It's not easy being white


National Post - Thursday April 8th, 2010

Remember the old Kermit the Frog complaint, "It's not that easy bein' green"? It's from a ditty about diversity, in which Kermit proceeds from self-doubt over the limitations of being green to the conclusion there's value in all colours and nothing gained brooding over identity: "I am green and it'll do fine...I think it's what I want to be."

But what if bullies had convinced everyone on Sesame Street that being green made you wicked? It would avail Kermit naught that green can be "big like an ocean, or important like a mountain" when set against greenness as the root cause of all other-coloured muppets' grievances.

In the human world, it's being white that's not that easy. In Saturday's Post Jonathan Kay recounted learning in an anti-racism workshop that whiteness is a kind of original sin, and Canada is "a white supremacist country."

Before 9/11, white self-hatred mostly focused on whites' well-documented historical racism against blacks. Since 9/11 it's more about whites' alleged but unsubstantiated anti-Muslim bias. Between demands for entitlements by self-appointed Muslim spokespeople, and uncritical Islamophilia amongst liberal elites, we've internalized the dictum that whites are anti-Muslim unless proven otherwise, and Muslims are victims even when proven otherwise.

"White privilege" is the villain in the recently published Ontario section of the Canadian Federation of Students' Task Force on Racism report, denounced by Robert Fulford in Saturday's Post for its self-serving agenda. Committed to finding anti-Muslim bigotry on Ontario's campuses, they eschewed the pesky grind of actual "methodology." Self-selecting Muslim students were encouraged to recite personal narratives of supposed racism, unsupported by any proof.

In one such tale from the University of Toronto, a Muslim and his dormitory mate, a male of white privilege (MOWP), came to blows over the MOWP's pique at being prematurely awoken every day during the month-long fast of Ramadan by the Muslim's noisy pre-sunrise breakfast preparations.

"When tensions boiled over," a thestar.comsummary reports, "the Muslim student threw the first punch" at the MOWP, for which the Muslim student was expelled from the dorm.

Unfair, according to a member of the task force: "With some sensitivity training to the broader issue, that incident might have been better handled." Sensitivitytraining? Forwhom? Apparently not for the discourteous Muslim, since the "broader issue" had already been pre-judged as Islamophobia.

Coerced sensitivity training sessions are rituals of public humiliation for political ends. But since anti-racism activists are so enamoured of them, a question: Has any Canadian Muslim ever undergone sensitivity training?

Jewish and Christian organizations respond to perceived insults to their communities via testy media releases or complaints to institutions. But in spite of frequently high provocation, I can't remember a case where a Muslim was pressured into taking a sensitivity session on Judaism or Christianity. By contrast, in 2005 senior CIBC economist Jeffrey Rubin was hustled into sensitivity training on Islam nanoseconds after CAIR-Can expressed umbrage at Rubin's statement in a report that "mullahs" and "sheikhs" control the oil flow in the Middle East. The trivial "offence," and the decision to appease, showed us that whites may be made to see the world through Muslim eyes at the pleasure of any unamused Muslim "leader," but not the other way around.