McWhorter: The default should be to extend grace to those who’ve breached woke etiquette

Agree:

Paul Laurence Dunbar was perhaps the pre-eminent Black poet of the era after Reconstruction. In a new biography, the Princeton University English professor Gene Andrew Jarrett takes Dunbar’s rather glum, shortish life and pulls off a book that pulls you along like an open bag of potato chips; for the first 100 or so pages, I could barely put it down. But there’s one thing that jars like a wrong note every time it comes up: Dunbar regularly and casually referred to Black people of a lower social class than his with the N-word. An example: “I dressed at the hall dressing room in all clean linen, but had to send a [N-word] out for a standing collar because mine were all lay-downs.”

Sadly, this wasn’t atypical for more fortunate Black people of the era. Dunbar’s erudite and accomplished wife, Alice Dunbar Nelson, also used the word freely in their letters. The mother of the late-19th- and early-20th-century Black composer and conductor Will Marion Cook used the word in dismay at her classically trained son’s pursuing popular music with sometimes salty lyrics.

That kind of open classism — particularly when directed by middle- and upper-class Black people of the Victorian era toward working-class Black people — can be startling for contemporary readers. Today, for a well-heeled Black person to denigrate a less well-off Black person in this way would be deemed malicious at worst or elitist respectability politics at best.

Knowing this about Dunbar might sour someone’s opinion of him as an individual, but his use of the N-word and the sentiment behind it are unlikely to reduce his stature as a literary figure. And almost no one would consider this as grounds for a retroactive reckoning, reconsideration or, yes, cancellation of the kind to which the legacies of various historical figures are now subject. If for no other reason, then probably because his is a case of intra-Black offense being given.

One can quibble about what being canceled really means; the answer probably lies somewhere between Woodrow Wilson’s name being removed from Princeton’s public policy school and Gina Carano being dropped from the cast of “The Mandalorian.” But with Dunbar, it’s hard to imagine anyone kicking up much dust or writing, let’s say, a think-piece asking us to affix his condescension toward fellow Black people to him like a Homeric epithet, nullifying or adulterating his intellectual contributions.

That’s a good thing. We should be able to evaluate various figures, past and present, by noting their indecorous or hateful views and continuing to appreciate, even celebrate, their achievements without making them candidates for cancellation. And Dunbar’s case gets me thinking about people with less immediately dismissible stains on their records for whom the almost recreational hostility of cancel culture has held off.

Being Black and a woman seems to discourage the mob, for example. And my point, to be very clear, isn’t that Black women wrongly benefit from some kind of special pleading. It’s that, on the contrary, the forbearance that’s been extended to a number of prominent Black women in recent times should be the norm.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Alice Walker has produced writing and made statements that are readily interpreted as antisemitic, and while there have been a few protests and disinvitations and criticism aplenty, no real movement has arisen to demand that her artistic achievements be viewed through this prism. As The Atlantic’s Caitlin Flanagan argued, Walker has been treated rather “gently” about this issue, specifically in a New Yorker article written this past spring, whereas few could imagine similarly gentle treatment of J.K. Rowling for views many interpret as transphobic. Flanagan notes that in contrast, in 2020 The New Yorker asked, about another literary figure, “How Racist Was Flannery O’Connor?”

A few weeks after apologizing for her anti-Israel “Benjamins” tweet in 2019, Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota got the chance, in the pages of The Washington Post, to clarify her stance on the Israel-Palestinian conflict and remains a hero to many on the political left; this week, she won her Democratic primary.

In 2015 the actress Phylicia Rashad said of her former co-star Bill Cosby’s accusers, “Forget these women.” Last year, when Cosby’s sexual assault conviction was overturned, she tweeted, “FINALLY!!!!” before deleting it, tweeting a walk-back and apologizing to the Howard University community. She remains the dean of Howard’s college of fine arts.

The MSNBC host Joy Reid was revealed to have written homophobic blog posts in the aughts, and her later attempts to explain them away weren’t terribly convincing. This blotted her record, but after a brief outcry, her career as a progressive oracle on prime-time TV remains intact.

Contrast Reid’s situation to the Emmy-winning actress Roseanne Barr being fired from the sitcom she starred in because of a racially demeaning tweet about the former White House adviser Valerie Jarrett. Try to imagine a white male university official getting so smooth a ride as Rashad after caping for Cosby. Ponder the stock response of Democratic voters to a white male member of Congress accused of antisemitism.

Is there a sense on the left — where it seems the canceling impulse is strongest — that Black women should get more of a pass on transgressions of social justice etiquette because of the double burden of being female and Black? I’m not sure.

But whatever our verdict on that, I am sure that this measure of forbearance should be the default for public or historical figures. Of course, it’s fair, maybe necessary in some instances, to chastise these figures. Of course, sometimes there will be transgressions so widely condemned that the transgressors are irredeemable. But most of the time, emphasizing people’s contributions despite their flaws — seeing them in totality and not boiling down their lives to their specific missteps — is just civilized rationality. The idea that an isolated breach of social justice etiquette should derail a career is calisthenic. So when we see that happening, we should hesitate and, in most cases, root for outcomes where people get criticized, perhaps, for their wrongthink but not shoved out of the public square.

I recommend Walker’s “The Temple of My Familiar,” a book that left me ashamed of being a man and yet wanting to read it again. Reid’s career as a broadcaster outweighs any parochial views about gay people she now disavows. I’d happily see Rashad in acting roles forever, despite my disappointment in her take on Cosby. I, frankly, wouldn’t vote for Omar but accept that voters in her district see things differently.

We know, certainly, there are situations where people other than Black women have avoided cancellation. Dave Chappelle comes to mind. My point, again, is that some degree of grace is called for in most cases — for the college professor who says something impolitic in class and the historical figure whose words are appalling now but were consistent with his times.

