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Article Critique

Topics: Trade union, Capitalism / Pages: 9 (2104 words) / Published: Apr 9th, 2013
Part 1. Identify the Articles
From David Goutor, ‘Drawing Different Lines of Color: The Main Stream English Labour Movement’s Approach to Blacks and the Chinese, 1880-1914’, Labor: Studies in Working Class History of the Americas 2(1), pp. 55-76. 2005, Duke University Press. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission of the publisher
From Catherine Carstairs, ‘Deporting Ah Sin to Save the White Race: Moral Panic, Racialization, and the Extension of Canadian Drug Laws in the 1920s’, Canadian Bulletin of Medical History 16(1) (June 1999): 65-88.
Part 2. Summarize the Contents
First piece of our interest, “Drawing Different Lines of Color” by David Goutor, as the name suggests, portrays how the labour unions viewed Blacks and Chinese differently and why. The piece gives readers concise and detailed perspective of the labour unions on Blacks and Chinese as workers in Canada. It also provides readers with general attitude of the period towards Blacks and Chinese in the British Empire and United States. According to Goutor, unionists saw Chinese as a ‘menace’ to their jobs. Goutor states that Chinese were made into “embodiments of the economic, social, and cultural damage that they expected an industrial capitalist system to produce and made blacks into examples of people who broke free of an earlier but similar, form of tyranny” (p.270). Moreover, Chinese were also made into symbols of uncivilized, unmanliness and uneducated. On the contrary, Blacks were associated with past struggle and people who have endured centuries of unjust discrimination; and parallel were drawn between Blacks struggle against slavery and unionists’ struggles against capitalist society.
Second piece of our interest, “Deporting Ah Sin to save the White Race” by Catherine Carstairs also entails the topic of Chinese in Canada of the same time period as Gouter’s article; however, Carstairs approaches the topic differently than Goutor. The piece contains many details on how Canadian laws associated with drugs and Chinese immigration changed in the course of 1910’s to 1920’s. Carstairs also provides many examples of anti-Chinese activities of the era inspired by ‘the drug panic’ and how it influenced the minds of public and lawmakers. Chinese were made into a menace to the society by writers, newspapers and politicians. They were frequently called vicious ‘dope-fiends’ tainting innocent and white youths; while the drug addicts were seen as poor creatures and victims.
Part 3. State the thesis/theme of the articles
The central argument flowing throughout David Guotor’s article is based on the comparison of how the Canadian Labour Unions treat the Black and the Chinese race differently. Guotor states that Chinese were always seen as ‘menace’ to both the job market and the society by the general public and especially the Labour Unions. Guotor also indicates that Labour Unionists views of “blacks as engaged in a great struggle for social equality” (p. 264) and basically posing no threat to the labour market and the society. In both the introduction and the section entitled ‘The Bounds of Unity’, the readers are provided with many details on ‘how Canadian labour unions criticized and oppressed Chinese; fearing them and blaming them for all social and economic problems of the society at the time. In the second section, The Impending Flood, Guotor depicts unionists’ false belief of flood of Chinese always around the corner waiting to flush into Canada and take over white men’s jobs. On the other hand, unionists were never worried about flood of blacks from United States or other areas since they felt there was a safe distance from blacks taking their jobs. Large scale plantation farming had never been established in Canada; thereby blacks were seen to having no real place in any part of the labour force. In section three, ‘Slavery Times’ and ‘The Coming Crisis’ readers are able to see that there seemed to have been universal intolerance of Chinese workers in all parts of Dominion at the time. Moreover, racism against blacks did not surely disappear at the time but blacks were associated with something of the past and Chinese were ‘The Coming Crisis’.
Central argument in Catherine Carstairs’s article is harder to discern, because it mainly explains on the drug panic and process by which Canadian drug and Chinese immigration laws have changed. Many components of House of Commons’ debates and newspaper articles’ excerpts are introduced to the readers. If one were to state a main theme for the article, it would be how Chinese as a group were manifested by Canadian society of the time and events that took place as a direct result of it in the 1920’s. The article is filled with details on events such as various anti-drug campaigns, political debates and changes in the drug law, through which Carstairs is able to provide readers with knowledge of link between demonization of drugs and the Chinese.
Part 4. Evaluate/Critique
Goutor’s writing is in many ways coherent, comprehensive and thorough in his points throughout the entire article. After reading the piece one was left with a clear picture of Canadian Labour Unions’ view of Chinese and Blacks and reasons as to why these views were formed in this time period. Goutor’s piece is structured with an introduction, three main sections and a conclusion. Each section adds to our understanding of the differences. In the first section, Bounds of Unity, Gouter provides general information on how Labour Unions perceived Chinese and Blacks differently. Chinese were perceived as a ‘menace’ to the society and a threat to the jobs or standard of living of white workers. Some examples of these are: “Trade unionists presented Chinese migrants as inherently less civilized and therefore ‘content’ with a lower standard of living” (p. 261); and "According to Canadian unionists, the ‘debased morals’ of the Chinese made them particularly grave ‘menaces to the virtue of the Dominion’s youth, especially its ‘daughters’”(p. 262). The second section, The Impending Flood, reveals that the concerns that the Labour Unions had were mostly over exaggerated. There was never a flood of Chinese in Canada during the time period which is backed up by statics of Chinese immigration in the era. In section three, ‘Slavery’ and ‘The Coming Crisis’, Labour Unions views in the context of the other nations and the time period are provided. These three sections cover just about every aspect of Blacks and Chinese from different perspectives to reduce bias. Gouter’s writing did not seem biased or prejudiced. Each section of Gouter’s writing is well organized; each and every facts or statements about Chinese are always followed up with ones regarding Blacks, for example: “Indeed, whereas unionists presented the Chinese as irredeemably ‘uncivilized’, they presented blacks as engaged in a great struggle for social equality” (p. 264). If a former paragraph is one regarding Chinese, the next paragraph will address the same topic for Blacks. Gouter clearly meets his objective of portraying to the readers of Labour Unions views on Chinese and Blacks and explanations as to why.
