What Wente Wrote

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TVParkdale
What Wente Wrote

 

Caissa
lagatta

There was an interview today with two McGill students who are aghast at Pound's comments, think his apology is rather weaselly, and demanding a serious apology at the least. Neither is Aboriginal, though of course there are Aboriginal student groups at all four Montrйal universities. A cousin of mine belongs to the Universitй du Quйbec First Nations Circle. (I'm not of Aborignal origin, except perhaps like everyone on the Quйbйcois-francophone side of the family; cousin's mum is Aboriginal). Both called Pound's statements racist.

Cueball, what is the distinction between racism and white suprematism? Isn't white suprematism a subset of racism?

Racism is a much more common term, and used much more loosely among the general public. Working in a tenants' association, alas we've often had to deal with tenants with racist attitudes (against their landlord, neighbours, fellow tenants)...

But I think of white suprematists either as organised groups, or ideologues.

Stargazer

quote:


I am simply pointing out that you subjectively calling Ms Wente a racist is no different and no better than Conservatives wishing to ban (or not fund) movies they subjectively label pornography.

Yeah, you are right of course. I mean, native peoples are so powerful in society. In fact, on the same level as rich republicans.

"Subjectively calling Ms Wents a racist?"

She IS a racist. That is not subjective. Well, it is subjective for some white men who seem to have no real problem with her racism (and fail to see that it is indeed, racism).

But what do I know? I'm the only FN person posting in this thread.

Subjective my ass.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

What makes Wente so appealing is her knack for channelling latent prejudices that most of the time lie hidden in the dark materials of our psyche. One of her favourite topics is the Muslim hordes invading Europe, painted as atavistic fundamentalists that weak-kneed liberals are too terrified to decry. Her latest column simply rehashes this theme. It's a cocktail of racism, Eurocentricism, and colonialism masquerading as common sense. I tend to think that white supremacism is a good term for this perfect storm of bigotry.

This preternatural skill of Wente's to rouse up atavistic, reactionary white phobias is anathema to democracy. Most people at babble have spent most of their time fighting people like Wente: she is kin to Bill O'Reilly and Anne Coulter, only far more Canadian, which is to say craven, well disguised and treacherous. To say that suddenly we are advocating censorship because we believe that propagandists like Wente should not be given employment by newspapers of record is absurd. rabble is certainly doing its job by publishing the article in the OP, but shouldn't we also be advocating that the [i]Globe[/i] remove Wente and replace her with a serious columnist?

Appeals to freedom of speech are dangerous, especially the kind made casually here, as if 'free speech' is an unassailable shibboleth of democracy. It is not. Certainly we should uphold the idea of free speech. However, usually the way the term is employed in Western liberal states is not the way we are encouraged to conceive of the term. True free speech demands a free press, which we do not have. Appeals to the Western illusion of free speech pretends that the [i]Globe[/i] is merely providing space for a diversity of viewpoints and therefore Wente's vile propaganda is as good as any other. But have they provided space for a respected journalist to refute Wente's ignorance? No, only the marginalized response of letters.

If the [i]Globe[/i] ever presented an opinion that differed from its centre-right, Western supremacist, conservative ethos, perhaps we could believe they were defenders of free speech. But through their columnists, their branded op-eds and their election endorsements they have in fact undermined free speech and democracy by repeatedly forwarding an agenda that favours the war in Afghanistan, neo-liberal economics and an administration that has taken as its chief goal to dismantle as much pluralistic and democratic architecture and oversight as possible. This is the 'free speech' you defend when you advocate the [i]Globe[/i]'s right to publish the divisive, incendiary and dangerous Wente.

Isn't this latest column a potent example of the kind of poison out of which Wente has made a career brewing? Why can we not use it as an example to demand a better press? Certainly we should be demanding more diversity and plurality of voices in our press, but we should also seek to remove those who seek out our deepest fears--fears of immigrants, the poor, the marginalized--and stoke the flames of intolerance and hatred.

Stargazer

Catchfire, you rock. Great post. Thanks.

Krystalline Kraus Krystalline Kraus's picture

I don't think the editor should be fired because I don' think any editor should be punished for supporting their columnists from writing about controversial topics.

(I remember working on something for the Toronto Star years ago about teenagers and depression and (the reality of self-medication if parent’s don’t take the symptoms of depression seriously and that that’s a form of parental and social neglect) drug abuse. I’d feel pretty pissed off if BOOM had said, “oh, you can talk about the first two issues, but not the third – too hot” because admitting to drug abuse in such a context would be controversial to parents.)

