Come to think of it, why use "volunteers" to run the Olympics? -

Come to think of it, why use “volunteers” to run the Olympics?


Don’t tell anybody, but I’m rather tickled that the Queen Charlotte Islands have been given back the name of the slaveholding empire that was once centred there. Such a cheeky gesture! So politically incorrect! So contrary to the stifling liberal spirit of our age! It is almost literally as if Mississippi got renamed Whitetopia; and yet the progressives are simply falling over themselves with naïve praise. I raise a glass to you and shoot you a sly wink, Government of British Columbia!


Come to think of it, why use “volunteers” to run the Olympics?

  1. Meh, the British practiced slavery when they named the islands too. So naming the islands after one slave trading empire is no different than naming it after the Queen of another slave trading empire.

    • Why you gotta go and ruin everything for Mr Cosh, just when he was feeling all impish?

    • Oh, sure. It's not as though that wicked Royal Navy was on the immediate verge of becoming the greatest institutional enemy that slavery has ever known in the long record of mankind. Or anything like that.

      • I'm sorry, but how is that even remotely material to the conversation at hand?

        • What's the matter, don't you like impishness?

      • Well sure, nearly 60 years later.

  2. I miss Kady.

    • Has no-one explained the internet to you? Kady has not died, you can still enjoy her company every day with only a very little effort on your part. Make the effort.

    • I do too. I can click over to CBC, but I miss her as part of this 'hood. Don't much care for the substitute, either.

    • She's easy to find. We won't miss you.

  3. I'm not with you on this one. Your ignorance is showing, and you are embarrassing yourself. Suggest you read Ian Gill's "All That We Say is Ours: Guujaaw and the Reawakening of the Haida Nation." As a start.

  4. Don't got an answer then I gather?

    • Absolutely not. I mean, it would obviously be unreasonable to regard the empire that extirpated slavery from most of the world as being distinct from North American slaveholding cultures that may well have outlasted the Confederacy. Perish the thought.

      • "…that may well have…"

        …or may well have not. while that bit of conjecture may be convenient to your point it remains conjecture.

        but even if not, do you truly believe that the colonial British empire is actually morally superior to the Haida?

        • do you truly believe that the colonial British empire is actually morally superior to the Haida?

          Thoroughly and self-evidently, yes.

          • avr, did you not learn in grade school it was rude to answer questions asked of someone else? colby is an adult, he can answer on his own; had i sought your opinion, i surely would have asked for it.

  5. 60, less than 20… why quibble over numbers?

    • I must admit that I don't know much about 18th century Britain but…

      In 1787, the area was named the Queen Charlotte Islands after the ship of Captain George Dixon – which in turn took its name from Queen Charlotte, the wife of the British monarch at the time, King George III.

      The Slavery Abolition Act 1833 (citation 3 & 4 Will. IV c. 73) was an 1833 Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom abolishing slavery throughout most of the British Empire.

      So 40 years for the abolition of slavery in the British Empire. With a little more research, I see that you are talking about the West Africa Squadron of the Royal Navy, which was formed to enforce the Slave Trading Act of 1807 and basically shut down the Atlantic slave trade over the next 53 years. However, the fact remains that the British tolerated slavery of those who were slaves or the descendants of slaves until 1833.

  6. Oh, I'm sorry. I was unaware that the Haida still practiced slavery. My bad.

  7. You're lack of reasoning is breathtaking, Cosh.

    So, the denizens of the United States of America shouldn't be allowed to keep calling their nation that same name after they outlawed slavery in the 1860s (followed by about 100 years of segregation), due to a horrific civil war?

    I'm with Mike T., I (still) really miss Kady's posts.

    p.s. Do a poll of folks in B.C., including yours truly, and I guarantee you the vast majority of people would be happy with the name change back to Haida Gwaii (it's already informally referred to that on many occasions).

    • I think one can go a step further even Dee, one would get more odd looks referring to QCIs than HG.

      • I agree. Most around me have called the islands HG all along, clarifying with QCIs if necessary.

    • I feel like you're missing the basic point.

      • I'm not missing the basic point, I'm dismissing it.

        The Haida people have lived on their islands for at least 12,000 years and were decimated 90% in the 1800s by introduction of European diseases. The province claimed their land, despite it never having been sold or ceded, and over generations the Haida have resisted theft and destruction of their natural resources in every non-violent way imaginable, from educating their young people to become topnotch lawyers to demonstrations and blockades. They welcomed moral support from non-Haida, but made it clear that the fight was theirs, part of healing and uniting their people and saving their home/land.

        The official renaming is merely an acknowledgment, as part of reconciliation and mutual respect, of the name of the islands that their people (and most BCers) already use. Haida Gwaii simply means 'Island of the People.' Names, and their lineage and ownership, are culturally important. The 'Queen Charlottes' weren't even named for a queen (on the other side of the world), they were named for the explorers' ship.