We need to rethink the entire practice of treating unpretty sentiments as if they summed up anyone’s life or work, whether you’re talking about a political titan or a contemporary celebrity. That Thomas Jefferson was an enslaver and thought of Black people as inferior is a sad aspect of his totality, and his hypocrisy on race should be noted. But it doesn’t negate all else he accomplished, including drafting the Declaration of Independence, a document that guides and governs our very way of life.

Back to O’Connor and the racism that has caused some to reconsider her work. Yes, she used the N-word freely in letters and wrote, “About the Negroes, the kind I don’t like is the philosophizing prophesying pontificating kind, the James Baldwin kind. Very ignorant but never silent.” It reflects a bigotry and a parochialism not unlike Dunbar’s. (And she’s just wrong about Baldwin.) But that doesn’t dilute the brilliance or literary value of a story such as her “Parker’s Back.” And it won’t work to claim that the difference between O’Connor and Dunbar is that his objectionable remarks were intra-Black. By today’s woke standards, wouldn’t classism tinged with racism be an intersectional double whammy? If there’s room to look beyond his flaws, O’Connor should get the same treatment.

One more: The biologist E.O. Wilson, who died last year, faced accusations of racism, a charge that continues to be explored. One article describes an epistolary cordiality with the Canadian psychologist J. Philippe Rushton, who had openly racist views about Black people. In one such letter, Wilson reportedly praised Rushton’s paper arguing that “Black and non-Black people pursue different reproductive strategies.” That’s far from ideal, but even less ideal is any sense that this aspect of Wilson must be ongoingly considered amid our assessment of his pioneering genius. I was knocked out by his book “Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge,” about the progress of our understanding of the world, and considering how he may have felt about Black people would have been quite irrelevant to the experience.

Whether we’re talking about the past or the present, the idea that being insufficiently progressive or sensitive can wind up being the measure of a person’s worth is a call to disavow intelligent assessment in favor of gut-level impulses. It’s an all-or-nothing kind of thinking that, in the guise of insight, teaches a form of dimness. We seem to spontaneously understand this in some instances. We need to extend that basic common sense, that basic ability to make distinctions and see the whole picture, when evaluating trespasses by people of all walks of life and across time.

Source: The default should be to extend grace to those who’ve breached woke etiquette

The US has an instability problem and it’s affecting HE

Of note. The extent to which this will influence decisions remains to be seen:

At the Association of International Educators (NAFSA) conference in Denver this year, there was much discussion about global instability and what this means for international higher education.

Clearly, geopolitical tensions, the diminished but by no means ended implications of COVID-19, the climate crisis and, most recently, global inflation and likely economic challenges to follow all weigh heavily on student and scholar mobility and on broader aspects of internationalisation.

But one aspect that did not seem to get much attention from the largely US audience was the key challenge of the instability of the United States in a more diverse and competitive global higher education environment.

The fact is that the United States is seen by many around the world as a significantly unstable society with an uncertain future. This perception, based largely on reality, has, and will continue to have, implications for US higher education attractiveness and relations with the rest of the world.

It is worth examining the nature and possible implications of this instability. The argument here is not that US higher education is collapsing, or that the United States will not continue to attract the world’s largest international student population in absolute numbers, or that it will not continue to be an attractive environment for postdocs or international faculty; rather, that there are, and will be, significant headwinds and a decreasing relevance and market share.

It is worth examining the largely ignored but serious challenges that are increasingly evident to students and academics outside the United States.

The past and, perhaps, future of Trumpism

The direct impact of the Trump administration and the ideas and practices that underlie it have been influential and are, by now, part of the way that US higher education and society are perceived around the world.

The overall nationalistic and populist ideology that characterised the Trump years, and continues to have a significant influence on a large segment of the American population, in particular the Republican Party, also plays a role. Many around the world – and in the United States – are concerned about a second Trump presidential term or of someone like him.

The recent highly conservative decisions of the Supreme Court, outlawing abortion and expanding the use of guns, and the controversy surrounding these decisions, have also received much negative coverage outside the United States.

All of these trends are especially evident in ‘red’ (conservative) states, and universities in those states may be negatively affected. It is in those states that the public higher education sector is already facing severe budget cuts and lower local and international student numbers and that the private, not-for-profit higher education sector is less known for its international reputation and quality than in the ‘blue’ (Democratic) states.

Is the United States safe?

Mass shootings (some 300 so far in 2022), other gun violence and steady media reports of crime are on the minds of students and families as they think about a choice of where to study.

It becomes particularly relevant when international students fall victim to gun violence, such as the random shooting of a Chinese student near the campus of the University of Chicago, in broad daylight, in November 2021.

The Supreme Court decision versus New York State on the carrying of weapons also strengthens a negative image that students are not safe, even in states and cities that are popular among international students.

Racism

The tide of racial tensions and incidents of racial hate, stimulated in part by Trumpism, cause potential international students and staff to question whether they will be welcome in the United States.

Violence against blacks and Asians including, but by no means limited to, the senseless shooting of six Asian women in Atlanta, is widely reported – and of special relevance to the preponderance of students coming from east Asia, still the largest region in sending students and academics to the country.

The politicisation of higher education

This theme will affect graduate students, postdocs and prospective international faculty hires rather than undergraduates.

A steady stream of stories about state government interference in university affairs, including forbidding teaching about Critical Race Theory in a number of ‘red’ states, debates about ‘wokeism’ and ‘cancel culture’ and other political issues may deter some graduate students and professionals, in particular those who want to escape from authoritarian regimes and a lack of academic freedom in their own countries (for instance, Russian students and faculty after the invasion of Ukraine and related academic restrictions in Russia).

The ‘China Problem’

Because half of international undergraduate students – and an even larger percentage of graduate students – come from China, and US-China academic and research relations are so important, it is also relevant to focus on China in this article.

