Thursday, November 27, 2008

Backpedalling on CF

Priscilla linked to a story yesterday that got a fair bit of notice in the press: Carleton University (10 minutes from where I live in Ottawa) got in the news because their student association couldn't resist giving a pious little PC sermon when voting to stop fund-raising for Cystic Fibrosis.
The Carleton University Students' Association has voted to drop a cystic fibrosis charity as the beneficiary of its annual Shinerama fundraiser, supporting a motion that argued the disease is not "inclusive" enough.
Cystic fibrosis "has been recently revealed to only affect white people, and primarily men" said the motion read Monday night to student councillors, who voted almost unanimously in favour of it.
Every year, near the beginning of fall classes, during university orientation for new arrivals, students fan out across the city and seek donations from passersby. According to the motion, "all orientees and volunteers should feel like their fundraising efforts will serve the their (sic) diverse communities."
Well, after 24 hours of non-stop international shellacking, today's paper has a story about rapid backpedalling.
OTTAWA - A fundraiser to help fight cystic fibrosis will be back on Carleton University's frosh-week schedule Monday if the president of the undergraduate student union gets her way.
Carleton University Students' Association president Brittany Smyth said an emergency meeting of the association's council is planned for Monday evening and she'll be trying to rescind a decision to pull association support for the annual "Shinerama" fundraiser.
She said she was "very sorry for the confusion" caused by the council motion to stop supporting a cystic-fibrosis charity -- and especially its preamble, which stated that cystic fibrosis "has been recently revealed to only affect white people, and primarily men." According to the original motion, the charity would be dropped to allow for other fundraising efforts that served "diverse communities."
Am I happy? Of course not! First of all, there was no "confusion" at all, though everyone who gets in trouble always reaches for that excuse first. What happened was clear: CUSA voted to discontinue funding for this particular charity for odious reasons, which they were too smug and self-righteous even to feel decent human shame at expressing. The victims of CF weren't good enough for CUSA to support, the students were proud enough of their bigotry to proclaim it to the world, and were surprised and discomfited to be answered with scorn instead of applause. So now they're running for cover.

The punk who composed the pious little sermon on the "Lebensunwertes Leben" gives as graceless a quote as I would expect:
Donnie Northrup, the Carleton University student who wrote the controversial preamble to give Shinerama the boot, said he was sorry he misused the term "caucasian," but stood by the intent of the motion yesterday.

"I think it's good to have people willing to take a stand in student politics, and I've admitted I've made a mistake. But I do believe in spreading the wealth, so to speak, as charities go," he said, adding that other charities stood to benefit from the decision.
Isn't he the daring freethinker? I wonder if he scratched his ear with his middle finger while speaking? I think we've just spotted a future Liberal backbencher in the larval stage.

What annoys me the most about this incident is the over-eager "all is forgiven" approach everyone wants to take, especially from the director of the CF Foundation in eastern Ontario.
Nadine Imbleau-Redmond, the Eastern Ontario regional director for the Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, called the news of an emergency CUSA vote "wonderful."
"We're overjoyed here at the foundation," she said. "We're just happy that the group heard the outcry of the students and population, and felt committed to the cause. They're doing the right thing," she said.

Ms. Imbleau-Redmond said the flap shouldn't strain relations between the university and the charity.

"The vote was based on incorrect information, and now that they've been informed about the correct information and the legacy, they're realizing what it's all about," she said.
To me, this is exactly wrong. It reinforces the prejudices of the crack-brained students, by suggesting that it was only the FACTS that they got wrong. It leaves intact the assumption that a spoils system based on class, race, sex, income or whatever other dividing criterion you want to use, is the correct way to approach charity. "You're wrong about cystic fibrosis! We don't deserve to be punished - look at all our non-white victims!" Instead of telling the students they should be ashamed even to think in such terms, the charity invites them to turn their microscope on some other charity that DOES deserve the reproach of "non-inclusive", and stick it to THEM. We don't fit the description. Our papers are in order.

I can't blame CCFF - it's hardly their job to undertake the moral education of young adults who have somehow gotten to the age of majority with such stunted consciences. But it just means that all they're going to learn from this incident is to keep their mouths shut next time they want to do something mean and inhuman, and that doesn't benefit anyone in the long run.


Blogger Priscilla said...

I'm trying to recall a college that pulled their donations to "Cicle Cell Anemia" hmmm...

10:22 am  
Blogger TLF+ said...

CF is the disease that killed my older brother. So nice to read about these pious, caring people.

6:25 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, if the charity couldn't even spell its own name, then I'd pull my money too.

It's 'Sickle Cell' I believe.

Pious Liberal

5:19 pm  
Anonymous robroy said...

I tried unsuccessfully to write these people. Cystic fibrosis is an autosomal recessive trait, meaning that both parents must have one copy of the bad gene and then there is a 1 in 4 chance of children having the disease. But males and females are equally affected. Males do have infertility problems, whereas females can become pregnant. This is of course a tribute to the advances in the care of the CF patients. Now, they can live to thirty or so (and hence reproduce). CF is more common in Caucasians, especially so in Ashkenazy Jews.

On the other hand, we support very much "non-inclusive" diseases like Muscular dystrophy (only affects males), breast cancer (99% are female), and sickle cell anemia (only African American).

12:27 pm  

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