Wednesday, May 9, 2012

May 9:The wisdom of the Times and Transcript

Today, there was a major, New Burnswick story that the Moncton Times and Transcript did not report on. I'm glad. It was embarassiing to be a resident of a province with a politician that could make such bizarre statements.....

This was the official government defence of its choice of Rotyal Oaks for a new high school.

1. It was a nice piece of flat land, suitable for building a school. Wow! Imagine that. A piece of flat land in Moncton. That's so much better than all those other schools in Moncton that are clinging to cliffs so sheer than children have to climb ropes to get to class.

2. It was a suitable place for buses to drive up and to embark or disembark students. There's something else you don't see every day in Moncton. Ii don't know how many times I've seen the anxious faces at the windows of city buses, desperately searching for a place the bus can stop to let them out.

3. The Royal Oaks district provides a natural environment. Well, yeah, I'll bet there's lots of books on education that can't stress enough the importance of a school being in a natural environment. It gives students something to look out the window at. I've always regerted my days of going to a school in a downtown area all cluttered with art galleries,museums, people.... 

4.  Royal Oaks is an area of potential growth. Oh......... that IS news. I thought the big area of potential growth was Main Street which will soon be vibrant and exciting, drawing both residential and commerical construction. Royal Oaks may become many things - but vibrant, bustling and exciting will not be three of them. Nor will its 1950s concept do much to encourage density of population.

What an insultingly absurd set of statements! I'm grateful to The Times and Transcript for helping to keep this simple-minded statement a secret.

Yes, I know Moncton High has a widespread area to cover. Has it occured to the government that the days of school bussing may soon be over? That it will become ruinously expensive?  And I don't mean in twenty years. Has the minister of education given that little problem any thought? (yes, yes, I know. science will find a solution before that happens. Of course. But what it science doesn't find it in time?)

In his editorial cartoon, de Adder proves once more his ability to produce work that is (to put it kindly) inapproriate, divisive, and so untrue and irrelevant that one has to wonder whether he is really as insulting as he appears to be - or just someone in need of growinig up.

(The cartoon hints that establishing a cancer clinic at the Dumont  Hospital will mean that only French-speaking people will be allowed to get treatment. This is not only untrue, but a grautitous insult to French-speaking medical people. It puts this blogger in a difficult position. If I say he did this knowing what he was doing, then he is a bigot. If he didn't know, then he is stunningly ignorant. I leave that decision to the reader.)

This is not only a distasteful cartoon, but a dangerous one. An editor is supposed to have enough brains to realize that, and to cancel it.

I lived through the years of intense and often violent language bigotry in Quebec, and lived too close to the centre of it for comfort. As one of the leaders of the English rights group, I remember meetings that had to be held in secret for fear of violence from mobs - and of warnings from the police to move because violence was on the way. I remember a strutting murderer being invited to French schools to be applauded for his role in the death of un cochon anglais. I remember the English communities I knew - communities of families, of institutions, of traditions. I remember their deliberate destruction by language bigots.

Now, I live in a New Brunswick where, I had thought, there was no such feeling. But there is. This time, though, most (not all, but most) of the bigotry is on the English side. And the bigotry is encouraged by the English press in New Brunswick, just as it was encouraged by the French press in Quebec. And there's another point at which Quebec and New Brunswick  have something in common. The people in both provinces have a history of being bullied.

In Quebec, the Catholic church dominated the lives of French Quebeckers to a degree almost unbelievable today. The church was rich, intrusive, abusive, frightening, bullying. No bills passed the legislature without the approval of the church. It also had absolute control over education, a power it used to give educational privileges to the rich while crippling the poor for the rest of their lives.  This hopelessly inferior schooling abused orphans with residential schools that left scars for life (and, no, I do not mean just sexual abuse). It abused the mentally ill. It is no accident that the rise of Quebec nationalism occured at the same time as the collapse of the church.

New Brunswickers have been equally bullied by the economic leaders of this province. They controlled governments in New Brunswick even more than the Catholic church did in Quebec - and that control has been as old as the province, itself. They have also controlled access to jobs, to information, to political power. They have done so with no regard for the needs of the people or their futures - and no interest in anything except in making themselves rich.

Historically, New Brunswickers and Quebeckers are the products of bullying - and of fear.

Many people who live that exprerience become bullies themselves. Too frightened to take on the big bullies, they look for somebody smaller to bully. Many readers, I'm sure, have gone through this experience.  (I'll start by admitting that I have.) Within a society, the smaller person to bully, to take out your anger and frustration on, is the member of a minority group.

Bullying becomes a way of escapting the shame we feel for allowing the bigger kids, a church, a corprorate boss to bully us. Our bullying gives us a chance to look brave and tough, to escape the humiliation of being what we really are.

The fear of speaking out in New Brunswick is so thick you can feel it.  And that fear is what, in some people, produces the bullying we see in de Adder and in the Times and Transcript in general. That's why we get the bigotry in an editorial cartoon,, we get the ridicule of those in poverty in another cartoon, the rants against schools and teachers. And the kissing up to the big bullies.

There are some very big bullies out there. Shale gas drillers are here to suck the last bits of blood out of this province. As fuel stocks dwindle, the investors have switched to methods that are increasingly dangerous and destructive - as in deep sea drilling, shale gas.... Thery're going to take it - and they don't give a damn what it's going to do to you.

Reaction -fight the arrogant bastards? Goodness, no. let's get tougher on welfare. Let's cut school budgets. Bus drivers are on strike for more pay? Give 'em hell. They aren't worth it.  Save that money wo we can give another tax cut to a billionaire.  Let's fight an arrogance (that doesn't exist) in a French hospital.

Hiding behind every bigot face is a coward and a second-hand bully. (and yes, there are some on the French side, too). How do we get rid of the damage they do?

Well, a good start might be for most of the news media in this province to get some balls. (and brains.)


1 comment:

  1. You've hit the nail on the head with this post. Congratulations.