Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Because the Winter Olympics aren't already white enough

I can almost understand why people like Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort have an audience. They, and their audience, perceive science to be a legitimate threat to their theology and, thus, their way of life - and they're right, it is. So it makes sense that desperate, if not particularly critical, people would want to rally around them.

What I don't get are the people who say shit like this:

Who is fighting to ensure that the immigrants of European descent* are adequately represented at next year’s Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games?

"Adequately represented"? 80 countries were represented at 2006 Winter Olympics, only 33 of which sent 10 athletes or more. Of those 33, only seven are not located in Europe or North America and only four of the seven are not countries overwhelmingly populated by white people: Australia (40 athletes), Brazil (10), China (78), Japan (112), Kazakhstan (56), New Zealand (18), and South Korea (40). The seven largest contingents - Canada, Germany, Italy, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States - combined for about half of the total number of 2500 athletes.

People of European descent are overrepresented. And Rachel Marsden? You're a moron.

Canada or the USA without European immigrants would look somewhat like Africa.

Which Africa, exactly? The one that was fetishized by European Renaissance explorers as one of eternal sun, populated by people of such outstanding moral character that they were understood be nearer to God than all others? The one that was fetishized by Enlightenment conquerors as one of unending dark, populated by people of such lecherous nature that they were understood to be hardly better than demonic children? Or the Africa of the 21st century, the one that has endured centuries of colonial oppression, exploitation, and systemic dehumanization of its people?

It’s no coincidence that the best countries in the world are either European or founded by Europeans.

Oh, snap! In your face, Japan!

It's easy to be "best" when you've amassed your wealth via the enslavement and robbery of entire nations. The hard part is being merely "good" when you've already been taken for everything you had and, to add insult to injury, need to ask favors of the people who enslaved and robbed you in the first place.

And it's no coincidence that the biggest genocides in the world were perpetrated by European nations or those founded by Europeans. Of the 12 genocides that happened between 1490 and 1950, 10 were undertaken by Europeans or their descendants. And white folks hardly escape the blame for many of the latter genocides, even where their influence isn't as obvious. But I'll get to that...

Everywhere they go, European immigrants make things better – until they’re asked to leave, at which point everything usually descends back into chaos. Not that they ever get any thanks for it.

How terribly unfair. If only they hadn't wiped out - sometimes intentionally, sometimes not - entire nations of the indigenous population of the Americas with small pox. But the dead are ungrateful assholes like that.

But let's look at Burundi and Rwanda, apropos of nothing. Belgian colonizers took the Tutsi/Hutu class distinction and reinscribed it in law as a racial distinction, organizing the two "ethnicities" in hilariously arbitrary fashion - for example, by measuring nose size. And what is generally agreed to have been a pretty stable social system ("descends back into chaos" supposes an original chaos that did not exist) became, less than 100 years later, so divisive that it led to not one but two genocidal civil wars: in Burundi in 1972 and Rwanda in 1994.

Yeah, I'm sure that the 1 million or more who died would really like to thank Europe for sharing the logic of racial superiority and ethnic war.

So how are the Vancouver 2010 Olympics paying tribute to these increasingly marginalized European immigrants and their defining contributions to Canada? By ignoring them completely, it seems.

Ah, yes. Because the TV spots starring all those white athletes, as narrated by Donald Sutherland, certainly seem to indicate that white folks are being ignored. And the Olympics' and team Canada's major corporate sponsors - like VISA, McDonalds, or Coke - may well be ubiquitous, but that's really just code for "marginalized". Because we all know that the execs at Lakota are actually calling the shots, right? I bet the vendors won't even sell one can of Coke - it'll be raw seal for everyone!

And seriously - haven't we had enough of this white self-victimization bullshit, yet? Attempts of this sort to level the playing field**, as it were, do not marginalize the people who occupy the center. The goal, I imagine, is to reduce exclusivity - to make the center more inclusive, rather than force the center to the margin. Requests that over-representation be corrected - and to ask for equal representation is not to ask for under-representation - shouldn't be taken as an excuse to run for the margins.

I’m descended from the people who built my country, but they’ve been forgotten.

I'm not sure whether this is best described as hyperbole or idiocy. Both, probably.

*I'm not really sure what she's up to with this "European immigrants" schtick. My guess is that she wants us to think that she's poking fun at political correctness. And, if we believe that, then maybe we won't be cognizant of how utterly and obviously racist her diatribe is. Seriously - read the article but replace her euphemisms with "white".

** It's up for debate whether the aboriginal iconography of the Olympics, which is what the author is whining about, actually attempts to do this or whether it merely pays it lip service. Miga, Sumi, and Quatchi - the official mascots - were chosen for their cuteness and marketability, not because they are in any way an accurate reflection of aboriginality or because they want to displace Ace or Youppi. This is the worst kind of multiculturalism - the kind that makes other cultures suitable for consumption by the dominant social group without ever opening dialogue, that asks them to enjoy it rather than to understand it.


Richard Melendez said...

Thanks for sharing this. Marsden's commentary is, quite frankly, disgusting. I'm sick of this notion that the white man (er, sorry, immigrants of European descent) saved the world, making it a better place for all by spreading their magical fairy dust among the savage tribes, while conveniently omitting the genocides, enslavements and other heinous acts committed to further their missions of goodwill. When there's some push-back against their arrogance, they come back with even more arrogance. (And by "they," I don't mean ALL whites/ immigrants of European descent, of course, but rather the ones sharing the extreme views of Ms. Marsden).

(And I find it morbidly humorous that I felt the need to apply a disclaimer about what I meant by "they" here. The whole "you people" thing in reverse.)


neilshyminsky said...

I bet she doesn't even think that she 'omitted' the genocides, enslavement, etc. I'm sure she would have a perfectly patronizing explanation, something to the effect of 'it was for their own good', and that they should be thankful for it.

Anonymous said...

ummmmmmmm i have a little thought you might want to ponder.......ever looked at the summer olympics bro? How many caucasians do you see running in the 100 meter dash? Not many(if any)....Isnt it technically unfair that colored people compete against caucasians? Colored people have a higher porportion of fast twitch fibers making them faster sprinters...leaving it almost impossible for caucasians to earn titles in sprinting. Caucasians have every right to complain about that, have they not? Soo stop making it seem as though everyone is against colored people. No one cares about skin color anymore except you guys who make a big deal about it. OHH and another little thing...white people dont have a "WHite History MOnth" do they? nor do they have "WHite pride days"? SUre you can say you've been treated terribley in the past but trust me, if I would look into the history of many colored nations, I would find times were they enslaved white people. Oh and even caucasian countries have enslaved caucasian people so get over yourself. You people are the ones who make a big deal about the hardships that come with your dark skin color and the pains of the past of your people. Why dont you learn to forgive and forget, and move as so many others have done. Only once you have done that can their truly be no separation due to skin color. Why dont you try that?

neilshyminsky said...

Subtly racist apologists for white racism are the best kind of apologists. I'm the one "making it seems as thought everyone is against colored people [sic]" while this guy (I'll assume it's a guy because it's easier to use gendered pronouns) clearly thinks that he sees "no separation due to skin color", and yet he's the one complaining about "colored people hav[ing] a higher proportion of fast twitch fibers" which gives "caucasians...every right to complain about that"? Go figure.

But the real reason that I'm responding to a comment that really doesn't deserve a response? The bit about how "you people are the ones who make a big deal about the hardships that come with your dark skin and the pains of the past of your people". I guess he didn't notice my picture in the corner. Or it never occurred to him that a white guy could have written this.

Did I say he was a 'subtly racist apologist'? Well, maybe not so subtle.