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Larry Kudlow is White Privilege Personified

25 May


In a 2020 interview with CNBC, Larry Kudlow went on television to clarify earlier comments he had made regarding his belief that systemic racism does not exist in America. However, instead of a nuanced and fact/evidence based defense of why he believes systemic racism exists or a even a retraction wherein he could have stated that in light of all of the economic data which confirms a growing inequality in America (including several statistics highlighted to him by the Host), Mr. Kudlow doubled down on his position in the most white privileged manner possible.

Instead of an evidence based defense for his position that there is no systemic racism in America, Mr. Kudlow into an evidence-free and history-free diatribe of just how fair and just America is or in his bumbling words, “the American system is the best system ever devised in the history of mankind for history we are Liberty, we are equality, we are fairness.” For an economist whose formal scholastic training is only in history, this was an exceptionally disappointing account of the American historical record especially when one’s entire argument is premised on defending the American historical record. For a history major one would think Mr. Kudlow would know better.

Fortunately for Larry Kudlow, knowing better is something he has never had to be concerned with because Mr. Kudlow is the very definition of white privilege. Not only did Mr. Kudlow butcher his entire no systemic racism in America defense throughout the CNBC interview which was filled only with vacuous clichés and ultimately concluding at the end of the segment that he in fact had no idea what systemic racism is or how it may limit the opportunities for people of color, but this segment appears to be a microcosm of Mr. Kudlow’s entire career; a farcical display made by a person unqualified for the job.

What is worse however, and what truly makes Larry Kudlow the personification of white privilege is that despite his lack of post-secondary qualifications even though he labels himself an economist and possesses an abysmal record in relation to getting things wrong, he is still given chance after prestigious chance no matter how badly he performs. His record is quite astounding. A history major working as the chief economist for Bear Stearns?- no problem for Larry Kudlow. Volunteering and working for left wing politicians and causes for most of your life and then being hired as associate director for economics for right wing Ronald Reagan?- no problem for Larry Kudlow. Having a serious alcohol and drug problem that causes you to get fired from Bear Stearns only to reemerge as an economic media commentator? – no problem for Larry Kudlow. Getting appointed to be Director of the National Economic Council by President Donald Trump (a person also as equally unqualified for any job he has ever had) despite your abysmal track record of failed economic predictions, including claiming that there would be no downturn in the American economy one month before the 2008 economic downturn and the Great recession that would span years?- no problem for Larry Kudlow. Actually, keeping your job as Director of the National Economic Council and allowed to go near a microphone again despite claiming that the Trump (wealth) tax cuts would not add trillions to the Federal deficit while also claiming in early 2020 that the US had the Coronavirus under control?- No problem for Larry Kudlow. Do you see a pattern?

Given his public profile it is astonishing that a person with Larry Kudlow’s resume would be given so many chances despite his long history of failed market predictions and lack of formal education in the field he claims to be an expert. Most astonishingly however, is that despite the fact that his failures have been well chronicled, perhaps most prominently by University of Pennsylvania political scientists Philip E. Tetlock and Dan Gardner in their 2015 book Superforecasting wherein they dub him in relation to his economic forecasting as “consistently wrong”, Mr. Kudlow is still consistently afforded prestigious employment prospects. While it is true that America is known as the land of opportunity and that people do deserve second chances, how many fresh starts is Larry Kudlow entitled him to?

Larry Kudlow has talked about his belief that America is free of systemic discrimination, but can any reasonable person believe that any average visible minority who had even one of the spectacular flame-outs in their field that Mr. Kudlow has had would ever be offered another prestigious or even comparable job in their field again? The answer is a resounding no. As such, it is not hard to see not only why Larry Kudlow refuses to see systemic racism in America, but why he is blind to any notion that the American system is anything but generous and benevolent, because it has worked so splendidly for him. However, just because the American system has worked for him, does not mean that there is not systemic racism in America, in fact and all of the economic data outlined by a multitude of sources, including the percentage of black Fortune 500 CEOs , harsher criminal penalties for black Americans, and the wealth disparities between white and black families,  are proof positive of this.

Systemic Racism is real and as such, white privilege is real. The next time someone tells you systemic racism and/or white privilege is not real first consider the source, and if they are open to having a dialogue please point them to the career of Mr. Larry Kudlow. However in fairness, it is important to underscore that Larry Kudlow’s record is such a train wreck that even he has pushed past the boundaries of ordinary white privilege and occupies the rarefied air of 1% white privilege where no matter your wrong, another cushy landing spot is right around the corner. For all that you do (or don’t do) Larry Kudlow, we salute you.

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Maybe It is Time to Build The Wall. The Wall Of Shame.

07 Jun

In 2016 one of Candidate Trump’s big selling points was his promise to build a wall along the U.S. Southern border and that Mexico would pay for it. Of course, when Candidate Trump instrumentalized enough hate and division to become President Trump not only did Mexico not pay for anything, but according to recent data concerning the wall, only a measly 3 miles of (primary) wall have been erected in places where no previous barrier already existed! With a total price tag of 11 billion dollars already, and again none of which Mexico has paid for, Trump’s border wall project has turned into a financial fiasco.

Of course financial fiascos are nothing new for Donald Trump as Trump’s financial disasters run the gamut from operating a phony University, a string of failed Casinos, dubious stock which only robbed investors, a horrendous pro-football venture and three declarations of business bankruptcies. This as an impressive list of failures for someone claiming to be a brilliant businessman. However, as atrocious as these (and other) business blunders have been, they appear to be small potatoes compared to the shaky financial ground President Trump has left America in since he took office. Although I could highlight the millions of dollars he and his family have charged the American taxpayer with for security and rooms at his properties, or the billions of dollars he cost the American treasury with his corporate tax cuts that have (largely) only benefited him and other wealthy elites, the real sum to be concerned with are the trillions of dollars of debt he has racked up in his tenure as President. More specifically, not only was Trump’s promise to wipe out the debt in 8 years another gross lie, but Trump has racked up over 3 trillion dollars worth of debt in under three years in office and now the Federal debt at 23 trillion is the largest debt in American history. One wonders where the fiscal conservatives, libertarians, and Tea Party have gone?

However, financial debacles aside President Trump and his supporters continue to tout President Trumps achievements on non-financial and social matters. It is simply impossible to debunk all of these claims in this piece one-by-one but this author would implore readers to ask themselves what does the eye test tell them? In the last four 4 months over  100,000 Americans are dead to the Coronavirus and America is literally on fire from coast-to-coast. While both occurrences are horrible and tragic, in each instance the magnitude of each tragedy was significantly intensified with the actions (and inactions) of President Trump.

First, Trump was warned for months of the deadly potential of the Coronavirus and for months he did nothing and even dismissed it as a Democratic Hoax. Trump’s abject failure on this front is especially jarring when considering the fact that experts have found that 90 percent of Coronavirus deaths could have been avoided only two weeks sooner, with the Washington Post reporting that 36,000 lives could have been saved if only government officials had acted a week before Trump finally realized there was problem. Again, Trump and his “advisors” denied for months that there was any threat posed by the Coronavirus even though experts in the US relying on international data (and yes data from China) had repeatedly highlighted the danger of the Coronavirus.

Second, on May 25, 2020 George Floyd, an African American, was arrested and subsequently murdered when a white cop, Derek Chauvin, pinned his knee on Floyd’s neck while Floyd was on the ground and kept it there for 9 minutes (2.5 of which while he was unconscious) while at three other officers did nothing to stop him. The video of this incident caused an uproar across the United States with protests spanning all fifty states (notably, the protests also spanned the Globe with millions of  protestors marching in countries like Germany, Syria, Brazil, Canada, England, Australia, the Netherlands, and New Zealand). However, as these protests got co-opted by outside forces and then turned violent, and as America started to burn, there was a notable silence emanating from the White House. For days people waited for President Trump to make some sort of meaningful and unifying message yet President Trump was even incapable of delivering this. Moreover, his tweets concerning Floyd’s murder while initially having a veneer of concern for Floyd and injustice began to descend into the promotion of violent retribution against protestors. Understandably as this did not work to quell the violence, Trump apparently became very rattled when the protestors reached his door and it was reported that he was even forced to hide in White House bunker with the lights turned off. After continued protesting across the country and being forced to flee to an underground bunker one would think that a normal person in Trump’s shoes, would finally wake up, change course in this tipping point moment in American history, and lead the fight for unity. But this is Trump, and of course the worst possible scenario is the result.

On June 1, 2020 at approximately 6:45pm peaceful protesters in Washington D.C. were suddenly attacked by federal and military police who fired tear gas, flash bombs and rubber bullets into the crowd who had assembled across the street from the White House. At the same time President Trump began to deliver a speech from the White House which began with a commitment to peaceful protestors and then devolved into full blown tyranny when the President of the United States pledged utilize the military against American citizens exercising and invade individual states with (occupying) military forces. If this was not bad enough the icing on this rancid authoritarian cake was after his speech, Trump now emboldened by the calculated removal protestors, decided to finally emerge from the White House and walk across to the street to a church for a photo op and incredibly used a bible to help promote his message of violence! This blasphemous act received near universal condemnation from religious persons across the US including the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, Rev. Mariann Budde. One wonders where the constitutional conservatives, libertarians, and Tea Party have gone?

Enough is Enough.

If the George Floyd protests are the tipping point, Trumps anti-democratic, self-interested and blasphemous spectacle on June 1st must be the last straw to tip the scales. Not only should every American citizen register and prepare to exercise their vote to elect candidates with lifelong commitments to unity and social reform, but it is time for all who continue to support Trump from this point on to be remembered for their shame and cowardice during a time when America’s liberty is under siege. As such, instead of a meaningless and ineffectual border wall, a wall of remembrance and shame should be erected in the nation’s capital and filled with the names of all those who were complicit, supported, enabled, or even acquiesced to Donald Trump’s Presidency. As such, the ‘Wall of Shame’ should begin with the names of the 51 Republican Senators who voted to acquit Trump following his impeachment in the House (with an underline placed under the names of obsequious Senators Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham, Mitch McConnell and Marco Rubio), should be followed by the Republican House members who voted against impeachment, and rounded out with the members of the media, corporate donors, and MAGA deplorable who espouse hate that continue to support him. Anyone who continues to support Trump is absolutely free to add their name to the Wall so that future generations know exactly who stood with and for the destruction of American democracy. And this is not hyperbole. From attacking the free press, to trampling the Constitution, to his attacks on law enforcement agencies, to welcoming foreign assistance in undermining American elections (and then attempting to cover it up), to seeking retribution on political opponents, to instrumenalizing the military for his own political purposes, to now inciting violence on his own citizens, there is not a single democratic institution Donald Trump and his authoritarian posse have not compromised.

As such, it is not just America that is on fire, America’s very democracy is burning. At best America in now a Hybrid Regime and if Trump and co. are allowed to utilize tactics from their authoritarian tool kit for another four years the United States will be unrecognizable from any totalitarian regime America ever denounced.

It is time. Build the Wall, Remember the Enablers.

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The Only Effective Way to Hold Police Accountable

07 Jun

The 2016 documentary OJ: Made in America truly was a seminal piece of filmmaking. Ezra Edelman’s Academy Award winning piece was not only a master class for its meticulous chronicling of O.J. Simpson’s early life, football career and his 1994 criminal trial (often dubbed ‘The Trial of the Century”), but its in-depth analysis of race and class as the context for the O.J.’s trial and subsequent acquittal is a true accomplishment for the ages.

While chronicling O.J. Simpson’s journey from obscurity to stardom in the dual arenas of athletics and entertainment, Edleman simultaneously documents America’s vile history with regards to race relations and persecution of minority communities. Edelman’s work while providing an overview of the historical inequality and injustice perpetrated against African Americans, fixates on the experience of blacks in Los Angeles and carefully examines how ongoing atrocities committed by the police and the courts against African Americans led to a complete loss of faith in the justice system by the black community. The true genius of Edelman’s work and what separates it from the myriad of other O.J. related works is the parallel timeline of important milestones in Simpson’s life with the succession of blows the black community endures at the hands of the LAPD and the justice system as a whole. Although Simpson appears to have work his whole life to deliberately distance himself from the black community and its longstanding struggle, these two timelines eventually intersect with Simpson’s prosecution for double murder. The result of course was that Simpson’s defence was successfully able to instrumentalize the historical injustice against blacks by turning the jury’s attention away from the evidence and his Simpson’s obvious motive murder, and towards instead, the idea that a corrupt police force had unjustly pinned the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman on Simpson. After Simpson’s acquittal, the overwhelming support he received from the black community (and a significant portion of the white community) demonstrates that this narrative offered by Simpson’s defense was not only plausible, but rang true because of the historical persecution African Americans had endured by the justice system.

One of the seminal events chronicled in Edleman’s documentary were the 1992 L.A. riots that took place shortly before Simpson’s trial. The riots were set-off following four white police officers being acquitted for the roles they played in the vicious beating of Rodney King, a black motorist who appeared motionless for much of the beatings. While King’s beating at the hands of several (white) police officers was certainly not uncommon according to the black community in L.A. (or America for that matter), what offered the promise of justice was the fact that someone had videotaped the incident and the disseminated video garnered Worldwide condemnation for the brutal beating and abuse of power depicted. Unfortunately for the African Community, the trial and subsequent acquittal of the police officers involved in the incident was not a step towards justice but yet another powerful reminder of their fragile, second-class and marginalized place in America. Enough was enough and Los Angeles went up in flames. As stated by acclaimed film director John Singleton, “By having this verdict, what these people done, they lit the fuse to a bomb.”[1]

Although some measure of solace was achieved following the initial acquittal of the officers following the leveling of new federal charges against the officers and the subsequent guilty verdicts for officer Stacey Koon and Lawrence Powell to believe that the American Justice has reformed and that the systemic injustice perpetrated against minorities, and certainly the African American community is a laughable proposition. Not only are African Americans incarcerated at higher rates than Whites, but blacks also, on average, receive much harsher sentences measured against whites for the same crimes. However, what is especially troubling is that in the decades since the Rodney King beating and subsequent L.A. riots, blacks are still routinely abused by police officers, and this certainly is not limited to those located in Los Angeles.

In 2012, an unarmed child named Trayvon Martin was followed and subsequently killed by George Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida. Despite the fact that Zimmerman had stalked Martin simply because he looked suspicious, presumably because he was black and wearing a hoodie, after interviewing following Martin’s death, let him go free that same day citing Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law which they felt Zimmerman complied with. Unfortunately, Zimmerman’s death was the first in a series of horrific and prominent deaths against blacks wherein the dubious actions of police officers were called in to question. Notably these subsequent incidents often involved police officers being the trigger-person. For example, following Martin’s death Michael Brown an unarmed black teenager was shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri and Eric Garner an unarmed black man selling loose cigarettes was choked to death following an altercation with police officers in New York. While certainly horrifying, the deaths of Martin and Garner are only two examples across many from 2012 through to the present wherein black Americans were being killed by the police for seemingly innocuous reasons and under dubious circumstances.

Although the Black Lives Matter movement and a wave in social unrest drew attention to the ongoing brutality and injustice continuing to plague the black community, despite some positive reforms (like the use of body cameras by police for example), justice still appears elusive, especially given the overwhelming lack of prosecution for police atrocities and acquittals police officers enjoy despite the evidence (including video evidence) for the atrocities they are brought to court over.

So what is the solution?