But I do believe in democratic justice in the media, in so much as that means that if the readership revolts against an article, then the editor's have to listen to the voice of the readership (just as a political figure if responsible to its constituents).

Also, this is a perfect opportunity to lobby the G&M to include more diversified reporting on First Nations issues, including inviting a guest columnist in to write a counter-point opinion piece. (and that writer should go thru Wente's article and correct the factual errors and simply rip her to shreds)

Ironically, I have a t-shirt that says: “The worst part about censorship is F%@!SH!T”

Krystalline Kraus Krystalline Kraus's picture

quote:


Sent [img]redface.gif" border="0[/img] ctober 27, 2008 9:08:36 AM
To: letters@globeandmail.com; egreenspon@globeandmail.com; sstead@globeandmail.com; nacampbell@globeandmail.com; pmartin@globeandmail.com; nhassan@globeandmail.com
Cc: mwente@globeandmail.com

As a journalist myself, I believe in a democratic justice for the media. As for the case of Wente’s article (“What Dick Pound said was really dumb – and also true” – Oct 24,08), when a journalist chooses to write a confrontation article (and an editor chooses to back the piece), the base minimum requirement would be to have the piece fact-checked for accuracy before anyone begins to run their electronic-mouth by publishing said piece.

This lack of facts (relating, in one example I’ll choose here, her assertion that First Nation’s medicines have no link to modern society, when aspirin is derived from white willow bark: a traditional medicine), creates a breeding ground for stereotypes and misconceptions.

This kind of journalism is not only sloppy, but is unacceptable. When I referred to democratic justice in the media, I sincerely hope that my letter – and the many others – will be taken for the weight of their collective opinion that Wente should be fired by her supervisory staff/editor.

Just as with politics, when your constituencies call for action on an issue, the political representative involved has to take action, the same stands true here for journalism.

When your readers protest an article because of its factual inaccuracies (paraded as opinion), the editorial board must take these concerns into account and act in good faith towards a resolution (in this case, the readership is more important than the writer since, again, this is a case of factual inaccuracies which should have been sorted out by the writer herself or the reference dept. at the Globe and Mail).

Margaret Wente should be fired.


[ 29 October 2008: Message edited by: statica ]

lagatta

Not only aspirin. This is a hot issue these days, the question of "intellectual ownership", with corporations attempting to seek patents on traditional medicines developed by indigenous communities the world over, and even the foodstuffs their husbandry has improved over hundreds if not thousands of years.

And please, let's not forget good old Dick Pound in our outrage!

Tommy_Paine

It's Wente's job to write columns that people read and talk about. And, once again she seems to have accomplished this.

I don't think editors care about the content of "letters to the editor" as long as they get them, and have a nice selection to choose from.

Wente must be a top producer in this respect.

Letters to the editor are important to clear up factual errors. Basing the use of a pejorative word like "savages" to describe (rather selectively) whether or not they have discovered metalurgy is preposterous, and kudos to those who took the time to point it out.

However.

What we should be doing is organizing a boycott of the company and products that are, lets say, the first full page add in the Globe, and telling them why. If the first full page add isn't so vulnerable to a boycott, then pick the next one.

Editors will not like that. They will insist they will not cave to such tactics, in the millisecond before they cave to such tactics.

So, who's got a Globe today, and who's advertising in it?

Anyone?

[ 29 October 2008: Message edited by: Tommy_Paine ]

TemporalHominid TemporalHominid's picture

great letter statica

[url=http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20081024.wcowent25/BN... Wente's [/url]opinion piece perpetuates the dehumanizing stereotypes, inaccuracies, and myths while engaging in historical revisionism to support her views.

Michelle

[url=http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20081028.wconatives29... Globe publishes a response/rebuttal by Hayden King.[/url]

[ 29 October 2008: Message edited by: Michelle ]

Tommy_Paine

You know, if you argue "facts" with someone like Wente, she'll just move the goal posts. Natives in Mexico were on the path to metalurgy, obviously. And displayed broader laws (whatever that means-- and I'm sure the meaning would shift to suit) Astronomical observations and engineering in Mexico also point to an understanding of mathematics-- but of course, not the kind of mathematics Wente will shift to in the process of arguement.

She deals with facts the way Phillipe Rushton dealt with facts.

All she wants is for people to get all bent out of shape and argue, write letters, and, of course, buy newspapers and expose yourself to the advertising in it.