Chinese students have long seen the United States as a primary study destination. Their overall enrolment climbed fivefold between 2000 and 2001 and 2020-21.

However, geopolitical tensions between the United States and China in recent years, during which Chinese students and researchers have repeatedly been used as ‘political pawns’, have turned the United States into an unwelcoming study and work destination.

The surge of anti-Asian hatred toward the Asian American and Pacific Islanders, or AAPI, communities, as well as rampant gun violence, have furthered the concerns of Chinese families. The 15% drop in Chinese student enrolment during the pandemic was a clear signal that interest in the United States among Chinese students had significantly declined.

The perception of Chinese students that they are viewed simply as ‘cash cows’ does not help US higher education institutions to create an inclusive environment.

On the one hand, Chinese families still see the United States as a sought-after destination for their children’s college education; on the other, they are increasingly wary about sending their children to a country where they may be in harm’s way.

A direct result of this dilemma is the recent trend of Chinese students applying to colleges in multiple countries instead of primarily the United States. This directly threatens the future mobility of Chinese students to US colleges, potentially weakening the strength of innovation and global competitiveness of US higher education.

Other concerns

Difficulties obtaining visas (of course, greatly exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis) also enter into the thinking of potential students and scholars. Recent research notes that the United States is among the main receiving countries with the longest delays in issuing visas for international students and researchers.

The high inflation in the United States is also not helping. High tuition fees were already a barrier, but increasing costs of living will become even more of a challenge for international students. And, while Europe, China and Russia are looking at Africa as a new source of international students and faculty, the United States is rather absent in that region.

Looming realities

Of course, several of the challenges and concerns mentioned here (racism, rising costs, geopolitical tensions with China and politicisation) also apply to other leading countries, in particular the United Kingdom and Australia, but that is not an excuse for the United States to ignore these challenges.

It will remain the country with the largest number of highly ranked universities, an overall effective higher education system serving many different constituencies and a sophisticated, productive and reasonably well-funded research system.

But the instability and challenges discussed above are accelerating the United States’ decline as the undisputed global academic leader. The consistently ‘upbeat’ views of the Institute of International Education and others do not reflect looming realities.

Philip G Altbach is research professor and distinguished fellow, Center for International Higher Education, Boston College. Hans de Wit is professor emeritus and distinguished fellow at the same institution. Xiaofeng Wan is associate dean of admission and coordinator of international recruitment, Amherst College.

Source: The US has an instability problem and it’s affecting HE

How a Quebec student’s hijab became the target of a political and cultural storm

Groundhog Day…

The photograph on the Montreal business school’s website was intended to demonstrate a young woman’s possibility and her academic success.

“A rewarding international presence,” reads the blurb beside the photo, written in a black font to match the black cloth hijab wrapped around the head and neck of the woman’s smiling face.

There is not much more that would stand out as unusual in the promotional image of the Algerian exchange student at the HEC Montréal — an image the school uses to tout its international programs, a deep and important revenue stream for the institution, as it is for most other Canadian universities.

But when Jean-François Lisée, a prominent Quebec academic, writer and former politician, viewed the image last weekend, he saw it not as a ploy by a public institution in search of private funds.

Instead, the former leader of the sovereigntist Parti Québécois flared at what he took to be a breach of the secular codes that Quebec governments have been trying to establish over the past two decades to separate religion and the state.

Those efforts culminated in 2019 with the passage into law of Bill 21, which enshrines state secularism, mainly by banning public-sector workers from wearing items of religious clothing or decoration, including crucifixes, turbans and hijabs, while at work.

“University students can display their convictions, religious or not,” Lisée wrote on Twitter. “But for a public institution that is by definition secular, pro-science and pro-gender equality to normalize a misogynistic religious sign in an ad is unacceptable.”

The rebuke from a man who has straddled Quebec’s media and political realms for more than 40 years cast the province back into a fraught debate that it cannot seem to resolve.

Increasingly present in the form of turbans, hijabs and kippahs, at least in part due to immigration patterns in the province, many of Quebec’s white, francophone majority would apparently prefer that religion be neither seen nor heard from in the public sphere.

But each instance of religion rearing its head, reigniting the debate over the place of religious expression in a secular society, is like a freshly formed scab over a cut that is pulled away, exposing the wound to the sting of fresh air.

Kimberley Manning calls them “moments of punctuation” that revive the frequently noxious debate that, in her opinion, risks revictimizing religious minorities in Quebec.

“They contribute to and exacerbate an ever-present experience of not being fully Quebeckers,” says the associate professor of political science at Montreal’s Concordia University. “This is what seems to be coming through in the polling and the research.”

Manning has done her own work, notably a March study of students that found feelings of discrimination that respondents linked to the province’s secularism law.

A more extensive study of Bill 21’s impacts in Quebec, released this week, contends that the law has created a frightening, oppressive and grim environment for religious minorities.

In surveys, Jews, Sikhs and Muslims reported a deterioration in their likelihood to participate in social and political life in the province, in their sense of personal safety, and in their confidence for future prospects.

“(The law) promises all kinds of very noble values, and when we measured those up against the results in the study, we see that it doesn’t achieve those values of neutrality, equality and social harmony,” says Miriam Taylor, director of publications and partnerships with the Association of Canadian Studies.

What the law — most any law — does do is normalize and concretize the biases which underpin it, Taylor says.

Survey respondents said they had experienced a rise in verbal abuse, threats and physical confrontations since the law was adopted.

This jibes with anecdotal evidence and a general sense of uncertainty and anxiety in Quebec’s Muslim communities, says Lina El Bakir, Quebec Advocacy Officer for the National Council of Canadian Muslims.

“When you set out a law that is discriminatory, you allow that to permeate society and people’s views,” she says.

“It affects mental health, it affects security, it affects the ability to just be, you know?”

