From delusions to destruction: How Sept. 11 has called into question the attitudes by which our society lives.
October 7, 2001 1:17 PM   Subscribe

From delusions to destruction: How Sept. 11 has called into question the attitudes by which our society lives. A long article by Robert Fulford linking the WTC attacks to racism and anti-racism. He argues, interestingly, that anti-racism may be a cure worse than the disease. Another central argument is that the attacks were timed to coincide with the time that anti-American sentiment was at its apogee. Note that this is also an excuse to bash the Globe and Mail, a rival to the National Post for which Fulford writes.
posted by youthbc1 (12 comments total)
Of course Fulford is absolutely right, and this is as good a time as any for him to speak his piece. Now that 9-11 has put everything on the table, we may have a chance to talk outselves out of this morass of racial doublespeak. I certainly hope we can. The atmosphere of racial guilt and accusation has made education, among other fields, an impossible place for an honest man or woman to work. In journalism, our mouths are stuffed with lies. All who live by words and ideas are in a perpetual horror of being denounced by we-don't-know-whom, for we-don't-what, and being lynched by the hideous epithet "racist." None of us knows the sound of our own voices anymore. All we hear is that second, cautious voice that speaks aloud only after it has checked what it is saying to make sure that it will be acceptible to the authorities. And who are the authorities? They could be anyone. "The ship, the black freighter," the children who accused Tituba, your friend, your spouse...
posted by Faze at 2:33 PM on October 7, 2001

Excellent article. Comparing Political Correctness with McCarthyism is a brilliant deduction.
posted by geoffrey at 2:45 PM on October 7, 2001

Gosh! a whole new world we knew nothing about. Unless you know about the two world wars and the various genocides that have taken plac and the gulags and the Red Army purges and the conflicts going on in Palestine/Israel; North Ireland, Kashmir, Africa and the many countries whose names end in -istan.
posted by Postroad at 2:47 PM on October 7, 2001

Anti-racism as a movement depends on one principle: Anyone who can claim to be the member of an oppressed minority must be taken seriously. And a second principle: A charge of racism, no matter how irresponsible, sustains itself through the rhetorical force of the word.

What's that line from Flann O'Brien? "Your argument is fallacious, being based on licensed premises." Applies here. But that's the Conrad Black press for you: more straw men than a scarecrows' convention.
posted by holgate at 2:58 PM on October 7, 2001

Fulford has straw in his head.

How much racism is "okay"? Canada may be the "least racist" country in the world, but there is still racism here. On September 11th, a colleague at my place of work who looks "Arab" was screamed at on the street. A female friend of ours who is black always gets dirty looks when she goes into stores on Bank Street in the Glebe. When my youngest aunt, who is not yet 50, went to elementary school in Truro, Nova Scotia, the washrooms were segregated. That town that I grew up in, with an old and substantial black population, didn't have a black person working retail or waiting tables until a few years ago.

Do people use race to leverage power? Yes, it happens more than it should, particularly in "progressive" organizations and at universities, and I know this from personal experience. And it happens around gender and age and sexual orientation other identities.

That is, I am afraid, part of the process of dealing with racism. Instead of putting people who aren't white and Christian and male in a box and ignoring them, society is dealing with them, and society is stronger for it.

Fulford talks about terrorism as if he knows what it means. Were the Contras in Nicaragua, who he supported in the 1980s, terrorists? What about the Kurds who have tried to fight Iraq and Turkey? Are they terrorists in Turkey, but not in Iraq?

Fulford writes that "Western civilization grounds itself in certain principles" such as democracy and equality. All well and good, but actually making these principles real is hard work, work that Fulford doesn't want to do. In fact, he is part of the generation that got us into this situation.
posted by tranquileye at 3:25 PM on October 7, 2001

Fulford used to write for the Globe and Mail. I've always liked his writing, even when I haven't agreed with it (like this article.) Unfortunately, I think his writing has gone downhill since joining the NP - perhaps too little opposition to strengthen his points?
posted by icathing at 3:31 PM on October 7, 2001

The "generation" that got us into this situation? Of what generation were the men on the Supreme Court who ruled against school segregation in Brown v. Board? Of what generation was Alabama federal judge Frank Johnson, who ordered the bus system in Montgomery desegregated? Of what generation were the men and women and staff who worked to advance the Civil Rights Act of 1964? Or the Voting Rights Act of 1965? Or who went on Freedom Rides, or worked for SNCC? Of what generation was MLK? Of what generation were the military men who decided to desegrate the armed forces in WWII? And Truman, who made the ultimate decision there? (Pause.) Of several generations, actually. What on Earth are you talking about?
posted by raysmj at 3:32 PM on October 7, 2001

youthbc1 - Perhaps you meant "zenith" rather than "apogee"?
posted by NortonDC at 3:39 PM on October 7, 2001

My comment was about a type of thinking about foreign policy and international development that I see with Fulford's generation, but which is really still a problem today. A lot of people today think that development is about charity or trade. And there is a Cold War attitude that the enemy of my enemy is my friend that has led to decades of oppressive, authoritarian governments.
posted by tranquileye at 3:39 PM on October 7, 2001

Um, oppressive, authoritarian governments pre-dated the Cold War. You might say identified with certain members of Fulford's generation regardless, whichever one that happened to be.
posted by raysmj at 3:44 PM on October 7, 2001

Anti-racism equivalent to McCarthyism? Give me a break. Sounds like Fulford had a juicy rant about the Durban conference that got shelved in the wake of 9.11. He figured he could salvage it by amping up the rhetoric a few notches. His regular crankiness has reached dangerous levels, he's turning into some sort of deranged supercrank.
posted by D at 5:30 PM on October 7, 2001

His regular crankiness has reached dangerous levels, he's turning into some sort of deranged supercrank.

Hahaha. That ones going in the quote file :P
posted by delmoi at 1:41 AM on October 8, 2001

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