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19 March 2010

Much Ado about Racism

This Editorial from the National Post is so good – I’m going to reproduce it all here:

 Much has been made of a recent Léger Marketing poll regarding racism in Canada. The poll, conducted on behalf of the Association for Canadian Studies and the Canadian Race Relations Foundation, reports that 68% of Canadians have heard a racist comment over the past year, while 31% of Canadians have witnessed a racist act. Predictably, the federal government was called upon to spare no expense curing this social ill.

We are skeptical of polls commissioned by agencies with a vested interest in the result: It is important to remember that the Canadian Race Relations Foundation, like the larger human-rights industry of which it is part, justifies its existence on the dubious claim that racism is widespread in Canada.

Our skepticism is compounded by the fact that this poll doesn’t track respondents’ first-hand experiences with racism; it merely tracks the broader question of whether they’ve been within earshot when someone said something offensive — which could cover anything from an insensitive jeer overheard at a sports arena to the ramblings of late night radio. Moreover, like B’nai Brith’s overtorqued “surveys” of anti-Semitism, this poll conflates trivial instances of racist communication (bad-taste jokes, for example) with true hate speech.

Canada is probably the least racist country in the world. Rather than seek to convince us otherwise, anti-racist activists should instead focus their efforts on addressing the few instances of truly serious race hatred that do arise.

National Post

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