Don't give her what she and her bosses want. Give them something they don't want.

TemporalHominid TemporalHominid's picture

is there a Canadian regulatory agency that looks into complaints, or that citizens can submit complaints to, like when people make complaints to the CRTC over concerns of a radio or T.V broadcast?

by the way Sylvia Stead wrote me back and provided this [url=http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20081028.wconatives29...

I can't get that link to work for me. Maybe I need to subscribe?

Tommy_Paine

Okay, let me play Wente's advocate here.

Hayden (and myself, above) mention the accomplishments of Mayan and Aztec culture, in both astronomy and engineering.

Wente will insist that Mexico is not part of North America. Remember, she was deffending Dick Pound, who made the remark about natives in Canada.

A few corn fields hardly compares to the advanced crop rotation techniques in existance in England well before contact.

And, while royal families were from time to time too closely interbred, maintaining the pure blood lines of the upper class lead to people like Isaac Newton and all the giants of the Enlightenment. Including Jefferson and Franklin.

As for Jefferson using examples from native governance for the U.S. Constitution-- no he didn't. Don't believe me, dig him up and ask him.

And of course, the old stand by to everything-- "Neener Neener Neener!"

How long would it take, and how dirty would you get, wrestling a pig in a pig sty before it dawned on you that the pig was having a jolly good time, and you weren't?

Boycott.

pogge

quote:


Originally posted by TemporalHominid:
[b]I can't get that link to work for me.[/b]

It looks like that's supposed to be the link Michelle posted a couple of comments up.

Michelle

Oh sorry, I posted the link to the comments to the response article instead of to the article itself. I fixed it now.

TVParkdale

quote:


Originally posted by Tommy_Paine:
[b]

How long would it take, and how dirty would you get, wrestling a pig in a pig sty before it dawned on you that the pig was having a jolly good time, and you weren't?

Boycott.[/b]


I'm not going to spend all morning disputing Wente's assertions although they *are* disputable.

I said this before. For anyone who wants to put *real* pressure on ANY media about ANY problem, stop wasting time feeding their agenda.

Don't boycott or write the media itself. They SELL more newspapers off your "letters to the editor" and all the uproar. You are feeding the beast.

Write and boycott their ADVERSTISERS.

That is exactly how YouTubers shut down Viacom's nasty little court case. It's also one of the effective tactics of how Anonymous skewered Scientology.

[img]http://lolcatgenerator.com/downloads/lolcat-1-1.jpg[/img]

Cueball Cueball's picture

Good points.

[b]Do Not Feed the Animals![/b]

quote:

Originally posted by Tommy_Paine:
[b] As for Jefferson using examples from native governance for the U.S. Constitution-- no he didn't. Don't believe me, dig him up and ask him. [/b]

In point of fact King's article does not say that Jefferson used examples from native governance for the US constitution, it says John Rutledge read out a description of Haudenosaunee Confederacy to the drafting committee.

[ 29 October 2008: Message edited by: Cueball ]

al-Qa'bong

quote:


Today, however, it is simply not permissible to say that aboriginal culture was less evolved than European culture or Chinese culture – even though it's true. Ms. Widdowson argues that the most important explanation for aboriginal problems today is not Western colonialism but the vast gulf between a relatively simple neolithic kinship-based culture and a vastly complex late-industrial capitalist culture. “It doesn't mean that they are stupid or inferior,” says Ms. Widdowson. “We all passed through the stage of neolithic culture.”

"I think it would be a good idea."

Mahatma Gandhi, when asked what he thought of Western civilization.

George Victor

Catchfire:

quote:

If the Globe ever presented an opinion that differed from its centre-right, Western supremacist, conservative ethos, perhaps we could believe they were defenders of free speech. But through their columnists, their branded op-eds and their election endorsements they have in fact undermined free speech and democracy by repeatedly forwarding an agenda that favours the war in Afghanistan, neo-liberal economics and an administration that has taken as its chief goal to dismantle as much pluralistic and democratic architecture and oversight as possible. This is the 'free speech' you defend when you advocate the Globe's right to publish the divisive, incendiary and dangerous Wente.


You obviously do not read the Globe and Mail on a regular basis. And while you began with an explanation of why Wente should not be believed - a sound beginning - you go on to present opinions and then the recommendation that the Globe itself should be banished.

This is hardly thoughtful opinion on your part.

