Wente & Canada’s “Savages”

Any time you’re aching for a dose of ignorance and (deliberate?) stupidity, head over to Margaret Wente’s column at The Globe and Mail.  I stopped reading Wente a long time ago because I felt I was in danger of stroking out.  Sometimes I miss important things though.

Last week, I posted about Dick Pound’s offensive comment to La Presse during the Beijing Olympics referring to Canada’s Indigenous people as “savages”.  In her Saturday column at The Globe, Wente “argues” that Pound’s comment was unfortunate, but correct.  I have to put the word “argues” in quotes because Wente wouldn’t know an argument if she ran into one.

Nevertheless, the woman writes for Canada’s national newspaper so I assume she does have some readers and that some of them may be affected by what she writes – they might think she knows something.  It makes me very happy to direct you to an article in today’s Globe in which Hayden King shreds Wente and points readers in a rational direction in his article “Indigenous cultures rivalled those of civilizations around the world”.  Here’s a bit:

Thomas Jefferson once remarked that those who don’t read newspapers are better informed than those who do, even as the former may know nothing, the latter only know falsehood and error. This brings to mind Margaret Wente’s recent column about Olympic official Dick Pound, who said, “400 years ago, Canada was a land of savages.” Ms. Wente’s Saturday column has likely set back the first nations’ campaign for an accurate representation of native peoples in the mainstream media by 10 years.

In fact, a brief survey of the original peoples of this continent illustrates an array of accomplishments that rival civilizations around the globe, including those in Western Europe. Yet today, in North America, the ancestors of those from both continents live side by side, separated by a canyon of misunderstanding. To gain insight, we need only turn to indigenous oral traditions, wampum belts, birchbark scrolls and Tsalagi and Aztec texts. In addition, scholars of all stripes from all corners of the globe have contributed to a greater knowledge of indigenous cultures.


Please read the rest here.

Many years ago, Wente wrote an article about fetal alcohol syndrome in which she stated that, unbeknownst to average Canadians, the majority of children born to aboriginal people in this country are born with FAS.

That would have been news to me, so I wrote to Wente and asked her to direct me to the research she used to support her conclusion.  She wrote back to me to say she had done no research but had a friend who was an aboriginal person and a social worker and she’d relied on him for her information.  ‘Nuf said.

Note:  In fact, judging by the number of articles she’s written on the subject, Wente is obsessed with the FAS issue.  I can’t direct you to the article I read way back because you’d have to purchase it to read it, but there are plenty more here.  Don’t pay to read any of them.

Meantime, here’s another Globe article, this time by Joe Friesen, in which we learn about one of the long-term consequences of European colonization:

The gap in high-school graduation rates for aboriginals and non-aboriginals has grown in recent years, while the percentage of aboriginal people with a university degree has increased only slightly compared with a massive boom among the general population, new research shows.

Both are troubling figures that indicate much more needs to be done in one of the great social-policy challenges Canada faces, according to a study published yesterday by the C. D. Howe Institute.

“Clearly, we’re not doing well enough, and clearly, we should be highly concerned about it,” said the study’s author, John Richards, who teaches public policy at Simon Fraser University.

“A marginalized community, such as aboriginals, living in a modern economy can only escape poverty through an educational transformation.”


Read the rest here

EDIT:  I had to come back to fix the link to Hayden King’s article – thanks Vesper!

6 thoughts on “Wente & Canada’s “Savages”

  1. The Globe was actually the predecessor of The Globe and Mail…just to clarify. 🙂 I read The Globe and Mail almost every day, and fortunately they generally have much better and more compassionate writers than Margaret Wente. I read Wente’s article in its entirety, and I am sickened by what she says. First Nations land is holy land, their culture is holy, and their people continue to be misunderstood. The traditions of the First Nations peoples are incredibly complex. There’s nothing savage about them at all. In this context, Wente and those who follow her line of thinking are the savages.

    Also, your Hayden King link took me back to the Wente article… 🙂

  2. When I say “The Globe”, I mean “The Globe and Mail” -my short form – just to clarify. 🙂

    Thanks for your comments Vesper. I don’t know why The Globe lets Wente write there. Nor Christie Blatchford imho. 🙂

    Link to King article fixed – thanks for the heads-up!

  3. Thomas Jefferson referred to “merciless Indian Savages” in the U.S.A. Declaration of Independence.

    He wrote that the “King of Great Britain” “has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.”.

  4. This blows my mind. I don’t know why I’m shocked. I mean, I know there are, unfortunately, people out there who think like Wente. But every now and then I run into one, and it really blows my mind. What is wrong with their minds??

    P.S. – I hope you’re feeling well. Thinking of you:)

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