Canada’s Maclean’s has a whiteness problem.

“‘Too Asian’?” was not the first racist Maclean’s article lamenting the quantity of racialized people displacing white people and white power.

In 2006, Maclean’s published “The future belongs to Islam” by Mark Steyn, who assumed that Muslims all over the world were primarily focused on a shared goal of imposing Islamic law globally, and tried to bring to everyone’s attention that the birth rates of Muslim-majority countries were higher than the birth rates of European countries. Steyn also pointed out that although “Africa” has a high birth rate, it is “riddled with AIDS” and “as we saw in Rwanda, [Africans’] primary identity is tribal”. Steyn then invoked a white colonialist narrative by describing Muslim-majority areas as “Indian territory”, “lawless fringes of the map”, and “badlands” that needed to be “brought within the bounds of the ordered world”. He waxed nostalgically about “the old Indian territory”, when “no one had to worry about the Sioux riding down Fifth Avenue”, “the white man settled the Indian territory”, and “the Injuns had bows and arrows and the cavalry had rifles.” His complaint was that “today’s Indian territory”—i.e., Muslim-majority countries (!)—now have nuclear weapons, and “the fellow from the badlands” can now ride planes and travel quickly. Later, Steyn recounted a story in which some youths in Belgium assaulted a bus passenger, alleging that it was not at all surprising that the youths were “of Moroccan origin”.

In other words, Maclean’s has already published an extremely racist (and Islamophobic) article in the past. Four years later in 2010, Maclean’s “‘Too Asian’?” article expresses the same fears about an “Asian invasion” and dismay at the increasing numbers of racialized people in relation to white people within a given population. Not only is Maclean’s “‘Too Asian’?” a repeat of the W5 “Campus Giveaway” program in 1979 that griped about Asians taking up space in Canadian universities, but it is also a repeat of Maclean’s 2006 article that bemoaned the changing of demographics from white to racialized.

While Maclean’s “‘Too Asian’?” is another manifestation of Canadian society’s stereotypes about and discomfort with Asians, it reveals a larger pattern in which most white people are simply uncomfortable with racialized people gaining power. The underlying issue is white people’s beliefs that the world is just, that the world is just because white people are running it, and that if racialized people take power, the world would fall into disarray. That is, most white people unconsciously internalize the idea of white supremacy. If black people were the largest racialized group in Canadian universities, white people would still complain.

Canadian Muslims in Toronto had filed a Human Rights Complaint against Maclean’s in 2007, because the magazine would not allow them to publish a response to Steyn’s “The future belongs to Islam”. However, because of Islamophobic confirmation bias, the Canadian media and public erroneously assumed that the Muslims were attempting to stifle freedom of speech and debate. Unlike the situation with Maclean’s “‘Too Asian’?” article, the general public (including most non-Muslim Asian Canadians) was supportive of Maclean’s and feared that the Muslim law students were trying to change Canadian law to follow Islamic law. Against the allegation that Steyn’s article was “flagrantly Islamophobic”, CBC’s Rex Murphy sarcastically replied, “Maclean’s magazine? Well, we all know what a hotbed of radical bigotry and vile prejudice Maclean’s magazine has been. Go away,” while using dramatic pauses and his middle-aged white male demeanour to shroud his logical fallacies in the semblance of wisdom. Sadly, when Canadian Muslims launched the Human Rights Complaint against Maclean’s, it caused an Islamophobic backlash and reaffirmed the Canadian public’s stereotypes of Muslims, despite evidence to the contrary.

Maclean’s fails to recognize the humanity of racialized people when its writers complain about our existence. The “‘Too Asian’?” article in particular fails to recognize our Canadianness and belongingness in Canada. We cannot win when those in power require us to prove our own humanity or Canadianness, because when they debate our belongingness, they question and deny our right to equally participate in the debate. However, what we can do together as racialized people is recognize that this is not a “Muslim problem” or an “Asian problem”, but rather a whiteness problem. Yesterday it was Muslims, today it is Asians, but tomorrow it can be any other racialized group.

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23 Responses to “Canada’s Maclean’s has a whiteness problem.”

  1. Manju Says:

    I think you’re falling for a trap, Restructure. Maclean’s is hoping leftists frame “too asian” as racist, since this can then be used as evidence that affirmative action is exactly that.

