Monday, September 24, 2012

"I shouldn't have to say this, but..."

Typically I like Bartley Kives' stuff. He's understandable, fair, and seems to be a decent reporter. As with most MSM members, there are times I wish he'd dig a little deeper.

Then there was his schtick on anti-semitism.

Now let me be clear. I am mindful of Jewish customs, their holidays, the basic tenets of their religious beliefs, and I try to understand those things as best as a Goyam can (is Goyam a racist word?) I think not, but will acquiesce to people who are more "concerned about winnipeg" than I am, especially when interpreting foreign words/terms.

Firstly, I have no doubt that some clown purposefully plastered posters (there's that alliteration again) on the evening of Rosh Hashanah. I had some difficultly in understanding how using" $hitler's list" would further understanding of their message, and I write that off as an attempt to draw a similarity from the title of one of my favourite Ralph Finnes and Liam Neeson movies. I don't know enough about the propaganda campaign of the Nazi's to agree or refute David Matas' suggestion that it is reminiscent of that era of history.  I can say that I've never seen a Nazi poster incorporating a dollar sign in any of the virulent anti Semitic dreck that Goebbels churned out during his time as the Minister of Enlightenment and Propaganda.

I'll admit the posters put up in Winnipeg were tasteless. That said, they attempted to demonstrate the connections between peoples of a certain religious affiliation, and their business dealings. This isn't new.

I like Sam. Do I think we could have a better Mayor? Yes, but one hasn't stepped forward to be elected, so until then, Sam is the best we have. I think it's naive to believe that any "business man come mayor" wouldn't have some dealings at some point with other prominent business people in the city. Honestly, could you believe that  DeFehr as mayor wouldn't have dealings with a Buhler?

That said, Sam hasn't done himself any favours by appearing to go over and above to help some of his"friends". Is it any wonder he has "friends" that share his religious/ethnic background? Don't all those Mennonites stick together? (is that a racist comment?)

Here's what gets my... oh wait, if I said goat I'd get the pesach comments...which could lead to me being accused of  being racist... so never mind.

Here's what gets me. We have a quasi religious slur on the eve of a religious holiday targeting the Mayor and suggesting that he is providing preferential treatment to some "friends". The thrust of the poster really was related to how Mayor Katz has hired a good friend to run the city, ostensibly without any previous experience. He has apparently provided numerous lucrative contracts to a good friend to dispose of or develop real estate. He has provided funding and tax forgiveness to some friends who are building an eidfice to their late father. He has provided funding to build a football stadium, originally proposed by a friend who had no experience building stadiums, on the basis of a deal that wasn't worthy of the napkin it was written on.

Is it wrong to draw attention to those things? Are we unprepared to enter any discourse on the subject, because the people involved are all members of a "minority"?

Almost two years ago, I wrote about what I thought was a hate crime.

Posters saying, "Pro choice because God raped Mary", and "Youth against Christ",  plastered ON religiously affiliated buildings AND places of worship. These were CLEARLY targeted against the Christian faith on the night before... Christmas Eve (that's a religious holiday that coincides with a visit from Santa). I filed a complaint (Jan 6, 2011) that I wrote and delivered to the fine folks at the Winnipeg police department. I received an incident number, and then... nothing.


But... apparently if our mayor is targeted, the po-po's are wanting your help.

As covered in my second post on the Christmas Eve anti-christian posters, the po-po's actually SAW the perp's after a call from a citizen reporting them. Still...nothing. I even asked (as part of my complaint to the WPS) to discover why the car that cruised by them after the complaint was called in, decided to do nothing.

Clearly I, as a citizen who I guess is part of the"majority", am not worthy of even a response, let alone the kind of attention the mayor and his friends receive if someone dares to mix inappropriate messages of religious intolerance and serious and legitimate questions of favouritism and abuse of office. (I never suggested that, but am only inferring the message of the posters targeting Mayor Katz et al.)

Aside from the obvious disparity in how society views slurs against certain religious groups and others...

Mr. Kives goes on to lament the disparity between rich and poor.

