Tuesday, August 1, 2006

Asking The Silly Questions
I'm only recently returned to the country, so please pardon my ignorance. But apparently everyone is apparently troubled by some apparent racial slurs directed at Oscar Peterson. Here's a condemnation from The Globe and Mail and further outrage from a University of Toronto professor. Apparently Mr. Peterson is now considering whether or not to leave Canada. This is all, of course, rather awful. Racism is one of those things, like the officiating in professional sports, that is unquestionably bad in all cases.

But before we start debating multiculturalism and finding new reasons to questions this country's purpose (and don't get me wrong, I, like you, love debating multiculturalism and finding new reasons to question this country's purpose), should we maybe clarify whether or not the "cowardly racist bigots" were in fact racist?

(This is not to suggest that what was yelled in Peterson's direction was not racist. Or stupid, for that matter. I plead only confusion on this point.)

Update. Clarification, of sorts, from Peterson.

Peterson said the group members, who were in a blue vehicle, were yelling "ugly" slurs at him but said they were not racial. "I didn't hear anything racial, to be honest," he said.

And yet...

Peterson said the comments reminded him of the kind he heard in the South as a young touring pianist.

"For years, I have travelled throughout the United States and when we played some of the southern cities, I saw this kind of sickness at its worst."

It was there, he said, he "saw racism at its worst," complete with cross burnings and the Klu Klux Klan.

Update II. Sorry. I don't mean to dwell, but I was thinking some more about all this and realized that the whole affair is actually more messed up if it has nothing to do with racism. Without the involvement of racial prejudice, this is just a bunch of hooligans personally targeting Oscar Peterson with repeated drive-by taunts. Which makes almost no sense. If they're not a bunch of crazy racists, why on earth are they doing this? What's could possibly be the motivation? Do they just not like jazz?

Again. I'm confused.

Obviously Oscar can't leave because we need to track down his verbal attackers and get to the bottom of this.

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