Examining Opposing Viewpoints
To gain insight into an historical event, it is useful to examine the
views of people who lived at the time. These views will represent a wide
range of opinions, from the extreme to the middle ground. By
examining a range of arguments, you may gain a clearer
understanding of how important the event was and how strongly
people felt about it.
To gain an understanding and appreciation for the importance of
the confederation process, you will read nine short letters to the editor published in 1948 in several
St. John's newspapers:
"Have Faith", The Daily News, May 29, 1948.
"A Patriotic Appeal," The Daily News, July 22, 1948.
"Wants Appeal Made", The Daily News, July 27, 1948.
"Calling All Patriots", The Daily News, August 2, 1948.
"What Are We Thinking Of?", The Daily News, August 5, 1948.
"According to Conviction", Evening Telegram, May 31, 1948.
"Honest Beliefs", Evening Telegram, July 20, 1948.
"War Vet", The Independent, July 15, 1948.
"Canadian Taxes", The Daily News, May 25, 1948.
Then you will apply tests which are used to assess
the objectivity of the letters.
- Distinguishing fact from opinion
- Factual statements are those that appear to be true, or can be demonstrated to be true.
Opinion statements are merely what one thinks about something.
- Identifying stereotypes
- Such statements are oversimplified, exaggerated sometimes
insulting. They are often directed at particular races and religions.
- Recognizing ethnocentrism
- Ethnocentric statements assume that a given race, culture, or
group is superior to others.
- Divide the letters into two groups:
a) What arguments most commonly appear in the pro-confederation letters?
- those in favour of confederation
- those not in favour of confedertaion
b) What arguments most commonly appear in the anti-confederate letters?
Give an example of each of the following:
Of the nine letters, which one do you think is the least
convincing? Defend your selection.
- a factual statement
- an opinion statement
- a statement containing a stereotype
- a statement containing an ethnocentric view