I wondered if perhaps he missed the irony of naming aboriginals and Jews in his article, groups perceived by many to be at opposite ends of the financial spectrum. Sure, that's stereo typing (not racist) but the idea that we're going to bridge this great chasm between rich and poor might mean a lot of the people on the list of names on that poster might be asked to be a mentsh, and give much of their wealth over to the poor group he mentioned.

Like Mr. Kives, my children were not exposed to racism. I tried very hard to never influence their thoughts insofar as other people and their religious or ethnic backgrounds go. That said, members of certain ethnic groups go out of their way to demonstrate bad behaviour, lack of respect for self, and others, a lack of respect of property, and a propensity to mull about the area during the day, drinking and bumming smokes. My children were exposed to bad behaviour, which is excused by society by blaming it all on past atrocities. If they have overtly racist ideas, they come by it honestly... by observing the daily actions of others and forming their own opinions on the matter.

While I am sympathetic to the historical wrongs done, I simply cannot fathom mentioning these two groups in one article based on racism and financial disparity.

It seems to me (as I remember my history) that both groups suffered persecution as a minority at the hands of a majority. One group was slated for extermination by fascists, the other was targeted for cultural obliteration, ostensibly at the hands of ill founded religious groups operating at the behest of a government. While I've never heard an Auschwitz survivor blame the atrocious acts carried out upon their friends and families as a reason for their financial success, I have heard numerous times that colonialism is the reason for all things bad in the other group.

I wonder what old man Zaifmann would say if a young man said to him, "I'm not interested in working. My Mom was a drunk, my dad beat her and me and he ..."

I wonder if the young man would give his head a shake, and realize he has no excuses after listening to Mr. Zaifmann for a while.

Alas, Mr. Zaifmann is no longer of this earth. He and his wife endured enough. The tattoos they "sported" on their arms was not a trendy thing to do, in fact it was further evidence of persecution that would remind them daily long after they were spared from that terrible fate that was the "final solution" to so many others. The very act of defacing one's body with a tattoo goes against the instruction found in the Torah. To have to look at that every day...

In spite of that, they built a reputable furniture company, had children who became successful in their own rights, and saw fit to provide me a with a job and a place to rent when I was far from home, broke, young and a little foolish... me, who's ancestry sought to annihilate them from Europe.

"Funny how quickly that illusory perception evaporates after a single act of ..." grace.


  1. First of all, let's be clear about the "certain ethnic groups" you write about. It seems clear to me you're writing about aboriginals; why not admit so?

    Second, you write that "If they [your children] have overtly racist ideas, they come by it honestly". How does ANYONE come by overtly racist ideas honestly, especially children who "were not exposed to racism"? By writing this, you excuse their racist perceptions. You excuse racism against aboriginals by telling us this city's racial perceptions are essentially true.

    Your comparison of this racial stereotype to this single individual, "mr. Zaifmann" exposes your racism further.

    On one hand: a group who you tell "go out of their way to demonstrate bad behaviour, lack of respect for self, and others, a lack of respect of property, and a propensity to mull about the area during the day, drinking and bumming smokes". (Funny, none of my friends belonging to this group demonstrate any of this behavior.)

    ON the other hand, someone who survived one of mankind's greatest atrocities to emigrate to Canada and become a successful businessman. You suggest, by making this comparison, if this one man can become successful after such trauma, aboriginals need to "suck it up".

    Your piece is just another example of the racism which is not only common but prevalent among the majority of Winnipegers. Don't decry racism against some groups before you stop endorsing, or at the very least accepting, racism against others.

    1. I wonder what area of the city you live in Mr. Belton? Maybe "your" friends aren't like this, but all you have to do is look around the "hood" and there's plenty enough to help someone form an opinion. Have you spent time on the downtown streets, North End, West End, Elmwood????

  2. And I don't have these opinions. Why should others be excused?

  3. Great post! It is time to move past the failed policies that instill learned helplessness. If MLK Jr. were witness to the popular approach of ethnic-based parallel social programs and policy he'd be truly disgusted. It is our social policies that are inherently racist and perpetuates this shameful cycle for many Aboriginal Canadians.

    Locally, some of the major proponents supporting the continuation such policies are from the 'Winnipeg poverty industry,' which is quite a lucrative sector itself. Go figure.

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