In Part II of O.J.: Made in America, Simpson attorney Barry Scheck is interviewed about the difficulty in holding police officers accountable, and Scheck for his part states that he believes that much of the difficulty in bringing police officers to justice is that prosecutors have difficulty in prosecuting police officers simply because they have very limited experience in doing so. While I am very impressed with Mr. Scheck’s track record, not just for his work in the Simpson trial but with his involvement in the Innocence Project, I do take issue with Scheck’s simple assessment that lack of experience is why so few police officers are prosecuted and prosecuted successfully for the crimes they commit. More specifically, while I believe that most prosecutors are highly skilled and fully capable of prosecuting police officers, it is my firm contention that the relationship prosecutors have with their local police force puts them in a very difficult position in regards to prosecuting the very people they rely on as witnesses and experts in most of the criminal proceedings they handle on a regular basis. According to an article in the American Law and Economics Review entitled Convictions versus Conviction Rates: The Prosecutor’s Choice, American prosecutors at the state level have an 85% conviction rate for the felony crimes they prosecute (and 90% at the Federal level), and as such it would appear that prosecutors are entirely capable of effectively performing their jobs. The position that prosecutors are unable to prosecute someone simply depending on who that defendant is not logical on its face without an extraordinary factor accounting for this selective job performance.  As such, it is very plausible, if not entirely explanatory, that it is the relationship between prosecutors and their local police that accounts for not only police being rarely prosecuted for serious crimes like civilian shootings but the vast difference in conviction rates between prosecutors prosecuting police (33%) and prosecuting the general public (85%). Due to the fact that prosecutors often rely on police cooperation in prosecuting the vast majority of cases before them, it is obvious that their ability to gain convictions against civilian members of the public hinges on the positive and collaborative relationship prosecutors enjoy with police and as such, their ability to successfully do their job is dependent on their relationship with (local) police.

In sum, it is the relationship between prosecutors and police which is the logical explanation for why more police officers are not brought to justice and not the theory that they are merely inexperienced in prosecuting police because that theory is dependent on the idea that highly skilled prosecutors suddenly lose their education, training, and years of prosecutorial experience depending on who the defendant is, and of course this is totally out of the realm of possibility. And while some have attempted to highlight that police officers often tend to be believed more than members of the public and that this fact looms large in explaining the disparity in conviction rates between police and members of the public, that rationale while perhaps a factor with respect to convictions, does not apply to the rarity of charges being brought against police officers in the first place. Again, the logical explanation for police avoiding justice hinges on the relationship between prosecutors and police.

It should be noted however, that this relationship problem between prosecutors and the local police departments they regularly rely on can be largely alleviated if members of the police are prosecuted by prosecutors outside the region they normally operate within. For example, while the four police officers accused of misconduct in the Rodney King beating were acquitted at the local/state level by prosecutors, when they were tried by unfamiliar prosecutors at the state level two of the officers were convicted of misconduct. As such, while this is only one example of police being found guilty of misconduct by prosecutors they do not ordinarily have a relationship with, it is logical that once the symbiotic relationship between prosecutors and their local police department is removed, that not only will outside prosecutors not hesitate to bring charges against police officers, but that these cases can be prosecuted on their merits free from conflict of interest. As such, allowing outside prosecutors instead of local prosecutors to try local police officers accused of high crimes is entirely within the purview of justice because it not only eliminates the overt conflict of interest, but lends itself to trials free from bias and privilege.

Finally, it should be noted that a system where outside prosecutors handle matters concerning police misconduct also strengthens the entire justice system as a whole because not only would law enforcement be appropriately held accountable for their actions in instances of wrongdoing, but members of society, including historically marginalized communities, would have greater confidence in the fair administration of justice and in turn, feel safer in their daily lives.

Hopefully the much needed change regarding who prosecutes the few police officers who do not perform their duties in a lawful manner (especially in instances of high crimes) is a change that can come about based on logic and past experience and not one necessitated after another prominent and bloody wave of civil unrest. I suppose only time will tell.

[1] CNN Documentary Race + Rage: The Beating of Rodney King, aired originally on March 5, 2011; approximately 14 minutes into the hour (not including commercial breaks).

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May I Cut In? : A Critical Examination of Michael Jordan’s ‘The Last Dance’

27 May

In the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic ESPN decided to move up its ten part Michael Jordan documentary, The Last Dance, in order to help fill the void in the lives of millions of sports fans. While the documentary was originally set to air in late summer 2020 after the NBA playoffs concluded ESPN decided to capitalize on a sports starved market and air the MJ project over five weeks beginning on the 19th of April 2020.

While The Last Dance was intended to be a documentary, it can be more appropriately be considered a ten hour highlight tape of MJ’s achievements and a propaganda piece meant to keep Brand Jordan squarely in the spotlight. Not only is the documentary process normally an objective piece whose content is not controlled by the subject (something that is not in place with The Last Dance), but even the timing of when the project was green lit somewhat dubious. According to the project’s director it was not until Lebron James did the (seemingly) impossible and won a title for Cleveland did Michael Jordan finally allow the documentary to be made. Incredibly on the very day the Cavs victory parade. Given that Michael Jordan last played a meaningful basketball game almost twenty years prior to the Cavs championship (just like the documentary I am deciding to forego MJ’s Wizards years), the timing was not only suspect, but something that speaks to Michael Jordan’s long history of pettiness and brand consciousness. But more on this later.

Although there was a significant amount of anticipation when ESPN not only announced the documentary but decided to move up its release date, I could not believe the near universal love-fest Jason Hehir’s endeavor enjoyed, particularly by the mainstream sports media and the talking heads. While I have long believed that Michael Jordan’s continued presence in the sports world and media was unjustified, again, due to MJ long being removed from the actual game of basketball and it could be argued that the reason for his continued presence is the result of Nike’s efforts to help keep their golden goose in the spotlight. However, regardless of the reason why he remains a fixture and one would be hard pressed to go a day without some reference to Michael Jordan being the greatest basketball player of all time or at the very least figure into some discussion about who the greatest of all-time was with Michael Jordan figuring prominently into the discussion. This of course was even before the airing of The Last Dance, and since its aired, forget about it, the sports media will have you believe that Michael Jordan is the greatest thing to ever happen to sports and any opinion to the contrary is pure blasphemous lunacy. To be fair there have been a couple of journalists who have been brave enough to air a few pieces which have questioned the central messages / themes that have emanated from the MJ doc, but they are decidedly in the minority. As such, I believe it is important to critically examine elements of the documentary and how (most of) the media has decided to interpret these messages in deciding to place Jordan on the highest of sports pedestals.


Michael Jordan as the Greatest of All-time

One thing that the documentary tries to repeat over and over, evidenced through Jordan’s dunking montages and obsequious interviews, is that Michael Jordan remains the greatest basketball player who ever played. While this position has not only been a longstanding one amongst several in the media even prior to The Last Dance, since its debut not only have sports personalities lined up to double down on this but many are also taking this proposition to radical new highs proclaiming that Jordan is not just heads and shoulders above everyone who played the game of basketball, but the greatest of all time in any sport!

While I have long had to endure segment after segment from the sports talking heads about how great Michael Jordan is, this documentary did nothing for me. While I can entertain the argument that Michael Jordan remains the best basketball player who ever played given that Lebron James’s legacy is still a work in progress, I refuse to acknowledge that Michael Jordan is so far ahead of every other basketball player that the discussion is rendered moot. As such, while the media would have you believe, especially after The Last Dance, that MJ is light years ahead of everyone else, a critical examination of the facts reveals this to be untrue.

First, while Jordan might have six championships, which is the most common argument pro-Jordan advocates highlight, Jordan is dwarfed by Bill Russell’s championship total and is tied with Kareem for most championships. And while Jordan-heads also highlight the fact that MJ never lost in the finals, well the truth is he has lost a number of notable playoff series that prevented him from getting to the Finals in the first place. As such, I submit that a lost playoff series should count against a player’s legacy regardless of when it came.

Second, while MJ might have six championships a number of other NBA players also have a comparable number of championships and have appeared in just as many finals, if not more, than Jordan has. For example, Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and Magic Johnson all have five championships. Should Jordan be routinely touted as the greatest ever because of the number of championships he has simply because he has one more title than any of those players? For example, in Magic Johnson’s case he was forced to retire at 32 because of HIV and at 32 MJ had fewer rings than Magic. Who is to say Magic would have not one another ring or two if he was not forced to retire especially given the known team assembly prowess of Dr. Jerry Buss. A Magic and Shaquille O’Neal combination would have surely spelt doom for the rest of the league, but alas we will never know.

Third, while championships are important anyone with any basketball sense knows they are only part of any GOAT equation (because if not technically even Robert Horry and his 7 championships could be considered greater than MJ). As such, another important element in any GOAT argument is who you beat. In Jordan’s case he went almost an entire decade without a ring because the competition in the NBA was just too great for him. More specifically, he never even got out of the East while the Celtics and the Pistons dominated the 80s, and when he finally did get out of the East and faced the Lakers, who were indeed part of the great 80s dynasty teams, played the Bulls without Kareem Abdul Jabbar (retired), James Worthy (retired) and without Pat Riley at coach (departed). As such, when Jordan started winning titles he did so by beating teams that in no way compared to the awesome force of the great 80s dynasty teams of the Celtics, Pistons, or Lakers. Even Jordan-heads concede that the level of competition Jordan beat in his championship runs in no way compares to that which existed when Jordan could not even sniff the Finals.

Fourth, the way Jordan’s legacy is presented it is almost as if the Chicago Bulls won all those titles in the 90s solely because of Jordan. However, as some journalists have pointed out is that Jordan’s decades of dominance was due in large part was because he played alongside the second best NBA player of the day (Scottie Pippen), always had an amazing defensive minded number three (Horace Grant, Dennis Rodman), was surrounded by a terrific supporting cast (Toni Kukoc, Steve Kerr etc.), had arguably the Greatest GM in NBA history working behind the scenes to create miracles (Jerry Krause) despite the constraints of a notoriously tight-wad owner (Jerry Reinsdorf) and was coached by the greatest coach of all-time (Phil Jackson). Not only was Pippen able to guide the Bulls to a hair away from the NBA finals after Jordan’s first departure, but when Jordan was without some of the league’s best reinforcements Jordan rarely came anywhere close to success on the basketball court (i.e. his pre-1991 Bulls, his Wizards run).

As such, while I can entertain the argument that Jordan might currently be the best basketball player of all time based on combination of his individual achievements and number of championships, no one should ever believe the narrative that Michael Jordan is so much better than everyone else who ever played or that his legacy is so far removed from everyone else that he could not be eclipsed by Lebron James or any future star. For fucks sake Lebron won a title for the Cavs and that should count for at least 10 titles!

Another narrative that no one should believe is the one that has Michael Jordan as the greatest sportsman in any sport. Again, while one can legitimately argue that Michael Jordan might be at present the best basketball player who ever played the game, the difference between him and the next man up is nowhere near the chasm that exists with Wayne Gretzky and the next guy in his sport, Usain Bolt and the next guy in his sport or Tom Brady and the next guy in his sport. So this idea that Jordan is the greatest sportsman across any sport is truly ludicrous and really needs to end. And while I have seen an uptick in the Jordan v. Brady debate, especially when Brady did the unprecedented and won his sixth Superbowl, I am still amazed when the debate swings Jordan’s way. While it is true Brady has lost three Superbowls he plays in a one game championship title game. As such, if you figure the fact that MJ played in a best of seven championship format, his actual win percentage across championship games is very much comparable to Brady’s (Jordan 24-11= 68.5% v. Brady 6-3= 66.7%). Add to this that Brady influence has to be of such magnitude that he must carry a team of 22 starters (instead of 5) to win, and there should be no question that Tom Brady has a better case for GOAT amongst all sports than Jordan does.

Jordan’s Competiveness and Leadership

Another narrative that continues to be perpetuated and certainly augmented since the airing of The Last Dance is that his ruthless approach to the game and loathsome treatment of his teammates is not only justified, but something that is to be admired. Jordan has relentlessly been praised as an assassin on the court and that his ability to motivate himself by taking the smallest of slights as fuel is somehow a wonderful quality to possess and therefore justifies his approach to the game, complete with the merciless bullying of his teammates. I submit that this is hogwash. If Donald Trump is (rightly) routinely chastised for his small and petty nature and his bullying of individuals to get what he wants, surely Jordan or anyone who utilizes this approach in their daily life should be criticized in the same manner. Real leadership is finding a way to positively motivate yourself and inspire those who surround you to greatness, not this petty small man shit that is somehow ok for Jordan to do. While it is understandable that leaders must utilize harsh motivation tactics at times, real leaders have other tools in their tool box other than just hate and pettiness.

In addition, while Jordan is also routinely praised for his competitive nature, and this of course certainly featured in the documentary, one question I kept asking myself while watching The Last Dance was if Michael Jordan is such a relentless competitor why did he quit the only thing he was ever exceptional at not just once, but twice? At the end of the documentary Jordan claims that he laments the fact that he did not win a seventh ring and that had he known about an alleged 11th hour offer to Phil Jackson from Jerry Reinsdorf and that there was a real possibility the Bulls core could have remained intact that he would have stuck around for at least one more season with the Bulls. While claims relating to bringing Jackson and the Bulls core back have been debunked like some of Jordan’s other lies (and dry snitching) during the documentary (i.e. not keeping Isiah Thomas off the dream team), if Jordan was such a relentless competitor why did he choose to walk away from basketball in 1998? Surely as evidenced by his (dismal) two year run with Wizards in the 2000s he had something left in the tank, so why walk away if you are the ultimate competitor who is always chasing greatness?

Michael Jordan the Activist and Legacy

Unlike other prominent athletes who have a number of memorable quotes attributable to them (see Muhammad Ali, Joe Louise, Wayne Gretzky etc.), you would be hard pressed to come up with even one timeless line attributable to Michael Jordan save for his “Republicans buy sneakers too” quote he is alleged to have said in the early 1990s when he was questioned about his lack of social activism. For years this Jordan quote remained a myth as it was unconfirmed until, ironically it was confirmed by The Last Dance. While Jordan legacy remained largely untarnished despite several media personalities and prominent athletes like Kareem Abdul Jabbar accusing Jordan of selling out and remaining on the sidelines in regards to his notable absence with regards to social issues over the years, the confirmation about his “Republicans buy sneakers too” was an incredible blow to Jordan’s legacy and his alleged GOAT status, or at least it should have been. While several notable athletes like former Chicago Bull Jay Williams have gone on record to state that what athletes do off the court matters to their legacy and that a lack of social activism is a significant strike against any claim to GOAT status (Williams himself believes for this reason is what separates Lebron James from Michael Jordan when ranking James over Jordan in terms of GOAT- 1:55 mark), I was astonished how so many in the media seemingly gave Michael Jordan a pass for, as Kareem Abdul Jabbar puts it, “Choosing commerce over conscience.” In fact, when Jordan was asked to lend his support to North Carolina Senate hopeful Harvey Gantt who was running against notorious racist Jesse Helms in 1990 Jordan has openly admitted he declined to do so despite his platform because as Jordan puts it, he considers himself only a basketball player and not a role model. When these revelations came to light after The Last Dance not only did many members of the media excuse Jordan’s decision largely due to the 1990s being a different time than today, not one prominent talking head explained why even if the 1990s were a different time than today, why Michael Jordan continues to remain silent today when many contemporary athletes like Lebron James or Dwayne Wade openly address important social issues. Moreover, certain media personalities like ESPN’s Max Kellerman even tried to defend Jordan’s 1990s silence by bizarrely claiming that the 1990s was a relatively peaceful time in relation to race relations despite the obvious fact that the 90s included the LA riots, the OJ trial, the murder of Latasha Harlins and host of other significant events.

While this is the United States and as such Michael Jordan is free to comment or not comment on social issues as he pleases, two things must be acknowledged given Michael Jordan’s silence on social issues. First, that it is hypocritical to chastise certain athletes like OJ Simpson for forsaking the black community while praising other athletes like Michael Jordan who conduct themselves in a near identical and apathetical manner as Simpson did off the field (or court in this instance). Second, a significant number of prominent athletes, media personalities and members of the public (myself included), believe that in order for anyone of prominence to truly be considered timeless or great in the all-time context that that person of prominence must utilize their platform to advocate for social causes, justice and the betterment of humanity (see Muhammed Ali, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Jim Brown, Bill Russell etc.). It cannot be all about the money or personal accolades alone. As such, while people will no doubt continue to engage in greatest of all-time debates for the foreseeable future, in the Michael Jordan context, while a number of people already have LeBron James ahead of Michael Jordan it is important to recognize that no matter what other achievements James adds to his legacy from a basketball perspective, that a significant number of people have already recognized that James has dwarfed Jordan in a category that is of extreme importance in GOAT criteria vis-à-vis his off the court social contributions and that as such, for this significant and growing segment of people, the argument for Jordan’s GOAT status is not only crippled, but mortally wounded.

