March 28, 2013

Letter: Natives aren't "modern citizens"

Nanaimo newspaper publisher says racist letter controversy a “non-story”

By Jorge BarreraThe publisher of a Vancouver Island newspaper caught in the midst of a flaring controversy after publishing a “hate-filled letter” about First Nations people says the issue is a “non-story” that was an “unfortunate incident” and it was time to “move on.”

Nanaimo Daily News publisher Hugh Nicholson said the newspaper had tightened up its vetting process after the newspaper published a letter Wednesday titled, “Educate First Nations to be modern citizens,” which was penned by Nanaimo, B.C., resident Don Olsen.

Nicholson said the letter should never have been published and it has been pulled off the newspaper’s website.

The newspaper also posted an apology on its website Thursday.
Letter published in Nanaimo newspaper shows need for education, First Nations leaders say

By Judith LavoieA letter to the editor—described by First Nations leaders as racist and ignorant—should be used as an opportunity to educate Canadians about aboriginal culture, say chiefs who took part in a protest outside the Nanaimo Daily News office on Thursday.

“The foundation of racism is ignorance and fear about each other, and what we have been trying to do for many years is try and build greater understanding,” said Snuneymuxw Chief Doug White, who hopes the incident will kickstart educational conferences and a change in school curricula.

“We must close this gap of understanding. … People don’t know us and they don’t know what our values are or our way of life,” White said.

Although racism remains a reality for First Nations, the letter does not reflect the views of most Nanaimo residents, said White, who believes it has tarnished the city’s reputation.

“The Nanaimo name is now being thrown around … as a place where there is some pretty serious, ugly racism going on, and that’s not good for my community or the people I live with,” he said.

The Nanaimo Daily News removed the letter—which denigrated First Nations achievements and dismissed their culture—from its website on Thursday, a day after it was published. Publisher Hugh Nicholson apologized for any distress it might have caused.
Comment:  The link to the original letter doesn't work any longer. But the headline alone--"Educate First Nations to be modern citizens"--suggests how bad the letter was.

The idea that Natives need education to be "modern citizens" is ludicrous. They're already modern citizens; most participate in politics and society as much as anyone.

For more on Canadian racism in newspapers, see Morris Mirror: Natives = "Terrorists" and Colonial Imagery in Canadian Newspapers.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The funny part of this is, modern medicine's story is basically a little over a century. In North America, discredited theories like autointoxication, reflex neurosis, and semen retention maintained currency for decades after that.

It should also be noted that the One Quackery (homeopathy) began because Hahnemann reinterpreted all of medicine based on his personal experience with quinine. (Well, cinchona, from which quinine is derived.)