Reader objects to terms used in Canadian Mennonite
In the last few years there has been a marked increase of “coded language” in Canadian Mennonite. By this I mean terms which have ideological implications beyond their dictionary meanings.
For example, back in the 1950s and ’60s the buzzword was “change.” Everybody jumped on the bandwagon, especially educators: “Yeah! I’m all for change! Bring it on!”
Most people did not get the full ideological implications of the term, namely, that “change” meant a quick march towards a more Marxist, post-revolutionary and post-Christian society.
Nowadays, the dominant buzzwords are “racism” or “systemic racism.” These terms are widely used to refer to anything related to European society, culture, heritage or ancestry.
When such words become part of our everyday language, they work to prejudice our thoughts, emotions and opinions.
It is fairly simple for interested parties to use coded language to replace plain language. For example, instead of talking about Natives and non-Natives, we can refer to people as “Indigenous” and “settlers.”
This prejudices any discussion by privileging the claims of the former as having value, and dismisses any value pertaining to the latter.
Why doesn’t the writer or commentator just say that he or she believes that all Native claims are valid, and all non-Native claims are not? After all, even in Canada, the government allows a partial measure of freedom of speech.
Writers and editors might feel themselves liberated by being free to say what they really mean. It will at least free your readers from seeking to decode every ideologically charged term which they might run across while perusing your pages.
—Kevin McCabe, St. Catharines, Ont.
The writer is a member of Grace Mennonite Church, St. Catharines, Ont.
Reader calls climate-change letter misleading
Re: “Fight climate change by shipping liquid natural gas overseas” letter, March 21, page 8.
This letter reflects the public’s generally poor understanding of both the climate crisis and energy options that has resulted from the media listening too much to vested fossil interests. Therefore, no doubt with impeccable intentions, the letter writer misleads:
- On personal responsibility for the climate crisis. Yes, it’s important that we each look to what we can do ourselves. But, in the writer’s heavily polluting province of Alberta—exceeded worldwide in per capita greenhouse gas emissions only by my own province of Saskatchewan and a couple of American states—about 79 percent of the emissions are the direct responsibility of heavy industry. Even of the remaining emissions that can be ascribed to individuals, small businesses and farms, significant reductions cannot be achieved without changes to government policy in electricity generation, transport infrastructure, planning, building codes and retrofit financing.
- On solar and wind. European jurisdictions that started the transition earlier are avoiding the problems seen in Alberta. Electric grids need to be reconfigured to take advantage of variable renewables. (National Grid in Britain is currently midway through a five-year process.) It’s no surprise that the Alberta grid, until recently heavily dependent on burning coal, has not yet made all the necessary changes.
- On liquid natural gas (LNG). LNG is a more emissions-intensive technology than its promoters claim. Multiple lines of research show methane emissions from fracking operations to be much higher than reported, to the extent that the lifecycle climate impact of fracked gas is similar to that of coal. Then add the emissions from liquefication and transportation.
The big picture from peer-reviewed science says that, to avoid catastrophe, all fossil fuels must be phased out within decades.
—Mark Bigland-Pritchard (online comment)
‘Almighty God is masculine and feminine’
Re: “Reader says his Bible has no feminine references to God or Holy Spirit” letter, March 7, page 8.
I have at least nine different versions of the Bible on my bookshelves (and countless more on my phone), and in none of them can I get past the first page of the first chapter of the first book without coming across the idea that humanity is defined as created in God’s image.
And what is God’s image? “Male and female created he them” (Genesis 1:27). Both genders are required to represent the image of God. Can’t get much clearer than that.
Feel free to refer to God as a “he” for convenience, but recognize the limitations of human language. Almighty God is masculine and feminine in all his divine boundless and eternal love. At least that’s what my Bible tells me.
—Gord Willms (online comment)
Regarding "Reader objects to terms used in Canadian Mennonite" by Kevin McCabe, St. Catharines, Ont.:
I agree and would add terms like settler are meaningless in the 21st century. Neither my father and mother, grandfather and grandmother, great-grandfather and great-grandmother ever did any settler activities. My perception is these terms are used as political tools to further societal polarization using "identity" politics. If that's not the intent, it is the result.
I was born in Canada and I have never homesteaded, lived in a sod house, broken the land with a plough, or trapped beaver. But I'm still a settler because I have benefited from the settler activities that my European immigrant ancestors engaged in.
It's rather like someone who has inherited a stolen piece of valuable art: they might say, "I didn't steal it, and my parents didn't steal it -- it was my great, great, great grandfather who stole it." But if that person still possesses the artwork, then they are complicit in the long-ago crime, because they continue to benefit from its theft: in other words, they are a thief just as their ancestor was.
By the same token, someone who moves to Canada in 2022 from Ireland or Pakistan or Poland or Nepal is a settler just as I am. They have settled here and they have settled into one of the highest standards of living on the planet due to prior settlers (going back centuries) having taken land from Indigenous peoples and prospering under government systems and religious institutions that sought cultural genocide.
So, for people who don't appreciate being called "settlers," I would say two things: ask yourself how you have benefited from colonialism; and aren't there bigger issues in the world to deal with than getting bothered by someone calling you a settler?
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