Friday, September 02, 2005

When reality isn't good enough: cheat an immigrant!

The Toronto Star puzzles me. It headlines one of today’s editorials "Schools cheating new immigrants" only to conclude that "the real problem is an inadequate funding formula, which fails to keep pace with rising costs" … I’m confused: so schools aren’t cheating new immigrants, then? The provincial government is? Indeed, strictly speaking, the provincial government is cheating the TDSB, as per this: "the board must dip into the ESL funds because the province fails to give it enough money to operate the schools. For example, the board got $46 million in the last school year to cover utility costs. But the actual cost was $70 million, leaving a $23 million gap that had to be covered with funds earmarked for other programs."

Yeah, that’s brutal! So why doesn’t the headline read: “Provincial Liberals cheating TDSB: ESL programs suffer”? Something like that anyway. The Board is very clearly the victim here. After all, it couldn’t possibly offer any sort of education, let alone ESL programs, without lights and heat. Why all this gun-jumping about immigrants?

Ooooh! I see: “TDSB” doesn’t sell newspapers the way “immigrants” does! Sure, I get it. A little cynical—a little exploitative—but I understand. So why don’t you just say: “Provincial Liberals cheating new immigrants”? … Sure, ok. The Provincial Liberals cheating yet another group of people will not only fail to raise eyebrows, people likely won’t even bother reading the piece. Who could possibly be interested in the government doing here exactly what it does everywhere else? Touché.

But tell me: given all the facts you’ve provided us with, and given all that flapdoodle I’m always hearing about “journalistic objectivity,” is it actually true (sorry, bad word), is it actually fair to say that the TDSB is cheating anyone when it stands to gain absolutely nothing thereby—short of, that is, the least amount of harm to the most number of people? That’s a rather admirable way of dealing with the problem isn’t it? It’s at least responsible. Right?

Ah, but what would the Star do if it was stripped of its status as Superpaper—feller of the dread Toronto Police Service, and (less remarkably perhaps) the Toronto Blue Jays, and all their racial profiling shenanigans (which, peculiarly, the Star has since managed, very quietly, to radically change its position on)? What would it do without its favoured cause-come-victim, that amalgam of race, colour, creed and (lower) class: that chimera called “immigrant”? Surely it would wither and die. Dog forbid! What concerns should we have then? Actual stories? Gun violence? The absence of leadership in the municipal government? The absence of honesty in the provincial government? The absence of the, er, absence of crime in the federal government? … Katrina, Iraq, Sudan? Terrorism? Reality?! Dog forbid!