All Hail the King.

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Donald Trump: America’s Sanitation Commissioner

31 Mar

Although ‘the Simpsons’ does not hold the strangle hold on pop culture it did in the mid-to-late 90s, it still receives an incredible amount of praise for its clairvoyance in predicting events decades in advance. And rightly, so as their track record is indeed impressive ranging from dissecting the Higgs Boson to Roy’s tiger attack. However, of all these predictions, perhaps the most astounding was its passing reference to Donald Trump being President of the United States in an episode where precocious 8 year old Lisa has a vision of her herself as President. At the time it was a humorous throwaway line in an a supremely humorous episode, but now in a post-2016 World it is a quintessential example of ‘the Simpsons’ power of prediction.

However, while ‘the Simpsons’ did an impressive job in predicting that Trump would in fact become President, I submit that there is another episode that does an even more impressive job of actually illuminated in stunning clarity what a Trump presidency would actually look like.

In the episode titled ‘Trash of the Titans’, family patriarch Homer dissatisfied with his garbage collection and the smugness of Springfield’s long-time but diligent sanitation commissioner Ray Patterson voiced by Steve Martin, takes it upon himself to run for Patterson’s job. Of course not only does Homer not have any experience in public service and but he also has a long track record of stupidity, failure, and incompetence that his entire community is aware of. However, in order to circumvent these hurdles and avoid dealing with his short-comings head on, Homer undertakes a campaign that relies on a mix of grade school mockery of his (qualified) opponent, taking cheap shots at Mexico, and a litany of commitments promising voters everything under the sun if he is elected. Who can forget his epic, “My men will do all your messy jobs. They’ll wash your car, scrub your shower, air out your stinkables,” rant. Ultimately voters fail to heed Mr. Patterson’s warning about candidates that make impossible promises and end up electing the “sleazy lunatic” with the long confirmed history of sleazy lunacy. More specifically, although Homer initially convinces everyone he has what it takes to get the job done, shortly after the election it becomes apparent that his stupidity and moronic agenda have led the town to disaster. In short his tenure in office is an abject failure necessitating the town to move the entire town a few miles down the road because Springfield has become overrun with garbage.

Now contrast this episode with Donald Trump’s election and subsequent presidency and I defy you not to be horrified by the parallels. It is almost as if Matt Greoning and Co. built a time machine in 2020 and went back 20 years just to warn the American public of exactly what happens when you elect a sleazy lunatic into a position that they are dangerously unqualified and too unscrupulous to do. Unfortunately for the United States, and of course the rest of the World by extension, Americans did not just elect an imbecile as sanitation commissioner of some small mid-western town, but instead made him the leader of the entire free world. Shortly after Trump’s election I joined the chorus of people who warned that the desperate and hopeful Americans taken in by Trump’s Machiavellian rhetoric that not only would his presidency do nothing more than help enrich Trump and his fat-cat friends, but would be devastating for the most vulnerable Americans and endanger their already fragile place in society.  Unfortunately, not only did Trump (at least temporarily) enrich his fellow 1 percent-ers  with a huge corporate tax break that led them to engage in an unprecedented level of stock buy backs that  allowed shareholders and Fortune 500 executives to get super rich (at least temporarily), but his 3 years in office have been devastating for everyone else, and sadly, even worse than one could imagine. From attacking the intelligence community, to turning xenophobia into immigration law, to destabilizing the EPA and torching any and all climate change initiatives, to emboldening racists at home, to starving farmers and impoverishing Middle America with ridiculous trade policies and tariffs, to his efforts to strip millions of Americans of their health care, to taking billions out of Social Security and Medicare, to getting impeached for attempting to strong-arm a European ally, to systematically dismantling nearly every American institution including the Constitution with his ridiculous agenda, Trump has been a Tsunami that has devastated the entire nation and what America claims to stand for. All of this of course was before January 2020 and before the Coronavirus epidemic after which his incompetence truly knew no bounds given his handling of the worldwide Coronavirus pandemic.

Although the first case of Coronavirus was only discovered only in late 2019, American intelligence and health officials were signalling the White House for weeks since that first case that there was an invisible danger about to spread across the globe. Many of these same  officials warned that the United States was dangerously unprepared to handle the spread of the novel virus and that the Trump administration’s scrapping of the NSC pandemic unit office in 2018 (along with many other questionable decisions) left Americans that much more in jeopardy. The question is why did Trump wait to take any action on the Coronavirus threat?

The answer appears quite simple. Much like all fat-cats, Trump values money more than anything else. More specifically, despite all of Trump’s failures in office, the one objective positive he could point to was the rise of the stock market during his tenure. This of course was despite the fact that the market only rebounded under Trump’s predecesser who inherited a devastated economy under the watch of another over-his-head Republican President and that Trumps gains, while impressive are nowhere near the gains and upward tragectory realized under President Obama. However, to be fair the stock market was up considerably under Trump’s first three years in office and that is (was) impressive. However, the danger that occurs one rests their entire record precariously on one achievement is that it will not take much to topple said person’s legacy should that achievement become exposed and become a failure. Unfortunately, not only did the Coronavirus pandemic and Trump’s handling of the pandemic erase all of the stock market gains that were realized during his tenure, it would appear that Trump’s fear of a stock market crumbling and what that would do for his future in office (and legacy overall) was the primary force driving Trump to ignore the advice of so many experts who tried to warn his administration of the looming Coronavirus threat. For weeks Trump, his lackeys, and sycophants at Fox News ignored the evidence and warnings of health officials and dismissed the level of danger posed by the novel virus and even went so far as to dismiss it as nothing more than a democratic hoax. However, as global deaths from the Coronovirus began to spike even the Trump administration began to wake up and despite again publically labelling the novel virus as a democratic hoax at a rally on February 28th, by March 11 Trump was on TV delivering a Presidential Address wherein he stated that America was under siege by an invisible threat and that his administration was (now) taking the threat posed by the virus seriously. However, as the stock market continued to crash and trillions of dollars in market caps were wiped away, Trump again began to act in a ridiculous fashion as he began again downplay the threat of the Coronavirus, wage war on Governors who were taking the threat seriously and voicing their concerns publically, advocate the use of untested treatments for the virus, delay implementation of the Defence Production Act,  bizarrely and dangerously claim that America would be back to business as usual by Easter, and even went as far as to claim healthcare professionals who were risking their lives on the front lines at hospitals across the nation were stealing masks and other equipment to explain medical supply shortages! Of course every health official, consciencious politician and semi-conscious citizen rallied against Trump ludicrous behaviour with regards to rhetoric and handling of the virus  and particularly were harsh on his  market driven approach to health care and determine what was in the best interests of the American population.

To state Trump’s response to the Coronavirus as anything less than a complete catastrophe would be an understatement. Trump’s (intentional) delay in taking the Coronavirus seriously coupled with his mixed messages and delayed implementation of national strategy, including but not limited to immediately implementing the Defence Production Act which would have enabled health care professionals around the country to get adequate levels of supplies they desperately need, have led to a crisis of epic proportions. This is not hypebole. As of writing this article the United States already has the highest number of people afflicted with Coronavirus in the entire World and just this past weekend Dr. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the seemingly only competent member of Trump’s current administration has stated that deaths in the United States are likely to range between 100,000 to 200,000 flowing from the millions of Coronavirus infections that are likely to transpire over the coming weeks.

While the Coronavirus itself is certainly not the fault of Donald Trump, his irresponsible actions and reckless disregard for the  threat posed by the virus have put all Americans at an increased risk of not only catching the virus, but dying from it as well. While many President’s have certainly undergone dramatic crashes of the stock market, not only has Trump seen all of the gains attained while he was in office wiped out, his incompetence with regards to his handling of the Coronavirus has threaten the lives of millions of Americans (again not hyperbole) and have led to many people already regarding his failure(s) regarding his handling of the Coronavirus epidemic as the greatest failure of leadership in United States history.

America I present to you your Sanitation Commissioner, President Donald J. Trump.

While Americans cannot simply pack up and move a couple miles down the road as the Springfieldians once did, there are a few steps they can undertake to both address the current Coronavirus epidemic and help mitigate future crises, particularly those concerned with health and safety:

First- continue to practice social distancing until such times as qualified health officials state it is safe to discontinue the practice.

Second- press their current leaders to do all they can to implement the Defense Production Act and nationalize the supply chain to ensure that health care professionals are in the best possible position to receive the supplies and tools they need.

Third- ensure Trump is removed from office at the first viable opportunity. The removal of other reckless, irresponsible, and possible criminal leaders like Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis, Richard Burr, and Kelly Loeffler should follow in short order.

Fourth- elect leaders who will immediately implement universal health care to ensure adequate health care for all Americans by guarding society’s most vulnerable and ensure that the health of  those who lose their jobs, and in turn their health insurance, are not left unprotected. It is truly astonishing that politicians who claim that universal health care is socialism are the same politicians who helped to again bail out billionaires and corporate elites who again mismanaged their companies and failed to ensure an adequate reserve fund for times of crisis.

Fifth- elect leaders who will ensure that a $15 dollar minimum wage becomes the standard across all of America.  While doctors and nurses are on the front lines risking their lives during the Coronavirus epidemic, it should not be lost on anyone that line-cooks, delivery persons, warehouse workers, retail employees, farm labour and a host of other persons who earn minimum wage are also putting their own safety on the line by occupying and working in public spaces. These people immediately need to be compensated for their heroic efforts during this time of crisis and beyond. Until such time as the $15 dollar wage becomes the standard, Americans should do all they can to tip and be as generous as possible to all people who work during times of crisis.

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Orientalism and Immigration: An Examination of the Canadian Record

22 Jan

I myself believe that Orientalism is more particularly valuable as a sign of European-Atlantic power over particularly the Orient than it is a veridic discourse about the Orient.-Edward Said[1]


Part One: Introduction

            In January 2017 Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a public pronouncement via the Twitter social media platform stating, “To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada“.[2] This pronouncement was subsequently followed by a photograph of him welcoming a young Syrian refugee to Canada. The Prime Minister’s statement was made against the backdrop of the chaos caused by U.S. President Donald Trump’s racist and xenophobic rhetoric which continuously labels non-white immigrants and refugees as unwelcomed interlopers generally[3] and his implementation of a travel ban on refugees emanating from six (6) Muslim majority countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen (it should be noted that the travel ban was subsequently amended to include two other non-Muslim majority countries- Venezuela and North Korea- and this iteration of the travel ban has been recently upheld by the United States Supreme Court).[4] The Canadian Prime Minister’s pronouncement was reflective of Canada’s recent commitment to incoming refugees and immigrants, the numbers of whom have risen quite substantially. For example, the Canadian government has recently announced that it will admit approximately one million immigrants over the next three years and will increase government assisted refugees to 10,000 a year (up from its current level of 7500 per year) and private assisted refugees to 20,000 by 2020.[5][6] As a result of the Trudeau government’s commitment to newcomers, especially in contrast to that of the United States under the Trump regime (which has labelled Mexican migrants and refugees as rapists and drug mules, followed through with the promise of a Muslim ban, and committed to building a sprawling wall on its Southern border), many have regarded Canada as a global leader in progressive immigration. However, in contrast to Canada’s current reputation, many scholars have noted that Canada’s historical record with respect to immigration has not only been quite restrictive, but incredibly harsh to immigrants and refugees emanating from non-European nations. Not only does the Canadian record seem to indicate a greater restriction toward non-Eurocentric immigration, but when newcomers from the East and Global South have arrived in Canada they have historically been subject to more punitive standards than their Western counterparts. In fact, many have viewed this differential treatment as built not simply on racism and xenophobia, but in large part due to a concept popularized by scholar Edward Said known as Orientalism whereby the East is depicted and understood in static ways which are devoid of reality and in a manner that acts as a tool of Western oppression.  But is this true? In this piece, it is argued that Orientalism continues to have a significant role in influencing Canada’s approach to immigration and refugee law. After examining the concept of Orientalism in greater detail, the impact of Orientalism on Canada’s immigration regime pre-1976, and the impact of Orientalism on Canada’s immigration regime post-1976, it will become apparent that not only does Orientalism continue to play an important role in crafting Canadian immigration law and policy, but that it also hinders the ability for newcomers to successfully assimilate and resettle within their new societies.

Part Two: Orientalism

Before attempting an examination into Canada’s record with respect to immigration and its relationship with Orientalism, it is perhaps prudent to first engage with the concept of Orientalism itself. Published in 1978, Edward Said’s Orientalism has become a seminal work in the field of post-colonialism, with its resonance being felt across the social sciences.

Said’s work begins by stating that there is great interest from Western scholars to study the Orient, and introduces the concept by defining Orientalism as a manner in which the West defines the East (or Orient) based on its own understanding and experience. As stated by Said regarding an anecdote about a European journalist visiting Oriental locales:

The main thing for the European visitor was a European representation of the Orient and            its contemporary fate, both of which had a privileged communal significance for the journalist and his French readers.

Americans will not feel quite the same about the Orient, which for them is much more likely to be       associated very differently with the Far East (China and Japan, mainly). Unlike the Americans, the           French and the British-less so the Germans, Russians, Spanish, Portuguese, Italians, and Swiss-have        had a long tradition of what I shall be calling Orientalism, a way of coming to terms with the Orient that is       based on the Orient’s special place in European Western Experience.[7]

Said further states that understanding the Orient is of central importance to the West because studying the East (as its Other) helps to define itself as well:

The Orient is not only adjacent to Europe; it is also the place of Europe’s greatest and         riches colonies,   the source of its civilizations and languages, its cultural constant, and one its deepest and most           recurring images of the Other. In addition, the Orient has helped to define Europe (of the West) as its     contrasting image, idea, personality, experience.[8]          

What is of critical importance in Said’s work is that the concept of Orientalism is described to be much more than simply an innocuous depiction of the Orient, with the West also being shown to be far from objective when it discusses, depicts and understands the East. While Said’s work clearly builds on that of Gramcesi (in its discussions pertaining to hegemony) and Roland Barthes (model of mythology),[9] it is evident that Foucault’s work on the knowledge-power equation and conceptions of discourse (or “discursive formations”)[10] serves as the foundation for Said’s work. More specifically, discourse, and the power dynamics by which it is surrounded, are of central importance to Said. He argues that how one speaks about the ‘Orient’ works to not only describe it, but that this discourse in fact serves to produce it as well.[11] For Said, it is not possible to speak ‘objectively’ of the Orient, or any other social science concept for that matter, given his contention that:

For if it is true that no production of knowledge in the human sciences can ever ignore or disclaim its               author’s involvement as a human subject in his own circumstances, then it must also be true that for a      European or American studying the Orient there can be no disclaiming the main circumstances of his   actuality: that he comes up against the Orient as a European or American first, as an individual second.[12]