Lisée, who declined an interview request, said in his criticisms that his beef was not with the Algerian exchange student in the hijab, but with the business school.

The website content in question does not breach any aspects of the provincial law, but he said it sends a message to young Algerians standing up to the pressure of imams and fundamentalists that the school “is not your ally.”

An HEC Montréal spokesperson says the only goal of the image was to show off the diversity of its student body, which includes 3,746 international students from 142 countries. The image will come down from the site next week — not because of Lisée’s indignation but because that’s when its previously scheduled two-week publication run ends.

That may come as a relief to the student, who came to Montreal to obtain a business degree and now finds herself in a debate that is part polisci, part sociology — one that has been going on so long that at least part of it belongs to the annals of history.

Speaking to La Presse columnist Rima Elkouri, the 22-year-old, who declined the Star’s interview request, explained she was initially nervous about coming to study in Canada. She had heard about the killing of four members of the Afzaal family of London, Ont., who were run down by the driver of a pickup truck on June 6, 2021, in what police allege was a hate-motivated attack.

But, Nouha, who was identified only by her first name, said she quickly warmed to her new home in Montreal.

“I have never suffered from discrimination or a lack of respect,” she told the Montreal newspaper.

She said that wearing the hijab was a personal decision, not one forced upon her by her family, though she acknowledged the women who have no choice in the matter.

“I’m against that,” she said, adding that she considers herself a feminist.

“I’ve never found (the hijab) to be a symbol that diminishes the value of a woman. Personally, I consider myself to be a very strong woman. In a few years, I’ll be managing a team of workers. I can’t afford to see myself as a weak person.”

She also said she acknowledges and understands the principles of secularism in Quebec.

“I understand that the school must be truly neutral. But from my point of view, it’s also important to display people from minority groups because those minorities look for a place where they feel at peace.”

The issues on display are not going away.

Before the end of the month, Quebec will be into a provincial election campaign and parties have often fallen back on identity issues to stir up the passions of their voters.

Taylor said she worried about the negative consequences of a campaign in which religion and secularism, majority views and minority rights were “instrumentalized for political gain.”

Before the end of the year, Quebec’s court of appeal is expected to hear a legal challenge to Bill 21. And in Ottawa, Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government has already promised to challenge the provincial secularism law at the Supreme Court.

Taylor’s study found that support for the law among Quebeckers would drop considerably if the Supreme Court ruled that it violated the Constitution.

This bolsters El Bakir’s contention that Quebeckers, like other Canadians, value human rights, despise discrimination and strive for equality.

But she reverts to her native French, and invokes the most Quebecois of expressions, to explain that an older segment of the Quebec population support secularism because they remember when the Catholic Church exerted strict control over all aspects of the province —from schools to hospitals to politics to family life.

“It doesn’t take the head of Papineau!” she says, in reference to Louis-Joseph Papineau, a leader of the rebel Patriote movement in 19th century Lower Canada who was reputed for his intelligence.

“I do understand where older generations are coming from, however societies evolve and we need to understand that realities do change, and one narrative doesn’t always apply.”

Source: How a Quebec student’s hijab became the target of a political and cultural storm

The Darkness Down Under: Australia Still Reckons With Racism [Indigenous focus]

Surprised Canada not used also as a comparison as parallels and differences more comparable:

Uluru—a monumental, cathedral-like rock that stands alone in the western deserts of Central Australia—may seem an unlikely place from which to reflect on the scourge of violence against Black Americans that stains the U.S. body-politic today. But understanding the consequences of one event that happened far away in 1934 is a powerful reminder that the struggle to make Black lives matter and counter white supremacist violence transcends national boundaries.

In June 1931, Constable Bill McKinnon arrived in Alice Springs to take up his appointment as a police officer in central Australia. He was barely thirty—lean, brash, and tough—a no-nonsense raconteur with a sharp tongue and unyielding determination.

In 1934, after chasing down six Aboriginal men for the killing of an Aboriginal man that had taken place under tribal law, he cornered one man in a cave and shot and killed him at Uluru, a place that has long been sacred for the Anangu, its traditional owners, and is now spiritually significant for the entire nation.

Source: The Darkness Down Under: Australia Still Reckons With Racism

Attack on Salman Rushdie prompts Canadians to highlight author’s relentless fight for free speech

As someone posted to Iran when the fatwa was issued, and as a fan of his writing, this attack strikes close to home along with the importance of free speech. We will see if some in Canada defend or excuse the indefensible:

Canadian writers, publishers and literary figures doubled down on the right to freedom of thought and expression on Saturday, one day after an attack in the U.S. on award-winning author Salman Rushdie that has left him on a ventilator in hospital.

Rushdie, whose novel The Satanic Verses drew death threats from Iran’s leaders in the 1980s, was stabbed in the neck and abdomen Friday by a man who rushed the stage as the author was about to give a lecture in western New York.

Louise Dennys, executive vice-president and publisher of Penguin Random House Canada, has published and edited Rushdie’s writings for over 30 years. She condemned the attack on her longtime friend and colleague as “cowardly” and “reprehensible in every way.”

“He is without doubt one of the greatest proponents of freedom of thought and speech, and debate and discussion in the world today,” Dennys said in a telephone interview. “I have hopes of his recovery. He’s a great warrior and fighter, and I hope he is fighting back.”

Rushdie, 75, a native of India who has lived in Britain and the U.S., is known for his surreal and satirical prose style

The Satanic Verses drew death threats after it was published in 1988, with many Muslims regarding as blasphemy a dream sequence based on the life of the Prophet Muhammad, among other objections. Rushdie’s book had already been banned and burned in India, Pakistan and elsewhere before Iran’s Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a 1989 fatwa, or edict, calling for Rushdie’s death.

A 24-year-old man is in custody, facing charges in Friday’s attack. The accused was born a decade after the publication of The Satanic Verses. Police said the motive was unclear. Investigators were working to determine whether anyone else could be linked to the incident.