    Indeed, RWinger’s have long pointed out that various schemes of proportional representation have the effect of Asians needing to score higher for admittance than whites. Dinesh D’Souza opens “illiberal education” with one such example at Berkeley (since found unconstitutional by SCOTUS). Since Asians will gather more sympathy than whites, the example makes for a more sellable anti-affirmative argument.

    Maclean’s is hoping to frame concerns about diversity as racist, since progressives often use the diversity argument. They are cleverly getting you to make their point.

    The article is also subtle attack on “disparate impact” the idea that under/over-representation is defacto proof of discrimination. Rwingers have long favored “cultural” arguments over discrimination ones to explain discrepancies. The over-represntaion of asians at top schools of course puts those who argue from a discrimination vantage point in the uncomfortable position of framing Asian success as a product of unearned privilege. By calling “too asian” racist, progressives are conceding that the cultural argument has much validity. That’s what Macleans wants.

  2. Restructure! Says:

    Manju,

    I really don’t think Maclean’s published a racist article so that some progressives would call them racist. I call the “Too Asian?” article racist, but I also deny the cultural argument. The issue is that many Asian immigrants to Canada/U.S. are self-selected as a product of class.

  3. Manju Says:

    “I really don’t think Maclean’s published a racist article so that some progressives would call them racist.”

    True. But reporting on racism isn’t racism, or else this blog would qualify. Maclean’s wants you to call being worried about asian over-representation racist, since that would undermine diversity arguments and raise the idea that over-representation can occur even without racism.

    In fact, Maclean’s explicitly rejects doing something about asian over representation at the end: “Toope points us in the right direction. “It’s unfair to change the meritocratic entry system, so all universities can do—all they should do—is encourage groups to mingle.”

    Controlling for class-privilege is problematic, since it would almost certainly result in Asians and Jews facing higher hurdles than other groups. Thats why they want you to bring it up, since it results in a disparate impact which is, by progressives own standard, racist.

    Class isn’t race and thus isn’t mutually exclusive with hard work. In other words, class privilege can be a product of your parents hard work and the relative class privilege asian immigrants (particualry chinese, korean, and japanese…since the 3 nations are now economic juggernauts) could be seen as a product of cultures that value education., etc. Punishing someone for coming from such a culture creates a problematic moral hazzard for the larger culture.

    Barack Obama’s mother famously woke him up at 4 in the morning to make him study with her. Thats class privilege. he didn’t do that on his own. its unearned. he lucked out by virtue of birth. but do you really want to weigh that against someone.?

  4. Restructure! Says:

    Manju,

    In fact, Maclean’s explicitly rejects doing something about asian over representation at the end: “Toope points us in the right direction. “It’s unfair to change the meritocratic entry system, so all universities can do—all they should do—is encourage groups to mingle.”

    It’s still racist, because white people are the ones who self-segregate the most, but they fail to see it because they tend to only notice race when a pair of people are not white.

    You are still subscribing to the cultural argument if you say “a product of cultures that value education” and are considering “punishing someone for coming from such a culture”. If class privilege is controlled for, instead of race*, then it wouldn’t punish East Asians in particular.

    I am East Asian, but my parents did not really value education, and one parent discouraged me from going to university because they thought it was useless. However, I benefited from class privilege, because although I went to a public school, my high school was a good school, and I didn’t have to work during high school to support my family like some other students.

    * Unless there is subjective evaluation in the university application process that would be subject to implicit bias.

  5. Restructure! Says:

    This post has been linked to by Mark Steyn.

  6. Yan Shen Says:

    Are you really East Asian, Restructure? I’m extremely surprised. Most East Asians I know don’t make that big of a deal about race. I’m really curious as to what nationality you are.

    Your hypocrisy is a bit alarming though. Liberals frequently complain about how whites enjoy socioeconomic privileges which allow them to do better in life. When you have an instance of East Asian Canadians enjoying the same kinds of privileges, at least according to your self selection argument, you don’t seem to mind and you even seem to be outraged when whites complain about it. What gives? At what level of over-representation of East Asians at elite Canadian universities do whites have a right to complain? How many times have we heard liberals complain about elite universities being too white relative to blacks and Hispanics?

  7. Hugo Says:

    Dumb, really dumb. The “Too asian” article is critical, right in its subtitle, of the movement to limit the enrollment of Asian students at University because spoiled little Western effetes such as yourself find the competition a little too much.

  8. Manju Says:

    “It’s still racist, because white people are the ones who self-segregate the most, but they fail to see it because they tend to only notice race when a pair of people are not white.”

