Politically Correct?

It is already August and the days are cooling off. I like this month the best because the days are still long, and summer is in its languid stage. The tide was out when I walked to my weekly Thirsty Thursday meet-up with my cohort Campbell or Camp for short. He was already seated at our usual table talking to Rosie, who was sharing the floor with Vicky during the busy summer.

“Did I miss anything,” I said jokingly when I sat down.

“Not yet,” Camp said, “we’re just talking fishing, more precisely crabbing. Rosie puts out a crab trap in the evening on the Hopkins wharf and picks dinner up the next morning. Now that’s my kind of fishing. No wasting any time waiting for the fish to bite.”

“It’s not about catching alone Camp, fishing is a state of being, sort of a Zen thing. At one with nature, in the zone.” I said.

Rosie just laughed. “I’ll be right back with a couple of pints.”

“Talking about fishing,” I said, “I ran into an acquaintance the other day who just returned from the Queen Charlotte Islands where he was employed as a guide in one of those exclusive fishing lodges.”

“Haida Gway,” Camp said.

“Oh, yeah right, I keep forgetting. All these name changes. Anyway he told me that there were no fish, no salmon and that this is the worst year ever. They had thirty boats, each with three rods in the water and out of those they caught 2 salmon, maybe one small halibut. Even the local Indians don’t know what’s happening.”

“First Nation people,” Camp corrected. “You can’t call them Indians anymore or Eskimos for that mater. There are First Nations, Inuit and Metis.”

“Ok, I’m confused,” I said. “What can you call who anymore?”

“Well, you can’t call the Chinese chinks, or the British limeys, or the Italians waps or the French frogs or the Japanese japs. Those are all defamatory labels. Unacceptable today. You should know that.”

“But you can call Canadians Canucks and the Scots Highlanders and the Norwegians Vikings?”

“Sort of. It’s best to keep it simple and not use any labels,” Camp insisted.

“What about those sports teams like the ‘Edmonton Eskimos’ or the ‘Cleveland Indians’? They’re not going to change their names,” I said.

“Yes, they claim those are brand names and have historical significance. Beats me really. I just know that you have to be careful what you call a group of people. It’s all about being sensitive and politically correct.”

“Do you think all this correctness helps to reduce racism?”

“There you got me, probably not, telling by the recent rise of right wing demagogues who want to keep their populations ‘pure’ and keep the aliens out.

That sort of rhetoric always leads to hate of others, name calling,  blaming  ‘the others’ and racial violence like Nia Wilson’s murder last week in Oakland.”

“Sounds like a repeat of history.”

“Yes, and regrettably racism is alive and well, not just in the USA but here in Canada as well according to Stats Can,” Camp said.

I took a sip from my beer, which was in danger of going flat. “Long weekend coming up, B.C. day I think.”

“Yes,, commemorating 160 years of being a crown colony. And did you also know that the first settlers led by the Hudson Bay Company’s veteran James Douglas weremainly Indigenous people, Orkney Islanders, Hawaiians, Metis and Scots. Douglas who was Colonial Governor of Vancouver Island was himself part Irish Cree and his mother was a ‘free coloured woman’ from British Guiana. He invited Chinese immigrants as well as African Americans from California with their friends and families to settle on Vancouver Island. Just a bit of local history that you as an immigrant might be interested in.”

“I’ve always considered myself a DP,” I said, “half here, half there and not a day goes by without being asked where I’m from.”

“A displaced person?” Camp said, surprised. “I hope you find yourself soon because nobody else is really interested. As far as I’m concerned you have found your place, right here at the pub.”

“I’ll drink to that.”




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