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Op-Ed: Race Card — CBC's Evan Solomon insults minorities, Freeman case

By Raymond Samuels     May 3, 2012 in World
Ottawa - CBC-TV's Evan Solomon explores the question: "Conrad Black can come back, what about Gary Freeman?" In the process, Mr. Solomon links the Gary Freeman case to the use of the so-called "race card".
Evan Solomon is a Canadian writer, magazine publisher and television journalist, who currently hosts the nightly series Power & Politics on CBC News Network.
On 1 May 2012 Mr. Solomon interviewed Gary Freeman about a controversy that was sparked by Tom Mulcair’s comments [video attached]. Mr. Mulcair who is the new leader of the NDP basically suggested that Conrad Black was being let back into Canada while Gary Freeman was not, can be understood by appreciating the apparent operation of institutionalized racism. Both Mr. Freeman and Mr. Black “served their time” in the U.S. for ‘crimes‘. Mr. Freeman’s crime occurred during a general time of social upheaval in the United States during the late 1960’s Civil Rights Movement. So, what accounts for the substantive discrepancy of treatment between Mr. Black and Mr Freeman?
Indeed, Mr. Black had once referred to himself as a “Darwinian capitalist”. His financial empire was built without any regard to human rights and was based on an apparent ethos of “Darwinian capitalism”. Mr. Freeman’s political activities had been in the spirit of the advancement of human rights which got caught up in a broader context of rebellion. The police of the 1960’s which Mr. Freeman, and other blacks at the time faced were often photographed routinely beating-up peaceful protesters.
Evan Solomon claimed that Mr. Mulcair’s comments was “using the race card”. However, for many visible minorities who have experienced institutionalized racism in all its forms, arguably, the next worst things to having had those experiences, are abject denial of those verifiable patters of experiences by those who view themselves as speaking for the ‘authorities‘.
When that abject denial is then anointed by national journalists like Mr. Solomon, the result is the affirmation of a prevailing context of suffering that continues under a milieu of denial.
Arguably, the spirit of fair journalism, is to break down prejudice and to foster understanding across communities, and is not to prolong the spread of ignorant “populist” phrases like “the race card” construct which affirms the legitimacy of ignorance and the execution of alienation.
The first time I ever heard the term “race card” coincides with a Wikipedia entry. In the O. J. Simpson murder trial, where critics accused the defence of “playing the race card” in presenting Mark Fuhrman's racist past (e.g., his recorded use of the word "nigger" and his pattern of apparent tampering with murder evidence in prior cases) as a reason to draw his credibility as a witness into question.
When Mr. Solomon used the term “race card” while he was speaking with Mr. Freeman his demeanour became understandably defensive. You might wonder 'why'? Well, it is apparent that Mr. Solomon threw out the term race card in his show, with the same intent which so many other people, particularly in positions of power, use the term. “Race card” is a term that is used to somehow present verifiable and documented cases of institutionalized racism as a being a purely political ploy that is designed to mischievously make claims about an experience which does not exist. The equivalent of the term race card would be to accuse a lady who claimed that her boss was sexually harassing her as “playing the gender card” or if you cited the release of radiation toxins by TEPCO in Japan as being your desire to “play the environmental card”.
Mr. Solomon, if you decide to interview a member of a First Nations community who seeks to lobby for the affirmation of access to clean running water and basic housing on reserves and the centuries of suffering associated with that neglect, will that claim be essentially “using the native card”?
The banterers of the term “race card” seek to claim that racism does not exist anymore, and that we are somehow living in a “post racist society”. Many users of the term “race card” particularly, if they are American, will claim that because there is a black President of the United States, that must mean that racism has somehow evaporated from the entire western world. If an American voted for Obama, they may also claim that they can’t be racist in the same way someone who goes to Church “does no wrong”. Therefore, among the biggest apparent hypocrites in our society are those who seek to use the term race card.
Users who banter the term “race card” speak volumes on their own prejudice and ignorance. When those users are people in positions of authority like TV journalists on well watched political shows, the effect of their “race card” rhetoric is oppressive to people who experience the marginalizing and alienating effects of racism in their daily lives.
Mr. Solomon graduated from McGill University in English literature and religious studies. I therefore hold him to a “high standard” when it comes to social awareness and the use of the English language.
Language is a powerful communication tool. Words have power and meaning. This is what Mr. Solomon should appreciate, if he is honourable and genuine.
As a fellow member of the Jewish community, Mr. Solomon should be aware of both the racism and anti-Semitism which our people have experienced throughout the world. Therefore, Mr. Solomon, how would you like if someone started to claim you were hired to CBC because you must have played the “Jew Card”. You would be insulted too, wouldn’t you?
So I say to Mr. Solomon, keep up your generally strong contributions to the CBC and also for seeking to interview Mr. Freeman on your show. But, as a fellow Jew, shame on you for apparently seeking to nullify the experiences of other Canadians, and other peoples who have experienced racism by means of your use of the term “race card“.
Former Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau alongside many other Canadians would not have fought long and hard for the establishment of Human Rights Codes, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982, if there was no such thing as discrimination in our society.
Mr. Solomon, arguably, you most definitely owe your viewers who have experienced discrimination, and also everyone who has experienced racism, a public apology for your apparent lack of respect and empathy which you demonstrate. Your politically manipulative use of the term “race card” on your 1 May 2012 show was not consistent with the standards of journalist excellence you appear to aspire to present.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about cbc news, Evan solomon, Conrad black, GARY FREEMAN, Racism
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