Let's Play "Whose Statue Gets Taken Down?"
Snap quiz: What eminent American proclaimed blacks inferior to whites, suggested that they be exiled to Africa or Central America and spoke at length about the evils of miscegenation? That would be Abraham Lincoln, the man who later wrote the Emancipation Proclamation to free the slaves. He’s a great man because the balance of his achievements outweigh his mistakes.
That's why his place in history is assured. And why we now play the game called Whose Statue Gets Taken Down?
On one hand we have the first prime minister of Canada, Sir John A. Macdonald. As eagle-eyed readers will know, this Father of Confederation is being un-statued by the city council in Victoria, the capital of British Columbia. While Sir John A. had a problem with the drink he also was instrumental in forging the coast-to-coast vision of Canada, thereby keeping it out of the hands of the expansionists in the United States.
But the Victoria city council alleges Macdonald is a genocidal racist for his role in the institution of residential schools for natives. They cast him the mold of Hitler as an exterminator of a race for bringing native children into a system, often run by the churches, to adapt them to Western life and culture.
While Hitler or Stalin explicitly stated they were seeking to eradicate a race via death camps, Macdonald and like-minded people believed they were helping natives survive. It was a common presumption in the Western cultures that ventured around the world that the West’s medical and commercial innovations might save them from disease and starvation.
I’m not here to argue that residential schools met all their goals. But subsequent sexual predation or cultural insensitivity does not mean that Sir John A.'s impulse, seen by the Victoria pipsqueaks from the safe heights of 150 years later, was evil or genocidal in its conception.
For the sake of our game, however, let’s consider another legendary politician for Whose Statue Gets Taken Down. Voted by CBC listeners as the most significant Canadian in the history of the nation, former NDP leader Tommy Douglas has statues, schools and much else named for his monumental push in creating universal health care in Canada.
But Douglas was a firm believer in the quack science of purifying the gene pool. Douglas was keen on sterilizing or lobotomizing people considered mentally deficient at the time. Here’s Douglas on the subject of sterilizing: “It would deprive them of nothing that they value very highly, and would make it impossible for them to reproduce those whose presence could contribute little to the general well-being of society.”
And so, many mentally challenged people were sterilized. Seen today in the rearview mirror of time, when we value the lives of the mentally handicapped, that certainly sounds like genocide, wiping out a class of people. Are we hearing cries from the Victoria pols for Douglas to be knocked off his perch in history? No?
How about many of the early feminists, such as Alberta’s Famous Five? They were all for cleaning up the gene pool, too. They spearheaded the Alberta Sexual Sterilization Act to achieve their misbegotten notions of science. Yet here is proof that their statues in Olympic Plaza in Calgary still stand. If you’re waiting for the trucks to come pick up their statues you could be waiting a long time.
But such is life when woke political hacks fix their tiny minds on re-ordering history to suit the sensibilities of their SJW friends. Macdonald is an old white conservative. Douglas is an NDP hero to the Victoria councillors. The Famous Five are feminist icons. Selective outrage is a specialty of the progressives.
Barack Obama believed you could use the Crusades to lecture white people on race. The liberal guilt industry in Canada thinks that damning Sir John A. will cleanse them of their racial stain. Race hustlers want to burn books by Shakespeare and Mark Twain to punish them for “hate speech”.
(Some elements of the LDS Church are trying to do the same by re-baptizing deceased people into the Mormon religion so they can “enter heaven”. )
Re-arrange the facts enough and you’ll have the Progressive raison d'être, best defined as “the past as an inevitable progression towards ever greater liberty and enlightenment, culminating in modern forms of liberal democracy and constitutional monarchy.”
But history is not a forgiving ocean or sky that can regenerate itself. It is a work of fixed elements set down to tell us of the times as they truly were. Cruelty and misbegotten policy are as much a legacy of history as the Magna Carta. So is the balance of person’s accomplishments. The abacus of Sir John A. Macdonald’s life is so heavily weighted to the positive as to make his contemporaneous missteps forgivable.
That understanding seems to beyond the scope of the mental midgets sitting in Victoria’s city council. And it underpins Ontario premier Doug Ford's cheeky request to re-install Sir John A. to his rightful place back in his home province.
Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy is the host of the podcast The Full Count with Bruce Dowbiggin on his website is Not The Public Broadcaster (http://www.notthepublicbroadcaster.com). He’s also a regular contributor to Sirius XM Canada Talks Ch. 167. A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada's top television sports broadcaster, he is also the best-selling author whose new book Cap In Hand will be available this fall.