As such, for Said, Orientalism is indeed much more than a mere historical account and he underscores that the concept encompasses two other important dimensions: one that can be understood as a Worldview, representation, and “style of thought” based upon an ontological and epistemological distinction made between “the Orient” and “the Occident”, and another as an instrument of domination, or as Said puts it, “Orientalism as a Western style for dominating, restructuring, and having authority over the Orient.”[13] It is this latter dimension which has drawn scholars to Said’s work, and which has made his contributions invaluable to the fields of post-colonial studies, Middle Eastern studies, political science, legal studies and a host of other social science disciplines. As such, while Said’s work is not perfect due to the absence of quantitative approaches and empirical evidence, dense writing fraught with jargon, seemingly cherry-picked authorities, the absence of an alternative approach to Orientalism (something Said himself was embarrassingly absent from his work),[14] and critics who believe Said’s work is exemplary of scholarship that is, “based not so much on the nationality and religion of the scholars and intellectuals concerned as on their (own) attitude to history and the modern and post-modern philosophical ideas (deconstruction, truth as illusion, intellectual hegemony, and so on) which frequently influence it,”[15] the work remains a seminal work in the field of post -colonial studies (and others) because of the unique theoretical framework outlined by Said relating to Orientalism as a powerful tool of Western oppression. In reading and examining Said’s Orientalism in detail it is evident that the author’s central concern is that Orientalism is not merely an impartial or innocent way of looking at the Orient via harmless stereotypes and interpretations, but rather a powerful tool of domination by the West. As Said states,

“The relationship between the Occident and the Orient is a relationship of power, of domination, or   varying degrees of a complex hegemony, and is quite accurately in the title of K.M. Panikar’s classic Asia and Western Dominance. The Orient was Orientalised not only because it was discovered to be “Oriental”       in all those ways considered commonplace by an average nineteen-century European, but also because it             could be-that is submitted to being-made Oriental… I myself believe that Orientalism is more particularly            valuable as a sign of European-Atlantic power over the Orient than it is a veridic discourse about the Orient     (which is what, in its academic or scholarly form claims to be)….Orientalism, therefore, is not an airy               European fantasy about the Orient, but a created body of theory and practice in which, for many generations, there has been a considerable material investment… It is hegemony, or rather cultural           hegemony at work, that gives Orientalism the durability and strength I have been speaking about so far.        Orientalism is never far from what Denys Hay has called the idea of Europe, a collective notion identifying               “us” as European as against all “those” non-Europeans, and indeed it can be argued that the major        component in European culture is precisely what made that culture hegemonic both in and outside Europe:          the idea of European identity as a superior one in comparison with all the non-European peoples and       cultures.”[16]

With regard to the genesis of Orientalism, Said highlights that while inaccuracies of the Orient have abounded since the time of Homer, “the difference between representations of the Orient before the last third of the eighteenth century and those after it (that is, those belonging to what I call modern Orientalism) is that the range of representation expanded in the later period.” As such, for Said, (modern) Orientalism has its roots in the late eighteenth century and, according to him, it is no accident that this occurred during a period of vast colonial expansion emanating from Europe into the Orient. Said illustrates this point beautifully with a historical account of Arthur James Balfour’s lecture to the British House of Commons regarding England’s “problems” in Egypt.[17] When facing the question posed by Member of Parliament J.T. Robertson “What right do you have to take up airs of superiority with regard to people whom you choose to call Oriental?”, Balfour’s response, delivered under the guise of neutrality and altruism to support why England is duty-bound to intercede in the region, is in fact riddled with unsubstantiated demeaning claims about the people of Egypt. Said further notes that although Balfour claims to possess no feelings of superiority, his argument for occupation is fraught with them and premised on “our” (England’s) knowledge of Egypt and not principally on military or economic motivations.[18] After detailing Balfour’s account, Said distills the Western logic that justifies colonialism and domination of the East:

Balfour’s logic here is interesting, not least for being completely consistent with the premises of his entire speech. England knows Egypt; Egypt is what England knows; England knows that Egypt cannot have self-government; England confirms that by occupying Egypt; for the Egyptians, Egypt is what England has occupied and now governs; foreign occupation therefore becomes “the very basis” of contemporary Egyptian civilization; Egypt requires, indeed insists upon British occupation.[19]

By providing and analyzing the historical account of Balfour’s June 1910 speech before the House of Commons, Said achieves two things. First, he provides an excellent example of Orientalism in action and the logic by which it is underpinned, and second, he lays the foundation for his argument concerning how Orientalism continues to be an effective tool of domination by the West over the East. For Said, Balfour’s logic is certainly not unique to Balfour or the British experience, but actually passed down, virtually unchallenged, by Orientalists (Western “experts” who claim to study the Orient) into the very psyche of future generations of Westerners. As such, not only do Orientalists perpetuate fictitious, unsubstantiated and even racist accounts of the Oriental “Other”, but these claims remain static. As stated by Said:

The contemporary Orientalist attitudes flood the press and the popular mind. Arabs, for example, are     thought of as camel-riding, terroristic, hook-nosed, venal lechers whose undeserved wealth is an affront to       real civilization. Always there lurks the assumption that although the Western consumer belongs to a               numerical minority, he is entitled either to own or to expand (or both) the majority of the world resources.     Why? Because he, unlike, the Oriental, is a true human being… It (Orientalism) views the Orient as    something whose existence is not only displayed but has remained fixed in time and place for the West.[20]

In terms of contemporary examples, one need only to look to the works of Lawrence Rosen,[21] Michael Ross,[22] Samuel Huntington[23] or Bernard Lewis as Orientalist writings that not only view the Middle East and its inhabitants as backwards and homogenous, as incompatible with modernity, and as a threat to Western ideals, but will that they remain as such. Said specifically addresses the work of Bernard Lewis, not only to highlight the flaws in his work Islamic Concepts of Revolution, but to demonstrate that Lewis’ writing and recognition as an “authority” on the Middle East is a microcosm of the Orientalist problem:

The entire passage is full of condescension and bad faith. Why introduce the idea of a camel rising as an             etymological root for modern Arab revolution except as a clever was of discrediting the modern? Lewis’s      reason is patently to bring down revolution from its contemporary valuation to nothing more noble (or               beautiful) than a camel about to raise itself from the ground. Revolution is excitement, sedition, setting up a    petty sovereignty-nothing more; the best counsel (which presumably only a Western scholar can give) is           “wait till the excitement dies down.”…But it is this kind of essentialized description that is natural for               students and policymakers concerned with the Middle East: that revolutionary stirrings among “the Arabs”            are about as consequential as a camel’s getting up, as worthy of attention as the babblings of yokels. All the         canonical Orientalist literature will for the same ideological reason be unable to explain or purport one for               the confirming revolutionary upheaval in the Arab world in the twentieth century…I mention his recent          writing as a perfect exemplification of the academic whose work purports to be liberal objective scholarship but is in reality very close to propaganda against his subject material. But this should come as          no surprise to anyone familiar with the history of Orientalism; it is only the latest-and in the West, the most               uncriticized -of the scandals of “scholarship”.[24]

While Said’s analysis in Orientalism is largely fixated on the Orientalist interpretation and conceptions of the Middle East, several scholars have highlighted that the genius of Said’s work is its flexibility and applicability to various studies. More specifically, according to scholar Chris Richardson, what truly distinguishes Said’s work is his model or interpretation for performing the examination of power-knowledge and myth on a geographic level.[25] Richardson builds on this premise to articulate that Said’s theoretical framework is applicable in a myriad of ways and attempts to examine the concerns regarding Toronto, Canada’s Jane and Finch neighbourhood through an Orientalist lens.[26] As stated by Richardson:

The irreducible element within Said’s work, however, is his model for performing this kind of examination of power-knowledge and myth on a geographic level. This is the value of Said’s work and one of the ways in which he goes beyond the frameworks set out before him. This grounding in geography is the indispensable aspect of Orientalism that I argue allows scholars to interrogate more deeply the marginalisation of certain Canadian communities.[27]

As such, Said’s theoretical framework with respect to Orientalism appears to be a flexible one that can guide scholarship in examining other political, economic and/or social concerns. Given the juxtaposition between Canada’s reputation as a progressive global leader in immigration and the horrors of the actual immigrant experience of people originating from the East, an examination of Canada’s immigration history through an Orientalist lens is warranted.


Part Three: Orientalism and the Canadian Experience, 1815-1976

Immigration to present-day Canada stretches back thousands of years when ancestors of Canadian indigenous peoples arrived in North American crossing the Bering strait.[28] However, for the purpose and scope of this paper, the immigration record of interest will include the years from 1815 to the present. This section will examine Canada’s immigration history from 1815 until 1976, when the Immigration Act was revised, setting of the fifth great wave of Canadian immigration.

In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, the industrial revolution triggered an incredible change in Britain. It improved life in many ways, particularly with regards to economic growth, higher standards of living, and a reduction in infant mortality. However, with greater advances in technology, England’s manual labour economy moved towards machine-based manufacturing, resulting in great unemployment. This particularly impacted labourers and peasants, who found their traditional forms of employment rendered redundant by machines who could perform the work at a fraction of the cost. As a result, the industrial revolution in Britain led many to seek work in the colonies in the Americas.[29]

Coupled with the end of Napoleonic Wars, the industrial revolution resulted in large numbers of migrants from several countries looking to the colonies of North America for work.[30] In fact, the period from 1815 to 1850 become known as the Great Migration of Canada, during which more than 750,000 immigrants entered Canada, with the largest portion emanating from Britain.[31]

In 1828, in response to the large wave of emigrants to Canada, Britain, still a monarchy and in firm control over Canada, passed legislation which sought to impose certain limits on immigration. The legislation, An Act to Regulate the Carrying of Passengers in Merchant Vessels, which limited the number of passengers that could be on board ships, mandated the amount of space passengers were to be allotted and sought to ensure adequate sustenance for passengers.[32] Despite this legislation, large influxes of immigrants, mainly of British origin, continued to pour into Canada.[33] According to scholar Valerie Knowles, it was primarily due to the immigrant tide from Britain that “the population of the northern provinces grew from less than 500,000 in 1812 to approximately 2.4 million in 1850.”[34] Knowles further highlights that by 1867, the year of Canadian Confederation, two-thirds of British North America’s population was of British Origin.[35]

With the turn of the century, Canada would decisively continue its commitment to English immigration seeking to retain its colonial roots.[36] For example, as stated by scholar Janice Cavell in her work,  The Imperial Race and The Immigration Sieve: The Canadian Debate on Assisted British Migration and Empire Settlement, “a major aim of Canadian immigration policy in the first decades of the twentieth century was to preserve Canada’s predominantly British character.”[37] Cavell also highlights that favouritism within the Canadian immigration system was boosted by a number of pieces of legislation in the early twentieth century, and prominently featured with provisions for assisted (British) migration contained within the Empire Settlement Act of 1922.[38] This attempts at fostering (European) immigration were no doubt successful as, according to legal scholars Mary Liston and Joseph Karens, “the years between 1896 and 1914 saw the largest influx of immigrants in Canada’s history, resulting in an increase from13 to 22 per cent in the immigrant share of the population between 1901 and 1911.”[39]

However, while the record demonstrates that Canada’s early immigration history was very favourable to the British, the record is also clear that non-British immigrants, particularly those of non-European descent, were subject to a much different experience.[40] In fact, it became clear that parliament and policy makers had a different vision and appetite for the non-British and Oriental “others.”[41] More specifically, the Immigration Act of 1906 stated that Cabinet may provide as a condition of entry into Canada that immigrants possess money to a prescribed minimum amount, which may vary depending on the class of the immigrant.[42] This legislative provision was subsequently weaponized in a discriminatory manner against Asiatic immigrants when a January 1908 Order in Council initially mandated a $25 minimum for everyone entering Canada, only to subsequently raise this minimum to $200 in 1914 via another Order in Council for immigrants of Asian descent, with a waiver permitted in exceptional circumstances.[43] While this policy is both racist and discriminatory, what is most interesting are the Orientalist underpinnings of the Order; the rationale provided was simply that the language and mode of life of immigrants from Asia were believed to render them unsuited for settlement.[44] It is precisely this mode of approaching the other which Said underscores repeatedly in his work; that Orientalism is much more than an innocent manner of viewing “others”, and is a tool of oppression used to maintain the imperialist project and white/euro-centric dominance.[45]

Subsequent to the 1906 legislation, the Canadian Immigration Act of 1910 went even further. It boldly gave Cabinet the power to prohibit immigrants belonging to any race, based again on the unsubstantiated belief that Asians and other Oriental others were incompatible with British North America.[46] Additionally, while the wording was amended in subsequent iterations of the Act, the power to prohibit immigrants remained in place from 1910 to 1976.[47][48]

Given these early pieces of legislation, it is clear that Canada’s early approach to immigration placed several barriers on non-European immigrants, with Chinese and Indian immigrants being specifically singled out.[49] In the Chinese context, not only did the Chinese Immigration Act of 1885 require Chinese immigrants to pay a $50 head tax (increasing to $100 in 1900 and $500 by 1903),[50][51] in 1923 Chinese immigration was prohibited altogether.[52][53][54] It should be noted that $500 dollars in the early twentieth century was not an insignificant amount of money as early Chinese immigrants noted that with that amount they could have purchased two houses in Canada or two hundred acres of prime land.[55]

In addition to explicit prohibitions on entry and financial impositions, the Immigration Act of 1908 gave Cabinet the power to impose a third power, a continuous passage rule. According to  scholar David Matas this rule while “neutral in appearance” was  “discriminatory in intent.”[56] The continuous passage rule (a power which lasted until 1978), which sought to limit immigrants from landing in Canada in situations where their voyages necessitated more than one stop. According to Matas, the Governor in Council instrumentalized this power to pass an order expressly prohibiting the landing of any immigrant who came to Canada without a ticket that confirmed a continuous journey from their native country. While this power seemed neutral on the surface, it was meant to curb immigration from far reaching (Oriental) locales like India, where continuous travel to North America was impossible at the time. While outright prohibitions and financial requirements towards immigrants from the East are certainly overt dimensions of Orientalism, laws which appear neutral, sensible and even altruistic in theory but are actually discriminatory in practice are definitely another dimension as well, and were specifically underscored by Said in his examination of Balfour’s 1910 speech to the British parliament concerning England interventions in Egypt.[57]  Furthermore, if there was any doubt as to Orientalism’s high level of influence on Canada’s early immigration laws, particularly towards Indians, one only has to examine the case of Komagata Maru (a ship originating from India that carried 376 passengers and was denied entry resulting in many deaths) to Canada and Munshi Singh.[58] Mr. Singh, a passenger of the Komagata Maru arrived at a Vancouver port with only $20 dollars in his pocket shortly after the 1914 Order in Council was passed. He was detained and ordered deported on the grounds that he was of Asian descent with less than $200 dollars with him.[59] Mr. Singh was also from India and as such, did not make a continuous journey to Canada. Mr. Singh appealed this decision to both the Superior Court and the British Columbia Court of Appeal, but lost both times.[60] However, what is perhaps most interesting is not the fact that Mr. Singh lost his appeal, but the rationale given by the British Columbia Court of Appeal. In a long judgement delivered by McPhillips, J.A., the court stated that, “the better classes of the Asiatic races are not given to leave their own countries…and those who become immigrants are undesirables in Canada.”[61] McPhillips speaking for the court went on to state:

The Parliament of Canada…may well be said to be safeguarding the people of Canada from an influx which          it is no chimera to conjure up might annihilate the nation…introduce Oriental ways as against European               ways…and all the results that would flow therefrom….In their own interests their proper place of residence               is within the confines of their respective countries in the continent of Asia, not Canada, where their customs           are not in vogue and their adherence to them here only gives rise to disturbances destructive to the well              being of (Canadian) society…Better that people of non-assimilative…race should not come to Canada, but               rather that they shall remain of residence in their country of origin, and do their share, as they have in the        past, in the preservation and development of the empire.[62]

The aforementioned statements from McPhillips, J.A. on behalf of the British Columbia Court of Appeal are of note not only because it is hard to fathom that such pronouncements were ever made in a liberal democracy like Canada, but because they perfectly encapsulate the essence of Said’s work on Orientalism. It is almost as if Said contemplated this decision prior to writing his seminal work. The British Columbia Court of Appeal’s unsubstantiated views regarding people of Asiatic descent being both incompatible with Canadian values and a danger to them as reasons for necessitating the need to reinforce white/Western supremacy in immigration, with the juxtaposition of the terms “Oriental ways” and “European ways”, is a direct link to Said’s thesis and theoretical framework concerning Orientalism.

