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Plenty of hate to go around Blog of the week: The Power of Words

Kapyong comments show people on both sides of the fence have room to grow

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The Conservative party suffered a major embarrassment last week after Brayden Mazurkiewich, president of the PC Youth wing, used social media as a bully pulpit to spew his special brand of racism.

The comments were captured by aboriginal activist Michael Champagne from Facebook posts on Mazurkiewich's account. Here are some of them. The names of the responders have been removed.

 

Brayden Maz

Listen carefully to the news today. Looks like they might be announcing that they're building a freaking reserve in the middle of Winnipeg. This city is quickly becoming the laughing stock of the entire country.

Response: This is the sickest joke I've ever heard... You are not funny Braydon.

 

Brayden Maz

I'm 100% serious. I wish I were joking!

Response: How did the residents of Tuxedoo ever allow this to happen. OMG their kids will be in the same schools!! It's a travesty!! (wanna bet the houses in Tuxedo will all be up for sale soon?)

 

Brayden Maz

That was built for hardworking men and women of the military, not freeloading Indians.

 

The comments started a virtual maelstrom of outrage from Facebookers of all stripes who responded with threats of violence, hostility and a few racist comments of their own.

One commenter took it even further;

"I hope he gets castrated so he can't reproduce."

Another comment, although more moderate, caught my attention:

"Considering children pick up their parents biases and shortcomings this truly shows the Conservative agenda and point of view. This is attitude the Conservatives hand down to their youth. How horribly disgusting."

Much like violence begets violence, racism, bigotry and stereotyping does the same thing.

The person who posted the comment, while obviously intelligent, has fallen prey to the pitfall of writing off an entire group of people based on the racist rhetoric of one misguided individual.

People on both sides of the fence are immersing themselves in divisive hateful comments initiated by someone holding an office with a leadership mandate.

To the PC party's credit, president Ryan Matthews demanded Mazurkiewich's immediate resignation indicating that the racist comments were "detrimental to our party."

In my respectful opinion, the words "detrimental to our party," fall miserably short of the condemnation required.

The use of the racist term "freeloading Indians" offers us a glimpse into an uneducated, hateful, racist mind.

Studies of racist attitudes have revealed that these sentiments are often built on stereotypes, mistruths and irrational fear.

Mazurkiewich's comments reek of a "white supremacist" ideology.

"I apologize to anyone I may have offended but at the end of the day I work very hard and I pay my taxes, and a lot of people don't."

Make no mistake, the "a lot of people" Mazurkiewich is referring to are the "freeloading Indians."

Make no mistake, that was no apology!

Hence the stereotypical, irrational, mistruth at the heart of Mazurkiewich's issue is revealed. With a broad sweeping brush he paints all aboriginal people as non-contributing freeloaders.

All rational people know that the reality could not be further from the truth.

To my surprise, an angle overlooked by the media and most interesting to me is the "fear" component at the heart of Mazurkiewich's racist beliefs.

He chooses to protest against urban aboriginal economic opportunity and at the same time, condemn aboriginal people for not being tax-paying, industrious people.

The contradiction is obvious -- you really can't have it both ways.

I found it interesting that Manitoba Grand Chief Derek Nepinak felt it necessary to do his best to allay the fears of Winnipeg residents with his almost apologetic statement;

"Winnipeggers need not be afraid of this court decision, First Nations leadership want nothing more than to help our people acquire employment, housing and all the opportunities afforded to other Manitobans."

Aboriginal leaders need not apologize for trying to advance their people in the province of Manitoba, a place where their people struggle in poverty and are over-represented in almost every negative aspect of our society.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not completely sold on the idea of urban reserves, but I am in support of the aboriginal leadership's right to fight for economic opportunities and the advancement of their people.

If the First Nations leaders are successful in acquiring the land, then it would be my hope that the venture becomes the model for all future aboriginal initiatives across the country.

The use of the term "freeloading Indians" should really generate the same degree of social outrage and disgust that the use of the "N" word does -- that is, if we want to believe we live in a socially advanced society.

It's time for the hateful fearmongers like Mazurkiewich to open up their closed minds.

It also occurs to me that the PC party might want to tighten up its screening process before it becomes the next irrelevant political party in the province of Manitoba.

 

James Jewell retired from the Winnipeg Police Service after a 25-year career. Follow his blog at jgjewell.wordpress.com

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 23, 2012 A10

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