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Lawrie McFarlane: No group has a monopoly on virtue — or suffering

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Emptying the Royal B.C. Museum of exhibits reminiscent of our “colonialist” past — like the Old Town display — is just the latest example of “wokeism,” an ever-expanding quest for victimhood, writes Lawrie McFarlane. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

If the COVID epidemic is the health-care story of the year, the growing prominence of wokeism is its cultural equivalent.

What is “wokeism”? According to a piece in Psychology Today, it’s “a system of thought and behavior characterized by ­intolerance, policing the speech of ­others, and proving one’s own superiority by denouncing others.”

Agreed, that’s a hostile definition. ­“Wokeness” can also be rendered as a ­systematic effort to right old wrongs and eliminate bias.

Yet, as the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche put it: “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not himself become a monster.”

What follows is a lighthearted attempt at monster hunting.

Seattle’s school board recently ­proposed that teaching math is racist. Why so? Because “Western Math” is a tool of power and oppression that disenfranchises people and communities of colour.

Now you might think a school board would know where math originated, namely Mesopotamia, scarcely a denizen of white Western oppressors. You might also ­ wonder about the career opportunities open to ­innumerate job seekers.

Meanwhile, some American universities are scrubbing history’s great writers. One of that country’s major Ivy League schools, Princeton, has decreed that Latin and Greek language requirements are to be removed from the Classics Department’s curriculum.

Why? In order to “enhance inclusiveness and equity in the curriculum.”

Want that in English? Plato and Socrates weren’t members of minorities.

For some time, airlines have allowed passengers suffering from anxiety to bring aboard “comfort” pets, like small dogs.

But now that it’s all about me, it hasn’t stopped at that. If I suffer from anxiety, I should be allowed to bring any support ­animal I choose.

Thus we’ve seen miniature horses, ­monkeys, snakes, peacocks and, in one ­lunatic example, an emotional support ­kangaroo, carted onto planes or wrestled away by security guards at the departure gate.

At the start of last year’s federal ­election campaign, Justin Trudeau promised to turn the country’s “she-cession” into a ­“she-covery.”

His claim was that women had ­suffered disproportionately from the COVID ­pandemic, since they tend to work in ­industries, such as tourism, that were hammered by the outbreak.

Except the figures don’t back him up. At the height of the pandemic in 2020, the loss of jobs among men and women were virtually identical (a 9.6 per cent decline for males, compared with a 9.8 per cent decline for females). Trudeau was merely courting the female vote.

And now, in the ultimate act of wokeism, we have the Royal B.C. Museum emptied of exhibits reminiscent of our “colonialist” past, as the minister of tourism put it.

Note to the minister: Not a single country on Earth has a pristine history, unstained by invasions, counter-invasions, bloodshed and plunder. Until recently, there was a war somewhere in Europe nearly every 30 years.

In the same way, B.C.’s current ­Indigenous tribes seized their territories from their predecessors, who in turn did the same thing down the ages.

None of this is an excuse for violence and cruelty. But it is a reminder that no one and no group has a monopoly on virtue or ­suffering.

Wokeism isn’t primarily a search for social justice. Rather it’s an ever-expanding quest for victimhood — the needy in pursuit of approval.