        The longtime Haida leader, Guujaaw ('Drum') is a remarkable and selfless man.g

        • I don't disagree that it's a good thing, or potentially a good thing, and has good reasons to have been part of the agreement. I don't think Colby disagrees either actually. The basic point, as I read it, is simply that people are just people and the British Empire didn't invent slavery or the ills of the world by any stretch. We could even go out on a limb and say that there may even have been and are exceptional things about British or Anglo culture, but maybe that's just crazy talk. Renaming the islands has connotations of wholesomeness and anti-Imperial reconciliation and to a degree that's true. But to a certain degree that's also bunk and nothing's more in the spirit of egalitarianism to point that out. Hopefully it isn't too cheeky of me to accuse Cosh of being egalitarian.

          • If that was Colby Cosh's point, he should have expressed it more clearly.

          • That wasn't his point. Far as I can tell, his point was gratuitous derision.

          • "So contrary to the stifling liberal spirit of our age!"

          • Wow, that clarification makes it even worse.

            Yes, there is a small hint of British bashing with a lot of things we do now, particularly things like reverting back to how it was before the Imperialists came and changed things. But, speaking as someone of entirely British descent, the larger portion of emotion is to reclaim that which was lost by those that lost it. I am proud of my British roots as I am proud of the glorious history of Britian–but I'm not blind. Part of that glorious history is less than savoury. But then, so is every culture's history. To disparage the Haida's history as less worthy than British history, to the point where the Haida shouldn't name their own islands, is astonishing. "We're historically better than you" does not give any culture the right to impose its opinion/names/beliefs on another culture. Slavery may have been prohibited in 1833, but it seems there's been no moratorium on arrogance.

          • I reread the comment you replied to and I really did say that I "don't disagree" with renaming the islands. I also argued that I didn't think Cosh literally disagreed with the renaming either but was making an oblique but accesible point. Looking at the replies to Jack Mitchell's 'Norway is still called Norway' comment I see Cosh says we're talking about changing the English language term for the islands and I think, but don't know, that says he does disagree with it.

            I do agree with changing the name. Unlike apparently everyone here I don't see English and Haida as inimically separate nations but as both parts of a Canadian nation. So it's natural to me that the main language should include Haida names and words. (…continued)

          • Sorry, I kind of skipped both the beginning and end of your post in my indignation at the middle. Just that your other words for Cosh's post both clarified it and zeroed in on what I found objectionable. Consider the end of my post to be directed at Cosh.

            I completely agree with you about the "both parts of a Canadian nation." Sort of like we mostly say Trois Riviere even though not all of us speak French (including me, if I spelled that incorrectly). I actually find it disconcerting (if I even get where they're talking about) when people say "Three Rivers".

          • ah, looking back again I see my sentence about 'maybe even exceptional things' sticks out quite a bit. Like yours: the larger portion of emotion did to me. It's been pretty long since the last time I stopped reading something to just admire the poetry – which is amazing since I already knew you were criticizing my comment.

          • Um, was that a compliment? Of my writing? Were you admiring the poetry of my writing style? I ask this because I want to crow to my writing group, and of course I want to make sure I have the right. Because it would be pretty amazing. And so, if it was, thank you.

          • Absolutely, I really stopped and just… liked that sentence – in the middle of your criticism – for a while. I'm a skimmer: 100 pages an hour, I can tell time by it. Thank you. :)

          • Awesome! Thanks. Must be nice to be able to read so fast.

            Ha, so take that, MYL! My writing career is back on!

          • Referring to heritage, I'm a mix up of Irish, English, Dutch, Norwegian, and probably others. Maybe because of that I feel more "ethnic" commonality with North American Natives than with Dutch or Norwegian people. My identified ethnicity on polls is Canadian and to me that includes Natives just as much, if not more so. This is why I appreciate the egalitarian point that I interpret from the original post. I don't mean to argue British exceptionalism at all by talking about egalitarianism and how "people are just people" and I'm pretty confused that it was seen that way.

  8. Well, Norway is still called Norway, and those guys terrified the whole of Northern Europe, rather like the Haida terrified the Pacific coast.

    Also, "Gwaii" just means "Islands" and there are lots of Haida living on them. I can think of worse misnomers than "Islands of the Haida" for the islands that the Haida live on.

    • Yo. 'Islands' plural. Missed a keystroke there. But hey, there's no reason to stop with Norway. Last I checked, all the other former slave-holding colonial empires in Europe still get to call their countries by their old native names.

      • You guys know that "Norway" isn't what the Norwegians call Norway, though?

        • When I was last there, no one called it by its formal name: "Kingdom of Norway". Most just referred to it as "Norway" (in one of three dialects). Don't worry, Colby, you'll make it to your junior year eventually.

          • Let's try this again: you guys know that "Norway" isn't what the Norwegians call Norway when they are speaking Norwegian to other Norwegians, RIGHT?

          • Hvordan sier du "Norway" på norsk?

          • Bokmål eller nynorsk?

          • Of course. We're not stupid. Trying to change the channel, are you?

