Take a fresh look at your lifestyle.

Jonathan Kay: Imported US Culture War about as Canadian as the Dallas Cowboys

Breadcrumb Trail Links

One of the advantages of being bilingual is that Québécois culture provides a necessary reality check for America-inspired manias

Article author:

Jonathan Kay

Release date:

February 23, 2021 • • 3 hours ago • • Read 6 minutes The same Canadian leftists who once warned us about the imperialist Yanqui cultural juggernaut spend their days watching Netflix, listening to The Daily, and retweeting Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (pictured). Photo by BRENDAN MCDERMID /.REUTERS

Article content

You’ve probably never heard of The Sketchersons, a Toronto-based comedy sketch troupe that has been around since 2004. Although the subject seems obscure, please let me pamper you as I walk you through the group’s recent breakdown, as it provides an unusually good case study in the social panic affecting Canada’s creative class.

In June and then again last month, the Sketchersons issued statements in which they professed their complicity in “a system built on white supremacy” and a “sketch comedy community.” [that’s] manipulated to aid whites’ success. “The Sketchersons also announced that they are putting their comedy shows on hold” for the foreseeable future “until they have restored” with a special focus on black voices “. They also said that they are donating the most recent proceeds to Black Lives Matter and that they are “pushing our audiences to do the same”.

As I noted in previous columns for Quillette and the National Post, similar internal melodramas have played out over the past year in Canadian theater companies, museums, art galleries, academic departments, and literary magazines. But the Sketchersons case seems worse to me – because these are people who pretend to be * comedians * – professional fools who would normally be expected to poke their noses at everyone else’s hollow piety.

advertising

This ad hasn’t loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

If you want * real * comedy, read the scathing comments under the Sketchersons’ Facebook post of Jan. 25 (this is their second apology for the “damage” their first apology did). My favorite is Vancouver-based comedian Jessica Joelle Pigeau, who questioned the Sketchersons guilty revelation that of their 86 past and present cast members, “only 10 were of them [non-white, and] Only five of these people were black. “Joelle Pigeau noted,” Nine percent of Toronto is black, [so] you’re just over [three] Members short. Now, 25 percent of Toronto are Asian, which means you’ll miss at least 17. Better start. “

This cult jargon has developed from the slang of the graduate seminar to the side of Hansard.

What Joelle Pigeau is offering here is more than a (adorable) snarky defeat. Your fact check moves on to the broader trend that Canadian progressives are now diving into American identity politics without worrying about how (or if) these imported dogmas relate to our own societies. For the entire seven month span between the Sketchersons’ two apologies, it apparently did not occur to either of them doing the middle school math on local demographics. (Joelle Pigeau actually kept the Asian number low, which was around 35 percent even when the 2016 census figures were published).

Is the “sketch comedy community” in Toronto really an enclave of the “white supremacists” in which, as in that famous Simpsons episode “Behind the Laughter,” the glee on the stage masks malicious intrigue? It is possible. A more mundane explanation for the Sketchersons’ recruitment problems, however, is that sketch comedy that comes close to a business model with no income will always disproportionately attract people from privileged families. And surely one of the cruelest things you can do to a black Canadian is to take them to a sketch-writing workshop where a bunch of guilty white wokesters advocate moral absolution.

advertising

This ad hasn’t loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

I wrote this progressive co-option of the American Culture War a few weeks ago when the Toronto Star experts insisted that the storming of the Capitol was somehow a symptom of the widespread white supremacy here in Canada. But the same trend can be seen everywhere. Last week, Justin Trudeau’s government decided to lift mandatory minimum sentences for certain low-level crimes. While these are reasonable reforms in and of themselves, Trudeau’s Justice Minister felt compelled to package them as blows to “systemic racism” – just as Chrystia Freeland tried to convince us that her latest budget was “feminist and intersectional.” Within a few years, this cult jargon has developed from the slang of the graduate seminar to the side of Hansard.

