The Nunavut Primaries

Nunavut aspires to consensus government rather than partisan politics. We prefer to avoid jargon flinging fiascoes like Ottawa's Question Period and the American GOP primaries.

But pre-election primary processes are remorseless and soon emerge in other areas of life where they beg the role of careless jargon.

In the Human Resources section of a Government department recently, a staffing consultant referred to a fellow Inuk employee as 'prejudiced' in their hiring decisions.

That is such a loaded word at this stage of Nunavut's development that it should never be used lightly, but rather be reserved for occasions when its immense power is justified.

We have lost so many useful words and powerful expressions through careless use. Many of us have even grown wary of the word 'antisemitism' because it is now used so carelessly.

Yet other diasporic peoples around the world often resent Euro-America's reflex and institutionalized fixation on the word when it is used outside its Euro-centric context. It can seem ... well, almost routine to people immersed in continuing generic patterns xenophobia typical of all the world's diasporic regions.

Excluded from the political and military elites of an adoptive country, what is a bright young 'Paki' to do in Africa, or a 'Chink' in Polynesia, or a 'Kike' in Europe except excel in those domains left open to them: academia, the arts, science and business.

While Euro-American antisemitism has centered mostly on banking, credit and trade, successful Jews often revel in the most exquisite refinements of music, art, literature and science in each of their host countries. Over centuries, some of these national achievements have risen to transnational significance as part of the global human legacy and Jews, like most diasporic peoples are disproportionately represented. Too often, they can be disproportionately resented as well.

Why does the Euro-American empire so easily dismiss the Indo-Pakistani diaspora in Idi Amin's Uganda, in Trinida or Guyana? What about third and fourth generation Chinese living in the Philippines? How about the attitude of local academics to the rise to prominence of Japanese scholars at the University of Hawaii in the 1980s? How about the ratio of Asian admissions to McGill or Harvard compared to their proportion in the overall North American population?

I suggest we pause for a moment before suspecting every evaluation of Nunavut's Inuit Employment objectives as prejudicial or racist. I have a dear friend who says, "Look out for jargon, it usually indicates a repository of power!" Mere clich├ęs only wilt to benign insignificance, but deep-structure jargon, the insidious and routine failure to explicitly disclose the realities to which the jargon refers have been co-opted to the service of power. Whether we call it a 'lobby' or a vested interest, they deliberately marry semantic subterfuge to political correctness in order to censor public discourse and disguise social upheaval.

The unexpected result of such jargon is postponement, anxious pretense and a political deafness that deepens the resentment it purports to divert.

The evidence spews each day from the mind-numbing likes of John Baird, Ralph Goodale, John Boehner and Mitt Romney. Semanticists and comedians must sorely miss Canada's breathless former Queen of Rant, Ruby Dhalla.

Let not Nunavut fill the gap.


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