In the year 731 BCE, a flotilla of eight fishing boats, each with about 6 people, men and women, on board, set sail from a village near present-day Cadiz in southern Spain, and, by a freak anomaly of wind and currents, was washed out to sea, and landed eleven days later on an uninhabited island about 900 kilometres south of present-day Ascension in the mid-Atlantic. No one knows what happened to the three boats that attempted to return. But being uncertain they could make their way back, 31 people, including 7 women, decided to settle where they were.

Their new found island was good to them, and nigh-three millennia later, the Atlantans – which is not what they called themselves – grew to well over 3000 mostly healthy islanders. In some ways – though not many, given their isolation – they were technologically quite advanced, though in other ways, they themselves now admit, quite ‘backward’.

In one of the great anomalies of applied science, somehow – no one knows how – our satellites missed the island. In fact it fell to the islanders themselves to announce themselves to the rest of world, and to discover the rest of the world, when a fishing boat, in yet another freak event, was swept northwestward and landed near Port Canaveral, Florida, on March 11, 2004. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Being an intelligent people – and no, not because they’re white – they made up for nigh-three millennia of lost time in astoundingly quick order. Their island was immediately open to tourists and, of course, anthropologists. Their young people were welcomed to study at some of the top universities in Europe and North America. Some became bricklayers, some dentists, and a few university professors. Until …

Until, that is, the publication of Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility. That they’re privileged, relative to immigrants from Africa or Latin America, they could easily appreciate. But DiAngelo is telling them they’d always been privileged, even before 2004, because, said she, they were born white. Because they were born the children of white parents. And this, try as they might, they simply cannot understand. The ancestors of white people colonised people who are not. Our islanders too are white. Therefore they too colonized people who are not. Having taken Logic 1000, they put it to a Venn diagram and it came out invalid. So either logic is invalid or …

And it was at this point that some of them – not all, but some – decided they weren’t all that fragile after all. They were just pissed. So pissed, in fact, that some of them decided to go back to their island, and to start denying visas to anyone who presumed to demand they apologize for being white, albeit natively so.

My wife and I had a couple of students over for dinner the other day, one from here in Alberta, the other a recent immigrant from Afghanistan. The Afghani reported he couldn’t understand why so many Indigenous students treated him as if he were the enemy. To which the Albertan informed him, quite angrily, that he was clearly a racist. I’m not sure how these two stories are related. I just have this feeling that they are.

Categories: Everything You Wanted to Know About What's Going On in the World But Were Afraid to Ask, Fiction, Social and Political Philosophy

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