Politically-correct racism?

04.01.03

You know, I’m getting really tired of people who analyse or critique political races, institutions, or policies by claiming that “there aren’t enough minorities”. I’m not talking about situations in which minorities are excluded or systematically discriminated against. Rather, I’m referring to instances where a person is given a position, an award, or an advantage specifically for being a member of a minority group. Not only is this “politically-correct”, but it’s considered very politically incorrect to criticize this practice.

A while back, I ranted about affirmative action. But right now, the issue at hand is the debate over minority candidates in politics. In today’s Gazette, an opinion piece by Don MacPherson criticized the three parties running in the upcoming Quebec provincial election for having an insufficient number of minority candidates:

As a result, the linguistic, cultural or ethnic minorities are consistently underrepresented in the National Assembly. While 19 per cent of Quebecers had mother tongues other than French at the 2001 census, non-francophones held less than half that proportion of the seats in the last legislature. When the legislature was dissolved for the April 14 election, minority members held only 11 seats out of 124, (there was one vacancy) or nine per cent.

The Quebec parties aren’t the only ones facing criticism. The CSU elections at Concordia have come under fire for having too few minority candidates. Prior to the election, slates were interviewed on their opinions on diversity. And in an editorial in the Link, racism is cited as a factor in last week’s election, in which the presidential candidates in all the slates running for executive happened to be Caucasian. The conclusion drawn was that “systematic racism against Arabs and Muslims” kept many of them from being elected.

A comment posted in response implied that the CSU will inadequately represent students because of the racial background of many of its members.

Might be shrill, but the article gets it partly right – this CSU is about the colour of rice pudding with a couple of raisins in it. Not really an improvement over the last batch, raisin-wise.

Nevermind Arabs – where are all the other non-whites in this most diverse of schools?

I posted the following comment in response:

All of you, are you even listening to yourselves?

That a group of seemingly educated, intelligent, reasonable people could claim to be opposed to racism, and yet spend an entire thread judging people by the colour of their skin baffles me beyond belief!

Does the fact that Natalie Pomerleau is white make her less capable of doing the job? Or Youri Cormier? Or Adam Slater, for that matter?

There is far, far too much “token”-ism in politics already. Political parties run their “token” minority candidates in order to appear diverse, and it’s starting to get far out of hand.

Here’s a new idea: why not *gasp!* vote for people based on their platforms? Their ideas? Their competence, their experience, and their ability to do a good job?

Nobody stopped minority candidates from running – in fact, they were encouraged! I’ll also note that the most recent three CSU presidents (including the president-elect) were women: Natalie Pomerleau, Sabine Friesinger, and Sabrina Stea. Should men cry gender discrimination?

You claim to be against racism. And yet which one of us here is making judgements based on the colour of a person’s skin? Think about that for a moment.

Every time a party is blasted for having inadequate minority representation, this only serves to encourage token-ism all that much more.

Maybe we ought to pass a law barring any photos from being disclosed of a candidate, or even preventing his or her name from being released. We should get presented with platforms and candidate CVs, listed under “Candidate #1”, “Candidate #2”, and so on. Maybe that’s the only way to ensure that people vote for someone based on competency, not racism.

But, since this isn’t likely to be implemented anytime soon, shouldn’t we do everything in our power to eliminate racism from elections? And this includes judging parties and candidates based on skin colour. To me, doing so is nothing more than politically-correct racism.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ikram Saeed 04.02.03 at 2:34 PM

Do you agree that it is OK to have so few anglophones in the Quebec civil service?

I don’t think so. Anglos and Francos have different persepectives on a lot of things in Quebec. More Anglophones in the civil service may make the government more aware of how government policy impacts anglophones.

How about organizations with few or no women. Frex, without affirmitiva action, the number of women judges might be lower. Do women bring a unique persepective to the law. Family law?

The US has a council on relgiious discrimination. It has a quoate system to make sure there are Jews, Christians (and once in a while Msulims) on it. Do you think an all-Chrisitian body would look at discrimination agaisnt Jews in the same way as a mixed jewish-christian body?

It’s nice to have a race-language-gender-religion-neutral view of the world and hope that everyone can be diasinterested and disassociated from there own experiences. But it ain’t true.

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2 segacs 04.02.03 at 5:17 PM

Actually, Ikram, those kinds of quota systems and government policies are exactly what I’m opposed to.

The provincial government implemented a quota system and a hiring campaign to attract more anglophones into the civil service. And guess what happened? Next to none applied! Why? Perhaps they simply weren’t interested in the jobs being offered. And if a perfectly qualified francophone candidate applied for the job and wanted it, why should the position remain unfilled because no anglos applied? That strikes me as patently absurd.

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3 Peter Lehrer 04.03.03 at 7:56 AM

You can get so serious about stuff, segacs.

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