After the publication of The Satanic Verses, often-violent protests erupted across the Muslim world against Rushdie. At least 45 people were killed in riots over the book, including 12 people in Rushdie’s hometown of Mumbai. In 1991, a Japanese translator of the book was stabbed to death and an Italian translator survived a knife attack. In 1993, the book’s Norwegian publisher was shot three times and survived.

The death threats prompted Rushdie to go into hiding under a British government protection program, though he cautiously resumed public appearances after nine years of seclusion, maintaining his outspoken criticism of religious extremism overall.

‘He couldn’t be silenced by fear’

“We all depend on the storytelling, power and imagination of writers,” Dennys said. Rushdie “came out of hiding because he realized he wanted to play a role in the world we live in, defending those rights, she said.

“He couldn’t be silenced by fear, and I think that point is something he will continue to make if, as we all hope, he survives.”

Dennys said the attack is already having the opposite effect of its suspected intentions given the outpouring of support from the international literary community, as well as activists and government officials, who cited Rushdie’s courage for his longtime free speech advocacy despite risks to his own safety.

“It’s brought everyone together to realize how precious and fragile our freedoms are and how important it is to speak up for them,” Dennys said.

The president of PEN Canada, an organization that defends authors’ freedom of expression, condemned the “savage attack” on their “friend and colleague,” Rushdie, who is a member.

Canadian writer John Ralston Saul, who has known Rushdie since the 1990s, said the author was always aware that someone might attack him, but he chose to live publicly in order to speak out against those trying to silence free expression and debate.

“[Rushdie’s] work and whole life are a reminder of what the life of the public writer is in reality,” he said. “This would be the worst possible time to give in or show any sense that we must be more careful with our words. We’re not really writers if we give in to that kind of threat.”

The accused, Hadi Matar, was arrested after the attack at the Chautauqua Institution, a non-profit education and retreat centre. Matar’s lawyer entered a not guilty plea in a New York court on Saturday to charges of attempted murder and assault.

After the attack, some longtime visitors to the centre questioned why there wasn’t tighter security for the event, given the threats against Rushdie and a bounty on his head offering more than $3 million to anyone who killed him.

Saul, who spoke at the Chautauqua Institution years before Rushdie’s attack, said it has an “open tradition” of debate, free expression and anti-violence going back over 100 years.

“It’s one of the freest places to take advantage of our belief in freedom,” he said.

Witnesses to the attack on Salman Rushdie Friday in western New York recount how a man approached the stage at the Chautauqua Institution where the author was about to give a lecture, attacked him and was later pinned down by people from the audience.

Roland Gulliver, director of the Toronto International Festival of Authors, tweeted Saturday that literary festivals and book events are “spaces of expression, to tell your stories in friendship, safety and respect.”

“To see this so violently broken is incredibly shocking,” he wrote.

Expressions of sympathy came from the political realm as well, with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemning the attack as a “cowardly … strike against freedom of expression.”

“No one should be threatened or harmed on the basis of what they have written,” read a statement posted to Trudeau’s official Twitter account. “I’m wishing him a speedy recovery.”

Rushdie suffered a damaged liver and severed nerves in his arm, and is likely to lose an eye as a result of the attack, the author’s agent, Andrew Wylie, said Friday evening.

A physician who witnessed the attack and was among those who rushed to help described Rushdie’s wounds as “serious but recoverable.”

Source: Attack on Salman Rushdie prompts Canadians to highlight author’s relentless fight for free speech

Douglas Todd: People of Indian descent a rising force in the U.S. and Canada

While the understandable focus is with respect to those of Indian descent holding leadership and senior positions, there is a larger group of workers in such industries as agriculture and trucking. From a political perspective, the outsized influence of Sikh and other Indo-Canadians reflects their geographic concentration: 47 ridings in Canada have 10 percent or more South Asian residents (2016 Census).

List: VM Ridings South Asian 10 percent

India is on the rise across the United States and Canada — in education, high-tech and politics.

The CEOs of five of the most powerful high-tech companies in North America have origins in India. They’re heading Microsoft, Google, IBM, Twitter and Match Group (which owns Tinder).And people of Indian ancestry are punching above their weight in politics in the U.S. and Canada. “There may well be an Indian-American president before there is an American Indian one,” says The Economist.

The educational achievements of people of Indian origin are above the norm in North America. And their are among the strongest of any ethnic group in the U.S. and Canada. This is not to mention one study showing people of Indian origin are almost four times more likely to own a home than the average Canadian.

India is the second highest source country for immigrants to the U.S., where 4.6 million have Indian origins, or 1.4 per cent of the total. They are mostly from southern India and tend to live in the U.S. South and East.

In Canada, India is the No. 1 source country for immigrants by far, accounting for 30 per cent of all newcomers since 2016.

There are 1.4 million people with Indian roots in Canada, most of whom are immigrants. They make up four per cent of the population. Generally from Northern India, most live in Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton.

Even though many are already flying high in U.S. high-tech, the impact of people of Indian background on Canadian business, especially, is growing sharply.

The influence of Indo North Americans is destined to expand further. Let’s look at why.

The tech sectors in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver are expanding on the strength of a workforce where two of five are foreign born. And U.S. immigration rules designed to protect homegrown workers means our southern neighbour is losing thousands of Indian high-tech experts and others to Canada.

With the U.S. restricting its coveted H-1B working visa (including with a rule that no one country can be the source of more than seven per cent of recipients), many computer specialists are among the more than 217,000 people from Indian who can work in Canada as foreign students (they make up 30 per cent of all international students).

Canada also accepted 128,000 people from India last year as new immigrants, many of them programmers. And it’s on track for a similar number in 2022. That compares to just 39,000 immigrants from India in 2015, when Justin Trudeau’s Liberals were first elected.

