Thursday, July 13, 2006

On Freedom.

Darcey, Shere Khan, and Raskolnikov at Dust My Broom run a blog that has been a daily must-read of mine for over a year. I've been fortunate enough to converse with Darcey via email a few times regarding different topics, and I'm proud to be a member of the B.A.D. (blogging and drinking) gang that gets together in cyberspace and celebrates two great Canadian pasttimes.

Raskolnikov's bio states,

I grew up on welfare, was an alcoholic and drug addict by the time I was 14. I’ve also been dealing with severe depression since the age of 14, and anxiety disorder in the last few years. This is nothing to brag about. Just the facts. I’m now proud of who I am — warts, scars, Indian blood, panic attacks, big, loud, foul mouth and all.

I cleaned myself up without managing to blame white people for my problems and have almost 10 years of post-secondary education behind me. I read three or four hours a day, mostly art history, general history and politics, try to write a few hours a week, but photograpy has taken over writing as my passion, and watch way too much Simpsons, Sopranos and Six Feet Under. I despise hip-hop and country music.
I have zero tolerance for the cult of victimhood that pollutes my people. I will not subscribe to the ‘woe is me” mentality. Residential schools that ran 80 years ago and nameless explorers that slaughtered my ancestors in the 17th Century have absolutely no bearing on why it took me six years to finish high school.

Strong statements from a man who experienced more hard times by the time he was fifteen than I have at the age of 27.

I especially enjoy when the discussion at the Broom turns (as it inevitably does) to Aboriginals First Nations Indians and the reserve system. I've always hated the reserve system. About as much as I hate racism. Growing up in northern B.C. and seeing scores of drunken, disorderly down-n-outers will certainly make you think twice about the supposed benefits of "status cards" and "first nations treaties". Combine that with the fact that full-time welfare recipients are living off government hand-outs (read: my tax money), and the feelings of animosity towards this continuing travesty only increase within me. Two weeks ago I was doing some work at the Wi'tat nation at Fort Babine. I had never been there before, but had heard stories of what life is like there from many people. It is a beautiful place to be visit, but you sure as hell would not want to live there. Upon my arrival, I saw a group of people outside their home drinking beer. Normally that isn't a problem for me, and I'd even be inclined to join them for a round, but this was at ten o'clock in the friggin' morning. Not only were the adults completely smashed, but their son (presumably) was staggering around as well. I would put him in the 14-16 year old range. They were not the only ones, either. The houses that I was supposed to work on were unimaginably grotesque. Rotten food-stained drywall. Cracked, broken linoleum. Moldy, smelly bathrooms. Ten to twelve inhabitants in a five bedroom home. A complete disaster area.

I came away with even more bitterness at this system. How the hell can we allow this to continue? Why do these people not take advantage of their Indian status and get the hell out of there? Why do people choose to live this way? When will it ever change? Is there even any hope?

In his latest column, Rasky has equated the notions of freedom and revolution, and applied them directly to both the rotten and rotting reserve system, and those who inhabit and profit from it.

The result is a blog post of cosmic importance. I have not read such a piece in a long, long time. Here are four samples:

if Indians have been so forcibly assimilated into mainstream culture over the past 100-150 years, why do most of us still resemble savages in word and deed? Also, why are there little if any Indian doctors, scientists, violin-makers, logicians, oboe-players, composers and various other professionals of the White European ilk? And why, if we are so lost in the mainstream, do we play almost no part in society outside of Recidivist Psychopath Number 1, Welfare Mother Pregnant Again Number 47 and Undignified Whore, winking and blowing kisses at cruising government johns looking to hand out more welfare funding?

racism and neglect is neither rampant nor, for that matter, inherent in non-Aboriginals. (Don’t even get me started on that most destructive of victimhood fallacies, the claim of systemic racism.) Where racism does exist it usually carries little weight thanks to the idiocy of the person brandishing it, or is not racism qua racism but merely anger and frustration from people who 1) are sick of being blamed for something other people did 300 years ago 2) Are sick of seeing people suffering from no identifiable disease outside of complete dependency on the Canadian welfare state get their asses wiped and bibs washed by the government and 3) may in fact actually hate the idea that, yes, at one point, long ago, Indians were bullied and treated unjustly, and they, like all people with an ounce of morality hate bullies and injustice. However, what they hate more than bullies and injustice is someone who does nothing but bitch and moan about being bullied, and use it to get everything they demand, which they then in turn piss away;

If only the horrific impact of “European cultural imperialism” had such an overt, penetrating and no doubt lasting impact on the Indian psyche! Walk down Main Street and count how many Indian youth you see wearing Mozart shirts or can hear are listening to a book-on-tape of Hamlet. Then stop and count the G-Unit shirts, 50 Cent caps, Tupac memorial hoodies, and listen for the curses and grunts of hip hop coming from any number of headphones or car stereos. Then ask yourself from exactly where the cultural imperialism is emanating.

My idea of freedom is a society free of Pimps and victimhood, of radical idiots parroting vapid intellectual fallacies, of yet another glowing full-page feature on yet another semi-illiterate rebel chasing his tail and attempting to catapult the most trivial and infantile of acts – tearing up census forms, eating ballots — – into some grand act of subversion; and, finally, the idea that anyone who dares to see things differently is a sell-out, an assimilated neofascist self-loathing “apple” out to oppress, yet again, his own hapless people.

You would do well to read the whole thing. Beautiful words from an amazing man who has been brought from the edges of despair and hopelessness to a place of relative peace and happiness. What is best, is that he got there through a little bit of luck, and a whole lot of hard work and determination.

Go now, and educate yourself.