Editors, the Gauntlet,
Re: “Treaties promote inequality” Oct. 14, 1999
Brian Low’s column has several serious flaws and I don’t think that they can be overlooked. Let’s start with the first sentence: “Do natives deserve special rights?”
The word “special” offers an insight into how Low regards Natives and the insight is much more general for Canadian society as a whole. Below the surface level the word implies coercion and ethnocentrism because it is based on a belief that Natives are Canadians before they are members of there own social groups (be that Tribes or Nations). Treaty rights shouldn’t be regarded as Natives having “special rights” as Canadians, they should be regarded as Natives having distinction from Canadian society based on how they have always regarded themselves. Low’s comment is based on a coercive belief that Natives should ‘just be Canadian’ and the opinion is based a belief that Natives are culturally inferior, possibly racially. An opinion that makes the article title completely ridiculous.
Treaties do not promote inequality, they are in part based on mutual recognition of respect; Low says that treaties “promote inequality” then he is the one who holds an inegalitarian a priori because he ossifies perspectives along a racial/cultural boundary.
Low also argues that treaty rights have lead to poverty and suffering in Native communities. The argument is popular in Canada, but it is simply guilt management. Canadians who make this argument are trying to kill two birds with one stone: “I don’t have to worry about Natives because it is their own fault and on top of that getting rid of treaty rights quells my jealousies.” It is the capitalist fallacy that believes socializing costs entails inefficiency. The roots of the conditions in Indian societies are much deeper. North America, South America, Australia, Ocean Islands, and African areas conditions to indigenous people in the Third World are the result of European imperialism. It takes a special talent not to see the correlation; as far as causation is concerned I think that there is some common sense involved. When the people in power are racists it is not surprising to find that the subjects of their animosity are suffering That’s the root: racism.
Concerning harm against Chinese and Japanese people in history?
The argument is simply a false precedent; it doesn’t have anything to do with treaty rights. Treaties do not redress past wrongs, they maintain a modicum of respect for other cultures as equal participants in the treaty making process. In our society, there is a perceived emphasis on individuality and freedom from the group, but this perception is shortsighted, in fact it is the exact opposite of the truth. People in our society are very coercive and that is very clear in Low’s article: “just be Canadian” seems to be his motto and it requires a special talent not to see that as coercive.
You would think that an article underneath the heading Pravda would offer some kind of unique perspective rather than just reinforce the dreadful status quo.
Editors, the Gauntlet,