Carstairs’s writing feels more like a compilation of events. After reading her article, readers surely gain in depth knowledge of various events during the drug panic and process by which the laws were altered. However, despite the fact that these two articles deal with same topic of Chinese in Canada of the same time period unlike Gouter’s article readers are not presented with various different perspectives on the topic or in different context. Perhaps this is because the purpose of Carstairs piece seems to be solely focused on providing information on what events took place in the time period as a result of moral panic induced by Chinese population in Canada. Thereby her writing does not feel as thorough or comprehensive as Gouter’s. Her article is composed of an introduction, two sections and a conclusion. In the introduction to the piece, Carstairs explains what happened with Chinese in the 1920’s as ‘moral panic’ which is “A condition, episode or group of persons emerges to become defined as a threat to societal values and interests…the condition then disappears, submerges or deteriorates and becomes more visible” (p. 275). In the rest of the article, Carstairs illustrates anti-drug campaigns of Emily Murphy, Vancouver Sun, and Vancouver Daily World. These campaigns all have one thing in common, their views are seemingly very biased in the sense that they contains racial drama of Chinese being ‘vicious drug fiends’ and white youths and addicts as victims. Carstairs does not question the validity of these articles and the campaigns she illustrated are all from British Columbia region except Emily Murphy’s. She does mention towards the end of the article that the drug panic has spread to Toronto and Montreal but they are rather brief. Readers might be curious as to if there were any other campaigns in different parts of Canada and to what extent these racial dramas presented in newspaper articles are true. In addition, Carstairs also illustrates debates in the House of Commons regarding drug law making and in these debates similar to the campaigns; Chinese are often vilified to bring changes. In one political debate Vancouver MP of the time, Leon Ladner, tells a story of 16 year old white female drug addicted and worked as a prostitute with Chinese men and this story in turn convinces many political figures representing British Columbia in the House of Commons to pass an amendment allowing for the lash. These events do accomplish the author’s objective of laying out what had happened in the 1920’s. However, readers might be left with some questions after reading the piece, such as why the moral panic ended in 1923 or what happened in other parts of Canada such as Maritimes or the Prairies. One may also find Carstairs’s explanation of why the Chinese population became the target of moral panic to be lacking in depth compared to Gouter’s piece where he devotes a good portion of his article to explaining why Chinese were perceived as a menace.
Gouter’s article has 82 references in total and upon scheming through them; one can realize most of these resources are primary sources dating back to actual time frame in which the author is writing on. And throughout the entire article readers are confronted with various direct quotations and references from places such as Toronto’s Daily News, the Palladium of Labor (most important Knights of Labor paper in Canada), and Trades Union Advocate. Carstairs’s article has 69 references in total and they are also mainly primary sources. Other than eight, rest of the sources are all dated back to early 1900’s. Most of her article is filled with summarization of historical events which are assumed to be backed up by these references.
Part 5 Conclusion
The two articles David Goutor’s ‘Drawing Different Lines of Color: The Main Stream English Labour Movement’s Approach to Blacks and the Chinese and Catherine Carstairs’s ‘Deporting Ah Sin to Save the White Race: Moral Panic, Racialization, and the Extension of Canadian Drug Laws in the 1920s’ deal with similar topic of Chinese in Canada in the early 1900’s. The approaches that these two authors have taken provide readers with two different perspectives of the same situation. Gouter’s article portrays Labour Unions’ views about the Chinese menace in comparison to another minority group, Blacks. Gouter also provides worldwide views of these two racial groups and talks about them in context of the time period, where slavery has ended and there is struggle against capitalist society. On the other hand, Carstairs’s approaches the topic by summarizing various anti-drug campaigns that took place, as well as the political debates that resulted in Canadian drug laws to be the amongst the most severe in the world to the contemporaries. Reading Gouter’s article helps one clearly understand the viewpoints of the Canadian Labour Unions and reasons as to why these biased viewpoints were formed. After reading Carstairs’s piece, one gains detailed knowledge of the link between demonization of drugs and the Chinese. However, Carstairs’s article did not feel as thorough or comprehensive as Gouter’s on number of factors. Her approach was limited to handful of anti-drug campaigns and political debates. Both articles mainly use primary sources as their references allowing accurate portrayal of events and mood of the time period. When information from the two articles are combined one can see a much bigger picture of how Chinese were discriminated and despised on by the Canadian society as a whole. Such a large scale discrimination and racialization of a race is hard to believe in today’s society and it is something that should never be tolerated again in the history of mankind.

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