Friday, June 19, 2015

"To kill the Indian in the child" -- never uttered

I recently criticized the Toronto Star for its editorial use of the odious expression "to kill the Indian in the child."  The basis of my objection was the Star's placing these words in quotation marks and failing to attribute them to some actual person.

This occurred in the midst of the vacuous debate of whether the Indian residential schools constituted cultural genocide. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, Beverley McLachlin, waded in thereby shedding her robes of judicial impartiality and exposing the legal activist.

Toronto Star apologist Cathy English replied with an excerpt from a speech by Stephen Harper where he used phrase again in quotation marks, again without attribution. On occasion the expression was attributed to the poet Duncan Campbell Scott, long-time Superintendent of Indian Affairs responsible for the residential schools.. Worse still, one correspondent claimed it appears in Canadian legislation.

Statements in quotation marks must be the exact words uttered by an attributable source. Neither the Star nor the Prime Minister followed this essential rule.

For the record, an excerpt from Conversations with a Dead Man; the legacy of Duncan Campbell Scott by Mark Abley:

"But the offending phrase is not Scott's. He never used those words. Neither did any other Canadian official. The quotation can be traced back to a somewhat different statement uttered by a high-ranking officer in the U.S. Army, Richard Henry Pratt, the nineteenth-century superintendent of a residential school in Pennsylvania: 'All the Indian there is in the race should be dead. Kill the Indian in him and save the man'."

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