    This doesn’t work. In this particular case Macleans is writing about whites self-segregating, i.e refusing to go to Asian dominated universities or the university itself (presumably white administrators) basing admission on race.

    So the article is specifically about that which you say Macleans doesn’t notice.

  9. Mark Steyn: “three years on” « The Lynch Mob Says:

    […] social engineers steal it away from them. For some, the issue remains mine and Maclean’s “whiteness”. For others, it’s about imposing new social norms and ever tighter bounds of acceptable […]

  10. Restructure! Says:

    Yan Shen,

    My nationality is Canadian. What’s your nationality?

  11. Yan Shen Says:

    Oh I see Restructure, you don’t view the world through the prism of race, which is why you consider yourself to be a Canadian, rather than someone of some particular ethnicity. That must also explain why you obsess over race right, and consistently categorize people into different racial groups(whites, blacks, etc) and obsessively detail just how whites oppress every other person of color.

    I hope that the irony isn’t lost upon you. :) Like I always say, liberals who argue most strongly against racial categorization of people are usually the ones who most readily engage in racial categorization in their own lives.

  12. Restructure! Says:

    Yan Shen,

    Really, what is your nationality?

    My nationality is Canadian, my ethnicity is Chinese, and my race is East Asian. I find it odd that you confuse nationality with ethnicity. People in Canada who do that are usually either White Canadians or newly-arrived immigrants whose nationality matches their ethnicity. Are you of the latter category?

  13. From Racialicious Blog, “Canada’s Macleans has a Whiteness Problem” | for an inclusive society Says:

    […] By Guest Contributor Restructure!, cross-posted from Restructure! […]

  14. Yan Shen Says:

    Since you’re Chinese Restructure, let me say how misguided I think your rants are. Chinese Americans and Chinese Canadians are much better off than both white Americans and white Canadians on the average, by virtually every conceivable metric of value. They’re better educated on average, earn more on average, are less likely to be in prison, etc etc. The fact that you would whine about anti-Asian racism as though Asian Americans/Canadians were disadvantaged in the same way that other minority groups were is alarming. Shame on you. When any group becomes successful enough, it’s time to stop treating that group as though they were a victim of rampant societal discrimination.

    While I disagree with any sentiment that we should upend meritocracy and enact racial quotas(I’m vehemently against affirmative action and any attempt to artificially limit the number of Asians at elite universities), I don’t see the Macleans article as being racist in nature. Whites should be allowed to complain if they feel like Asians are over-represented at top schools, just like blacks and Hispanics are allowed to complain when they feel like whites are over-represented. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

  15. Restructure! Says:

    Yan Shen,

    http://restructure.wordpress.com/2010/08/10/asians-are-not-all-rich/

  16. Yan Shen Says:

    Are you serious? Your data only applies to Ontario, Canada. In other words, not only do you not have data on Canada as a whole, but you absurdly insist that the US as a whole must be like Ontario, Canada. And you refuse to accept the official statistics released by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Your words.

    “While Ontario, Canada is not the same as the United States, we can assume that the two areas are comparable until the U.S. begins collecting more detailed Asian statistics, or unless there are theoretical reasons why the cultural differences may change the result.”

    Um, are you ignorant or what? The numbers are already out there. Quit being lazy and intellectually dishonest and look it up. In the United States, East Asians and South Asians(Indians) are better off than the white population with regard to both income and education. Some Southeast Asian and Pacific Islander groups may be worse off.

    You’re right to point out that Asian isn’t a monolithic category and that there usually is significant variability in the distribution of the Asian numbers. So let me restrict my analysis only to East Asians and South Asians.

    If you think that East Asians aren’t significantly better off than the native population anywhere where there’s a large concentration of East Asian immigrants, then I think you’re seriously mistaken. Stop whining about racism.

  17. Restructure! Says:

    Yan Shen,

    Resumes with English names more likely to be noticed

    Canadians with English names have a greater chance of landing a job than those with Chinese, Indian or Pakistani names, says a new study.

    In fact, after sending out thousands of resumés, the study found those with an English name like Jill Wilson and John Martin received 40 per cent more interview callbacks than the identical resumés with names like Sana Khan or Lei Li.

    So if your name is Yan Shen and you apply for jobs, you are being discriminated against because of your (East Asian) name.

