Now, before I start this entry, I would like to make the following disclaimer. I support the Canadian Armed Forces. I make very little income on a yearly basis, but I donate what I can whenever I can to the local Canadian Legion branches and give as much as I can whenever I see cadets wandering around trying to collect donations for the month of Remembrance Day. Whenever I see a license plate that has the symbolic poppy and the word “Veteran” on it, I get warm and fuzzy. In the past and not as much these days unfortunately, whenever I see an old man or woman wearing their veteran hat, I stand there in awe and make sure not to get in their way. I have also at times, thanked military service men and women, as well as their close family members for all of their contributions in whatever capacity.
Also as a secondary disclaimer, for those who attack Canada and Canadian soldiers for being a part of a military machine out to kill babies and innocents, save that for another time. Those sort of arguments will land you a ban on this site for going off topic. I may one day talk about Canada and the military for a political topic, but this blog entry isn’t it.
Note that this was published back on February 15th, 2020 under a different title. I decided I will rewrite a large portion of this to reflect my truest feelings on the subject.
There are two specific things I would like to address. Military veterans who cringe at being thanked for their service, and military personnel using the “I didn’t join the military for this bullshit”.
Many military veterans who have said they cringe at civilians thanking them for their service believe they don’t require thanks, because they are just doing their job don’t realize one major detail between their job and a civilian’s job. Most civilian jobs do not put themselves at risk for the greater good of the nation. They don’t become store managers, physiotherapists, dentists, librarians, and teachers thinking that their job may one day, put their own life at risk. You don’t sign up to become a grocery store clerk knowing one day, your country is going to ship you off to Afghanistan to fight against the Taliban. So your work as a soldier is not just a job. It’s a lifestyle. It’s a frame of mind. You’re unique. You’re above the every day civilian who isn’t willing to take up a sword and shield to protect the nation. A kindergarten teacher isn’t going to be at risk of PTSD, unless something extraordinary happens to that teacher like a school shooting. However, soldiers can at any time face situations that will give them PTSD. While most soldiers don’t get into dangerous situations, the fact is, the country at any time can deploy you into dangerous situations. All people signing up for the job of a soldier knows this.
At the macro level, these people know what they’re signing up and for many, they’re signing up to uphold the core principles of their nation, to fight injustice, to perpetuate long term peace, to stand up to terrorism. So that is why I will hold you to some form of veneration, even if you don’t see it that way. Civilian jobs don’t usually particularly serve an entire nation, though we can argue that teachers do because they’re educating the masses, where as soldiers protect the benefits of the masses, but this is neither here or there.
A few months ago, a friend Ryan, who is a Canadian Armed Forces veteran engaged in a heated argument on Facebook with one of my other friends Laura, a high school math teacher. Specifically, it was about the Coronavirus being called the “China Virus”. It was an article about The Province’s (newspaper) wording on one of their articles titled “2nd China Virus Case in BC”. Paraphrasing the entire thread of argumentative debauchery, Laura and two of her friends cited racism in such wording. Ryan on the other hand, said while the title was badly worded, it was certainly not racist. I actually agree with him. While the title of that article may have been badly worded and insensitive, it was definitely not racist. However, while the wording itself was not racist, the wording perpetuate racist agendas across the nation, because racists will use this as fuel against Chinese people in Canada. This is not a mere opinion but actual recorded fact.
As the argument went on in Facebook, Ryan said something petty. He said, “It makes me sick to have served this country and this is the crap I have to hear…”
I was super disappointed in him.
For context, this was the conversation:
Was it the right wording, probably not. Was is racist, no.
i hear what you’re saying but regardless of intent, was it highly insensitive and offensive? You betcha! Maybe not to you, but there is a community of outraged and incensed people Chinese or not. Note, there is a slight hint of racism like saying “China man” vs “Chinese man” so even in that title, we weren’t given the courtesy of the adjective.
Just to add the title didn’t bother me that much. Made me cringe but knowing just how it can influence others subconsciously (or not) is where the disappointment lies.
but I’m supposed to be ok being called gui lo, white man, and honky am supposed to be ok with that and not be sensitive back? If it were referred to as Canadian virus it’s no issue. I’m refused service in Richmond, constantly reminded how I’m a “white devil” but saying that something came from China offends you?
the difference is personal interaction vs content published in an official media outlet. It sucks that you’ve experienced all that… but again an official newspaper should be more “woke” than calling it the “China virus”, shouldn’t it?
it came from China. It’s from a geographical area. If everything invokes sensitivity, then you lessen the impact of things that are much more important issues. It didn’t even imply any negative aspect…just where it was from. These are the sorts of weak issues that wear people down. There were better words perhaps, but it’s a slippery slope if you paint anything derived from another culture or country as taboo or untouchable.