If you are a Canadian who has grown up in the social media era, our extensive takeover of American social justice memes probably goes without saying. But if your political memory goes back to the epochs of Jean Chrétien or Paul Martin, you will remember that Canadian progressivism was then defined by a reflexive hostility towards American “cultural imperialism”. Careers in the NDP and the Liberal Party, not to mention Canadian science, journalism, and literature, have been dedicated to the idea that our unique and precious Canadian values ​​must be protected from free trade and American cultural influences. Just two decades ago, the biggest cultural hot-button topic in Canada – and I don’t make it up – was US magazines, which exchanged several pages of Canadian news in otherwise American products. At one point, Canada was even ready to wage a trade war over the issue.

advertising

This ad hasn’t loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

This is all old history, of course: the same Canadian leftists who once warned us about the imperialist Yanqui cultural juggernaut spend their days watching Netflix, listening to The Daily and tweeting AOC. During the Trump presidency, some old-school progressives pounded the CBC’s news producers wall-to-wall over short Canadian stories in favor of American outrageous porn. But who can blame them? Among the CBC’s dwindling fan base, Lisa LaFlamme and Sandie Rinaldo aren’t the real competition for ears and eyeballs. It’s Rachel Maddow and Chris Hayes.

When it comes to watching Anglo Canada’s collapse race, I’m a Montreal citizen at heart. I will never fully internalize the fashionable customs of Toronto’s cultural scene, which is why these Sketcherson confessions were read to me as if they were written in a strange foreign language. One of the benefits of Canadian bilingualism, I would argue, is that Québécois culture provides a necessary reality check for America-inspired manias that are now routinely metastasizing throughout the Anglosphere.

In a speech earlier this month, French President Emmanuel Macron made a slant reference to “certain social science theories that were entirely imported from the United States”. A few days later, Quebec Prime Minister François Legault was more explicit about radical activists who were trying to censor some words and works. We’re seeing a movement from the US and, to be honest, I don’t think it’s like us. “It speaks to the spirit of intellectual conformity that now worries us that the only Canadian Prime Minister willing to provoke our imported forms of racial obsession is the one who speaks English as a second language.

advertising

This ad hasn’t loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

The anger against political correctness is of course as old as political correctness itself. What is (relatively) new is the recognition that the ideology of social justice, for all its universalist anti-colonial claims, is a product of America’s particularly tragic historical relationship with race – from slavery and civil war to Jim Crow. “Separate but equal”, the era of civil rights, and explicitly post-liberal movements such as Critical Race Theory, intersectionality and Black Lives Matter.

I studied law in the United States many moons ago and was shocked at the extent to which skin color dominates intellectual life, from constitutional jurisprudence to political nominations to everyday social discourse – a thought pattern that existed and remains alien to my Canadian worldview . And I would have found it amazing if someone on the law student version of me had said that my own country was going to get involved in this uniquely divisive and toxic aspect of US society.

Canada, of course, has its own legacy of racism, particularly with regard to the treatment of indigenous peoples. But the particular dogmas now being adopted by our intellectual class as the totalizing system of public morality – from Trudeau and Freeland to low-sketched comedians – are about as Canadian as the Dallas Cowboys. And I applaud Premier Legault for being one of the few prominent Canadians brave enough to point this out.

Jonathan Kay is the editor of Quillette and the former chief editor of the National Post.

• Twitter: JonKay

Share this article on your social network

Posted newsletter

By clicking the “Subscribe” button, you agree to receive the above-mentioned newsletter from Postmedia Network Inc. You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link at the bottom of our emails. Postmedia Network Inc. | 365 Bloor Street East, Toronto, Ontario, M4W 3L4 | 416-383-2300

Remarks

Postmedia strives to maintain a lively but civil discussion forum and to encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. It can take up to an hour for comments to be moderated before they appear on the website. We ask that you keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have activated email notifications. You will now receive an email when you get a reply to your comment, when a comment thread you follow is updated, or when a user follows comments. For more information and details on customizing your email settings, see our Community Guidelines.

Comments are closed.