John A. Macdonald’s role in the Great Plains famine deserves and has received scrutiny, but he never attempted to destroy the native people
An avalanche of messages came in after last week’s column denouncing the removal from the campus of Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo of the statue of John A. Macdonald and the cancellation of the plan to put up statues of the country’s other 21 former prime ministers, because of Macdonald’s alleged atrocities against the native people, and the general turpitude, for the same reason, of all his successors. Almost 100 per cent of the messages were favourable, though I noted with comparative indulgence the heartfelt effort of one of the student militants, who made the customary reference to my former shareholders, oblivious to the fact that they did nothing but make money with me but were royally skimmed by the usurpatory regime that followed, legitimized in their theft by half-witted and malicious local judges and regulators. This brave young soul did not offer a syllable of justification for the removal of the statue, only a righteous defence of the spirit of activism, which was not at issue.
The incorporating jurisdiction of the university, whether federal or provincial, should revoke the right of the university to use and demean the name of Wilfrid Laurier, because of its cowardly capitulation to these defamers of our history, and because Sir Wilfrid was one of those who had the honour of having his effigy rejected as unworthy of being unveiled at the university that bears his name. This ground was once nomadically crisscrossed by native people, like such other well-known squatters’ effronteries as the Parliament buildings in Ottawa, the U.S. Capitol, Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and Citadel of Quebec. In fact, the land where the university stands was sold by Joseph Brant with the authority of the Six Nations council in the 1790s. But to be consistent, practically every other evidence of the presence of the 350 million current trespassers in this continent north of the Rio Grande, and their antecedents since the wrongful explorations of those previously celebrated for discovering, mapping, and peopling it, and bringing such unwished desecrations as the wheel and the Iron Age to this continent, must be “sponged, purged, and blasted” into oblivion. (The words are Winston Churchill’s in reference to Nazism, a suitable precedent for our evil-doing in being here at all and putting up statues to anyone except those whom we displaced.)
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Many of the messages I received asked where I thought this process of self-hate will end, since there is no more chance of the European-originated 90 per cent majority of Canada and the United States acknowledging our unlawful presence and beastly history here and returning to the lands of our ancestors of more than 400 years ago than there is of the president-presumptive of the United States, Donald J. Trump (Order of Canada anticipated), physically removing more than 11 million illegal migrants and their American-born offspring from the United States before determining which of them deserved to be admitted in the first place. As these asinine tendencies do when pushing on the open door of general acquiescence in their absurd claims, the militant champions of the native people are soon going to be forced by the momentum of their own demonstrativeness to demand that we quit the country, in sackcloth and ashes and tarred and feathered and wearing dunce caps and being flogged as we stagger naked to the departing garbage scows. We and our descendants to the third generation will then be required to spend the balance of our morally contemptible existences grovelling for forgiveness and seeking alms in the countries from which formerly respected navigators such as Columbus and Jacques Cartier and James Cook came. Not even the authors of the Old Testament came up with quite such a prodigy of self-degradation as the lassitude of our political and academic leaders have elicited from the bearers of the Ark of our civilization’s death-wish.
Authorities on the cyclicality of the decline of civilizations, such as Arnold Toynbee and Oswald Spengler, have never devised such an astonishing farce as is implicit in the logic of the Wilfrid Laurier decision. They merely chronicled and forecast the decline of civilizations; in our midst now are people who righteously demand that the remnants of formerly primitive civilizations be encouraged to scourge their conquerors and modernizers, with increasing ferocity as the interloping society tries to make amends for its unfair or misconceived behaviour. The high priestess of this vast cult of self-aggrandizement through stentorian self-hate is the chief justice of Canada, who has alleged cultural genocide, concentration camps (for Japanese-Canadians during the Second World War), and slave-holding as crimes of the Canadian state. The acts the chief justice complains of were execrable, but they were not as she described them. They were mistaken panic, imitative as is so much else in this country, of our eminent national neighbours. Some education of native people was severe in its effort to deracinate them culturally; but there was no genocidal intent, nor any such result. The concentration camps were detention camps where no one’s lives were endangered, but they were shameful and have been the subject of comprehensive apology and reparation from the government of Brian Mulroney.
Approximately 99 per cent of the slaves that there ever were in this country as a colony were native people enslaved by other native people, and there were no slaves of any kind for nearly 40 years before Confederation and the autonomy of Canada in 1867, during which our ancestors graciously received and emancipated on arrival more than 40,000 fugitive slaves from the United States (proportionately more than 20 times as many people as the number of Syrian refugees it is proposed to accept now). Many American champions of the emancipation of the slaves lived at times in Canada, including John Brown, Harriet Tubman, and the model for Uncle Tom in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s world-shaking novel. The pre-Confederation government of Canada, co-led by John A. Macdonald, co-operated entirely with Abraham Lincoln’s administration during the U.S. Civil War, even as the imperial British government of Palmerston, Russell and Gladstone played footsie with the slave-holding Confederates.
As I have written countless times before, here and elsewhere, there are many failings in the history of colonial and Canadian mistreatment of the native people. Almost everyone in this country, including all the political parties, wants to make a great effort to right wrongs and help raise the standard of living and general morale of the native people. None of that is disputed by any serious person, but in taking that position, we have invited our collective indictment for crimes our ancestors did not commit. When I gently made these points at a conference in Banff in the autumn, the mayor of Calgary stormed out of the room in juvenile protest, and one of the native leaders inflicted on the room the United Nations definition of genocide, none of which was ever practised by this country. The UN is no paragon of exalted morality itself, but it defined genocide as “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial, or religious group.” Macdonald’s role in the Great Plains famine deserves and has received scrutiny but neither he nor any other prime minister or collaborator or associate of any Canadian prime minister ever attempted to destroy native people.
This is an incontestable historical fact and the antics of the chief justice are very disturbing. This is especially so as Parliament has substantially abdicated its authority for decades. Wrapping herself in an idiosyncratric interpretation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the chief justice has effectively become the chief legislator of the country with no regard for what the real legislators intended the laws they wrote and adopted to be. The chief justice is, as in the times of the Israelites and Canaanites, the high priestess, like the grand ayatollah set above the current president of Iran, except that like most of the West, Canada is a democracy run by an atheist theocracy. She occupies a position vastly more powerful than her analogues in the United States, where the judiciary, legislature, and executive are co-equal branches of government, and the United Kingdom, where the high court of Parliament still exists, though beset by Euro-meddlers, provincial devolutionists, and the pusillanimity of a generation of politicians.
This unutterable nonsense at Wilfrid Laurier University has even exposed fissures in the senior apparat, which has neutered the legislators and is the chief propagator of this spurious mockery of our history. The governor-general, for whom this column has been something less than a Hallelujah Chorus, to his credit, endorsed the prime ministers’ statues project at Wilfrid Laurier University. Even he, though he probably hasn’t been much discommoded by it, has been rebuked in the surrender of the university. The downside to Canada’s generally admirable attitude of tolerance and respect for other civilizations is that we are achingly slow to defend our own when it is undermined from within, especially with the connivance of prominent quislings. Nativism and even overly robust nationalism are often distasteful and sometimes dangerous, but official insipidity and willful subversion must be discouraged and not legitimized from the proverbial high seats in the temple.
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