Libertarianism is rational for rich white people only.

Libertarianism is a political philosophy that is fiscally conservative, but socially liberal—except when it concerns social issues that involve money or property. Stereotypically, libertarianism is self-consistent only in a toy universe abstracted away from the messiness and social inequalities of the real world.

Several years ago, a libertarian introduced to me a flash video that was intended to promote libertarianism. I was amazed to find that the unrealistic abstraction and idealism that is stereotypical of libertarianism was manifested even in the video’s visuals. An unintentional visual self-parody, the video—The Philosophy of Liberty—illustrates libertarianism with abstract stick figures representing people devoid of race, gender, and historical context.

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In Canada, health care is not universal.

Sometimes objective criticism of your government can only come from a foreign news outlet. Jessica Yee, a Chinese-Mohawk woman from Toronto, has published an article in The Guardian, a British newspaper, about Canada’s deep-rooted discrimination against indigenous communities.

Last week, on June 23, 2009—during a swine flu outbreak that disproportionately affects impoverished First Nations reserves—Health Canada delayed shipping hand sanitizers to First Nations reserves, because they contained alcohol. The Canadian government was concerned that the hand sanitizers would fuel alcohol addiction among reserve communities. (That’s racist.)

Jessica Yee, in Canada’s swine flu shame (The Guardian), writes:

Let’s review the facts. In the two and a half weeks that the government deliberated over whether to send hand sanitiser to reserve communities, this is what happened:

• More swine flu cases developed

• Chiefs, community leaders, nurses and community health representatives scrambled to deal with the escalating outbreak without help from a non-responsive government

• Families, children, elders and community members in these areas had no choice but to wait and see if they were going to get any type of diagnosis or care as conditions worsened

• The wider Canadian population heard occasional reports of the virus developing more in First Nations communities but not enough to warrant a national outpouring of support.

Access to necessary healthcare services is an ongoing problem for many indigenous people around the world, and Canada is no exception. But universal healthcare and non-insured health benefits (which First Nations and Inuit individuals receive in Canada) don’t mean anything if you live somewhere you still cannot get household plumbing, let alone a visit to the doctor.

Read the rest of Canada’s swine flu shame at The Guardian.

Police threatened to charge aboriginal beating victim if he pressed charges.

In February, two security guards in Toronto allegedly beat an aboriginal man, sending him to the hospital with three broken ribs and a punctured lung. The security guards said, “You natives are nothing but trouble,” and said that natives were drunks and would never amount to anything.

When the victim, Cliff Hussin, wanted to lay criminal charges against the two security guards, the police told him that if he charged the security guards, the police would charge him as well. Hussin is on probation and out on bail from previous assault charges. As Hussin fears that he may land back in jail, he will likely not press charges against his assaulters. Read the rest of this entry »

White people assume that non-Western cultures are less civilized.

White people were aware of non-white societies for centuries, and needed to a way to organize this knowledge in relation to themselves. One way white people have historically organized this knowledge was to assume that non-Western societies were inferior and Western societies were superior, and that non-white people were “savages” and white people were “civilized”. White people assumed that societies “progressed” from “savage” to “civilized”, from heathen to Christian, from non-Western to Western. White people believed that African cultures and Native American cultures were “primitive” and that given enough time, these cultures would “advance” to look very much like white, Western societies.

Most white people today still hold the same views implicitly, in that even most white liberals consider non-Western cultures “ancient” and “traditional”. The assumption behind this way of thinking is that non-Western cultures are stuck in the past, and that Western societies live in the present. When white people organize Western and non-Western cultures on a timeline by placing non-Western cultures in the past and Western society in the present, they are assuming that societies “progress” unilinearly from non-Western to Western. That is, to view non-Western cultures as “ancient” and “traditional” is to view Western society as the most culturally advanced and the most evolved. Most white people think that to “Westernize” is same as to “modernize” and improve.

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