To avoid excluding women, our academic and media mentors suspend the rules of grammar. That’s why we see sentences like “As a person ages, they will probably be sick more often.” To avoid excluding other cultures, our mentors rewrite the past. That’s why we see statements like “The medieval crusades and jihad were morally equivalent.”
The formula seems simple enough, but I can’t get the hang of it. Maybe it’s not a coincidence that inclusion rhymes with confusion. Nothing confuses me more than seeing an individual turn into a group, or entertaining the notion that reoccupying invaded territory is no better than invading and occupying it. Maybe my teachers are to blame. They neglected to prepare me for a future in which inclusiveness means excluding clear expression and historical truth.
It also means excluding ethnic humour. Try as I may, I can’t get my mind around the idea that I’m supposed to include ethnic minorities, but not their jokes. The best Irish, Ukrainian, Jewish, Chinese, East Indian and Lebanese jokes are the ones ethnic jokers tell on themselves. It’s the same with the best aboriginal jokes. Self-deprecatory humour sparkles in all cultures.
I can dine on the richest and spiciest foods that chefs from different cultures are able to prepare, and nobody objects. I can gorge on the delicacies they offer until my stomach rebels. But this is why my mind rebels. I can gag on their feasts. I can’t feast on their gags. Oh, I might get away with listening to them. I can’t get away with re-telling them.
My confusion about inclusion doesn’t end there. It goes on to encompass the province I call home (Saskatchewan). Like the media-academic complex, my provincial government is committed to diversity and inclusion. At the same time, it refuses to employ marriage commissioners who in conscience are unable to preside at same-sex nuptials.
When I heard that I was so confused I couldn’t process it. I still can’t. Although a writer for most of my life, I can’t figure out how to say, “No Christians need apply” in inclusive language. But figure it out I must if I’m to make sense of the provincial position.
Maybe I’m not the only one who is confused. Or, maybe the media-academic complex defines inclusion the way tour operators do. Their all-inclusive vacations take your breath away. Never mind, you get it back as soon as you discover the exceptions. The vacations are not all inclusive after all.
Neither is the worldview of the media-academic complex, apparently. Oh, it includes feminists, non-western cultures, gays, abortionists, and atheists. But it excludes traditional women, western culture, ex-gays, unborn children and theists.
Curiously, it used to include unborn children and exclude abortionists. Now it trashes the one and decorates the other. It also used to include racists. Now it reviles them.
Which only adds to my confusion. The media-academic complex preaches non-judgmentalism, tolerance and acceptance. But it judges, stigmatizes, rejects and marginalizes what it excludes.
Maybe, after the fashion of tour operators, it includes inconsistency as an unadvertised special. Specials are common on all-inclusive vacations. The advertised may include all the shrimp your stomach can hold and all the rum your liver can stand. The unadvertised may include all the E. coli and salmonella your immune system can bear. But pathogens are not part of the deal. They just happen. Maybe it’s that way with the media-academic complex. Inconsistency just happens.
Or maybe it’s an unintended consequence of a relativistic worldview. Unless you recognize fundamental principles, inconsistency is a foregone conclusion. If the foundation shifts, so does the superstructure. But the media-academic complex doesn’t recognize fundamental principles. It fundamentally opposes them.
In a relativistic world, the following exchange makes sense: “Who qualify for inclusion?” “The ones we include.” “Why do they qualify?” “Because we include them.”
It also makes nonsense, as does the world that Alice visits down the rabbit hole and through the looking glass. It’s the charming world of childhood with all of its inconsistencies and contradictions that don’t really matter. It’s not the world of adulthood, where nonsense matters a great deal and inclusion doesn’t only rhyme with confusion. It also rhymes with delusion.