COLUMN: Living in an ultra-sensitive age

We are living in the offended era …

by Chris Foulds

We are living in the offended era, an age in which small segments of society may not be offended by anything, which has spurred them to find something that might offend them so they don’t feel excluded from the club.

Statues commemorating the Confederacy are toppling across the U.S. Deep South and even Canada’s first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, has become the target of some who feel offended by his name being on buildings and his visage being on our money.

Why? Because Macdonald, along with being the father of our country by uniting it with the railroad, was also a hard-drinking man under whose policies Indigenous peoples suffered.

We can argue all day about whether Macdonald should be honoured and never agree.

But I have read enough books to know that if we scratched the surface of any person from any culture from any time, we will find enough disturbing details that would preclude all of mankind from being honoured in any way.

I am three-quarters through Hampton Sides’ book, Blood and Thunder, a fascinating tale of how the U.S. settled the West by the cruelest means possible, with various native tribes victimized horribly.

However, Sides also points out that the Navajo, Apache, Comanche, Utes and other tribes were slave-traders who would slaughter entire villages at will.

The point is: who are we, in 2017, to judge those from another time, who were living in a society we cannot even begin to comprehend now?

Meanwhile, as debates rage over Macdonald, Edward Cornwallis, Matthew Begbie, Robert E. Lee and others, a professor at Simon Fraser University has managed to take this age of being offended into the realm of the ridiculous.

According to The Peak, SFU’s independent student newspaper, philosophy professor Holly Andersen has started a petition to have the university’s nickname changed.

SFU is that rare Canadian university whose sports teams play in the U.S., as SFU competes in NCAA Division II.

Because SFU teams play squads south of the border, Anderson is calling for the school to drop the Clan nickname because some Americans may confuse it with the Ku Klux Klan.

Let’s be clear: The university atop Burnaby Mountain was named after American explorer Simon Fraser. The school adopted the Scottish roots of Clan Fraser, which today counts thousands of people all over the world.

The SFU Clan embraces a family with common roots. The Ku Klux Klan embraces racist nonsense.

Yet Anderson feels a name honouring family and bonding and love should be erased because a group of redneck bigots south of the border decided in 1865 to bastardize the King’s English by replacing a C with a K?

Here’s a suggestion: How about starting a petition calling on Ku Klux Klan Imperial Wizard Richard Preston change the name of his organization, which is sullying the true Clan moniker?

However, if Anderson’s petition has done nothing else, it has at least offended me to the core — and I no longer feel like an outsider in this ultra-sensitive age.

Chris Foulds is the editor of Kamloops This Week.

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