Such business success is made possible in large part because educational levels soar among those of Indian descent.

In the U.S. three of four of adults of Indian background have bachelors degrees or better, according to Pew Research. That’s the highest of any Asian immigrant group, with Chinese Americans coming in at 57 per cent. The overall bachelor’s degree average in the U.S. is 38 per cent.

In Canada, educational achievement is also pronounced. A recent Statistics Canada study by Theresa Qiu and Grant Schellenberg found 50 per cent of South Asian-Canadians (mostly from India) had bachelors degrees or more. The portion rose to 62 per cent among South Asian women.

The portion of bachelors degrees among Canadians with origins in South Asia is much higher than the 24 per cent for white men and 38 per cent for white women, as well as the 17 per cent for Latin American men and 28 per cent for Latin American women. One of the few ethnic groups scoring higher than South Asians are Chinese Canadians.

And wages reflect education levels. The median household income in the U.S. of Indian households is by far the highest of any ethnic-Asian group, at US$119,000, according to Pew.

The typical Chinese American household brings in US$82,000. The median household income across the U.S. is US$67,000.

While U.S. figures on housing are not readily available, a consumer survey by Vivintel, based in Toronto, found that South Asians, a solid majority of whom are from India, are almost four times more likely to buy a homethan the average Canadian.

“Home ownership is very important to South Asians … because they’re told by their parents that renting is just throwing away your money,” says Rahul Sethi, a 38-year-old director of Vivintel who immigrated to Canada from India with his family.

One of the most intriguing aspects of the rise of Indians in North America is their oversized affect on politics.And it’s not just because of U.S. vice-president Kamala Harris, who went to an English-language high school in Montreal after her scientist mother from India, Shyamala Gopalan Harris, got a job researching breast cancer at McGill University.

Even though Harris is a front-runner as a future Democrat presidential nominee, she’s far from alone in U.S. halls of power.

Karthick Ramakrishnan, who surveys Asian American attitudes from the University of California, maintains Indo Americans are far likelier than other immigrant groups to get involved in politics as donors, voters and candidates. They tend to favour Democrats by a margin of three to one.

Ram Villivalam, a state senator in Illinois, says having Harris running to be president gives confidence to Indo Americans. Pramala Jayapal, the first woman of South Asian descent to preside over the Congress, is now one of four influential Indo American politicians, dubbed the Samosa Caucus, in the House.

A similar movement is happening in Canadian politics.

The Indo Canadian population, like the Indo American, leans liberal-left. More than 38 per cent of respondents to a 2021 YouGov poll would cast a vote for the Liberals — twice the number that planned to go with the Conservatives.

One in five backed the left-wing New Democratic Party, the country’s third largest party, which has been lead for five years by Indo Canadian Jagmeet Singh.

More than 12 per cent of cabinet ministers in the Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are Indo Canadian, including Harjit Sajjan and Anita Anand. At least 14 Liberal MPs are Indo Canadian.

This impact list goes on in politics, as well as in business and education. Indo North Americans are on a roll.

Source: Douglas Todd: People of Indian descent a rising force in the U.S. and Canada

Douglas Todd: SFU prof targeted by China for groundbreaking Uyghur research

Not surprising but not acceptable:
SFU professor Darren Byler has been frequently attacked by China’s state media, which accuses him of being an agent of the U.S. government. Something he denies.
During four groundbreaking expeditions into China, the latest in 2018, Byler has witnessed many colleagues and research subjects disappear into the mass “re-education” camps and forced labour factories endured by more than 1.5 million Uyghur Muslims.

The author of In the Camps: Life in China’s High-Tech Penal Colony, was interviewed during a downtown Vancouver conference about the clampdown in Xinjiang. It was attended by 60 people, including Uyghur Canadians, international students from China, Muslim academics and activists.

Participants at the Simon Fraser University event required Postmedia’s commitment to protect their identities, so their families would not be harassed or threatened by police in China. There are about 400 ethnic Uyghurs in Metro Vancouver, the largest group of any Canadian city.

China’s authoritarian leaders are engaged in a planetary campaign to challenge and intimidate anyone who points to the incarceration, mass surveillance and draconian clampdown of the Uyghurs, which the Canadian government has called a “genocide.”

The Global Times, a tabloid newspaper arm of the Chinese Communist Party, has accused Byler of being an “anti-China figure” who makes “fabricated” allegations about “genocide and crimes against humanity” in the Xinjiang region of western China, which is inhabited by about 11 million Uyghur Muslims. The professor is sure China’s agents have attended his classes.

Byler has been with Uyghur people on the streets of China when police have stopped them, taken their mobile phones and demanded, “What is the password for your phone?” A specialist in high-tech surveillance, he says China uses 9,000 police surveillance hubs to routinely search personal data for evidence of resistance and what they consider a dangerous commitment to Islam.

Facial recognition technology is widely used in Xinjiang. Byler has first-hand knowledge of Uyghur students who have studied in North America being detained in China after omnipresent cameras found them walking outside their confinement. Families are often broken up when a Uyghur whom authorities deem suspicious is sent to a work camp, many of which produce textile goods for the West. The U.S. and Canada have laws banning such goods, but many argue they’re ineffective.

A prolific author and widely cited scholar, Byler, 40, is among the Western researchers who argue that China’s Han ethnic majority has in the past decade been escalating a colonialistic internal effort to smear the Uyghur people and systematically erase their Indigenous culture and faith. Chinese authorities often label the Uyghurs as “separatists” and “terrorists,” as well as lazy and slow.

One frequent tactic of the state-controlled Global Times is to try to silence Canadian criticism of the treatment of Uyghurs by condemning this country’s residential-school system for Indigenous children, which the federal government began in 1881 and for the most part ended by the 1970s.

