Jim Taylor's Columns - 'Soft Edges' and 'Sharp Edges'

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25

Nov

2018

Think twice before saying something offensive

Author: Jim Taylor

Harjit Sajjan is a Sikh, a man with brown skin, a full beard, and a turban. He’s also Canada’s Defence Minister.

            An unnamed member of Canada’s  Conservative Party posted a Facebook message with a photo of Sajjan and the caption, “This is what happens when you have a cabinet based on affirmative action.”

            I haven’t heard much opposition to affirmative action recently. (Clearly, I move in different circles from the person who posted the message.)

            Affirmative action is a process for righting past wrongs. For admitting more Black or indigenous students to universities, because they were previously discriminated against. For hiring more visible minorities on police forces. For promoting more women to management positions.

So when newly elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced in 2015 that his cabinet would be 50 per cent female, there was shock. Fear that cabinet members would be appointed for their gender, not their competence.

            In fact, Trudeau’s affirmative action didn’t stop with gender equality. He also included non-Caucasians in his cabinet. Among them, Harjit Sajjan, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan.

            The Conservative party’s Facebook post reveals that some of its members still object to affirmative action. 


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18

Feb

2018

When did it become wrong to be right?

Author: Jim Taylor

Somehow, political correctness has morphed into political incorrectness. It has become wrong to be right.

            Consider Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. During an open house gathering in Edmonton, early in February, he suggested that a woman refer to “peoplekind” rather than “mankind” -- “because it’s more inclusive,” Trudeau explained.

            It was a good-natured exchange. The speaker laughed and agreed. The audience applauded.

            But commentators on three continents ridiculed Trudeau for wanting to use “politically correct” language. Among them, of course, was Donald Trump’s favourite network, Fox News.

           Don’t we get it yet? “Politically correct” language is not a fad. It’s the way we learn and change. The ideas, the concepts -- and yes, the prejudices -- lodged in our brains do not, will not, change until we learn to use different words to express them.

 


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