Fairness is a Virtue
I am about to post on a subject fraught with great peril in our politically correct society. But I shall gird my loins and plunge in anyway. Tip of the Hat to Let it Bleed for putting me on to this one.
The Toronto Star is reporting (that the Scarborough Mirror is reporting) that city councillor Mike Del Grande is under attack for stating that, "a lot of the white people are moving out" of his ward.
Councillor Janet Davis (Ward 31, Beaches-East York) said Del Grande's statement smacks of racism and is "not acceptable by any elected official." "We should be celebrating the diversity of our city, the richness, talent and vitality," Davis said.
One can hardly quarrel with the last sentence, but the first statement is ridiculous.
Tam Goossen, past president of the Urban Alliance on Race Relations, called the remarks "really concerning" and "totally divisive," referring also to comments here Del Grande said Chinese from Hong Kong and those from the mainland are clashing with each other in his ward.
"This is pitting groups against each other and that's not the way a councillor should do his job," Goossen said.
Councillor Del Grande might be accurately depicted as pitting groups against one another if there was no friction between the two groups in the Chinese community and he was stirring the ethnic pot, so to speak. I don't know whether there are clashes among the two ethically Chinese groups or not and the Star story is of no help to us at all. But if there is indeed friction between the two groups he cannot, on that account, be properly accused of racism.
Councillor Joe Mihevc, who chaired city council's task force on access and equity issues, called the remarks "totally inappropriate."Apparently Councillor Del Grande's statement is demographically true, if Statistics Canada can be believed. Truth however, is not apparently a defence for some diversity stalwarts. Was Councillor Del Grande speaking while robed in a white bed sheet, astride a foam-flecked horse? The Star does not supply the context. Accordingly, any fair-minded person might want to hold off on accusations of racism and give the benefit of the doubt to Mr. Del Grande.
"Our tradition has been to view each incoming group as an asset to the city. "To hear someone say white people are leaving and Chinese are coming in can be nothing other than a racist comment," said Mihevc (Ward 21, St. Paul's).
Perhaps the most bizarre statement made was also by Councillor Mihevc, who uttered this gem.
"Part of ... anti-racism work is knowing what you don't know. Maybe Michael needs to know a little bit more about what he doesn't know," Mihevc said. "That means that you approach these kinds of issues with greater humility, which is lesson number one in equity training."
This may well be true of the current state of equity training, though one would hardly know it from Mr. Mihevic's pompous statements. I know I don't know a thing about the first principles of equity training but, frankly, this knowledge of my ignorance neither makes me arrogant or humble. Neither Statistics Canada, nor the Star are of help to us on this matter.
Now, it is also true that I don't know whether any of Mr. Del Grande's critics are closet racists, hiding behind fancy diversity sloganeering to mask their intense hatred of other races. I don't know whether any of them are child molesters either. The Star article is silent on those points, as well.
I'll wait until I actually know whether any there are any facts consistent with these assertions before branding them as, or implying that they might be, racists or perverts. You see, (perhaps because I'm Mad), I believe that avoiding unsustantiated smears is a first principle of fairness.