Wente Watch

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The end of Wente Watch

As most of you have noticed, there have been no posts recently. This is partly because I was on vacation, and before that was very busy at my regular job, but also the Globe appears to have closed the Google News loophole for editorialists and columnists.

I could, of course, simply take out a subscription. But to do so for the primary purpose of reading Margaret Wente, of all people? It would be a sad irony indeed if one effect of this blog were to increase the money going into her pockets.

Margaret Wente is not the worst columnist in the Globe's stable - that honour goes to the insufferably narcissistic, jejune, and misandrist Leah McLaren. Unlike McLaren, however, people actually take Wente seriously. She shows up regularly as a TV talking head, has won several National Newspaper Awards, frequently provides fodder for the most rabid blogs in both Canada and the United States, and has a good deal of power at the nation's most influential newspaper.

And what does she do with this media spotlight? A count of the fifty-odd columns refuted in this blog shows that fully a third are devoted to criticism of one or another non-Western culture or nonwhite people. It is hard to think of any other writer in English who is so single-mindedly concentrated on ethnocentrism as an ideology. There are, indeed, writers more Islamophobic, or more hostile to blacks, or anti-immigrant, especially in the United States. But I know of no one else who works so hard on smearing all non-white peoples with a broad brush, who will invent social problems where none exist, who will scurry to find any possible racial angle to a story.

And indeed this is why Margaret Wente provokes such fury in me, for I am everything she despises. I was born in Canada. I am not white. I look to Tiruvalluvar or Kalidasa for inspiration every bit as much as Shakespeare or Dickens. I believe the Bhagavad Gita has as much to teach us today as does Locke or Montesquieu. I make no apologies for eating samosas, celebrating Diwali, dressing my children in traditional dress, or sending them to Tamil classes. I take pride in my ancestors and their achievements.

None of these things make me any less Canadian. To Wente, however, I have not "assimilated" (in other words, abandoned my identity) and am therefore at best a living example of overly tolerant political correctness, at worst a potential terrorist. Over and over again, she tells us we don't fit in, that we don't belong. The welfare state doesn't work if we are around. Feminism cannot coexist with us. Liberal democracy breaks down under the threat of our clothes alone.

Is there any limit to the lies and distortions Wente's pen will cast? An immigrant to Canada herself, she has no hesitation in telling native-born Canadians what they should wear, how they should behave, what our identity is, merely on account of the colour of our skin. She has only contempt for our ancestors, our traditions, and our values.

Every possible stereotype, every smug expression of superiority, every casual smear at a nonwhite culture that one can conceive of has found its way into Margaret Wente's columns. She cannot see past the colour of our skins, to read us as individuals and not symbols of our races. In her world, Muslims are destroying democracy in Europe, blacks are firing guns in a gangsta rap-induced frenzy, South Asians are beating their wives, Africans are deliberately infecting women with AIDS, and aboriginal Canadians abandon their children to alcohol and drugs.

The various social problems Wente describes exist in white communities as well, and she rarely has any empirical evidence to back up her claims that patriarchy and violence are endemic to non-white communities. Indeed, she does little actual research, relying mostly on unknown cranks and "everybody knows" statements.

Her popularity is due to her uncanny ability to strike a chord in the reader's id, the hidden coterie of prejudice that all of us have but that we like to think we have let go of in a modern society. Wente strikes this atavistic nerve, reawakens the fear of all that is dark and different, tells us it's okay to let logic, reason, and evidence fall aboard, and trust the evidence not of our eyes, not even of our hearts, but of our fears.

Pay money to read such a person, even if for the sole purpose of refuting her? Never.

Yes, that means those who predicted this blog would not last long were correct. On the other hand, more than a few people have said they don't waste their time with Wente, so why should I? From now on, I won't.

Thanks to all who have read my posts, and extra thanks to those who have commented or emailed. I appreciated every one, even the hostile ones.

I do have another blog, and will start to post regularly there, constructing ideas instead of refuting them. If you like my writing, I invite you to find your way there.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

On holiday

As might be guessed, I'm away on holiday.

But it's also true that the future of Wente Watch is in doubt. Stay tuned.

Monday, December 18, 2006

The conservative circle

Wente talks about Islamic schools in the UK. You can see the tension between her different conservative biases. On the one hand, the schools are Muslim and Wente's instinct is to decry their existence as a training school for terrorism. On the other, a good conservative seldom passes up a chance to bash secular, public schools.

So Wente writes a relatively sympathetic article. Too sympathetic. She makes the same mistake most conservative writers make about private schools - because they draw mostly from upper-income families, their outcomes (test scores, university entrance) appear higher than public schools, which must deal with all types of families, or lack thereof. If she were to compare Leicester Academy's performance with that of state schools for children from similar family incomes, would there be as much difference? We don't know, and Wente did not trouble to find out.

And she can't resist her trademark dig:

Mr. Moghal...is a strong believer in the obligation to fit in with the majority culture. He is clean-shaven, and wears an immaculate business suit and tie

As opposed to those other dirty darkies who are unkempt and unclean, no doubt. The quote reveals Wente's biases more than Moghal's. Nonwhites are welcome in her society, if and only if they dress, talk, cook, listen to music, and in all other ways behave exactly as whites do. Not merely integrate, but assimilate - give up all sense of history, identity, and culture in order to ease Wente's instinctive distrust of "other" cultures.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

And then, they shall know that a prophet has been among them

This is starting to get repetitive. It's hardly worth bothering to refute Wente when she essentially writes the same column over and over again. Islamists are taking over Europe, doom and gloom, head for the hills, zzzzzzzz.....

The column says 3-5 percent of German Muslims are radicals. That works out to 0.09-0.15 percent of the total German population. Wente is all antsy about that, but apparently the 7 percent of the vote obtained by neo-Nazis in a recent state election is nothing to worry about.

The problem is that European countries are not immigrant-based societies like North America, and they will always view nonwhites as outsiders. In other words, they think the way Margaret Wente does. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, as staunch a critic of radical Islam as one can find, was threatened with expulsion from the Netherlands for lying on a refugee application years earlier. Bassam Tibi is leaving Germany, stultified not by political correctness, but by the absence of it; he can never be accepted as a German, no matter how he tries.

And, paradoxically, a prime reason for this is conservative ideologues constantly haranguing, as Wente does, that Islam is a sinister, dangerous force worthly only of distrust and suspicion.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


Miracles happen. Wente actually took the trouble to find a nonwhite's side of the story, and listened without judgment. In other words, she actually behaved like a journalist.

Of course, it might have been a good idea to do that before writing two columns on the niqab subject.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

The patriarchal furriners

Wente's third article in a row bashing Turkish immigrants in Germany.

Most of the practices she describes - honour killings, child marriage - are already illegal in Turkey and have been so for decades. Turkey is perhaps the most aggressively secular country in the Muslim world, where even headscarves are banned.

That, of course, does not fit into Wente's script. If a crime against women is committed by a white person, it does not exist. As many as 40,000 women were trafficked into Germany to serve as sex slaves during the World Cup, but Wente wouldn't be interested in that; the traffickers and their victims were white. Nor, one thinks, would she care that 25 percent of German women have faced physical or sexual violence from their partners.

Just once could Wente talk about the problems women face without dragging race and religion into it?