In Chinese there is a phrase that describes what you’re talking about 厚臉皮 which is literally translated “thick face skin”. So yes you have to have thick skin to live in this world… but at some point, the straw will break the camel’s back. This isn’t “everything invoking sensitivity”, so I’ll just take your words to be hyperbole.
There is a distinct difference in calling someone “disabled” vs calling someone a “person with a disability”. You might think it’s all semantics but the difference lies in the focus of the word. One lends the person dignity more than the other.
Ryan, the issue is at hand is precedence. Previously the Zika virus was not the Brazilian virus. The H1N1 virus was not the American virus etc. There is a name for it for now and it’s called Novel coronavirus, even though I think that’s a placeholder for new discoveries of a coronavirus.
Jason, Just to get the facts correct H1N1 (Swine Flu) outbreak of 2009 was found in humans in Mexico but was genetically link to the swine flu outbreak in 1998 in South Carolina but at that time was confined to pigs only. The Use of China virus is in appropriate for no other reason than I am sure there are other viruses in China besides that one and since it is beginning to move it is not just a problem in China.
Jason, did it not originate in china?? Where unsanitary practices that would be be embarrassing a hundred years ago? The world is at a massive danger which is not being addressed, I’ve seen no changes to these wet markets and you’re offended that we are saying it originated in China…this is somehow the important issue? Not the complete and utter disregard for the English language over the Fraser River? Ya, but we should fire the writer of an article who probably should have not worded it like that, and that’s most important issue. It makes me sick to have served this country and this is the crap I have to hear…
Specifically, addressing the point Ryan made here: “but I’m supposed to be ok being callend gui lo, white man, and honky am supposed to be ok with that and not be sensitive back? If it were referred to as Canadian virus it’s no issue. I’m refused service in Richmond, constantly reminded how I’m a “white devil” but saying that something came from China offends you?”
Firstly, racism is bad. Period. It doesn’t matter where it comes from and who it points at. If you’ve been refused service due to your white skin, then that’s racism. If you’ve been called racist names, then it’s bad.
Secondly, who said you had to be okay with it? NO ONE ever said you should be okay with it. Don’t put words into other people’s mouths to suit your personal rhetoric. Just because YOU didn’t call out racism when it happened, doesn’t mean other people shouldn’t when it happens to them. The onus is on you to report those businesses that refuse service to you, based on their language barrier and racism.
Thirdly, the wording of the article’s title doesn’t just refer to a place of origin. It refers to an entire ethnicity of human beings. Since you clearly have problems with Chinese people calling you racist names like “gwai lo” and “white devil”, then you should also be sensitive if someone says “White People Virus” right? It’s no big deal with something is called “Canadian Virus”, because Canada is vastly multicultural. No one will ever think of Canada as being one particular ethnicity of people. However, China isn’t so diverse. Everyone knows China is primarily made up of Chinese people. SO when a media outlet refers to the virus as “The China Virus”, people automatically think “Chinese People Virus”. THAT is the problem.
So it amazes me that Ryan could point out racism from being called “White Devil”, but cannot see the exact same issue when something attacks an entire collective of people. No one would think “Canadian Virus” is associated to white people, but most people will think “China Virus” is associated to Chinese people. THAT is the difference between his interpretation and the reality.
Now the thing that really disappointed me about what Ryan said, was the comment he made at the end. He said, “It makes me sick to have served this country and this is the crap I have to hear…”
I am 100% certain that Ryan didn’t sign up to serve this country on the notion of protecting the right to everyone’s free speech. If he did, then he would protect the free speech and opinions of the people he’s arguing with, which makes his entire argument and disgust moot. As a soldier, you’re allowed personal beliefs, but when you pull the “I am a veteran” status on people, you better have a good reason to do it. Saying you’re disgusted by Chinese people facing racism because of how the title of an article at a newspaper is worded, is free speech you’re supposed to ALSO be protecting. So it’s quite disappointing that he contradicted his own principles, by hammering down on the beliefs of others. It’s also quite disappointing that he stooped to such pettiness – he reminded people he’s a veteran, trying to squash the opinion of others, that his views are mightier and more worthy of praise than everyone else’s.
My wife says I am a huge Canadian patriotic, standing up to injustice in our system, and standing up to foreigners that criticize wrongfully of our great nation. So when I read stupid shit like what Ryan said, it makes me very sad and it disgusts me that he has to use his veteran status in this regard. The only time any soldier current and former should use his/her status as a veteran, is when the system has burdened them, and if the media has denounced them, and when some entitled asshole criticizes them for being a soldier.
Don’t pull the “I am a veteran” card on people you argue with, unless you intend to contradict your principles on protecting free speech and freedom of expression. People are allowed to be sensitive to things that affect them. Just because you didn’t call out racism when it happened to you, doesn’t mean other people have to stay silent about it. You have a responsibility, just as others have a responsibility to defend their own beliefs.