No Bugles

Alcohol and Indigenous People and Why It's Killing Them

Harold R Johnson recently published ‘Firewater: How Alcohol is Killing My People (and Yours)’. It’s a good read and will open your eyes, it did mine, to alcohol and how it is destroying people in every society and Indian reserves.
Johnson’s focus is on alcohol but he also talks about how Canadian society, non-Indians, are unable to deal with talking about “Indians and alcohol”. As he describes it, we are so politically correct we can’t say the two words together in one sentence without gagging.
In my opinion, this isn’t just a Canadian non-Indian problem, I think it’s actually a western civilization problem. We are scared to say “black people” (two syllables) so we say “African-American” (seven syllables) clearly a clumsy and phoney term, or “coloured” (gives me the impression of multi-hued skin) or others such as “non-white” now that’s creative. Black is the new n.....r word. White people around the world have psyched themselves into extreme political correctness. We did it with “visually impaired” for blind, “handicapped” for crippled or paralyzed, “mentally impaired/handicapped/challenged” for, he’s a bit slow.
Last year CBC removed the comment section at the bottom of it’s online articles on any story remotely about Indians. It was prompted by racist fool’s remarks, not good, however, the heavy hand of CBC’s PC department had options - it could have put it’s online editors on high alert or use commonly available online editing apps to filter out the garbage. CBC is consciously blanking out our ability to talk about Indian affairs. And that’s a problem. The problem didn’t go away. We just pretend it did.
There seems to be a fear in society at large, I find, that people are just afraid to say anything they feel off-limits - race, religion, Muslims, blacks, immigration controls, lazy people on welfare, etc. I can just see some left-leaning over-educated liberal-minded readers cringing at these few topics.
Harold R Johnson, a Swede-Cree who lived in both worlds, reserve and society at large, himself a self-confessed alcoholic and now abstains. He’s in a position to judge. His observation is that even within Indian society you can’t talk about alcohol. And if you’re an abstainer on reserve (35% of Indians on reserves abstain vs 19% off reserve - surprised?) you can’t tell or “lecture” someone not to drink. That’s part of their culture and a big problem when you think about finding solutions to a major scourge). Drinking, Johnson says, is the root of 95% of crime on reserves, which is shocking enough, he knows because he was a lawyer and prosecutor in Saskatchewan. He says usually there wasn’t a crime being committed but a drunken Indian making some bad decisions. That’s why he decided to start talking about it. For Johnson, saying Indian and alcohol in one breath is exactly what Indians who drink need. So he wrote “Firewater”.
Lots of comedians - Seinfeld among others - don’t do universities any more because they are so PC now that comedy on campus just has no point. Millennials, it turns out, are the new moral voices who take moral stances on just about everything so discussion about important topics - abortion, homosexuality, race - are totally off-topic.
Russell Peters, Brampton born comedian, actually is a breath of fresh air and has formed his career around anti-PC comedy. And guess what - his audience are 90% non-white - Muslim, black, Chinese, gay, you name it - they love Peters because for a couple of hours they can hear honest dialogue about the quirks of various cultures without being offended (and knowing there are probably no millennials in the audience except those that are protesting outside).
Comedy connects people because it explores and probes our fears and hates and helps us discover commonality between cultures. Millennials don’t get that and the future with them in charge starts feeling, well... Orwellian?
Canadians aren’t unique in PC or self-stifling their inner-most feelings. It’s a big problem in the EU, UK, USA and many other places. And without dialogue, open dialogue, without fear of being demonized or out-cast, society loses its ability to bridge the, mostly, small differences between whites and blacks and Christians and Muslims and everything between.
Harold R Johnson has hit upon a solution to alcohol and Indians on reserves. He’s going to keep talking about it. We should take note. He’s onto something for us all.

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