’s dated 50 years ago. Evolution underway surrounds us moving slow, blow by blow. I’d said this racism/bigotry you speak of is relected in our economic system and deeply primitive in nature and it’s why rote education doesn’t really influence a move to egalitarianism. It’s tied to how we bring food to the table. A treat to read your news again. Hugh M


  6. commander in chief or racist in chief, most likely one and the same. Trump’s statement lacked. His body language and his speech pattern indicated clearly he didn’t want to be there and didn’t want to be saying even what he did say. Trump brought Bannon into the white house. He shouted, make America great again, but really it was, make America white again.

    Canada certainly has a history of racism and it continues to this day, but it pales next to many Americans and their president.

    good poem, thanks for printing it.


    • Trump, whatever he is, used perennial white American fear as his rhetorical touchstone, accepting the supremacists in the bargain—the supposed “art of the deal” that paid off in electoral terms. But their usefulness demagogocratically is much more problematic: the Donald cannot out this damn spot as the receding tide of disillusionment in his presidency exposes more starkly the fact that the neo-nazis are his most important constituency. His reluctance to single them out—nay, to cover for them for as long as possible—has been duly paid with interest and such ostentation as only the Donald could imagine an “art.”


  7. Were Donald Trump capable of coherent or complete thought (let alone sentences), he might have expressed himself yesterday much as Mr. Twigg did in his comments today. Trump says “many sides” were to blame for the Charlottesville clash. Mr. Twigg says, “…left-wing or “progressive” intolerance is bad and getting worse too, such as some people wanting to silence or even jail climate alarm deniers, campus radicals denying free speech, gays hating Christians, feminists demanding quotas etc etc. In other words this problem is a two-way street.” I cannot agree with either Mr. Trump or Mr. Twigg because of the attempt at false equivalency.

    The “problem” at issue yesterday in Charlottesville was white supremacy in all its guises, whether neo-Nazi, KKK, Alt-Right, etc. Any idea that there is an equivalency between the societal tensions used as examples and white supremacy should be resisted.

    A few boneheads suggesting climate change deniers should be silenced or locked up is in no way shape or form even close to the racist horrors white supremacy has historically inflicted on the world.

    “Gays hating Christians” is a curious statement; implying gays can’t be Christians. In any case, even a cursory historical examination reveals where fault for the genesis and perpetuation of intolerance in that relationship lies.

    Advocates for change in the practice of female suppression or discrimination should neither be labeled intolerant (except of the practice), nor compared as equivalent to white supremacy in societal harm.

    I do agree with Mr. Twigg regarding denial of free speech on campus. To the extent that safety can be maintained, university campuses are exactly the venue for open debate of even the most radical ideas. Some ideas should be called out, not shouted down.

    Hitching up one’s hobbyhorses as equivalents to the team pulling the refurbished white-supremacist bandwagon is a bad idea. Because that bandwagon isn’t on a two-way street. It’s headed one-way; over a cliff.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. While waiting in a medical office, I picked up a pamphlet on child development. Under the 4 to 5-year-old section, it listed this as a concern. “Speaks in one or two-word sentences.”

    I immediately thought of Mr. Trump — and yes, there’s a concern. Big Concern. Yuge.


  9. Something I notice absent from the discussion anywhere, to this point, on the Trump neo-Nazi/white supremacist pandering is comment from his son-in-law. He apparently is nowhere to be seen or heard from. Curious, given his heritage. Wonder what his feelings are about his father-in-law’s stance.


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