Yet again, a few ‘spokespeople’ claiming to represent a rich (in human qualities – not wealth!) and diverse community have done a great disservice to themselves and all the people they claim to speak for. In one moment, they have erased the individuality of the members of their group, and chosen to cast them all in the role of extremists… all in the role of victims. (I will not identify this specific incident until later on in the post, because it is essential that I explain my disgust with the behaviour in general, before focusing on the specific.)
This happens so often, and in so varied groups, one could perhaps argue that it is one of the defining attributes of humanity. This one, however, is as unhelpful and counterproductive as it is predictable.
Well, first, let’s consider who usually ‘speaks for a group’ – as an unofficial spokesperson:
- A professional communicator, who understands how to get their message across?
- A wise and respected person, who has the full backing of the ‘group’?
- A moderate, who gets along with everyone, whether members of ‘the group’ or other people, and works hard to make sure everyone understands all points, so there is no chance for a slight to arise from a misunderstanding?
- An extremist and/or someone who wants to manipulate people within the group into feeling like they are ‘under attack’ in order to gain some amount of manipulative control over them?
Let’s consider them, one at a time:
1. A professional communicator, who understands how to get their message across
Professional communicators are usually professionals, who cost a lot of money. Therefore, they tend to be ‘official’ spokespeople, not ‘unofficial ones’ when it comes to ‘unorganized groups’. Still, some sub-groups – which might wish to manipulate the rest of the ‘group’, might choose to hire professional communicators. However, the message these professionals deliver is not in the interest of the larger group, but instead only serves whatever the purposes of the sub-group that hired it. In other words, if the spokesperson IS a professional communicator, one must ask who hired him, and to what purpose.
2. A wise and respected person, who has the full backing of the ‘group’
Well – these are usually called ‘official spokespeople’ – on the grounds that they actually have the ‘backing of the whole group’. So, by definition, unofficial spokespeople do not fall into category #2.
3. A moderate, who gets along with everyone, whether members of ‘the group’ or other people, and works hard to make sure everyone understands all points, so there is no chance for a slight to arise from a misunderstanding
Well, again, not likely. Moderates usually do not have the desire – or feel the need to – speak out. It is enough for them to be secure in who they are, because they know that real bigotry is the problem of the bigot and perceived bigotry is not worth bothering with. There is, of course, an exception to this: when even the moderates within the group feel threatened, they will speak out.
However, that is not the situation I am attempting to address here: it is an essential distinction! When the whole of a group is truly threatened, then it is essential that the moderates are the ones who speak out. So, how do we tell the situations apart? It has been my experience that when moderates speak out, they speak for themselves – and they clearly state that they have no pretentions of speaking for everyone else. They will share their experiences – and only by listening to their stories will one realize that it is not just this one individual who is affected, but other members of the community, too. When people speak up and, before they even get to tell you what happened to them, personally, they start out by saying that ‘the group’ as a whole is being threatened, when they begin by claiming that they speak for ‘everyone’ – without having an ‘official spokesperson’ status – then, in my never-humble-opinion, one is justified in suspecting a manipulation.
Which kind of brings me to #4: An extremist and/or someone who wants to manipulate people within the group into feeling like they are ‘under attack’ in order to gain some amount of manipulative control over them ….
Ah, yes…I think I’ve made this point already.
Please, judge for yourself if in this instance, we are dealing with #1, 2, 3 or 4:
An MP (Member of Parliament) sent (several versions of) a brochure to his constituents, now that the Human Rights Tribunal has ruled that Section 13(1) of our Human Rights Code conravenes the Canadian Constitution. In that brochure, the MP criticized ‘radical Muslim voices’ who, in many peoples’ opinions, abused this section of the HR code.
The key word here is ‘RADICAL’!
He did not criticize Muslims, or even the majority of Muslims, or any such thing. He clearly (and, if the reports are accurate, unequivocally) specified that it was the extremists whom he was referring to.
This did not stop ‘unofficial spokespeople’ (though some claim to be official, since there is no external, universally accepted authority structure in Islam, it is not possible to actually have an ‘official spokesperson for all Muslims’ – by the very tenets of Islam!) from claiming that this MP had attacked ALL Muslim people!
Take note: this is an important distinction!
The MP specified he was referring to a few extremist voices only.
The ‘spokespeople’ claimed he had maligned ALL Muslims!
Even a cursory application of logic makes it clear that these ‘spokespeople‘ are making the extravagant patently false claim that ALL MUSLIMS ARE EXTREMISTS!
I’m sorry, but I do not believe that for a moment!
More than just ‘believe’ – I KNOW it is not true! One of my favourite cousins is a Muslima – and she is certainly not an extremist! She is a wonderful person – I wish more people were like she is, because then more of us would get along without all these manipulations and ‘stuff’!
These self-appointed loudmoths do NOT speak for her! I know, because I asked her. THEY did NOT!
And, I want those ‘spokespeople’ to be found and dragged in front of the whole world community to answer for their slanderous misrepresentation of many, many excellent Canadians!
It is THEY who is spreading hate and division and discord among us!
It is high time they were held responsible for their evil deeds!
H/T: Blazing Catfur whose site now includes the brochres which triggered this ‘outrage’.
Connie at FreeDominion has 6 pdf’s of the brochures.
P.S.: If you would like to say a few supportive words to the MP, his address is Anders.R@parl.gc.ca