Ship all Canadians to Africa

Soviet cartoon, 1969

What a strange idea, you might think. In fact, you may question the sanity of anyone proposing such mass deportation.

Moral considerations apart, what on earth is the point? It’s not as if Canada were so overpopulated that it’s running out of room to accommodate its 39 million inhabitants. And surely, if for some unfathomable reason Canadians agreed to be shipped anywhere, it would be to a more familiar climate.

Yet all your bemusement shows is that you don’t understand the language. No, not English. The headline was written in a different tongue: Aesopian American.

First a disclaimer: my comments on American usage may show a patina of age. I left the US in 1988, and all languages have developed since then (usually for the worse, but this is a separate subject). In my day, ‘Canadian’ was the racist Aesopian for ‘black’.

You see, already in those days overt racism had become socially awkward, if not quite unacceptable. One could have more latitude for such self-expression down South, but even there I heard statements like “I hate niggers” much less often in the ‘80s than I did in the ‘70s.

When I moved to New York in 1984 after 10 years in Texas, I found such locutions expunged from publicly audible speech. The dread N-word was strictly off-limits. Yet when people talked to like-minded individuals in strict privacy, one could still occasionally hear words like ‘schvartze’ from Jews or ‘Hymie’ from blacks.

But only crazed fanatics like Jesse Jackson dared refer to New York as ‘Hymietown’ in public. As a matter of historical reference, Dr Goebbels preferred ‘Jew York’, but then English wasn’t his mother tongue.

And one could never hear any pejorative anti-black terms in bars or on public transport. The vast thesaurus of such words in American English remained untapped.

However, the sentiment didn’t disappear. It was merely bottled up, trying to pop the cork and gush out, but without drawing opprobrium. Hence the term ‘Canadian’ some New Yorkers (and other Yankees) used in lieu of ‘blacks’ to vent their innermost feelings to the initiated.

The uninitiated drinking in the same bar would be left wondering why anyone would think that Canadians had puffed-up lips and a propensity for mugging, or why they should all be shipped to Africa. Those in the know just smirked in a gnostic sort of way.

This bit of linguistic nostalgia goes a long way towards explaining the agued public denunciations of Israel and its ‘genocide’ of ‘Palestinians’. Most of the people displaying such touching concern for Muslim terrorists and their civilian fans don’t really care about the face value of the issue. And practically none are familiar with its historical background.

In fact, whenever several refugee families move into their own neighbourhood, such bleeding hearts can scream ‘NIMBY’ with the best of jingoists. The ongoing conflict simply allows them to vent their heartfelt anti-Semitism while sidestepping accusations of bigotry and even garnering social kudos for their woke sensitivity.

When they utter the word ‘Israelis’, other words keep flashing through their mind – just like ‘Canadians’ didn’t necessarily mean denizens of Toronto or Vancouver to American racists.

Every time Israel responds with violence to murderous forays into its territory, the anti-Semites of the world heave a sigh of relief: “Now we can.” Nor is it just isolated individuals – institutions jump at the chance too.

Since Israel was founded in 1948, the UN, to name one august organisation, has passed more castigating resolutions against Israel than against all other countries combined. If one didn’t know better, one could easily get the impression that Israel is the densest distillation of evil in the world, the greatest threat to everything we hold dear.

That tiny spec on the map sitting in the midst of vast tracts inhabited by rabid anti-Semites craving its annihilation draws more hatred than Putin’s Russia, Xi’s China or Kim’s North Korea.

Yet unlike those three, Israel is a truly democratic state where all citizens, including Arabs, enjoy greater freedoms than anywhere else in the Middle East. A state that’s our only ally in the region, an oasis of Western civility in the desert of savage barbarism. Not a perfect state by any means – we aren’t blessed with such things in this life. But definitely the best place in the Middle East and one of the best in the world.

Yet making such points is useless. Everyone knows all this anyway, and the line isn’t drawn between the ignorant and the educated. It’s drawn between decent people and anti-Semites.

The latter category evidently includes Karim Khan, ICC prosecutor who has issued an ICC arrest warrant against Israel’s PM and Defence minister whom he accuses of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Mr Khan (no relation of the London mayor) is British, born in Scotland and weaned on the finest traditions of British legality.

That Scotsman born and bred detects moral – and, more to the point, legal – equivalence between Israel trying to stamp out the terrorists who perpetrated the worst attack on Jewish people since the Holocaust and the terrorists themselves.

