Tuesday, July 26, 2011

From Archie Bunker to Don Cherry: Why Words Matter

One of my favourite episodes of All in the Family was the one where Archie Bunker is singled out by a group of "concerned Americans" and asked to join their club. At his first meeting he has a rude awakening, when they all put on white sheets.

For several seasons we heard him use terms like "Japs", "Chinks", "Hebes", "Pinkos", Dagos", "Polacks" and "Coons". Hurtful words that made us cringe, but we accepted them, because they came from Archie Bunker.

However, in the above episode, Archie finally realizes that words do matter, because they can and often do, turn into something more. The local chapter of the KKK was planning to burn a cross on his son-in-law's lawn because of a letter Mike Stivic had published in the paper, that painted him as a "commie".

Hatred hit home, and it was only then that Archie took notice.

For years we listened to the rantings against foreigners taking over hockey from Don Cherry, and again we laughed. After all, it was Don Cherry. Making bombastic statements was his shtick.

But then he entered the political arena, campaigning for Rob Ford and denouncing progressives as "pinkos". On Fox News North he tells Brian Lilley that he appreciates what "yous guys" were doing, trying to take the country back to the 1950s, and Lilley refers to him as a true Canadian "patriot".

Cherry didn't disappoint the audience and you could almost hear the cheers when he used the term "multiculturalism baloney".

It should come as no surprise that Anders Breivik, the Norwegian home-grown terrorist, uses the same language, protesting against immigration and multiculturalism.

And just as we knew that the right-wing would spin this, far right Swedish politician, Erik Hellsborn, writes on his blog:
What was it that really drove Behring Breivik? In the manifesto, he says very clearly: anxiety. Concern that multiculturalism and Islamisation threaten the Christian West's existence. In a Norwegian Norway, where the Left's preposterous dreams of a multicultural society had not taken root, this tragedy would never have happened. If there was no Islamisation and mass immigration, there would have been nothing to trigger Behring Breivik to do what he did.
Stephen Harper refers to multiculturalism as a "weak nation strategy", despite the fact that most Canadians like the fact that we are that kind of society.
Archie: I'm gonna go into town and get me a good Jew lawyer.
Mike Stivic: Do you always have to label people? Why can't you just get a lawyer. Why does it have to be a Jewish lawyer?
Archie: Because if I'm going to sue an "A-rab," I want a guy that's full o' hate!
I doubt Breivik ever listened to Don Cherry or watched All in the Family, but his "manifesto" can be found everywhere. On right-wing stations like Fox News, north and south, and even in government parlance.

He did not act alone but had millions of people behind him.

Don Cherry, I know, would never attempt to justify this man's actions, but let's hope it's his wake-up call. He has a huge following, and those who don't wince at his words, hang on to every one of them.

This has certainly been Norway's wake-up call, as they are now planning to investigate all of these right-wing "patriot" groups.

And I believe that Breivik's actions may have a different affect on the populace. The crowd of mourners included people from all cultures and religions, and one young man made an impassioned plea to the nation that they not abandon democracy because of this.

The judge in the case, is wisely refusing to give oxygen to this young man to spew his hatred in a courtroom, barring the media from what would surely be a sensational event.

I posted recently on a group in Great Britain, the English Defence League, another in the "Patriot Action Network". It has since been learned that they have connections with this Norwegian.

EDL warns that the Muslims "are breeding like rabbits". Where have I heard that before?

Different era. Different vctims.

Harper's National Citizens Coalition created an anti "Boat People" campaign, doing all the math, if Canada allowed those fleeing Vietnam to settle in Canada. One "man of the cloth" even referred to it as "ethnic indigestion".

But guess what? Their numbers were a little off. Go figure.
Mike Stivic: Why couldn't they say "Buddha, bless you" in Chinese?
Archie Bunker: Because they don't say that, that's why. If they say... Well, if they say anything at all, it's "Sayonara".
Mike Stivic: That's Japanese.
Archie Bunker: Same thing.
Mike Stivic: It's not the same thing!
Archie Bunker: What are you talking about? You put a Jap and a Chink together, you gonna tell me which is which?
Mike Stivic: That's right, because I find out about them. I talk to them as individuals.
Archie Bunker: Sure you talk to them. You say, "Which one of you guys is the Chink?"
Mike Stivic: [yells] I don't believe this. He's making me crazy!
I know the feeling, though not the kind of crazy that inspires bombings and mass murders.

Yesterday, when the Toronto Sun revealed that Jack Layton was once again battling cancer, they were forced to close down the comments section, but not before one reader posted this:
"Who couldn’t help but rejoice in NDP leader Jack Layton’s devastating news"
Why would the Sun be shocked by this? The same paper that compared Layton to Lenin.

If the Neoconservatives want to take us back to the 1950s, they've already accomplished a return to the 1960s, Cold War mentality, when everything was a "commie plot".

Breivik speaks of "cultural Marxism", a term used by Harper's buddy Paul Weyrich, and countless others in the new right-wing movement.

What now passes for conservatism.

Weyrich and his flock want to return to the 1950s, before the Civil Rights movement, when segregation was legal and acceptable. Others want to go back to the 1950s, when white women were churning out those white babies, in the post-war "baby boom".

But I'm not going anywhere with these guys.

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