Saturday, May 13, 2017

How dare you write that! Update!

It appears there have been some developments in the Writer's Union farce I spoke of.

Well, there was some Huffing and Puffing. When the article starts "Dear White People..." you know it is going to be comedy gold. Even better, the guy who wrote it, is a White Guy.
Cultural appropriation has become one of those Trump-era terms that gets people literally all a-twitter. But there's one thing you may notice when the topic hits your feeds and timelines -- the people who are dismissing it as a joke are, well, white folks.
Like late at night on May 11, when a host of media bigwigs "hilariously" started Twitter-organizing an actual "Appropriation Prize" in reaction to the resignation of Write Magazine's Hal Niedzviecki after online uproar surrounding his editorial calling for one.
Wait, appropriation prize? This is good!

It began with Rogers' exec Ken Whyte. Soon, National Post editor-in-chief Ann Marie Owens, Maclean's editor-in-chief Alison Uncles and CBC managing editor Steve Ladurantaye joined in, along with many columnists from various publications.
By this morning Steve Ladurantaye had tweeted an apology for his "dumb glib tweet about a dumb glib idea" and Owens joined in with "Apologies for any offence caused by what began as free speech protest thread -- Twitter no place for glib."
But their not-glib point was made clear if you noticed the pale skin tone of everyone piling on in that thread.
Sure thing, white guy.

There was also more groveling. So much more. The editor groveled:

I regret that my words failed to acknowledge the profound and lasting adverse impact of cultural appropriation on Indigenous peoples. I began the piece glibly, which resulted in some readers misunderstanding my intentions. I understand and accept their point of view. I have the utmost respect for the Indigenous writers who contributed to this issue, and did not in anyway mean to diminish or demean their work, the importance of their authentic experiences and voices, or their struggle against racism and colonialism in Canadian society. To anyone who found the piece an inappropriate introduction to the work in the issue, I sincerely apologize. I have spent the last twenty years fostering and providing a forum to writing from the margins. Anyone who is familiar with my work knows that I would never intentionally demean or diminish the experience of other people. I appreciate individuals taking time to share their thoughts and respond to the piece, since I do value the opportunity to learn from this experience and from the thoughtful feedback of others.
I have resigned as editor of Write Magazine. In my time as editor I've worked with many great writers, helped to foster many voices, and am particularly proud of my collaborative work developing an ongoing column written by writers exiled from their home countries and now living in Canada.
Sincerely, Hal Niedzviecki
Be it noted, Hal Niedzviecki is a Jewish dude. Clearly, he could know nothing of colonialism, appropriation or racial hatred. So privileged, the Jews. (Yes, Internet censors, that is sarcasm.)

But then there was more groveling.

The Writers' Union of Canada deeply regrets the pain and offence caused by an opinion article in our member publication, Write magazine. The Writer's Prompt piece offended and hurt readers, contributors to the magazine and members of the editorial board. We apologize unequivocally. We are in the process of contacting all contributors individually.

The intention behind the magazine is to offer space for honest and challenging discussion and to be sincerely encouraging to all voices. The Union recognizes that intention is not enough, and that we failed in execution in this instance. We remain dedicated to honouring the very hard work we have set ourselves, and to taking responsibility for systemic wrongs in which we as an institution with a place in helping to define Canadian culture have participated.

The editor of Write magazine has resigned from his position, and the Union has accepted his resignation.

We offer the magazine itself as a space to examine the pain this article has caused, and to take this conversation forward with honesty and respect.

The Writers' Union of Canada
Predictably, some person from the Toronto (Red) Star had to throw her hat in the ring:

The best-case explanation for the ill-advised support for the "appropriation prize fund" is they all thought it was a joke.
Did you hear the one about those people who can't use the Whites Only door? They finally got a magazine where they all got to write and, like, one of our own topped it with a piece gutting this whole appropriation thing, and all those people are spouting their usual rage.
Haha. Here's my money.
These are but a few of the raging lunatics screaming for white blood to be spilled. I've seen comments about gargling glass on Twitter.

It seems to me that there is a very unwholesome interest in shutting people up on the part of some. That alone is worth me contributing money to an Appropriation Prize fund.

The Appropriating Phantom

Shut-update! Jonathan Kay is resigning as editor-in-chief of the Canadian magazine The Walrus.

Having perused  The Walrus on occasion,  it is as Lefty a rag as can be imagined, and Jonathan Kay is well hoisted upon his own petard this time.

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