New Canadian bank note design sparks racial debate

It had to happen. Political correctness has now infected our Canadian cousins.

The Bank of Canada (their version of our Federal Reserve) issued an apology last week. The bank’s governor said: “I apologize to those who were offended. The Bank’s handling of the issue did not meet the standards Canadians justifiably expect of us. Our banknotes belong to all Canadians, and the work we do at the bank is for all Canadians.”

Back in October 2009, the Bank was in the process of issuing newly designed $100 banknotes.

The banknote’s theme was “Medical Innovation,“ and the images included a stylized DNA helix, a graph of a heartbeat on a monitor, an illustration of an insulin bottle, and a drawing of a woman peering through an electron microscope.

The original draft portrayed an Asian woman. The bank retained a firm to conduct focus groups and obtain reactions. Some objected to the fact that Asians were highlighted; others said additional ethnic groups should have been portrayed.

The Bank finally decided on an image of a Caucasian woman, whereupon the Canadian Chinese National Council labeled the decision “racist.” Apologies were issued all around, accompanied by promises to include more outside input into the design of future banknotes.

This could only occur in a politically correct world where a faulty sense of “diversity” and “inclusiveness” holds sway.

It’s no stretch to connect the Bank of Canada’s banknote experience with events in Germany in the 1930s. The Third Reich had decreed proper physical characteristics for membership in the “Master Race.” Photos exist showing faces of people being measured by racial “experts” armed with calipers and clipboards.

There’s a common thread here. Whether it’s Canadian banknotes, German racial testing, or diversity initiatives, it all involves the use of superficial criteria. And it’s wrong.

Of course, the justification is always the pursuit of some “greater good”: ethnic diversity, racial purity, etc.

However, the ends or goals, no matter how desirable or noble, don’t justify the means.

There should be no debate that selecting people by skin color, religion, racial characteristics or any other superficial criteria is normally reprehensible, whether it be justified by a search for racial purity, to insure a proper mix of people in certain positions, or to demonstrate inclusiveness in portrayals on currency.

Everyone should be able to agree on this fundamental concept: each person is entitled to dignity and respect. You don’t have to “earn” it; it’s your birthright as a human being.

A good starting point would be to take to heart Chief Justice John Roberts’ opinion in the 2007 case of “Parents Involved in Community Schools vs. Seattle School District No. 1.”

Dealing with racial discrimination, he very succinctly wrote: “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discrimination on the basis of race.”

It’s an elusively simple concept. Simple, but not easy.

As a nation, we need to embrace the twin concepts that all are created equal, but this does not portend an equality of outcomes. Diversity implies variation in results, achievements and viewpoints.

Every rule has exceptions. To specify someone of a certain race or gender wanted by law enforcement, or for casting in a play or movie is certainly acceptable.

Hulk Hogan playing Snow White would probably be a less than desirable casting choice.

However, under most circumstances, any criteria using quotas or set-asides should never be employed.

It should never be used to determine citizenship, admissions, or even to judge artwork on currency.

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