          • "We're"? I'm sure the other commenters would appreciate it if you confined yourself to answering for your own stupidity or lack of it. "Haida Gwaii" was already an accepted name for the islands for geographical and postal purposes: the effect of the new edict is to eliminate the existing ENGLISH-language term for them, which means the point about what other countries call themselves, or any point about what the Haida call the islands, is misdirected and irrelevant. [Points remote, presses button]

          • OK, I'll wade in on this. Class, now compare this comment by Cosh with his original posting. Does the shifting from his opening argument, and the assimilation of information opposing it, remind you of anyone? Or, taking a psychological perspective, describe narcissism.

          • So you're in favour of renaming them the "Haida Islands"? That seems better all round.

          • Yeah Cosh, it makes a lot more sense to keep a place-name that has existed for about 220 years as opposed to just using an existing name that has been around for thousands of years. *Yeesh*.

          • "We're"? I'm sure the other commenters would appreciate it if you confined yourself to answering for your own stupidity or lack of it. "Haida Gwaii" was already an accepted name for the islands for geographical and postal purposes: the effect of the new edict is to eliminate the existing ENGLISH-language term for them, which means the point about what other countries call themselves, or any point about what the Haida call the islands, is misdirected and irrelevant. [Points remote, presses button]

        • You guys know that "Norway" isn't what the Norwegians call Norway, though?

          They call it "Norge," but we've been calling it "Norway" (well, "Northway") since the days when they were calling it "Noregr." Also, the Old Norse form was apparently *norðvegr, i.e. "North-way," so our name for it is actually purer than theirs. By contrast, "Queen Charlottes" is pretty neologistic.

  9. Good catch, Colby.

  10. Pathetic.

    • Yes, you really are. Take it back to the undergrad aboriginal-studies seminar, please.

  11. I'm not sure that the antidote to the groundless admiration (i.e., noble savage or tree hugger type narratives) is to shove back with simplistic stereotypes of an opposing nature. Neither serves to acknowledge folks like the Haida as real people with complex histories. And both tend to use native groups as pawns in a broader debate. Which wouldn't be so concerning if it didn't contribute to a popular conception that tends see groups like the Haida as unchanging, simplistic fossils who are not really part of the modern world.

    • Hear, hear.

    • Agreed. But support for a complex, negotiated protocol regarding sovereignty and resource management that was arrived at by current actors in the real world isn't naive and groundless admiration. I haven't identified any tree huggers and noble savage worshippers in this thread. I'd suggest looking into the history and details of the agreement, which is indeed groundbreaking for aboriginal-settler relations anywhere in the world (although New Zealand is way ahead of us in this). The return of the name of Haida Gwaii represents one stage in a long conversation, and is not some kind of naive superficial political correctness. I'd say the original post at the top of this thread comes closer to that.

      • I was referring to Cosh's post, not the agreement itself.

        • Got it. When he says "progressives are simply falling over themselves with naïve praise," it's a straw man/woman setup. To whom is he referring, other than to a simplistic stereotype that supports his own apparent prejudices? I have to agree with Jody; Cosh's ignorance on this subject is showing. Or maybe he doesn't care, and only wants to generate blowback hits on the blog. But snide ridicule doesn't become him. Whether or not he's aware of embarrassing himself is another question.

          • I think the "progressive" use/misuse of native stereotypes (positive, but facile) Cosh references is real enough. It often comes from a well-meaning place, but isn't helpful in the long run. I just think there's better ways to call folks out on it than positing contrary stereotypes or oversimplifications. It reminds me of the madonna-whore paradox critqued by feminists, in some ways.

          • I think you're right, and that's an interesting analogy. It seems to me the goal here isn't useful discussion but provocation — being the 'politically incorrect' bad boy. For someone playing such a role (and for someone who has an ego need to win), slippery arguments and personal attacks are defensive maneuvers in a wicked game. The audience here at Maclean's may prove to be a bit different from the one at the National Post, however, and more willing to bell the bully.

          • For the record, I rather enjoy Cosh's writing. While I may not always agree with him, I like that he casts his nets widely for stuff to write about. Unlike Steyn's slavish army of yes-men commenters who kill the conversation under his articles, I've found there's a little more room to discuss and differ – at least so far.

    • I consider in an unbrash way that the inoculation to unfounded stereotypes truly may be found in mischevious counter-types. Providing that a sense of good humour is attained it provides a platform that opens up the only launch path to real perspective available in our day. The absurdity energy of the juxtaposition of the dominant stereotypes on the chess board of rhetoric pushes us off the playing field where our equal and opposite reaction is to observe the corresponding flaws of both. In that sense the harder the shoveback the more clearly and carefully we may perform that observation, provided we have not been knocked out – which is where mischief and ability to recognize it are valuable.

      … that might sound insincere, but I really think your comment is really good. I hope you appreciate the parody of your style, if not I apologize! I disagree that the content of it applies to Cosh's post but I couldn't agree much more with it on a general level. I think the progressive stereotype is more dominant and so more of a problem but the sum total of the reason I don't read Kate McMillian's blog anymore is that what you say applies perfectly to her.

      • LOL! A few hundred more pages like that first paragraph and a PhD would be yours!