All County, All the Time Since 2010 MAKE THIS YOUR PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY HOME...PAGE!  Tuesday, July 16th, 2024

Stuck in the Middle with You

Steve Campbell

I write these columns, not because I like to preach, or teach, but simply to throw my observations out to you, the reader, for consideration. I don’t expect agreement, and that’s a good thing, because I’ve been called everything from a racist to a fascist to a bleeding-heart liberal to a communist.
During COVID times, we might take the opportunity to reflect. Or perhaps even meditate on what we have become as individuals, and what our true meaning in life is. But no, we didn’t do that. In isolation, we didn’t look inward, but outward. We reached out from the world that was taken from us, and found Facebook and Zoom, and TV news networks and Twitter feeds.

Now County people, possibly for the first time in history, have lost track of what is happening to their neighbours. But they sure as hell know every word that comes out of President Trump, and can count on a COVID count daily, several times daily.
Our society is becoming warped and fragmented by the constant influx of information, with social media as the main outlet.
We used to banter back and forth over a beer at our local watering hole, or a dinner at a friend’s house. Agree, disagree, didn’t matter. It was a free-for-all venue for exchange of thought. Sometimes, if you didn’t get to your point fast enough, someone would take the conversation off in another direction. Didn’t matter. It was just good fun.

Words on a screen, followed by returned words on a screen … not the same. For all their brilliance, computers have no voice inflection (yet), and computer conversations are more like televised political debates than candlelight gatherings over a chocolate fondue pot.
How has this changed us? Well, here’s where I dive in, and crucify myself once again.
Our ability to ‘blog in’ and ‘respond to’ and ‘reply to’ and ‘argue with’, has created a new dynamic in our social groups. It strengthens people who have found the power to express their views – sometimes anonymously – and left the rest of us as sideliners, trying to figure out where we fit in.
To be more specific: We are all politically oriented to be Left, Right or Centre. I tend to be a little left of centre, but embrace some conservative values as well. So I am what we used to call in the ‘60s, among The Silent Majority.

Social media, however, gave a really loud voice to the extreme left and the extreme right. The extreme left has a vision for a perfect world in which every word and reference is bleached and approved, to create an ‘appropriate’ society. The far right? Well, prolific handguns, racial hatred and white supremacy pretty much tell the story on that.
As a former leftie (I think we all start out young as left-wingers, until we start making money, then we move closer to centre!) I feel that the Extremes have taken control of the Silents.
Typical of the Silent Majority, we furrow our brows and mumble when the Politically Correct people tell us that we can no longer use the words ‘him’ or ‘her’ because this is some kind of gender sexism. That’s a simple example of how weird this movement is – to ‘protect’ everyone else, who is not us.
Sure, one of us is male or female, or perhaps transgendered. Okay, no need to turn us all into ‘Its’. I’m okay if you have decided you have always embraced a particular sexual orientation. No harm in asking, “How do you wish to be addressed?” I’m sure the answer would not be: “Address me as ‘It’.”
That’s because the Oh-so-holy social warriors are the ones who are deciding what titles are proper, and the titles you use can make you a horrible anathema to society, and almost certainly a racist or a sexist.
It puzzles me that the ‘titles’ deemed appropriate are rarely decided by the supposed victims of the previous titles.
I doubt that men started shouting: “I no longer want to be known as a man!”
I’m sure most women don’t deny that they are, in fact, women. I also doubt that Indians drove the move to become ‘aboriginals’, and then later became ‘First Nations’ (which was incorrect, as not all Canadian natives are part of First Nations), and then became ‘indigenous people’. Proof of point: The natives are not the ones screaming to the press if someone calls them ‘natives’.
No, it’s the watchdogs of the words – the social warriors – who send out the letters and the hateful emails for any offenders who do not use their accepted words. They are not the ones hurt by the words – if anyone is hurt by the words! – but they are the protectors. Of people they don’t even understand.

Most of the people I have targeted have already stopped reading, and are now writing letters of condemnation, so we’re free to talk.
So I’d like to bring up the ungodly ghost of Sir John’s statue. It’s a good exercise in how extreme left thinking can affect our lives.
If I thought for a moment that putting all of the blame on Sir John for the failures of our past would set everything right, I would be in favour of melting him down into a lump of iron. But that is not the exercise we are presented with.
The Anti-JohnA’s seem to think that removing a statue would fix everything. How many of those people are fixing the problems natives have now? Today. They seem to be great at being outraged over 100-year-old failures. How many are standing up for our failures today? It’s easy to be outraged, when you’re not involved in the problem. It’s easy to throw paint.
And really, for those of us stuck in the middle, that’s what we see. There are people sitting at home and throwing paint on those of us they perceive as ‘not acting properly’. It makes us worry. It makes us concerned that we may say the wrong thing.
Sorry, but this is the tail wagging the dog. A few people who have gained power, through letters, email and the internet, sit in their bunkers and ‘echo chambers’ and cast judgement on the rest of us.