By 1954, Canadian immigration regulations expressly limited admission to citizens of the United Kingdom, Australia, South Africa, Ireland, the U.S. and France, all of which were notably occidental countries (South Africa at this time was occupied by a white minority in the full throes of Apartheid).[63][64] In 1956, other Western countries were added to the safe list and while immigrants from Africa and Asia could also attempt to immigrate, they could only do so if they had immediate family in Canada.  Such restrictions of course did not apply to Occidentals, but only Oriental “Others”. Prohibition by implication would last until 1962 when the general entry requirement was applied to all immigrants. However, without question Canada’s early immigration history was not only racist, but deeply ensconced in Orientalism with non-Occidental immigrants consistently labelled undesirable and Occidental immigrants given preference. As stated by Stephen Kaduuli in his work entitled, Pointers to Discriminatory Canadian Immigration Policies:

From 1867 to the 1960s, the selection of immigrants to Canada was based on racial background, with     British and Western Europeans being deemed the most ‗desirable‘ citizens, while Asians and Africans          were considered ‗unassimilable‘ and therefore ‗undesirable‘ (Guo & Andersson 2006: 4). Therefore, in               that period Canada had a white racist immigration policy which restricted Asiatic migration, prohibited            black migration, and encouraged only white migration (Lynch/Simon 2003: 57) with the aim of keeping Canada ‗Lily White‘.[65]

However, what is important to note is that even after explicit legislative prohibitions were removed, preference regarding immigration was still given towards people from Europe, the Middle East or the Americas who already had extended family living in Canada.[66] On the surface, the 1962 change towards egalitarian general entry, coupled with the revision of the Immigration Act in 1976, helped to increase the prospects for more visible minorities from non-Western locales to successfully immigrate and resettle in Canada.[67] However, while these changes were responsible for the large and overwhelming immigration to Canada beginning in the 1970s of visible minorities from the developing world,[68][69] the evidence suggests that non-white immigrants are still subject to barriers of discrimination, albeit less overt than earlier Canadian history.[70] And of course, this difference appears to continue due to the influence of Orientalism. Before proceeding to the next section, this work would be remiss if it did not illustrate the plight of Jews and their Canadian immigration experience, as it is a perfect example of the fact that even in the absence of legal prohibitions and/or barriers, abuses of power can still transpire. During the rise of Nazi Germany, many Jews sought to flee to Canada in order to escape persecution. However, scholars have noted that Canadian authorities did all they could to prevent Jews from entering Canada under the unsubstantiated belief that they would be a corrupting force within Canada.[71] However, in contrast to other Oriental experiences, like that of the Chinese for example, there was no legal basis for denying Jewish immigrants. There was no head tax, no financial requirements, no continuous journey clause or any legal authority that justified the prohibition of Jews. As legal scholar David Matas notes, the prohibition on Jews was carried out not through reliance on express legislative powers, but through abuse of power.[72] At the time Canadian immigration was headed by Fred Blair, a notorious anti-Semite, and he directed the processing of Jewish applications from other government offices to his own, wherein he personally reviewed each application. Unsurprisingly in almost every case he decided against the Jewish applicant. While the mid-twentieth century Jewish experience is a tragic account, it is also a reminder that Western nations do not need laws to have racial discrimination grounded in Orientalism in relation to immigration. According to Matas, “all you need is unlimited discretion. An unsympathetic public, or unmotivated public leadership or racists in office are enough to lead to racism in immigration even with laws neutral on their face.”[73]

Part Four: Orientalism and the Canadian Experience, 1976-To Present

As stated in the preceding section, radical changes to Canada’s immigration laws in the 1970s served as a catalyst for immigration to Canada by a large number of visible minorities from the global south.[74] As articulated by scholar Valerie Knowles in her work entitled Strangers at Our Gates: Canadian Immigration and Immigration Policy, 1540-2006:

As the 1970s unfolded, the changes set in motion by the abolish of racial discrimination in Canadian             immigration policy and the introduction of the points system began to assert themselves. While 87 percent    of Canada’s immigrants in 1966 were of European origin, only four years later 50 percent came from new               regions: the West Indies, Guyana, Haiti, Hong Kong, India the Philippines and Indochina. Throughout the               1970s and 1980s, newcomers would more often than not be from Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, or Latin       America.[75]

The impetus for the drastic approach to Canadian immigration was Canada’s Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau (father of current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau) and his desire to remove the statutory and systemic barriers facing many immigrants from non-Western locales.[76] To that end Trudeau appointed Robert Andras, an extremely capable minister who had a strong voice in cabinet, as Minister of Manpower and Immigration in 1972. Both Trudeau and Andras recognized that Canada’s immigration system was failing and not reflective of Canada’s new international obligations (1951 UN Convention on Refugees etc.), and sought to promptly reform the system and the antiquated Immigration Act of 1952. The 1952 Act was remarkably reflective of Canada’s nineteenth century efforts to limit immigration from Orientals and operated as a gatekeepers act. More specifically, “it was primarily concerned with the listing the kinds of people who should be refused admission to Canada, and with outlining mechanisms for controlling the entry into this country or stays of persons who had no legal right to be here or who were considered undesirable”.[77] In addition to explicitly barring homosexuals, and providing broad discretionary powers to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration over decisions of admission and deportation (with the ability to grant or cancel immigration permits and overturn the decisions of immigration officers and immigration appeals boards),[78] the Act continued Canada’s long tradition of discriminatory policies against non-European and non-American immigrants.[79]  As such, Orientalism continued to be on explicit display with the passage of this legislation.

The (Pierre) Trudeau government’s signature attempt to address the inequities and inadequacies of Canada’s immigration laws, was the Immigration Act of 1976. According to Knowles:

The Immigration Act, 1976, the cornerstone of immigration policy from 1978 until 2001,           broke new            ground by spelling out the fundamental principles and objectives of Canadian immigration policy. Outlined        in Section 3, Part1 of the act, they included the promotion of Canada’s demographic, economic cultural, and               social goals; family reunification; the fulfilment of Canada’s international obligations in relation to the           United Nations Convention (1951) and the 1967 Protocol relating to refugees, which Canada has signed in       1969; non-discrimination in immigration policy; and cooperation between all levels of government and   the voluntary sector in the settlement of immigrants in Canadian society. All the act’s other provisions            derived from one or more of these national objectives.[80]

While it is clear that progressive legislation like the Immigration Act of 1976 were significant steps to remove explicit barriers towards Oriental immigration during the 1970s,[81] several experts have noted that a considerable amount of discrimination would nonetheless continue to hamper immigrants from the East. For example, according to William Ging Wee Dere in his work Being Chinese in Canada, racism would still abound in Canada in less overt ways:

Racism in Canada has taken on many forms. We had the early naked state racism against     Indigenous           peoples and Chinese immigrants, but racism became more subtle and    insidious as history progressed. I    came to realize that the politics of racism required some intellectual understanding of how the economic               system perpetuated racist ideas-both to exploit and divide people, and to maintain the system among             oppressed and marginalized people.[82]

And just as racism would become less overt beginning in the 1970s,[83] post-1970s barriers in relation to Oriental immigrants would also become more understated, yet nonetheless fraught with Orientalist undercurrents. For example, beginning in the 1980s Gerald E. Dirks in his work entitled, Controversy and Complexity: Canadian Immigration Policy during the 1980s, highlights attempts by the Global North to come together and attempt to curb the tide of international migration from the Global South, “In the 19805, First World governments began to discuss the possibility of joint action and cooperative policies to cope with actual or threatened massive population upheavals originating in the Third World.”[84] Canada of course was party to this scheme and although numerous examples abound in the years since the early 1980s, two in particular stand out: Canada’s enduring commitment to the Safe Third Country Agreement, and the passing of Bill C-24.

Although enthusiasm for Canada’s new approach to immigration was high during the 1970s under the (Pierre) Trudeau government, this enthusiasm would be tempered considerably in the 1980s under the Conservative Mulroney government who strongly restricted independent immigration.[85] During the 1980s, Canada, like many other developed countries (including the United States, Australia, and Western Europe) was experiencing a high influx of refugees. For example, the number of the world’s refugees in the early 1960s stood at 1.2 million, but by 1989 this number had risen to approximately 14.9 million refugees globally, due to a combination of events in the Third World including, but not limited to civil war, ethnic conflicts, persecution, natural disaster and political upheaval.[86] This dramatic increase sent the international refugee system into deep crisis. In the wake of the global rise in refugees, the Canadian government under Mulroney scrambled to address public outrage and prevent what it perceived as excessive refugee claims. One attempt by the Mulroney government was to amend the Immigration Act, which resulted in the crafting of the Bill C-84 Refugee Deterrents and Detention Bill. This legislation was met with intense scrutiny by critics who found it riddled with draconian provisions, including one that allowed the Canadian government to turn away ships that were suspected of carrying “illegitimate” refugees in Canadian waters.[87] Although this specific provision was subsequently dropped due to efforts spearheaded by human rights groups, this Bill, like other (anti)immigration initiatives of the 1980s and early 1990s (for example, Bill C-55 and Bill C-86, which were radical, punitive attempts at reforming Canadian immigration law), succeeded in galvanizing the public to the Mulroney government’s narrative that Canada was under siege by (Oriental) foreigners who sought to cripple the nation financially, posed a threat to their personal security, and endangered Canadian values. It is important to note that this rhetoric remains in place today as many (cultural) conservatives continue to fear that immigrants will change Canadian character and identity.[88]

Before being driven out of office, in its ongoing attempt to curb immigration in the 1980s, the Mulroney government would even attempt to move most immigration functions to a new Public Security ministry before this plan was abandoned due to critics denouncing it for equating immigration with public security, which would promote a backlash towards immigrants. Of course, as noted by Said, securitizing the other is part of the Orientalist playbook that seeks to assert Western domination over the Orient through false narratives.[89]

Although discarded, both Bill-55 and Bill-C-86 had contained provisions known as “safe third country” provisions that sought to prevent refugee claimants from entering Canada if they arrived from a “safe” third country that was willing to grant them refugee status.[90]Although on the surface these provisions were framed under the guise of helping to curtail “asylum shopping” by refugees, there was an incredible backlash from critics and human rights organizations who saw these provisions as being inhumane and illegal under international law. Other critics, like then NDP immigration critic Dan Heap highlighted that although posing as neutral and sensible, the safe third country provision was actually highly discriminatory in practice given the fact that many refugee claimants originated from countries that do not have direct routes to Canada, including many African, Asian, and Central American countries.[91] As such, as Mr. Heap astutely pointed out, refugees from these locales had to pass through the United States and/or Europe before reaching Canada. In contrast of course, refugee claimants from the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe could access direct flights. As such, without many of the more overt hallmarks prevalent in Canada’s early attempts to curtail immigration from undesired locales, the safe third country provision was nothing more than an updated version of the continuous passage rule complete with Orientalism’s fingerprints because both legislative initiatives effectively maintained Canada’s historic preference for the Occidental over the Oriental. Although defeated at the time, the safe third country provision would re-emerge by late 2002 when the Canadian Government would partner with the United States to implement the Safe Third Country Agreement. This Agreement prohibited immigration for refugees transitioning through one country before seeking haven in another, and would instead require refugees to claim asylum in the country they reached first, either Canada or the United States.[92] The impact of this agreement became evident by 2006 when the number of asylum claims would fall dramatically over the previous year.[93] In this regard the Orientalists had won.

The Safe Third Country Agreement was not the only post 9/11 legislative initiative that attempted to address immigration and refugee issues where restriction would be the practical effect. Heavily influenced by the American propaganda machine that sought to securitize Muslims and other allegedly backwards Others who posed a threat to Westerns,[94] Canada would implement several anti-terrorism measures. These measures, while promising greater security for Canadians from blood thirsty Orientals, in reality only increased the Canadian public’s apprehension toward people of non-European descent, including toward people who were already Canadian citizens. Some of the prominent pieces of legislation whose stated objective was to counter terrorism included Bill C-36 (the Anti-Terrorism Act), Bill C-35 (An Act to Amend the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act), Bill C-55 (Public Safety Act), and Bill C-11 (the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act). In addition to these legislative initiatives, the Harper government introduced several other pieces of legislation that attempted to underscore and allegedly address the existential threats from undesirables. For example, according to scholar Peter J. Carver the Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada’s Immigration System Act, the Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act, the Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act,  and the Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act were all meant to resist the threat from outsiders who threatened Canada’s values.[95] As noted by Carver, these pieces of legislation usually followed high profile, yet isolated incidents, involving Canadian visible minorities and non-European entities. However, of all the initiatives of this type to spring from the Harper Government, the one that caused perhaps the greatest backlash due to its effective implementation of two-tier citizenship, was the passage of Bill C-24.

Coming into effect in May 2015, Bill C-24 was a legislative initiative spearheaded by the Harper government that allowed the government to revoke Canadian citizenship from dual citizens convicted of terrorism, high treason and other serious offences. Also known as the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act, the act was deemed necessary by Conservatives in order to address terrorism and security concerns. According to then-Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, loyalty to Canada was of the utmost importance. As such, his view was that stripping Canadian citizens of their citizenship was justified when certain crimes were conducted against the state:

[C]itizenship is founded upon the premise of reciprocal loyalty. . . . If citizens are convicted of serious    terrorist offences, if they take up arms against Canada, or if they are convicted of high treason, those      individuals have severed the bonds of loyalty that are the basis of their citizenship.[96]

A notable aspect of Bill C-24 was that it came into effect mere months after a Canadian-born citizen of mixed ethnicity with mental health issues and a history of drug addiction shot and killed a soldier at the War Memorial in Ottawa. After the incident, the shooter- who was born Catholic and claimed to have converted to Islam- stormed Parliament Hill and began firing within the Centre Tower, only steps away from where Prime Minister Harper was meeting with members of his Cabinet. In the aftermath of the October 2014 incident, there was intense media coverage of the event and Conservatives and conservative groups instrumentalized the incident in order to pass several pieces of controversial legislation alleged to address terrorism. While Bill C-24 is an example of this type of legislation, another was the Anti-terrorism Act of 2015 which considerably broadened CSIS’s mandate and the state’s surveillance powers.

After it was introduced by the Conservative government, the legislation was intensely criticised by the official opposition the NDP, as well as the Liberal Party, legal advocacy groups, immigration and refugee lawyers, and several human rights organizations and civil rights organizations including Amnesty International.[97] The most prominent concerns were not only that Bill C-24 would allow Canadians to be stripped of their citizenship, but due to the long standing prohibition against creating stateless people, Bill C-24 would only apply to dual-citizens effectively creating two-tiered citizenship. As articulated by legal scholar Craig Forcese in his work A Tale of Two Citizenships: Citizenship Revocation for “Traitors and Terrorists”:

Revocation for terrorism or treacherous activity presents different but equally complex issues. For one    thing, the new revocation provisions will distinguish between types of citizens, applying to dual-nationals               but not to Canadians with single citizenship. To revoke the citizenship of someone who is Canadian-only would render that person stateless. Because stateless people are anathema in modern international relations,      this would run counter Canada’s treaty obligations. Yet opening the door to revocation for dual-nationals       raises problems of its own. It would create two classes of citizenship: those who have only one nationality     and cannot be stripped of it, and the others (of whom there are hundreds of thousands in Canada). This      apparent double standard raises important constitutional issues, especially under section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.[98]

Another problematic aspect of Bill C-24 is that the under the Act the majority of revocation cases would be decided by the Citizenship and Immigration Minister (or a delegate), instead of a Federal Court judge. And while the Conservatives felt that this would help make cases more efficient and cost effective to process, critics vehemently protested that it would deny people the right to due process while affording immigration officials far too much discretion with respect to revoking citizenships.

