Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Are libertarians racist?

Strangely, the biggest issue in the recent Ontario election for me had nothing to do with our policy or platform. Two days before polling day, our candidate in Thunder Bay Superior-North (TBSN) purchased a full page ad that took issue with some First Nations' privileges in Ontario. She thought aboriginals had unfair advantages.

I'm sure many of you will think: Really, aboriginals have privileges, advantages? Aren't they second class citizens on their own land? Shouldn't we feel sorry for the way the government treats these people? Aren't Canadian governments criticized around the world for underfunding our First Nations? Shame! (here is media release with links that respond to the issue)

Frankly, I have never thought that, even though I do sympathize with the plight of aboriginals at the hands of governments all over the world.

The story goes back to late winter in 2014, the run up to the June election, which I was convinced was inevitable. The presumptive candidate for the PC party in TBSN, made a comment on her Facebook page that got her turfed out of the candidacy.

By the way, the PC's should change their name to "Politically Correct." And as far as I'm concerned the label Progressive Conservative is just oxymoronic, emphasis on moronic, because that's exactly how they appeared in this past election, but that's another story.

Some members of the party and several of the Libertarian executive committee saw this unfairness issue around aboriginals as needing to be addressed. Anyway, the PC TBSN candidate was forced out, so we asked her to join us and she did. We were attempting to fill the slate (107 ridings) and had candidates in all parts of the province for the first time ever. This candidate had already received media attention in her riding and throughout the North. Several of us spoke to her, and we agreed this was an issue created and exasperated by government and bureaucracy. Perfect for us.

Immediately I received emails and social media messages that accused us of harbouring a racist, and implying Libertarians were racist. I was bothered by this at first, and I even tried to defend the decision, but I soon realized these comments stemmed from outright ignorance.  

As a libertarian from the Objectivist school, I think Ayn Rand explained the foundations of "racism" best in the Virtue of Selfishness:

"Racism is the lowest, most crudely primitive form of collectivism. It is the notion of ascribing moral, social or political significance to a man’s genetic lineage—the notion that a man’s intellectual and characterological traits are produced and transmitted by his internal body chemistry. Which means, in practice, that a man is to be judged, not by his own character and actions, but by the characters and actions of a collective of ancestors.

"Racism claims that the content of a man’s mind (not his cognitive apparatus, but its content) is inherited; that a man’s convictions, values and character are determined before he is born, by physical factors beyond his control. This is the caveman’s version of the doctrine of innate ideas—or of inherited knowledge—which has been thoroughly refuted by philosophy and science. Racism is a doctrine of, by and for brutes. It is a barnyard or stock-farm version of collectivism, appropriate to a mentality that differentiates between various breeds of animals, but not between animals and men."

I've just commented on racism as a form of collectivism, abhorrent to me, so you will pardon me if I attempt to characterize the group (not a collective) called "libertarians."

My experience is that libertarians are the most accommodating people you would ever want to meet, by and large. All of them are, of course, very opinionated, and tend to abhor all the forms of collectivism present in our society. The only preconceived notions libertarians harbour deal with governments, bureaucracies and crony corporatism. On most other issues, libertarians will have an open mind.

So you might wonder why so many libertarian and conservative thinkers are apposed to the way the First Nation's people were dealt with and are being dealt with in Canada? It's definitely not racism.

More next time.

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