The few look like the many, but they are not. They just have a really, really loud and constant voice. They are the holy police, set out to find possible offenders, and bring them to justice. It’s like the Social Inquisition.
But really, we’re just us. I don’t know any racists. I’m good friends with men, women, gays and transgendered people. Because, in the County, we only really care about people’s character. Period. To me, the rants and tirades of the politically correct crowd are wearing thin. I’m me. I have no agenda. I don’t hate anyone. I help anyone I can. I don’t care about race, colour or sexual persuasion.
Turn your head. Look to the far right, and you will see hatred and anger and attempts to divide us. Look to the far left, and see a crew of self-righteous, self-motivated agitators who want to assign feelings of guilt to the innocent.

None of them need to affect us, though their power has already influenced our judgement and our politics, and makes us form committees to address the ‘rightness’ of decisions that were made back when we were a different society. Back when we used to be proud of our history and heritage. Before we were told we were wrong to be proud.
Us? We’re in the middle. The silent and the persecuted, feeling guilty for crimes we did not commit. And I’m stuck in the middle with you.

* Steve Campbell is editor and publisher of County Magazine, and the author of several books, including The County Handbook: How to Survive in Prince Edward County.

Filed Under: News from Everywhere ElseSteve Campbell

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  1. Gary says:

    I truly struggle with a group that wants to remove Sir John A but enjoys the Country and free speach that Sir John built. Why would one who opposes him so vehemtely desire to live in a Country he almost single handily created?

  2. Susan says:

    Rarely do we see an issue come in front Council which could very much determine their re-election. To support cancel culture or make a brave stand such as Kingston has undertaken. Tic Toc, Tic Toc.

  3. Fred says:

    Residential Schools were not an edict! Our ancestors supported such. To lay that all on one person is wrong. The thought was to save those from a lifetime of dispair. The then Sir John A built a country where all now can tear him down! Sad!

  4. ADJ says:

    Not once have I seen any blame mentioned here against the religious orders that ran these schools. This is where the real crimes were committed. Were they instructed to beat, starve and abuse the student? I admit I don’t have a good understanding of the governments involvement. We were never taught this in school when discussing our first Prime Minister and the joining of the Provinces.
    I still feel it’s only right to remove Sir John from Main street. Put it in a Park or inside the old County jail. Call it art if you wish but so is Ronald McDonald then.
    Listening to the fors and against on here is like the days of the Turbines. Dividing the community.

  5. Mark says:

    The Heritage Committee is unelected. Council needs to represent the broader view of the community.

  6. olmnonthemtn says:

    Peter Shawn Taylor writes for MacLeans and The Star National Post has in The National Post reviewed the findings of Social Identity Theory research reported by Wilfred Laurier University. He writes: ” Repeatedly hammering a dominant social group, be they males, whites, settlers, etc., for a litany of past sins appears to be a poor choice of tactics if the goal is to build universal support for programs meant to remediate present-day inequities. A more solicitous and even-handed approach to history — highlighting progress and problems in equal measure without casting blame — seems better suited to success.”
    Which is the position of the Native Chair Of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Justice Sinclair

  7. Kevin says:

    The heritage committee made a decision so we should stick to that. There too many moving parts to this and people on both sides of this argument are spewing poison.
    I actually do recall at the time the statue was being created and erected, I wondered “…why now at a time when there is so much controversy over it across the country?….” Other cities and provinces were removing it.
    For those who have never suffered cultural genocide in a country that has invested so much to save and promote civil rights of others, it is impossible to expect you to understand this sort of generational trauma this statue represents. Please, ask yourself – is it possible you are not equipped to properly substantiate the views here? After all, this mess was 200 years in the making and you claim you know the solution – that’s what got us into this mess.

  8. angela says:

    Don’t take it personally, JCM. These picketers can be found in any cause that marches. Sadly, they do more to destroy rather than promote their cause. There can be no understanding or reconciliation with their sort of anger. Perhaps in waving placards they find release for their bitterness and frustration. Sad that they had to resort to yelling and hurling names in an effort to make their point.

  9. Dennis Bond says:

    Hi Steve: People get very excited when they have a free forum to take one insight, agree or not, then express a bunch of other stuff.
    So I hope this is not too selfish.
    I enjoy your particular views, not always because I agree, but because you cause me to think.
    Years ago, when I worked in TO I would listen to Dick Smythe as I drove home from work. He was an insufferably opinionated bore ( unlike yourself) but he always made me think differently about what I thought or thought I knew.
    You do the same.
    The best part is you do it in and about local issue.
    This is a talent.
    It should be acknowledged and responded to, not ridiculed or condemned.
    I for one am a fan. Thanks for making me think.
    Keep editorialising(sic) and expressing.
    It will not hurt a soul.
    Except those that choose to be offended.

  10. JCM says:

    Thank you Steve and well done,
    Yesterday there were two women holding signs and protesting in front of the Sir John A statue. They felt it should be removed. As I went by I gave my opinion that I think it should stay. At that I was yelled at and told I knew nothing about it. I thought I would give them my thoughts and engage in a civil conversation. Not to be. Everything I said was wrong and they just kept shouting and yelling. I just turned and walked away. Only to be screamed at that I was a racist. I turned back around and said “they do not know anything about me and how dare they call me a racist.”
    The two women had every right to peacefully protest and I respected their opinion but they had so much anger that anyone who did not agree with them was shouted over and labeled a racist.

