Let’s hear it for the Ismers!

Today I am going to behave like a politician and abuse my privilege by speaking out on behalf of a minority — a minority that suffers lamentably for the lack of being spoken out on behalf of… How’s that for a blindingly masterful piece of syntax?

I’m referring to the people I think of as Ismers, with the hard British “I” sound used in “Italy.” (Not the soft American one used in “Eyetalian”.) I’m aware that the name sounds alien; to date, no one but I has ever heard of Ismers. But that doesn’t mean they’re not out there.

Ismers are the most poorly-represented and least well-organized special-interest minority group in Canada.

But don’t be too quick to dismiss them as unworthy of notice, for the odds are about one in four that you yourself just might be an Ismer. I’m one, and I only realized it a short time ago when someone said to me, with icy disapproval and withering disdain, “Why don’t you tell us what you really think?”

That provided a significant “Oops” moment in which I realized that, in my enthusiasm, I might have trampled unwittingly on hypersensitive corns, and that the speaker genuinely expected me, having been challenged, to scuttle away with my head hanging in shame for having dared to speak out.

Instead, I recognized my own Ismerism and started digging for terms of reference.

My initial research indicated a startling and unique body of statistics: Ismers, it would appear, are an abundant and prolific species with the growth properties of both yeast and mushrooms. They seem to be geographically widespread throughout the western hemisphere, although in terms of sheer presence, their most active centre of interest is right here in politically correct Canada, where they are struggling, in a paradox of silence, for their lives.

An Ismer is, practically by definition, a Caucasian, small-c christian, heterosexual male anglophone (although there appears to have been a recent flowering of serious, well-informed and articulate female applicants for membership,) who is afflicted with the additional bad luck and deplorable taste to be sufficiently articulate and literate to develop and express reasoned, logical and individual opinions.

As a result of that, Ismers are regarded universally by special interest groups and organized lobbies as fair game for persecution and public pillorying, since they are, after all, the people who, in spite of decades of ongoing attempts at intensive re-education, still stubbornly refuse to rid themselves of the embarrassing and distressing symptoms of individuality and self-sufficiency—those greatly disparaged results of a mere handful of millennia of evolutionary development.

Ismers may not be demonstrably responsible for the ills of this country, but like the early Roman Christians and the Jews of Hitler’s Europe, they do provide wonderful and convenient targets for contemporary finger-pointers looking for scapegoats and something to shout about that will promote, or perhaps obscure or even veil, their own agendas.

Ismerism, I should add, is not an acronymic. It is a state of being, a condition of existence that presupposes sustained ostracism. An Ismer is constitutionally incapable of entertaining, let alone voicing, an opinion that does not automatically challenge and offend somebody else’s -ISM.

Racism, sexism, elitism and anti-feminism are only the first four of those that come to mind, but barbarism, paternalism and tokenism come tripping over each other’s feet to be next in line.

On the opposing side, sensationalism, opportunism and ostracism are closely controlled by the non-Ismer practitioners of social schism. And poor old altruism, the doing of anything for other people for the sheer pleasure of doing it, seems to have been outlawed in Canada. As an -ISM on the plus side for Ismers, it is a non-contender, as are witticism and criticism.

Looks like we’ll have to be content with stoicism and survivalism.

The sheer range of -ISMs is depressing and frightening, because so many of them are currently undefined. I suspect that no one has yet had enough spare time to dream up neologisms to identify them formally.

And then there’s Multiculturalism. Do we even want to go there? Personally I don’t think Multiculturalism works. The only viable alternatives, however, seem to be Canadianism and nationalism, but neither of those appears to have attracted a lobby group yet.

The time has come, I believe, for Ismers to stand up and get organized in a spirit of fed-upism. But before the rocks come crashing through my windows, I have another -ISM for would-be stone throwers. It is solipsism — the absolute belief that your own opinions are the only really valid ones. I am no solipsist, but I doubt that I am the only Ismer who would enjoy the freedom to say what he really thinks without the threat of being pilloried as an elitist, a sociological misfit and a politically incorrect aberration.