The Globe's man in Afghanistan, Graeme Smith, has been given Amnesty Intrnational's award for blowing the whistle on the torture of Afghans taken into custody by Canadian troops and handed over to Afghan "authorities".

He was recently given the online news top award for videotaped interviews with more than three dozen Taliban foot soldiers as to why they were fighting. Turns out, a majority were there because relatives had been killed by bombinb, or because the destruction of their poppy fields had left them destitute. All reasons for us to leave off the arguments for war and to get the hell out of there.

You would not have read that in the National Post - or even the now perpetually pathetic Star.

Doug Saunders has been reporting from Europe - saying the "Muslim hordes" line is crap, and that Harper's continuing interest in privatization of Canadian utilies, which he developed ideas for by visiting the U.K. some years back, is now yesterday's news, seen as Maggie's error by people in the U.K.

Read Ronald Wright's What is America. It's just out. It gives the lie to Wente, and clears up just what Jefferson thought and did before a goddam backwoods president following him went murderous.

Read the Hayden King piece that Michelle posted, a piece written from an aboriginal academic's perspective. Read the Massey Lectures by Thomas King. See what balanced opinion based on reading and thought can produce.

Don't give this place a name for unread, hysterical and intolerant opinion that anywhere else would be called fanatical.

[ 30 October 2008: Message edited by: George Victor ]

Michelle

It's true that the Globe sometimes includes some progressive stuff.

But take a look at [url=http://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinions/columnists/]their columnists[/url].

What do you notice?

George Victor

quote:


It's true that the Globe sometimes includes some progressive stuff.
But take a look at their columnists.

What do you notice?


I notice you have chosen the pictures of some of the most reactionary and purely business oriented out of the 31 general columnists, 11 arts and 8 sports people.

If you'd care, we could go in detail into the people who appear almost daily on the op-ed - besides dear Margaret. And doing so, and comparing them with the pathetic figures that make up the NYTimes opo-ed, one would have to ask how you see the Globe as inferior to that one? What is your base of comparison. Monbiot's Guardian? He stands almost alone.

Does any of this mean we cannot point to the irrational rants appearing here as irrational rants. They are certainly not supported by thinking people in the aboriginal community.

Is this a political/cultural correctness which we must eat, even though our own readings give it the lie.

C'mon Michelle.

Stargazer

What, exactly, do you know about "thinking people in the aboriginal community?".

The Globe and Mail is called the Grope and Flail for a reason.

George Victor

quote:


What, exactly, do you know about "thinking people in the aboriginal community?".
The Globe and Mail is called the Grope and Flail for a reason.


Reading both Hayden King and Thomas King I do not detect the kind of pithy reaction I'mcoming to expect around here.

And I don't imagine either of them refer to it as the "Grope and Flail", but read it for an in-depth understanding of the world they live in. They would not expect to agree with all of the comment, but they would expect to be able to respond to news or opinion that claims to be factual but that is in fact untrue or even outright lies.

-------------------------------------------


quote:

The only way that you could get through to her serenness's sensibilities (such as they are) would be to call her ignorant of the situation that existed at the time of Columbus, the Puritans, and for some years later before European diseases inexorably extirpated cultures to the west.
Hers is the vision of an immediate post-ice-age (Peter Stork's Journey to the Ice Age)period, not Ronald Wright's just published, What is America.

Call her ignorant and really get through to her and her clutch of sycophant followers. They can't stand that sort of thing.


You'll notice (looking back in this thread), that my quote (above) was posted by me on Oct.28, one day before Harden King's. They present the situation in similar terms.

Will you now advocate standing us both against the wall?

[ 30 October 2008: Message edited by: George Victor ]

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Oh I see, you were calling [i]my[/i] posts rants. I wasn't sure. Anyway, I've met Hayden King and I've read everything Thomas King has ever written. I've also read many of U Saskatchewan FN History scholar J.S. Miller's books, who also had a poignant reply to Wente's column. Is that how we measure human rights? I'm sure they'd both be pleased as punch the way you're standing up for the [i]Globe[/i]. I can't wait to read Hayden King's next column when it comes out next week...oh wait.

As for the pop-history of Ronald Wright, it's a nice tonic to the usual stereotypes we see written about FN (although I've only read [i]Stolen Continents[/i]) but he still tends to appeal to the Edenic stereotype of the noble savage, rather than a fully critical social history we might prefer.

