The problem with depending on logic to assess situations in the real world (A technique this blog depends heavily on) is that logic is a construct. If your foundation is solid and you lay accurate data on it in carefully considered order, you can build a pretty clear picture of a situation you have not actually experienced. Life in general is pretty much like that; we take the next step on the assumption that it will take us on a similar path to all the steps that we took before. The flaw in this system is that if one of your foundation stones is weak or if one of your facts is wrong, you will find you have constructed a house of cards that is poised to collapse completely.
When analyzing the information you get on the Internet, logic is not enough. You also have to depend on your common sense and your intuition, flawed as they may be. Oh, yes, and wherever possible, do a backcheck on your sources.
So when an interested reader passed on an article relating to my recent post on the Unist’ot’en blockade in Northern B. C., I approached it with my usual caution. From the headline, “Foreign-funded corporation posing as a First Nation blocks pipeline,” I was immediately suspicious, so I decided to check out the logic of that allegation.
The nice thing about YouTube videos is that you get to see the person who is propounding the idea. But that cuts both ways. In this case, the young man speaking on the subject raised my suspicions immediately; I don’t know why. He was too good-looking, too clean-cut, too much of everything. Having done a lot of casting of actors, I am aware of how the image of the performer helps persuade the target audience. This young man was exactly what all white, middle-aged parents want their son to be. Since I’m a parent of the same sort, I had to be wary of my intuitive assessment, but I let it drop and went on to listen.
He started out referring to a CBC article, which gave him credence. It’s a standard Search Engine Optimization trick that all bloggers, including myself, use regularly. He also hit a couple of hot button expressions, “eco-terrorists” and resident indigenous activist reporter,” but he tapped them in such an off-hand and logical manner you could have sworn they were everyday concepts, agreed upon by everyone. I set that aside for the moment and listened.
And this guy’s logic was pretty good. He used some of the same points I had made in my article, about the power struggles between elected, government-sanctioned band councils and hereditary chiefs. He spoke of the wide spread of land claims. He noted the amount of money given to the First Nations to aid them in treaty negotiations that have stalled. I couldn’t help but feel, from the point of view of a local resident (I was born and raised in that area) that his logic was very persuasive.
But the argument wasn’t as balanced as I would prefer. Intuition again, perhaps. A few elements were missing in his logic, but you can’t put everything in a ten-minute speech, so do I give him the benefit of the doubt?
At that point I had already decided that his precepts were shaky, but I have to do due diligence for the reading public so I went into journalist mode. I researched his organization.
And then it all fell into place. You may be wondering why I am spending all this time tearing apart a podcast without referencing it so you can see for yourself. I struggled with how to handle it, but knowing the background of the organization that sponsored this argument, I refuse to bookmark, reference or in any way aid in spreading their message.
If you have read this far in my article you are probably interested enough to do your own research, so I will tell you that the organization is called The Rebel. Wikipedia lists them as “A Canadian far-right political and social commentary media website.” Also “…a global platform for anti-Muslim ideology…” and “…part of the alt-right movement.”
The Conclusion: Propaganda
Considering this calm, logical argument and knowing the rabid fanatics that have written it makes me realize that I am looking at a superior piece of propaganda. By posing as a rational and reasonable representative of the people of Canada, this presenter has pushed all the buttons to get normal folk to fall in line with his biased argument.
Because the main flaw in the logical underpinnings of this article is that not once, anywhere, does it mention indigenous rights. Of course it doesn’t. White supremacists don’t even allow coloured races the right to be equal, let alone to get in the way of White Man’s progress.
If you deny the concept of indigenous rights, these hereditary chiefs have no legitimacy at all. They are, as the article paints them, merely a group of people imposing their will on all of us for their own advantage. The fact that they have incorporated themselves (a common practice that eases dealing with federal bureaucracy) and the fact that they have received support from across North America drops them right down on double-barrelled hot button of “multinational corporations.” Everybody hates those. As an attention-grabbing headline, it’s superb. It’s even completely true.
And I may be indulging in bias confirmation, but it also explains why the speaker grated on me. Every subtle clue he exuded said, “Aryan.” The poster boy of the past has become the YouTube broadcaster of the modern age.
And yet a lot of otherwise good-hearted and inclusive Canadians, faced with an obstruction to their own economic progress, can easily be persuaded because someone who is posing as one of them is telling them exactly what they want to hear.
Put in the vernacular of the American West, there are “Good Indians” who are following our democratic process (and incidentally giving us our own way), so we can support them and feel good about ourselves. And there are “Bad Indians” that can be demonized and ignored and denied their rights because they don’t deserve them. Does this sound familiar?
Apparently, this group’s website has a million viewers.