No sane person, especially one endowed with any moral sense, would feel that way unless the real reason for his actions was different from the ostensible one. That warrant is as clear an anti-Semitic statement as Jesse Jackson’s ‘Hymietown’. It’s just worded differently, relying on Aesopian shorthand.

This sort of thing lacks novelty appeal for me. I grew up in Moscow, where the streets were alive with the sounds of anti-Semitic invective. Yet the press was slightly more circumspect, relying on Aesopian more than Russian. I was too little to remember the openly Judeophobic campaign during the ‘Doctors’ Plot’, but in my day ‘Israelis’ and ‘Zionists’ were the Aesopian for ‘Jews’.

Soviet papers regaled their readers with anti-Semitic cartoons that would have made Julius Streicher wince at such a lack of subtlety. Muscovites quipped that the traditional anti-Semitic term ‘kike snout’ was being replaced with ‘the face of aggression’. No one was in any doubt as to the real meaning of those cartoons and their impassioned captions.

I wouldn’t waste my breath trying to argue with that good Scotsman, Mr Khan. One can take rational exception only to rational thoughts, not to inflamed passions. He just wouldn’t see the self-evident truth that Hamas is as responsible for the deaths of the civilians it uses as a human shield as it is for the sadistic murder of 1,500 Israelis.

Meanwhile, Norway has declared its intention to recognise ‘Palestine’ as an independent state from 28 May. It will be followed in short order by other EU members, starting with Spain and Ireland. Do those governments actually think this futile gesture will bring peace to the Middle East? Nobody is that stupid. But some people are that impassioned.

But Canadians shouldn’t worry. They can stay in North America and continue to speak English or French – as long as they eschew Aesopian.

P.S. Speaking of language, I love the way the word ‘philosophical’ is used nowadays. Following the resignation of Pochettino, the coach of Chelsea FC, the papers are writing about a ‘philosophical divide’ between him and the club owners. Does this mean he is a logical positivist and they are deconstructionists? Or is it just that they mispronounce ‘Kant’ and ‘Foucault’?

6 thoughts on “Ship all Canadians to Africa”

  1. I will never understand the source of this anti-Semitism. Back when I read the daily paper, I do not remember a single cartoon lampooning Jews, so it is not a narrative pushed by the media or the “establishment”. I sincerely doubt that any of the protestors on our college campuses have had negative dealings with Jewish people. Where does it come from? Are the Jews adversely affecting these people’s lives? Is it taught in the classrooms? I am college educated. It did not come up in any of my course lectures. But then, I focused on mathematics with the bare minimum of “general education” and nothing from the sociology department. Whatever the source, it sure appears to be a visceral and irrational hatred.

    1. I think any attempt to identify rational causes for anti-Semitism is doomed to failure. The causes are mostly visceral and often dormant, but that doesn’t make them non-existent: they regularly produce effects after all. One such effect is the exaggerated concern for the self-induced plight of the ‘Palestinians’ voiced by the same people (or their typological descendents) who ignored the mass murders in, say, Burundi and Rwanda – and who now say that the mass murder of Ukrainians is none of their business (or else that ‘things aren’t so straightforward’).

  2. Stop Press. The Scot Karim Khan has today been joined by the Welshman Nawaf Salam in condemning the Israelis as the bunch of Sasannaich and Saeson that they so obviously are. “Clear it is, look you,” says Mr Salam in his mellifluous Swansea accent. “It is burning our Wesleyan chapels that doing they are, and strong drink to our hard-working miners they are introducing. All gassed they would be, if my way I had.”

    Mr Khan’s preferred acronym is “ICC”, and Mr Salam’s is “ICJ”, but the fact that they’re both Methodists is obvious to anybody who understands their ancient Celtic surnames.

    (Apologies to my Welsh friends. Gobeithio’ch bod chi’n cael cymod.)

    1. I’m surprised you have Welsh friends, but I’m sure they must be Sasannaich and Saeson, which is to say Anglo-Welsh. On the other subject, Penelope (who is much more computer-literate than I am) says you can edit your comments, even if you can’t preview them.

      1. Pia Penelope (as Propertius calls her, and classical Latin has no greater compliment) is mistaken: I can’t edit my comments. Moreover, ticking the boxes to be notified by email of new posts and follow-up comments has no effect. Am I alone in suffering these minor inconveniences?

        My Irish grandfather (who fought at the Somme) used to say that the only good Welshman was a dead Welshman. You and he might have got on well together.

        Nos da.

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