George, you're obviously an avid reader, and quite proud of that. But reading isn't a hit chart where we can count ourselves knowledgeable if we've ticked off all the right boxes. I tell my students that it's a critical, social process where we have to ask questions about why the writer chose to write what she did the way she did. The [i]Globe[/i] frequently runs arguably progressive columnists like Naomi Wolf and Rick Salutin (like I said, 'arguably'), but who remains their chief stable? The likes of Marcus Gee, Margaret Wente and Christie 'up with the police' Blatchford. Their editorial panel endorsed Stephen Harper, the most anti-journalistic PM in history. I never, ever advocated 'banishing' the [i]Globe and Mail[/i] (although that's an interesting word choice), but I did advocate reclaiming it in the name of democracy.

And frankly, I think as social democrats we can set our standards far higher than the New York [i]Times[/i] and even the [i]Guardian[/i]. If you want to settle, you can continue pushing pins in your 'what have I read' world map.

George Victor

quote:


And frankly, I think as social democrats we can set our standards far higher than the New York Times and even the Guardian. If you want to settle, you can continue pushing pins in your 'what have I read' world map.


I was going to reply along the line of "welcome back to earth" until your last para.

I can't imagine what your "social democratic" newspaper would look like. And frankly, neither can I imagine what (and who) you teach!

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

'Welcome back to earth'? Is that what you have to tell the FN scholars and writers who are advocating for an equal place in society and an end to racism? That all they can expect is perpetual Wente with the odd Indian heckle from the sidelines? Or should the New York [i]Times[/i], who gave the US a free ride into Iraq while leftist writers everywhere were auguring its imminent failure, be commended for apologizing five years later rather than doing their job the first time? It's a learning process for these newspapers, isn't it. I wonder here, who is the realist.

And if you're asking, I teach literature to university students. I'll give you the address where you can mail-in your disbelief.

George Victor

quote:


'Welcome back to earth'? Is that what you have to tell the FN scholars and writers who are advocating for an equal place in society and an end to racism? That all they can expect is perpetual Wente with the odd Indian heckle from the sidelines? Or should the New York Times, who gave the US a free ride into Iraq while leftist writers everywhere were auguring its imminent failure, be commended for apologizing five years later rather than doing their job the first time? It's a learning process for these newspapers, isn't it. I wonder here, who is the realist.
And if you're asking, I teach literature to university students. I'll give you the address where you can mail-in your disbelief.


The Globe is superior to the NYTimes in the manner I have stated.

And it's YOU that I am addressing through this pitifully inadequate medium, catch. I am not critical of those others that you take refuge behind.

You go beyond simple polemics, but if you had left your rant to the subject of Wente, I would have left you to your chandelier-swinging style. I will not sit silent while you distort the meaning of our fundamental freedoms. [img]frown.gif" border="0[/img]

-----------------------

p.s. In the period 1969 - 1975, I learned a comprehensive approach to critical analysis, in undergraduate and graduate schools, incorporating sociology, psychology, politics, history and economics that was not restricted to your "content analysis" of literature.

[ 30 October 2008: Message edited by: George Victor ]

Michelle

quote:


Originally posted by George Victor:
[b]I notice you have chosen the pictures of some of the most reactionary and purely business oriented out of the 31 general columnists, 11 arts and 8 sports people.[/b]

I didn't "choose" anything. I just clicked on a link to "Globe columnists" on their web site and that's what popped up. From what I can tell, this is a list of all the columnists who were in today's paper.

In today's snapshop, there are two (right-wing) women out of a sea of men, and everyone white. What does that tell you?

[ 30 October 2008: Message edited by: Michelle ]

George Victor

quote:


But two women out of a sea of men, and everyone white. What does that tell you?


Not a salutary group in that - obviously important - way. Much to be done, clearly.

But if you are telling me that that negates my entire argument...I capitulate and retreat from the field, because I will not reduce to the ad hominem, much as it is prized here.

Tommy_Paine

So, avid Globe readers ( I don't want to buy one ) what was the first full page add in today's Globe and Mail?

George Victor

quote:


So, avid Globe readers ( I don't want to buy one ) what was the first full page add in today's Globe and Mail?


You and the late Lord Thomson of Fleet are as one, then TP?: "News copy is something you separate the ads with."

I can certainly understand not wanting to pick up a copy of the former lord's former fleet. They are looking asperish or otherwise like conservative captives.

But the Globe, the one island of objective news in the daily print world left in this country(set aside the columns of opinion for a mo')?

Oh dear!

Maysie Maysie's picture

Closing for length.

Topic locked