This month, The Global Times enthusiastically reported on Pope Francisrecently referring to Canada’s attempt to assimilate First Nations through residential schools as “a genocide,” even while the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has referred to it as “cultural genocide.”

The Global Times article cited how Canada’s Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls also called it a “genocide,” while reporting that last year “more than 1,100 unmarked graves have been discovered at former residential school sites.” Canadian media outlets now largely refer to them as “suspected” graves.

The Global Times and China’s diplomats are making a clear attempt to claim, “You in the West have no right to criticize us, because look what you did to Indigenous people,” Byler said. “They’re kind of saying, ‘You did it. So we are doing it, too.’”

While Byler believes Canada’s residential-school system was a colonialistic attempt at assimilation, he notes the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has formalized a decades-long process of restitution in Canada, unlike in Australia and the U.S. And definitely unlike 21st-century China.

During the several years that Byler, a German American who is now a permanent resident of Canada, has spent living among Uyghur people in Xinjiang, he came to realize how outward-looking and sophisticated they were before China accelerated efforts to wipe out their culture.

One of many of his research papers that is drawing global attention explores how Uyghurs had been keenly taking courses from 2004 to 2014 in the English language, with students developing a special interest in novels about totalitarianism, like Animal Farm and 1984 by George Orwell.

Han Chinese prejudices often portray Uyghurs as “backward,” so the language students especially devoured books about Black Americans like Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali and Barack Obama. The paper, co-written with an unnamed Stanford professor, reveals the Uyghur valued learning about a society in which members of a minority could hold power.

But the English-language schools were shut, and teachers Byler knew were detained, after a 2014 visit by President Xi Jinping.

Even though most attendees at the SFU conference demanded anonymity, Byler introduced one local Uyghur who was willing to be interviewed because he has already gone public as an activist. Now a high-school science teacher in Surrey, Kabir Qurban came to Canada with his family from Afghanistan as a refugee.

Since he has become a high-profile activist in Canada, including with his own websites, Qurban said that sometimes he has attended Uyghur events, such as weddings, where attendees have asked that he not sit at the same table with them.

In this era of facial recognition technology, the Uyghur Canadians fear Chinese authorities could catch them together in a photo with the staunch critic of China. That could easily lead to a brother, sister, mother or father back in Xinjiang getting harassed by police. Or worse.

“It’s unfortunate,” Qurban said, “but I have to respect their stance.”

Source: Douglas Todd: SFU prof targeted by China for groundbreaking Uyghur research

Canadian employers are ramping up their search for temporary foreign workers amid labour crunch

Of note. My concerns regarding productivity implications cited:

Canadian employers are moving to fill more jobs with temporary foreign workers, as they face a sustained labour shortage and the lowest unemployment rate in decades.

In the first three months of 2022, employers received approval from the federal government to fill about 44,200 positions through the TFW program, according to a Globe analysis of figures from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). That was the most in at least five years, and 73 per cent higher than the quarterly average from 2017 to 2021.

As usual, farms were the biggest source of labour demand. Nearly half of the approvals in the first quarter were for general farm workers. Jealous Fruits Ltd., a large cherry producer in Kelowna, B.C., was authorized to fill roughly 640 roles, the most of any employer.

The restaurant industry is turning more to foreign labour as well. The second most in-demand workers in the quarter were cooks, at 2,100 positions, almost double the previous quarter. Companies were also permitted to hire nearly 1,700 food-service supervisors, who often work for franchisees of fast-food chains, such as McDonald’s Corp.

The use of foreign labour is poised to rise even more.

In April, the federal Liberals overhauled the TFW program, largely to give companies more access to low-wage workers from abroad. And employers still have plenty of jobs to fill: At last count, they were recruiting for about one million positions.

Companies say the pool of domestic workers is severely constrained. As of July, Canada’s unemployment rate had ebbed to 4.9 per cent – the lowest in more than four decades of data.

The TFW expansion was cheered by business lobby groups. But the move was panned by labour advocates and many economists. The TFW program has been dogged by controversy in past years over concerns about unpaid wages, unsafe living conditions for migrants and companies passing over Canadian job candidates. Critics also say it shields employers from the need to raise wages for domestic workers or make investments that improve the country’s languishing productivity (meaning its economic output per hour worked).

“How’s this really helping productivity?” asked Andrew Griffith, a former director-general at the federal immigration department. “The government is making it easier for them to bring in more workers and just keep doing the same thing with more labour, rather than trying to really invest in productivity.”

To hire through the TFW program, an employer must submit a Labour Market Impact Assessment to the federal government, demonstrating that it can’t find local workers to fill positions. Once the government approves the roles, foreign workers must get the required permits to begin their employment in Canada. The quarterly IRCC figures refer to approved positions, rather than workers with permits.

Companies are inclined to fill whatever positions have been approved, said Meika Lalonde, an immigration lawyer in Vancouver. “It’s administratively burdensome” for employers to apply, she said, and they also pay a filing fee of $1,000 for every position requested.

Maple Leaf Foods Inc. has ramped up its use of foreign labour, chief executive officer Michael McCain told analysts on a call last week. And Recipe Unlimited Corp., which owns several restaurant chains, including Swiss Chalet, Harvey’s and the Keg, is helping franchisees use the TFW program, CEO Frank Hennessey said on an Aug. 3 investor call.

At the end of 2021, there were roughly 82,000 foreign workers with TFW permits, the most since 2014, when the Harper government tightened access to the program following a string of controversies. Companies rely more on the International Mobility Program – which was hived off from the TFW program in the 2014 overhaul – to recruit temporary foreign labour.

The IMP includes a range of foreign workers, such as company transfers from abroad and those with postgraduate work permits. Notably, companies do not need to file LMIAs to hire through the program. At the end of 2021, there were more than 695,000 people with IMP permits.