Even without a firm grounding in Orientalism, it is obvious that creating two-tiered citizenship will favour one class of citizens over another. In the Canadian context, Bill C-24 places dual citizens at risk of having their Canadian citizenship stripped by the state, and according to Amnesty International, “the law discriminates against dual citizens by suggesting they are ‘less Canadian’ and not necessarily entitled to the same rights as Canadian born citizens.”[99] Not only did Bill C-24 fuel discrimination, but it also violated international law, particularly section 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which confirms that Citizenship is an inalienable human right. Amnesty International stated that it was imperative for Bill C-24 to be amended, calling on the sections proposing loss of citizenship on the basis of a number of specified criminal offences (sections 10 and 10.1) to be withdrawn from the Bill. As stated by Amnesty International:

the proposed new revocation provisions are divisive and buy into and promote false and              xenophobic          narratives about “true” Canadians and others, which equate foreignness with terrorism. This will have a    detrimental impact on the environment in which many Canadians of foreign origin or certain               racial/ethnic/religious groups of Canadians will be able to enjoy their  human rights on the basis of         equality. Government legislation should instead focus on eliminating such stereotypes, consistent with             Canada’s duty to fulfil the right to non-discrimination under international human rights law.[100]

Following the 2015 Federal Election, the newly elected Liberal government led by Justin Trudeau set about repealing the controversial provisions of Bill C-24, namely sections 10 and 10.1 relating to the revocation of citizenship.[101] The Trudeau government achieved this goal via the passage of Bill C-6 in May 2017.

Although the Trudeau government succeeded in repealing the revocation of citizenship provisions, the Bill C-24 experience illuminates how Canada is still subject to the trappings of Orientalism that has plagued much of its history, particularly in relation to immigration law. The fact that legislation could be passed in the 21st century that effectively favours one group of Canadians over another, where the primary differentiating feature is the latter group’s linkage to the East, is not only a painful reminder of Canada’s historic favouritism towards Occidentals, but that Orientals (even those who are Canadian citizens) must remain in a constant state of insecurity due to forces that continuously seek to assert Western domination over them. As such, while the Canadian government may make public apologies relating to its historic discrimination and treatment of Indigenous, Jewish, and Chinese communities,[102]until the roots of hatred and Orientalist domination are fleshed out and unmade, visible minorities living in Canada will remain in a perpetual state of fear and subordination.

Part Five: Conclusion

After examining the concept of Orientalism in greater detail, the impact of Orientalism on Canada’s immigration regime pre-1976, and the impact of Orientalism on Canada’s immigration regime post-1976, it has become apparent that not only does Orientalism continue to play an important role in crafting Canadian immigration law and policy, but that it also hinders the ability for newcomers to successfully assimilate and resettle within Western societies. Although Said’s Orientalism is not without imperfection due to dense writing fraught with jargon, the absence of quantitative approaches and empirical evidence, seemingly cherry-picked authorities, and the absence of an alternative approach to Orientalism vis-a-vis the knowledge power dyna(something Said himself noted was embarrassingly absent from his work),[103] the work remains a seminal work in the field because of the unique theoretical framework employed by Said relating to Orientalism as a powerful tool of Western dominance. In examining Canada’s historic approach to immigration through Said’s lens of Orientalism, two notable conclusions can be drawn. First, Canada’s immigration system, even in the contemporary period, has always been titled to favour the Occident over the Orient, with legislation and policy continuously hampering immigrants from the East from entering or assimilating within Canadian society. Second, Orientalism would remain an important undercurrent that would continue to prejudice immigrants from the East attempting to arrive and assimilate within Canada, even following the removal of explicit discrimination from Canada’s leading legislative authorities on immigration in the 1960s and 1970s.[104] Fittingly, according to Valerie Knowles, proponents of reduced immigration are angered that newcomers continue to be non-Occident:

Among those Canadians eager to see immigration levels reduced are those who abhor the fact that              immigration from the Third World now constitute 75 percent of new arrivals each year. Vehemently         opposed to more ethnic and cultural diversity, they view Canada’s present immigration policy with nothing               but misgivings. If this country needs more people, they argue, the Government should take steps that will      encourage Canadians to have more children. Such measures might be costly they concede, “But, we must               decide whether we want the Canada of the future to be made up of our children or those of         others.”[105]….Then there are those, such as Martin Collacott, who oppose Canada’s present immigration    levels. Collacott, a former Canadian ambassador and now a senior fellow in immigration studies at The      Fraser Institute, has repeatedly denounced Canada’s immigration strategy, citing the stagnation of incomes     in larger Canadian cities since the 1990s and the fact that recent immigrants earn much less and have higher      poverty levels than earlier newcomers. “While a number of factors are involved,” claims Collacott, “one       that few have been prepared to acknowledge is that we are bringing in far more people than we need or can              absorb.”[106]

There are also Canadians who fall into none of these camps but who are deeply concerned about             the fact that many recent immigrants, particularly those from South East Asia, India, Pakistan and Africa,           hold ideas about the role of women in the family, and the organization of society, that are very different from those espoused by the majority of “established” Canadians. Even many Canadians who are not racist        in any way deplore the penchant of some newcomers to import quarrels from their homeland into Canada.[107]

Knowles’ passage is both powerful and illuminating; powerful, because it highlights the prominence of Orientalism that continues to be present in the rhetoric of anti-immigration proponents (even down to the enduring perception regarding our and other), and illuminating, because it highlights the tools used by Orientalists to ensure Occident domination. More specifically, even in contemporary discourse, right-wing figures and opponents of immigration continue to peddle the notion that immigrants from the East or global South are both a threat to the security of Western nations and an incredible drain on their economies.[108][109] However, in both Canada and the United States, where anti-immigration rhetoric and Islamophobia is also incredibly high,[110] study after study confirms that not only do immigrants commit crimes at far lower rates than “natural born” citizens,[111][112][113][114] but that they are actually a tremendous boon to the Western economies.[115][116][117][118] For example, despite President Donald Trump’s racist and xenophobic discourse (i.e. Mexican immigrants as rapists and drug traffickers as the justification for a border wall,[119] the need for a Muslim ban,[120] and repeatedly referring to Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren as “Pocahontas”), his own Department of Health and Human Services issued a report in 2017, which found that refugees brought in $63 billion more in government revenues over the past decade than they cost.[121] As such, it would appear that once opponents of immigration, who spout off about the existential threat posed by immigrants and refugees on security and economic terms, are met with facts, the reality becomes evident: these contentions are nothing more than tired tropes utilized as a tool of Western domination – with no basis in fact,  and with intent to demonize “the Other”. But what to do?

Fortunately, although Said is extremely critical of Orientalists and Orientalism as a means for Occidental domination, and although Orientalism is rampant in academia and passed down (virtually unchallenged) to society, Said offers hope that it can be unmade. As he states:

On the other hand, scholars and critics who are trained in the traditional Orientalist disciplines are perfectly capable of freeing themselves from the old ideological straitjacket…Positively, I do believe-and in my other work have tried to show- that enough is being done today in the human sciences to provide the contemporary scholar with insights, methods, and ideas, that could dispense with racial, ideological, and imperialist stereotypes of the sort provided during its historical ascendancy by Orientalism…The worldwide hegemony of Orientalism and all it stands for can now be               challenged, if we               can benefit properly from the general twentieth-century rise to     political and historical awareness of so many of the earth’s people.[122]

As such, just as Angela Davis in her own seminal work, Women Race & Class, is emphatic about the critical role of education in countering oppression,[123] it appears that Said too is confident that education, and specifically, more rigorous academic research and writing based on sound evidence and methodological techniques, are keys to undermine the imperialist tool that is Orientalism. However, there appears to be an activist element to this as Said challenges not only academia, but society at large to exercise their agency and mobilize against Orientalism and existing Orientalist scholarship. Indeed, if Canada is ever to have a chance at removing Orientalism from its immigration system, and Occidental domination from society as a whole, the people will have to come together, rise up and demand accountability from their government institutions, academia, and political leaders. While the current wave of (ultra) conservative leadership and rising xenophobic rhetoric around the World renders this prospect minimal, there is always hope that the quest for truth will become powerful enough to break the chains of ignorance and oppression. One can only hope.















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[1] Said, Edward. Orientalism [1978] (New York: Random House, 1994), p. 6

[2] “Diversity is our strength: Justin Trudeau says refugees welcome in Canada” (2017), online: Business Insider <>

[3] Oppenheimer, D.B.; Prakash, S.; Burns, R. Playing the Trump card: The enduring legacy of racism in immigration law. Berkeley La Raza Law J. 2016, 26, p. 45

[4]“What it’s like in the 7 countries on Trump’s Travel Ban” (2018), online:  CNN <>

[5] “Canada to admit nearly 1 million immigrants over next 3 years” (2017), online: CBC <>

[6] “Canada could lead the world in resettling refugees by 2020 passing U.S. (2018), online: Macleans <>

[7] Said, Edward. Orientalism [1978] (New York: Random House, 1994), p. 1


[8] Ibid. p. 1-2

[9] Richardson, Chris. Orientalism at home: the case of ‘Canada’s toughest neighbourhood’ British Journal of Canadian Studies, Volume 27, Number 1, 2014, p. 80

[10] Foucault, Michael, 2006, The Archaeology of Knowledge, trans. A.M. Sheridan Smith (London: Routledge), p. 34

[11] Richardson, Chris. Orientalism at home: the case of ‘Canada’s toughest neighbourhood’ British Journal of Canadian Studies, Volume 27, Number 1, 2014, p. 80

[12] Said, Edward. Orientalism [1978] (New York: Random House, 1994), p. 11

[13] Said, Edward. Orientalism [1978] (New York: Random House, 1994), p. 3

[14]Ibid., p. 24

[15] Macfie, A. L. (2000). Orientalism: A Reader. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, p. 109

[16] Edward Said, Orientalism [1978] (New York: Random House, 1994) , p. 6-7

[17] Ibid., p. 31

[18] Ibid., p. 32

[19] Ibid., p. 34

[20] Ibid., p. 108

[21] Rosen, L. (2006). Expecting the Unexpected: Cultural Components of Arab Governance. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 603(1), 163–178

[22] Ross, Michael L., Does Oil Hinder Democracy? World Politics, Vol. 53, No. 3 (Apr., 2001), pp. 325-361

[23] Huntington, S. (1997) The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order (New York, Simon & Schuster)

[24] Edward Said, Orientalism [1978] (New York: Random House, 1994) , p. 315-316

[25] Richardson, Chris. Orientalism at home: the case of ‘Canada’s toughest neighbourhood’ British Journal of Canadian Studies, Volume 27, Number 1, 2014, p. 80

[26] Ibid.

[27] Ibid.

[28] Edmonston, Barry. Canada’s Immigration Trends and Patterns. Canadian Studies in Population 43, no. 1–2 (2016), p. 78

[29] D’Aoust, Anne-Marie. Spouse and Partner Immigration to Canada: History and Current Issues in Canadian Immigration Policy. Centre de recherche en immigration, 2017, p. 2

[30] Knowles, Valerie. Strangers At Our Gates: Canadian Immigration and Immigration Policy, 1540-2006  (Toronto: Dundurn Press, 2007), p. 48-49

[31] Ibid., p. 49

[32] “Moving here, Staying Here: The Canadian Immigrant Experience.” (2019), online: Library and Archives Canada


[33] Dirks, Gerald E. Controversy and Complexity: Canadian Immigration Policy during the 1980s. McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1995, p. 9

[34] Knowles, Valerie. Strangers At Our Gates: Canadian Immigration and Immigration Policy, 1540-2006  (Toronto: Dundurn Press, 2007), p. 49

[35] Ibid.

[36] Dirks, Gerald E. Controversy and Complexity: Canadian Immigration Policy during the 1980s. McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1995, p. 16


[37] Cavell, Dr Janice (2006) The Imperial Race and The Immigration Sieve: The Canadian Debate on Assisted British Migration and Empire Settlement, 1900–30, The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 34:3, p.345

[38] Ibid.

[39] Liston, Mary & Joseph Carens, “Immigration and Integration In Canada” in Atsushi Kondo ed, Migration And Globalisation: Comparing Immigration Policy In Developed Countries (Tokyo: Akashi Shoten, 2008)

[40] Ghosh, Ratna. 2017. SOUTH ASIAN IMMIGRATION TO CANADA. Canadian Issues (Spring), p. 54

[41] D’Aoust, Anne-Marie. Spouse and Partner Immigration to Canada: History and Current Issues in Canadian Immigration Policy. Centre de recherche en immigration, 2017, p. 2-3

[42] Matas, D. (1996). Racism in Canadian immigration policy. In C. E. James (Ed.), Perspectives on racism and the human services sector: A case for change (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, p.95

[43] Ibid.

[44] Ibid.

[45] Said, Edward. Orientalism [1978] (New York: Random House, 1994), p. 3

[46] Gilmour, J. F. (2013). H. H. Stevens and the Chinese: The Transition to Conservative Government and the Management of Controls on Chinese Immigration to Canada, 1900-1914, Journal of American-East Asian Relations, 20(2-3), p. 177-178

[47] Matas, D. (1996). Racism in Canadian immigration policy. In C. E. James (Ed.), Perspectives on racism and the human services sector: A case for change (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, p.96

[48] D’Aoust, Anne-Marie. Spouse and Partner Immigration to Canada: History and Current Issues in Canadian Immigration Policy. Centre de recherche en immigration, 2017, p. 2

[49] Ghosh, Ratna. 2017. SOUTH ASIAN IMMIGRATION TO CANADA. Canadian Issues (Spring), p. 54

[50] Dere, Willian Ging Wee. Being Chinese in Canada: The Struggle for Identity, Redress, and Belonging (Madeira Park: Douglas and McIntyre, 2013), p. 18

[51] D’Aoust, Anne-Marie. Spouse and Partner Immigration to Canada: History and Current Issues in Canadian Immigration Policy. Centre de recherche en immigration, 2017, p. 4-5

[52] Matas, D. (1996). Racism in Canadian immigration policy. In C. E. James (Ed.), Perspectives on racism and the human services sector: A case for change (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, p.94

[53] Mariia Burtseva. “The Liberalization of Canadian Immigration Policy (1945-1976).” Codrul Cosminului 23, no. 1 (2017), p. 207

[54] D’Aoust, Anne-Marie. Spouse and Partner Immigration to Canada: History and Current Issues in Canadian Immigration Policy. Centre de recherche en immigration, 2017, p. 4-5

[55] Dere, Willian Ging Wee. Being Chinese in Canada: The Struggle for Identity, Redress, and Belonging (Madeira Park: Douglas and McIntyre, 2013), p. 18

[56] Matas, D. (1996). Racism in Canadian immigration policy. In C. E. James (Ed.), Perspectives on racism and the human services sector: A case for change (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, p.96

[57] Edward Said, Orientalism [1978] (New York: Random House, 1994) , p. 34

[58] Ghosh, Ratna. 2017. SOUTH ASIAN IMMIGRATION TO CANADA. Canadian Issues (Spring), p. 54

[59] Matas, D. (1996). Racism in Canadian immigration policy. In C. E. James (Ed.), Perspectives on racism and the human services sector: A case for change (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, p.94-96

[60] Re Munshi Singh [1914] B.C.J. No. 116 6 W.W.R. 1347 20 B.C.R. 243 British Columbia Court of Appeal Victoria, British Columbia

[61] Matas, D. (1996). Racism in Canadian immigration policy. In C. E. James (Ed.), Perspectives on racism and the human services sector: A case for change (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, p.96

[62] Ibid., p. 95-96

[63] Ibid., p. 94-96

[64] Dirks, Gerald E. Controversy and Complexity: Canadian Immigration Policy during the 1980s. McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1995, p. 10

[65] Kaduuli, Stephen. 2011. “Pointers to Discriminatory Canadian Immigration Policies.” Transnational Social Review 1 (1), p. 115

[66] Matas, D. (1996). Racism in Canadian immigration policy. In C. E. James (Ed.), Perspectives on racism and the human services sector: A case for change (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, p. 95

[67] Knowles, Valerie. Strangers At Our Gates: Canadian Immigration and Immigration Policy, 1540-2006  (Toronto: Dundurn Press, 2007), p. 204-208

[68] Edmonston, Barry. Canada’s Immigration Trends and Patterns. Canadian Studies in Population 43, no. 1–2 (2016), p. 80

[69] Dirks, Gerald E. Controversy and Complexity: Canadian Immigration Policy during the 1980s. McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1995, p. 10

[70] Kaduuli, Stephen. 2011. “Pointers to Discriminatory Canadian Immigration Policies.” Transnational Social Review 1 (1), p. 117-118

[71] Betcherman, Lita-Rose. The Swastika and the Maple Leaf (Toronto: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 1975) p.134

[72] Matas, D. (1996). Racism in Canadian immigration policy. In C. E. James (Ed.), Perspectives on racism and the human services sector: A case for change (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, p.97

[73] Ibid.