  11. SS says:

    Thanks for this, Steve.

    25 years ago, a good US friend of mine in Chicago and I were having a beer and he offered his view on the difference between Canadians and Americans.

    He said, “When Canadians have a difference of opinion with each other, they use words like ‘I disagree.’

    I said “Yes, of course. So what?”

    He then said, “When Americans have a difference of opinion with each other, they say ‘You’re wrong!'”

    I was reminded of that by your column today. Long live the right to disagree, respectfully. I far prefer saying “I disagree”, to saying that someone is wrong. (Except if they quote untruths as fact, in which case I think it’s logical to point out that fact overrides opinion).

    Saying that one disagrees with another, makes one’s view known, while still acknowledging and respecting that the other person may have a valid point of view.

    I agree with much of what you said here, and am still thinking about some of it. But regardless, thanks for the opportunity to continue the debate, at least virtually.

  12. JennyD says:

    I really don’t believe removing SJA will fix things, and neither will keeping it. I agree in the sense that many of us are stuck in the middle. Perhaps instead of looking left and right, we should look back, and then forward. How this situation evolved is so much more complicated than a statute. What do we want future generations to see?
    I think it’s the accumulation of views from many, frustrations by some and is not being perceived the same way by all.
    I don’t know that I would go as far as to describe people expressing themselves being racists or full of hatred. Isn’t it just a case of people disagreeing? Do we really need to break this down and turn it into “us and them”?
    Whether I personally agree or not, whether we are unanimous or not, I support open discussion – some folks are more passionate than other. Not everyone is right on subjects such as this where politicians set out to literally eradicate and destroy a culture. Let’s be a little more sensitive and try to understand one another before jumping on a band wagon to denounce other views. What happened to tolerance and respectful debate?

  13. KB says:

    There was a poll, for EVERYONE to participate in. That means not everyone will share the same view. It’s okay. We don’t have to agree.
    There is online bantering because columnists choose to post these issues in their columns – such as this. Again, not everyone interacting will agree.
    Nonetheless, is not everyone allowed to voice their opinion? Sounds like you only want to hear from those who will support your views, not challenge your words and not think for themselves.
    Last time I checked I’m pretty sure I still living in a democratic society where news media such as this allows my voice to be heard. You don’t like it, that’s okay. I don’t like your views, and I accept that it differs from mine. Don’t paint me a troublemaker when my opinion doesn’t match yours.

  14. Diane says:

    Steve…….. you’re a genius!!

  15. Henri Garand says:

    Bravo, Steve, for condemning the new sociopolitical tyranny. What offend me especially are the effects on free speech and rational debate.

    Our Prime Minister failed initially to condemn outright the extremist attacks in France. He suggested people had to be mindful of the views of others, essentially making the victims responsible for their own fate. The only legal constraints in Canada on free speech are the hate laws, which do not cover the beliefs and sensitivities of others.

    As for the Macdonald statue controversy, consider comments, posted elsewhere on , denying the simple fact that the statue is sidewalk art. Just ask internationally-recognized sculptor Ruth Abernethy what she thought she had produced! When a Woke comment proposed that the statue be used as an anchor, sensible discussion had clearly ended. All that was sought was popular approval and perhaps catharsis.

    We need to take back the realm of free discourse and rational argument. Debate on the Macdonald statue is a good place to start.

  16. olmnonthemtn says:

    On political correctness:
    “An elementary school student asked me the NOT politically correct question, “Is an idiot smarter than a moron?” I had to Google it because I was afraid to respond in today’s PC society and didn’t want to offend him, his parents, or anyone else. Here’s what I found.

    Technically, a moron is smarter than an idiot. An imbecile is also smarter than an idiot. Although today the words are considered insulting and derogatory, prior to the 1960s they were widely used as actual psychology terms associated with intelligence on an IQ test.

    An IQ between:
    00-25 = Idiot
    26-50 = Imbecile
    51-70 = Moron

    Explaining all of this to a nine year old with an IQ of 130 made me feel like society has turned all adults into one of the above, myself included. When I told him that I’m afraid to openly say it, the nine year old said, “Adults are idiots!”
    ― Ray Palla, H: Infidels of Oil

  17. Teena says:

    Thank you very much, Steve! Couldn’t have said it better myself!

  18. angela says:

    Bravo, Steve. The tail indeed wags the dog. And the dog is lazy. He, she, or it, allows it. Once the issue of the Macdonald statue is resolved Sir John’s opponents will move on to some other perceived injustice. They are protestors by nature, ready to take offence when non is intended. They do not build but instead strive to tear down. The cause does not matter much as long as they can march with placards, write angry letters to the editor, and hurl paint. One wonders when the dog will tire of it all, shake off its lethargy and bite the offending appendage that is wagging it.

  19. Bruce Nicholson says:

    You “hit the nail on the head” Steve.
    Well articulated !!

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