International students have become another major source of labour supply. The number of international students with T4 earnings – that is, employment income – has soared to 354,000 in 2019, from 22,000 in 2000, according to Statistics Canada.

Source: Canadian employers are ramping up their search for temporary foreign workers amid labour crunch

Falconer: Report says Canada should loosen visa requirements to allow more Ukrainian refugees

Of note. But should this be an addition to current levels or at the expense of economic or family class? Or to fulfill some of the labour demand currently being filled by Temporary Foreign Workers? And would waiving the visa requirement create pressures to do the same for other refugees?

A new report says Canada needs to change its federal visa policy to speed up the admission of Ukrainian refugees, which has slowed to a trickle.

The study by the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy released Thursday says that compared to other countries, Canada has received a small number of the millions of Ukrainians who have been displaced since Russia invaded the eastern European country in February.

“Applications by Ukrainians are starting to far outstrip the number that are being granted by the Canadian government and we don’t even have a really clear picture of how many Ukrainians are coming into the country,” said author Robert Falconer.

Statistics show the Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel (CUAET) program, which expedites visas and temporary residency permits for Ukrainians and their families, isn’t enough, he said.

As of June 22, there were approximately 190,000 Ukrainians with pending applications to come to Canada, up from 140,000 about one month earlier.

Falconer said the program, requiring those arriving to have visas, is to blame for Canada lagging behind other countries — most notably Ireland, which has waived its visa requirement.

“One of the objections within the committee in Parliament was if we let Ukrainians in, then Russian spies would use that to infiltrate the system,” he said.

“Russian espionage does exist, but the refugee channel is one of the more inefficient ways to try and infiltrate a Russian spy into the country.”

Falconer said federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies, with proper resources, would be able to manage security risks involving the visa process. He recommends Canada adopt the Irish model or another option to do visa checks once people arrive.

“If we’re not doing the Irish model, I would say we do what’s called the on-arrival model, which is what a lot of countries do. When you arrive at the airport, you have to wait for a small period while the government officials run the security checks,” Falconer said.

“You do some risk assessments and can probably vet that eight-year-old kid who is probably not a Russian spy whereas an unaccompanied male in their mid-20s … you might hold them while you process the background check and let them into the country. Let them get here to safety first and then process them from there.”

Falconer said an overwhelming number of Canadians support bringing in a high number of Ukrainian refugees and our country has the highest percentage of people of Ukrainian descent next to Ukraine and Russia.

The report says Canada and the United Kingdom have similar processes for the admission of Ukrainian refugees and the numbers are comparable.

It says about 13 times the number of Ukrainian refugees per capita arrived in Ireland than in the United Kingdom during the first two months of the invasion.

Falconer said the findings of the report are to be forwarded to the federal government, but he isn’t sure whether it would result in a loosening of the requirements.

“I think they’re probably aware. I think they are very, very, very concerned — less with Ukrainians and more with how the overall immigration file is going generally.”

Source: Report says Canada should loosen visa requirements to allow more Ukrainian refugees

To reverse brain drain, China should be more flexible on dual citizenship

Interesting arguments but likely overstates the importance of dual citizenship as a factor in facilitating a return of former Chinese nationals to China, particularly given Chinese government general repression (not limited to Uyghurs and Hong Kong) and control (e.g., COVID lockdowns):

Citizenship has become a sensitive topic in China. Every so often, you’ll see lists in the Chinese media – of film stars who hold foreign passports, or billionaires who made money in China but now hold foreign passports. On the Chinese internet, some of these individuals get labelled as unpatriotic, or worse.

One of netizens’ latest targets is Harvard physics professor Xi Yin, a China-born prodigy who has been quoted as saying he has no plans to return to his native country at present. A US citizen now, Yin is also married to an American woman.

China does not allow dual citizenship. The line of reasoning seems to be that the authorities don’t want to create a group of people who enjoy too much privilege, or potentially allow criminals to evade punishment. Critics say it is a way of ensuring citizens’ loyalty or maintaining a monoculture.

But much of the rest of the world has moved on, with more countries embracing dual citizenship against the backdrop of globalisation. Back in the 1960s, only one-third of countries allowed dual citizenship. Today, 75 per cent do.

Perhaps China should follow suit. It would help reverse the brain drain from the country.

Around the time Deng Xiaoping launched the reform and opening up policy, students were sent abroad to study, in countries including the US, Canada and the UK. This trend did not always pay off. In 2007, China Daily reported that, between 1978 and 2006, 1.06 million Chinese went overseas for studies and more than 70 per cent chose not to return. At that time, China probably suffered the most severe brain drain in the world.

To tackle the problem, Beijing has increased investment in higher education, and research and development. It introduced programmes such as the Thousand Talents Planto lure back leading Chinese talent. Under the plan “sea turtles”, or returnees from overseas – in Chinese, the two terms are homonyms – may receive a one-time bonus of 1 million yuan (US$148,400). However, the programme has reportedly delivered mixed results. Not nearly enough sea turtles swim home.

As China grew rich, it became common practice among affluent families to send children abroad for further education. Between 2015 and 2019, 80 per cent of these students did return. Yet, China is still losing first-rate talent. In recent years, a reported 80 per cent of Chinese PhD students in the US have been reluctant to return.

Many developing countries in the world lose talent to the US, but China probably suffers more, especially in the realm of hi-tech. Those bright Chinese minds working at the cutting edge of American technology might also be hampering China’s own tech ambitions.

Indeed, China’s hope of dominating artificial intelligence may be threatened by the brain drain. According to a study conducted by MacroPolo, a think tank run by the Paulson Institute, Chinese researchers accounted for a quarter of the authors whose papers were accepted by a prestigious AI conference in 2019.

However, three-quarters of the Chinese authors were working outside China, and 85 per cent of those were working in the US, at tech giants such as Google or universities like UCLA.

Source: To reverse brain drain, China should be more flexible on dual citizenship