[74] Edmonston, Barry. Canada’s Immigration Trends and Patterns. Canadian Studies in Population 43, no. 1–2 (2016), p. 80

[75] Knowles, Valerie. Strangers At Our Gates: Canadian Immigration and Immigration Policy, 1540-2006  (Toronto: Dundurn Press, 2007), p. 210-211

[76] Bothwell, Robert. The Penguin History of Canada (Toronto: The Penguin Group, 2006), p. 424

[77] Ibid., p. 203

[78] “Immigration Act, 1952” (2019), online: The Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21


[79] “Immigration Policy in Canada” (June 29, 2017), online: the Canadian Encyclopedia


[80] Knowles, Valerie. Strangers At Our Gates: Canadian Immigration and Immigration Policy, 1540-2006  (Toronto: Dundurn Press, 2007), p. 208

[81] Mariia Burtseva. “The Liberalization of Canadian Immigration Policy (1945-1976).” Codrul Cosminului 23, no. 1 (2017): 205

[82] Dere, Willian Ging Wee. Being Chinese in Canada: The Struggle for Identity, Redress, and Belonging (Madeira Park: Douglas and McIntyre, 2013), p. 103

[83] Knowles, Valerie. Strangers At Our Gates: Canadian Immigration and Immigration Policy, 1540-2006  (Toronto: Dundurn Press, 2007), p. 204-208

[84] Controversy and Complexity: Canadian Immigration Policy during the 1980s, p. 5

[85] D’Aoust, Anne-Marie. Spouse and Partner Immigration to Canada: History and Current Issues in Canadian Immigration Policy. Centre de recherche en immigration, 2017, p. 3

[86] Knowles, Valerie. Strangers At Our Gates: Canadian Immigration and Immigration Policy, 1540-2006  (Toronto: Dundurn Press, 2007), p. 221

[87] Ibid., p.223

[88] Edmonston, Barry. Canada’s Immigration Trends and Patterns. Canadian Studies in Population 43, no. 1–2 (2016), p. 106

[89] Said, Edward. Orientalism [1978] (New York: Random House, 1994),, p. 108

[90]Knowles, Valerie. Strangers At Our Gates: Canadian Immigration and Immigration Policy, 1540-2006  (Toronto: Dundurn Press, 2007), p. 240-241

[91] Ibid.

[92] Carver, Peter J. “A Failed Discourse of Distrust Amid Significant Procedural Change:

The Harper Government’s Legacy in Immigration and Refugee Law,” Review of

Constitutional Studies 21, no. 2 (2016): 216

[93] Knowles, Valerie. Strangers At Our Gates: Canadian Immigration and Immigration Policy, 1540-2006  (Toronto: Dundurn Press, 2007), p. 241

[94] Oppenheimer, D.B.; Prakash, S.; Burns, R. Playing the Trump card: The enduring legacy of racism in immigration law. Berkeley La Raza Law J. 2016, 26, p. 45

[95] Carver, Peter J. “A Failed Discourse of Distrust Amid Significant Procedural Change: The Harper Government’s Legacy in Immigration and Refugee Law,” Review of Constitutional Studies 21, no. 2 (2016), p. 213

[96] House of Commons, Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, Expanding the Scope of Bill C-425, An Act to Amend the Citizenship Act (Honouring the Canadian Armed Forces), 1st Sess, 41st Parl, (21 March 2013) at 0850 (Chair: David Tilson) Evidence [HC 21March 2013] (the bill in question at that meeting was Bill C-425, 2012 [Bill C-425])

[97] “Bill C-24: Amnesty International’s concerns regarding proposed changes to the Canadian Citizenship Act” (June 9, 2014), online: Amnesty International Canada


[98] Forcese, Craig. (2014). “A Tale of Two Citizenships: Citizenship Revocation for ‘Traitors and Terrorists’.” Queen’s Law Journal, 39(2), p. 553-554

[99] “What Dual Citizens Need to Know about Bill C-24, the New Citizenship law” (June 17, 2015), online CTV


[100] “Bill C-24: Amnesty International’s concerns regarding proposed changes to the Canadian Citizenship Act” (June 9, 2014), online: Amnesty International Canada


[101] Carver, Peter J. “A Failed Discourse of Distrust Amid Significant Procedural Change: The Harper Government’s Legacy in Immigration and Refugee Law,” Review of Constitutional Studies 21, no. 2 (2016), p. 210

[102] Dere, Willian Ging Wee. Being Chinese in Canada: The Struggle for Identity, Redress, and Belonging (Madeira Park: Douglas and McIntyre, 2013), p.

[103]Said, Edward. Orientalism [1978] (New York: Random House, 1994), p. 24

[104] Mariia Burtseva. “The Liberalization of Canadian Immigration Policy (1945-1976).” Codrul Cosminului 23, no. 1 (2017): p. 207

[105] Fromm, Paul, “Government policy ignores views of majority,” Ottawa Citizen, August 14, 1990

[106] Collacott, “Turn off the taps,” Ottawa Citizen, April 30, 2004, A17.

[107] Knowles, Valerie. Strangers At Our Gates: Canadian Immigration and Immigration Policy, 1540-2006  (Toronto: Dundurn Press, 2007), p. 267-268

[108] Roddick, Paul M. 1955. CANADIAN IMMIGRATION. Queen’s Quarterly., p. 509

[109] Costigan, Catherine, Sabine Lehr, and Sheena Miao. 2016. Beyond economics: Broadening perspectives on immigration to canada. Canadian Ethnic Studies 48, (1), p. 19

[110] Oppenheimer, D.B.; Prakash, S.; Burns, R. Playing the Trump card: The enduring legacy of racism in immigration law. Berkeley La Raza Law J. 2016, 26, p. 45

[111]  “The Myth of the Criminal Immigrant” (March 30, 2018), online: The New York Times

<”ation-myth.html >

[112] “Immigrants and Crime: Evidence from Canada” (2019), online: Canadian Research Data Centre Network

< >

[113] “Two charts demolish the notion that immigrants here illegally commit more crime” (June 19, 2018), online: The Washington Post

< >

[114] Reitz, Jeffrey G. 2012. “The Distinctiveness of Canadian Immigration Experience.” Patterns of Prejudice 46 (5), p. 521

[115] “Trump Administration Rejects Study Showing Positive Impact of Refugees” (September 18, 2017), online: the New York Times

< >

[116] “Migrants and refugees are good for economies” (June 20, 2018), online: Nature, International Journal of Science

< >

[117] “Backgrounder: Growing Canada’s Economic Future” (2019), online: Government of Canada

< >

[118]  “Why accepting refugees is a win-win-win formula” (June 19, 2018), online: Brookings

< >

[119] Oppenheimer, D.B.; Prakash, S.; Burns, R. Playing the Trump card: The enduring legacy of racism in immigration law. Berkeley La Raza Law J. 2016, 26, p. 1

[120] Ibid.

[121]“Trump Administration Rejects Study Showing Positive Impact of Refugees” (September 18, 2017), online: the New York Times

< >

[122] Said, Edward. Orientalism [1978] (New York: Random House, 1994), p. 326-328

[123] Davis Angela, Women, Race, & Class (New York: Random House, 1983 [1981])


Eliminate Affirmative Action In School Only If…

22 Jul

Affirmative action, understood as an active effort to improve the employment or educational opportunities of members of minority groups and women, has been utilized by institutions of higher learning since the 1960s with the practiced legitimized by schools seeking to campuses more diverse following a number of very prominent court cases. In one such case, Regents of the University of California v. Bakke (1978), the Supreme Court while striking down (hard) quota systems for minorities, found that some parts of affirmative action programs were constitutional provided race was only one of a number of factors considered for admission.

In addition to legal precedent, a significant amount of data also supports the case for affirmative action. For example, according to their seminal book The Shape of the River, authors William Bowen and Derek Bok examine the impact of affirmative action through decades of data pertaining to a group of selective colleges and conclude that black students who were privy to affirmative action programs and were admitted to more selective colleges did better in the long-run than their peers who did not. Moreover, the authors found that the students who benefited were more likely to graduate college, to earn professional degrees, and attain  higher incomes. As such, affirmative action seeks to close the considerable gap between white and non-white enrollment at the post-secondary level (which still exists according to the National Center for Education Statistics) in order to make higher learning more diverse and reflective of America’s population. However, the evidence also suggests that it is not only minorities who benefit from affirmative action programs. For example, writing for the Harvard Graduate School of Education author Leah Shafer concludes that white students also benefit from affirmative action programs:

But what about other students — whites and those from a higher economic background? Decades of   research in higher education show that classmates of the direct beneficiaries also benefit. These students         have more positive racial attitudes toward racial minorities, they report greater cognitive capacities, they               even seem to participate more civically when they leave college.

As such, the evidence on the whole as it pertains to education appears to demonstrate that affirmative action is beneficial to both minorities and whites. Furthermore, it would appear that without affirmative action the disproportion of minorities to whites would be even more pronounced. For example, in California where affirmative action was been banned in the late 1990s, at the University of California, Berkeley, the percentage of black undergraduates has fallen from 6 percent in 1980 to only 3 percent in 2017. This is in a state where African Americans currently make up almost 7% of the population.

However, while the legal precedent and evidence which support affirmative action programs are well established, recently there has been a prominent push to eliminate affirmative action programs. For example, the President of the United States Donald Trump and much of his right-wing base have been clamouring for years that affirmative action programs should be scrapped because they are somehow racist in nature and that they are an unfair form of prejudice against white America. This is of course the same white America that was given a 400 year head start against African Americans and other visible minorities who only received equal rights on paper in the 1960s and continue to face a myriad of practical forms of discrimination today. In an attempt to transform inflammatory rhetoric into policy the Trump administration announced in 2018 that it would be reversing President Obama’s policy on affirmative action in schools by abandoning policies that call on universities to consider race as a factor in diversifying their campuses.

While this decision flies in the face of existing laws, legal precedent, what is best for students of all colours (see above), remedying a historical disadvantage, and a nuanced understanding of the barriers visible minorities continue to experience Trump and the right wing are attempting to sell this decision as somehow making post-secondary acceptance an even playing field for all students. Although this is complete hogwash devoid of reality and merely another (far) right wing attack on visible minorities, I am prepared to entertain this preposterous position as long as the President and his base are willing to do one thing; truly attempt to make post-secondary education an even playing field by eliminating legacy acceptance, admission cronyism, admission based on donation, and no preferential treatment or admissions from students who attend private school. In addition to cracking down on these legal (yet dubious) short cuts to admission, Trump and his followers should also support law enforcement in their efforts to eliminate illegal admission tactics evidenced in the recent college admissions scandal when a bunch of Hollywood C listers and a litany of other rich people were accused of finding and paying for back roads into some of America’s most prestigious post-secondary institutions (while USC I am sure is a fine institution I am still amazed that someone was willing to pay 500K to go there).

Of course, Trump, his cronies, and his base would never support such measures because it would mean that Trump, half of his cabinet (including of course Jared Kushner), and scores of his fat cat friends or their children would never have a shot at attending the institutions their rich mommies and daddies helped get them into. However, if Trump and his supporters have even a shred of sincerity (and decency) regarding leveling the playing field when it comes to post-secondary admission, eliminating short cuts for the already privileged is the next logical step.

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The Trump Presidency: a Necessary Evil?

24 Mar

The question of whether or not Donald Trump actually wanted to become President of the United States remains without a definitive answer. While he at times has openly relished being elected, other instances seem to indicate a dissatisfaction with actual job of President. Be it photos from election night, the media empire he missed out on, his daily Twitter explosions which vent his numerous frustrations, the backstabbing he continues to endure from some of the closest people in his circle, the nightly beating he takes from various late-night hosts, the scores of people from his inner circle who have already faced prosecution and been convicted of a litany of crimes, the prospect that he and his family could be next in line for prosecution (at both the federal and state level), the financial hit his family’s business  interests have taken since taking office, the amount of time he spends golfing (which some have equated to 25% of his presidency thus far)  or the advice he himself would give to his younger self, there are plenty of valid reasons to believe Donald Trump actually regrets being elected President.

While speculation on whether Trump himself regrets being elected President is likely to continue, there are definitely a number of people who are thrilled with the outcome of November 2016. The ultra-wealthy have seen a tremendous boone to their bottom line as not only were corporate taxes slashed which enabled companies to buy-back shares at unprecedented rates thereby enriching shareholders and CEOs, but Trump has made a point of attempting to help out/bail out (conservative) old money who have financial stakes in industries that have been on the decline for years like the fossil fuel industry, with of course a special focus on the coal industry.  Of course, many have argued that share buy-backs are only artificially keeping the market afloat, have pointed out that the CBO has stated  that the Trump tax cuts will greatly increase both the U.S. deficit and debt, and that Trump’s efforts in relation to the coal industry are unlikely to last, at least for a time the ultra-wealthy can say they were ultra-happy with brand Trump.

In fairness, it is not only wealthy elites who have benefited from the Trump Presidency as white supremacists nationalists have been ecstatic under the President’s banner of intolerance which has only serve to embolden them and openly allowed them to flout their own agenda of white supremacy and nationalism. And who can blame them? For years now they have had to hide their racist and xenophobic proclivities and for eight years before Trump they further had to internalize their hatred toward the fact that a black man occupied the highest office in the land. With Trump, no more. The President’s overt racism towards Muslims,  Hispanics, African Americans, or anyone who differs from what  a white supremacist’s nationalist’s notion of what America should look like made it open season for America’s bigots to proudly exclaim their own suppressed hatred towards people of color and general intolerance. From Charollettesville two years ago to Laura Ingram’s on-air open declaration on a major media outlet a few months ago to  Jeaniee Pirro’s  regular xenophobic and Islamophobic comments, this is truly a golden age for intolerance (although in relation to the latter it should be pointed out that Fox realized it had some standards and took her off the air for two weeks following her racially motivated attack on Muslim Congresswoman Ilhan Omar). And while some may think that  America’s racist renaissance is limited to intolerant pronouncements and protests, the spike in hate crimes in the last two years reported by various U.S. law enforcement agencies  is proof positive that intolerant rhetoric only begets intolerant action. This is of course to say nothing of the prominent mass shootings and acts of domestic terrorism white supremacists have committed, and often in places of worship, since Trump took office. The connection between these acts and Trump is not merely a correlation as his fingerprints were often all over the ideology inspiring these monsters. As one example, the terrorist responsible for the March 2019 mass shooting of Muslims in New Zealand specifically singled out Trump as a symbol of white identity. And to those who might think that Trump’s rhetoric is not responsible for the actions of others, scientific evidence leads to a different conclusion with numerous studies confirming that a leaders’ authority and their prestige with the larger community were instrumental in the radicalization of followers.[1]

However, while Trump’s presidency might be viewed as a dumpster fire for anyone who is not ultra-wealthy or a white supremacist nationalist there does appear to be a silver-lining for everyone else. More specifically, Trump’s presidency and his far-right politics have not only stimulated Americans across the political spectrum to become more engaged in politics, but they have also served as a powerful foil for progressive politics. In relation to the latter for example, it is hard to imagine the rise of the #Metoo movement, the ‘Blue Wave’  [and record number of women (and diverse women) to elected to Congress], the acceptance of Medicare for all (which includes the majority of Republicans), that minority groups would come together in solidarity in the wake of white supremacist induced tragedy, in Climate change initiatives, the real prospect of free post-secondary education for all, and the recent passing of common sense control legislation by the House (coupled with similar legislation by states across the Union), were it not for Trump’s misogynist, racist, elitist, intolerant, and ignorant brand of politics. In essence Trump’s vitriol has been met with such resistance that the result has actually opened the door toward a new and brighter future, much like a miracle cure, as opposed to a plecebo or Tylenol, would be for a terminally ill patient. As such, without Trump it is likely that status quo politics, that have for so long forsaken non-elites, would have continued with a just-right of centre or even just-left of centre President.