  18. Hugo Schmidt Says:

    Since you keep dodging the point, I am reminded of something I noticed when I was twelve years younger – it is only the useless who appeal to the counterfeit automatic pride of race and blood.

  19. jewamongyou Says:

    I do not like the idea of giving government the sole authority to determine nationality. Citizenship is merely a piece of paper. True nationality is bloodline. Though I can appreciate the concept of an “immigrant nation”, I wonder if anybody can be a true Zulu or a true Ibo – just as anybody can be a true Canadian. I am a true Jew because that is my heritage.

    What would happen if I decide to migrate to Nigeria and become naturalized there, would this mean that I will have become 100% Nigerian? Will my Nigerian-born children be 100% Nigerian? If so, then what happens when I decide to return to the U.S. after a few years? Given that I am, at that point, 100% Nigerian, this would then make me an “African-American”.

    South African whites have considered themselves “African American” and gotten in trouble for it. As a naturalized Nigerian, would I fare any better at the hands of U.S. bureaucracy? Somehow, I doubt it. It seems that only a real African can be considered “African” – but there is no such thing as a “real Canadian” or a “real Swede” or a “real Briton” etc.

  20. Anti-Status Quo Voice Says:

    jewamongyou Says:
    December 12, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    ………….

    I don’t want to mean but in your nice liberalist musings about citizenship and nationality, you have made a muddle of issues of race and ethnicity, wrongly confusing and conflating them into each other.

    And if you are Jewish, you have somehow ignored the long history of European Jewish immigration patterns to North America at the end of the 19th century and again after World War II.

    It also ignores the history that White European Jews were able, through work and economic power, to transcend their off-White / ethnic status into “becoming” / accepted as “honorary” Whites in their assimilation into the North American mainstream. As a religious / ethnic group, Jews achieved the privileges and the accompanying citizenship rights- that many African and Asians couldn’t even if they born in North America.

    You also wrote: I am a true Jew because that is my heritage.

    Here openly claim Jewish identity. In other social settings, do always claim this identity first and foremost or do sometimes claim national identity first…? Are you an Orthodox or unorthodox Jew?

  21. Anti-Status Quo Voice Says:

    jewamongyou Says:
    December 12, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    South African whites have considered themselves “African American” and gotten in trouble for it. As a naturalized Nigerian, would I fare any better at the hands of U.S. bureaucracy? Somehow, I doubt it.

    ……………..

    South African whites should be criticized for claiming “African-American”….Are they also claiming the oppression that goes with this title or they still hanging onto the privileges that go with being White in America…?

    As a naturalized Nigerian, would I fare any better at the hands of U.S. bureaucracy? Somehow, I doubt it.

    …..
    Really? Why do you “doubt” that you wouldn’t fare better in the hands of US bureaucracy…Are you not ignoring the privilege of appearing White and what that means with regards to US citizenship …?

  22. Anti-Status Quo Voice Says:

    jewamongyou Says:
    December 12, 2010 at 12:44 pm
    True nationality is bloodline.

    ………………….

    I hope that it doesn’t appear that I am personally “attacking” you…rather I am interrogating your comments as I find many of your allusions – analogies uncritical and so disturbing, as to be almost complicit in maintaining the line of White supremacist ideology.

    I find it most distressing that you are evoking the rhetoric of sanguinity and bloodline in your comments.

    Surely, you must be aware that the rhetoric – the primacy of “blood” was the same ideology that Germans / Nazis also deployed in oppressing Jews throughout history? How the state “justified” who was a “true” German and who was not…? The rhetoric of “blood” was likewise adapted by the White supremacist – Eugenics Movement in the US in the late-19th century as a political strategy to curtail increasing immigration of Eastern European Jews and “undesirable” Alpines into the nation.

    The nasty rhetoric of blood is often mobilized by White supremacists to determine who is “pure” White and who is not.

    In the case of this Maclean’s controversy, the same issues/ideology of the “contamination” of White institutional space and who is “pure” and “authentic” Canadian, who “belongs” to the nation are also at work.

    What are you mobilizing this problematic language in making your arguments…?

    And please don’t question who is a true Zulu or Ibo—you have no right to go there in questioning true continental Africanness.

  23. fred Says:

    ASQV attacks jewamongyou’s right to heritage and then pops off with this little gem…

    And please don’t question who is a true Zulu or Ibo—you have no right to go there in questioning true continental Africanness.

    No doubt ASQV will now demonstrate their “true continental Africanness” by failing to understand the inconsistency. hehe


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