So even if you, like most Americans, disapprove of Trump and his tenure as President, there certainly does appear to be reason for hope. If nothing else, Trump’s time in office has galvanized the people to engage in a long overdue discourse of what is truly important to most Americans and allowed for a progressive agenda to take hold in mainstream discourse. However, should that not be enough, one can take solace in the fact even without impeachment, it appears likely that Trump’s term in office will come to an end within the next two years if recent data is to be believed. Of course, data has been wrong before, so rather than speculating on future elections, for now solace can lie in the fact that a long overdue progressive conversation is happening and with it a populist platform that actually has a chance of working for the people has emerged.

[1] Milla, M. N., & Ancok, D. (2013). The impact of leader–follower interactions on the radicalization of terrorists: A case study of the B ali bombers. Asian Journal of Social Psychology, 16(2), 92-100

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‘O.J.: Made in America’ Makes the Case for O.J.

03 Aug

Whether or not the O.J. Simpson murder trial actually was the trial of the century remains subjective.  However, what is clear is that the social and legal impact it had at the time and the associated discussions it continues to evoke twenty-five years later make it one of the most seminal legal cases ever to be tried. The trial was about much more than one man killing his wife and her acquaintance in a jealous rage, but rather, the case was an intersection of all the things America represents; celebrity, sports, racial inequality, entitlement, adultery, loyalty, moral ambiguity, divorce, friendship, revenge, and of course, rich man’s justice. Of all the works that have sought to explore the Simpson case and all of its associated dimensions, perhaps no other piece does a more masterful job than Ezra Edelman’s 2016 documentary ‘O.J.: Made in America.’

If you have not seen Edelman’s work you are strongly encouraged to do so because not only does it examine the trial itself in meticulous detail, but it provides the requisite context to understand why race became such an integral factor in the case and why reaction to the verdict was so polarized along black and white lines. However, one thing that is especially interesting is that according to several outlets, including ESPN’s FiveThirtyEight,  in the years since the verdict the majority of black people now believe that O.J. Simpson is guilty of the double murder he was accused of in the mid-90s (with the number of whites increasing in their perception of Mr. Simpson’s guilty).

 As such, does it mean that the mostly black jury got it wrong and allowed the social unrest of the time- the murder of Latasha Harlins, the Rodney King beating, the L.A. riots etc.- to cloud their judgement and lead them to the wrong decision? Perhaps not.

While both the majority of whites and blacks today are in agreement surrounding O.J. Simpson’s guilt, that does not mean that most people are right to assume that O.J. Simpson should have been found guilty, especially when one considers what was presented to the jury in the mid-90s. This might come across as confusing or inconsistent, but there is a great difference between believing someone is guilty of a crime and successfully proving a person is guilty of a crime in legal terms. Or as Denzel Washington’s Alonzo Harris will tell you, “its not what you know, its what you can prove.”

After recently re-watching Edelman’s documentary it became clear to me that even though I too believe Mr. Simpson is guilty of committing the crimes which he stood accused of, that my obligations under the law would have forced me to also render a not guilty vote if I were on that same jury.

One of the first things you are taught in law school, and first year criminal law specifically, is the difference between the ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ standard for criminal cases and the ‘on a balance of probabilities’ standard in civil cases. Although I am now quite a few years removed from first year law school, my understanding is that if one were to attempt to quantify the criminal standard it would mean that one had to be over 99% sure based on the evidence that the defendant was guilty of the criminal acts for which they stood accused. This is in stark contrast to the civil standard which quantitatively transfers to only greater than 50%. As such, this criminal standard makes it impossible to render a vote of guilty in the Simpson case if one were to objectively consider the evidence and for (at least) three very good reasons any one of which would be enough to subvert the reasonable doubt standard in criminal law.

The first reason, which was astutely depicted in Edelman’s documentary, relates to blood evidence and the way that evidence was found, collected, and presented to the jury. On the surface the blood evidence and the blood trail which went from Nicole Brown Simpson’s residence to O.J.’s Rockingham home (and inside the home) would seem more than enough to convict Simpson especially since the samples collected only contained the blood of O.J. Simpson, Nicole Brown Simpson, and Ronald Goldman. Unfortunately law enforcement and the medical examiners involved made several poor decisions that compromised the integrity of the blood samples that could have (and should have) rendered them inadmissible. These decisions include (but are not limited to) covering the deceased with blankets from inside Nicole Brown Simpson’s residence which obviously could have contained the DNA from several different people including O.J. Simpson, the collection of DNA samples with bare hands, the bringing back of O.J. Simpson’s collected blood back to the crime scene, and the failure to find blood in certain places at the time of collection (the infamous back gate incident) only to find it there days later. However, as poorly as the police and medical examiners collected and handled the blood evidence, the prosecution and its witnesses possibly did an even poorer job professionally of conveying the blood evidence to the jury and explaining why lapses in protocol occurred. As such, if I was a juror listening to Barry Scheck cross-examine LAPD criminalist Dennis Fung and bore witness to Fung giving inconsistent statements related to how he collected the blood evidence and how he conceded that collection protocol was not followed, there is simply no way to accept the blood evidence and as such, would constitute reasonable doubt of Simpson’s guilt.

Second, and perhaps most infamous of the trial, relates to Christopher Darden’s request from the defendant to try on the (once bloodied) recovered gloves that were alleged to have been worn by O.J. during the murders. Although ‘Made in America’ does an excellent job of demonstrating why Darden made the request against the wishes of prosecution co-counsel,  how the demonstration even if necessary could have been handled differently (in chambers with only the judge, lawyers and court stenographer present), and how O.J. could have cheated the demonstration (i.e. the discontinuance of his arthritis medicine), unfortunately those elements were not witnessed by the jury. The only thing the jury saw was an overly confident prosecutor attempt to directly implicate the defendant only to bumble the demonstration by failing to ensure that the gloves would actually fit (and would fit over another set of laytex gloves). Moreover, when the gloves did not fit Darden further failed in his endeavor in that he provided no clear and acceptable statement to account for the failed display. As such, if I were a juror this glove debacle should have been enough to exonerate Simpson on the spot.

However, even if the blood evidence and the failed glove demonstration somehow still did not generate the requisite reasonable doubt needed to absolve a guilty vote, there was still Mark Fuhrman and his testimony (or lack thereof). Despite his checkered past, according to prosecutor Marcia Clarke, Fuhrman had performed very well for the State during the course of the pre-trial hearing. However, the reason Fuhrman was able to perform so well was because his credibility was not impugned and prosecutors were able to utilize his testimony to substantiate their case against Simpson. In the trial however, Fuhrman was ensnared in a defense credibility trap wherein Fuhrman was proven to be racist liar in court and once that was established, he refused to testify taking the fifth amendment during the subsequent cross examination. As such, it did not matter that fifteen other police officers observed the glove at the crime scene before Fuhrman arrived as L.A. detective Tom Lange has asserted, what would stand out to any semi-cognizant juror is the fact that Fuhrman lied under oath, was a racist who used the n-word and hence, both his testimony and the assertion that the glove was discovered without malice were impossible to believe. Fortunately for the prosecution the jury was not present when Fuhrman took the fifth when responding to the question on whether he planted evidence in the Simpson case, but his absence from further cross-examination and Judge Ito’s instruction that his unavailability to answer further questions on cross-examination was a factor jurors could take into consideration in evaluating Fuhrman’s credibility as a witness , almost certainly helped to undermine the prosecution’s case and once again build reasonable doubt in the minds of the Simpson jurors.

After a closer look at the blood evidence, the glove demonstration, and detective Fuhrman’s testimony (or again, lack thereof), it would appear that reasonable doubt was well established in Simpson’s case as any three of those factors would have been enough to satisfy the reasonable doubt threshold let alone all three factors together. Whether or not O.J. Simpson actually killed Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman is a question that surely will continued to be debated for some time, however the number people who actually believe in Simpson’s innocence does appear to be shrinking. Simpson’s statements and actions both during and after the trial (many of which the jury in his murder case were not privy too), along with those made recently by many of his former friends, only serve to reinforce the belief held by Simpson’s growing number of detractors. However, after reviewing three seminal elements from the murder trial, from a legal perspective that means nothing. As the Simpson case clearly demonstrates, in a criminal case all that matters is what the jury believes, and perhaps more importantly, what they bear witness too.

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The Night the Simpsons Ceased to be Relevant

03 May

As long as I can remember, I have always been a fan of the Simpsons. The show started when I was 10 and seemed for the longest time to get better season after season. And while it was inevitable that a television show that has been around almost thirty (30) seasons would begin to lose its luster, for years the show managed to stay relevant due to its uncanny ability to have its finger on the pulse of society and often, for its clairvoyant ability to stay ahead of the curve. In fact, references to the Simpsons accurately predicting the future currently yields over 137 million results on Google (“Simpsons Predictions”) and have spawned a number of pieces on the subject by journalistic heavyweights like Time Magazine, CNN, and the New York Times As such, even if the show had lost some of its comedic punch over the last three decades, the show was still intelligent and interesting enough from a cultural perspective to keep tuning in.

However, as much as it pains me to say this; the Simpsons’ place within contemporary society ceased to a fixture with its April 2018 episode “No Good Read Goes Unpunished.” Some context however. In 2017 actor and standup comedian Hari Kondabolu (who like most was a fan of the Simpsons) developed a documentary entitled “the Problem with Apu” wherein he examines how a show known for its outlandish, yet progressive and socially conscious humor generally, could continue to display a character that exhibited the most egregious Indian stereotypes. As a South Asian myself it was especially easy to understand the point that Mr. Kondabolu was making and how Apu’s character, catchphrases, and general buffoonery have done more harm than good for South Asians, particularly those living in Western societies. However, even if you are not South Asian, the contrast between a show that is again, generally progressive and socially conscious, with a character that encapsulates the worst perceptions about South Asians should be evident enough to any semi-self-aware individual watching the show (provided of course that they are themselves not prone to racist inclinations in general). Mr. Kondabolu interviewed a number of prominent South Asians for his piece (Kal Penn for example, highlighted that he hates the show due to the Apu character and what it stands for) and the discussion contained within the documentary was so powerful that it started to move from out from one documentary and permeate into the general social consciousness. In fact, the discussion was so moving that it not only spawned a number of thought provoking conversations within the mainstream media, but forced members of the Simpsons’ creative team, including the voice of the character Hank Azaria, to comment on the growing movement which was seeking  greater accountability from the Simpsons in relation to their Apu character. For his part when asked by a TMZ paparazzo about his thoughts on Kondabolu’s documentary and the larger debate which flowed from it Azaria responded with the following, “I think the documentary made some really interesting points and gave us a lot to think about, and we really are..To hear that anybody that was hurt and offended by any character or vocal performance is really upsetting, that it was offensive or hurtful to anybody.” This response from Azaria while somewhat evasive still seemed to encompass enough of the traditional sincerity and social thought that one had come to except by the Simpsons brain-trust and was enough to make one believe that progressive action would be taken in regards to the Apu character. At the very least, it could be expected that the Simpsons team would attempt to engage in a meaningful discussion around the insensitivities many have perceived with the Apu character. Unfortunately, that was the last thing that would be forthcoming.

In the lead-up to the debut of “No Good Read Goes Unpunished,” Simpsons showrunner Al Jean took to Twitter to cryptically reveal that  something provocative was going to happen on the show and was so powerful that it was going to draw some kind of “Twitter explosion.” Was this merely a ratings grab for a dwindling show or a foreshadow that the Simpsons was finally going to address the growing controversy around the Apu character? While it was definitely the latter (or perhaps both), unfortunately, given the manner in which the exchange referenced by Jean unfolded it is safe to say that the Simpsons had no desire to engage in any meaningful discussion of what impacts Apu’s character had on anyone, let alone South Asians, and as such were only willing to provide  a clumsy defense of the character. More specifically, the scene in question depicts the Simpson matriarch Marge conversing with her (usually) socially conscious daughter Lisa on the difficulties of making a childhood book politically correct. The scene proceeds with the following exchange:

MARGE: What am I supposed to do?

LISA: It’s hard to say. Something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive, is now politically incorrect. What can you do?

MARGE: Some things will be dealt with at a later date.

LISA: If at all.

After Lisa’s “if at all” statement the two characters stare at the viewer in a shot where the viewer sees a framed signed photo of Apu that reads “Don’t have a Cow.”

Taken as a whole this sequence was completely baffling and it seemed like the Simpsons’ brass had completely forgotten about all the nuanced, intelligent, and socially conscious discussions it had had over the last three decades and returned instead to its lame “don’t have a cow”-“I’m an underachiever and proud of it” humor rampant at its inception. It was as if 30 years of this show’s development went out the window because not only was the scene not funny, but the show’s response flew in the face of what made it a hit and what allowed it to run years past when it should have ended: It’s grip and clairvoyance with respect to modern society.

In this brief exchange not only did the show manage to crudely ignore the concerns, hurt, and frustrations of many (and not just South Asians), but to use the most socially conscious and liberal character on the show to deliver this tough-luck blind defense in the face of a genuine problem enunciated by countless members of society was a complete betrayal of the show’s ethos.

More frustrating even still is the logic on which the Simpsons premises its argument. To imply that a character who exhibits racist and offensive traits by today’s standards can still be justified and/or exempted from criticism because it was tolerated three decades ago is lunacy. By that logic entertainers would be still be permitted to don black face with impunity, the worst homosexual stereotypes and spoofs allowed, Chinese (and other Asian) accents routinely mocked at nauseam, and spousal abuse humor in the vein of Ralph Kramden proudly showcased and applauded. As such, the argument that culturally insensitive depictions should be allowed some kind of grandfather clause is ridiculous and it was truly a sad day when the Simpsons who had historically stayed ahead of the curve managed to flagrantly fell behind it.

However, despite the Simpsons obtuse approach to the Apu issue, I am still very much a proponent of free speech and any speech generally which is made without malice. As such, even if the Simpsons seems to have lost its way and exited social relevance, for all of the good it has done I still think there is path to redemption. If the Simpsons brain-trust were to abandon the puzzling approach to the discussion around the Apu character and work with members of the South Asian community and social activists in a more considerate manner (or at the very least meaningfully listen to the points they raise), I am confident a solution could be easily be found to the Apu problem. Although not meant to be an exhaustive list, if the Simpsons brass would broaden their minds on this issue, there are a number of things they could do to actually keep the Apu character while still respecting the South Asian community such as; having someone actually of South Asian descent voice the character, allow Apu, who according to the Simpsons was first in his class and has a Ph.D. in computer science to move past employment at a convenience store, have Apu involved in more storylines beyond those that ridicule him and/or help to entrench vapid South Asian stereotypes (i.e. Apu’s arranged marriage), and finally, have more than one South Asian depiction on the show other than Apu’s family as that would help to exemplify the true diversity of South Asians and South Asian Culture.

While it is hard to forgive or even understand the actions of the Simpsons’ executives for their missteps in relation to the movement surrounding Apu, given its socially conscious roots it should not be hard for the Simpsons to find a path to redemption if they actually choose to work with the movement. As a Simpsons fan I am confident that the path to redemption is also the path back to relevance as well.

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