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Monday, October 14, 2013

Selling a fake Canadian "genocide" for fun and profit

There have been far too many efforts at genocide in the last century. Some, like that of the Armenians by the Turks, are still denied by its perpetrators, and some, like that of the Sudanese Arabs against blacks, is ongoing. There are some that today openly aspire to commit genocide but lack the means, as the one Iran and its proxies Hezbollah and Hamas would like to inflict on Jews.

But those aren't the genocides that former bigshots, ex-Assembly of First Nations National Chief Phil Fontaine and the defunct Canadian Jewish Congress' old boss Bernie Farber have chosen to decry. Instead they are trying to sell the notion of a fake "genocide" against Canada's Native population in Canada's "national newspaper" and their motives may not be entirely altruistic.

There are nuances that even a generally true statement, such as that Canada's First Nations have received very poor treatment in the past, need to take into account. For one thing, Canada's First Nations are just that, nations, a plural. While Canada's Indian Act applies to them all, in reality, different aboriginal tribes have negotiated and received different treatment from the government. But in absolutely no case, from the foundation of Canada in 1867, could that treatment, in any instance, be described as genocide, which is a deliberate policy of killing an entire racial or ethnic group.

It should also be noted that many of Canada's aboriginal nations waged war on each other, committing mass-murders and driving one another off land in what in contemporary terms would be described at a minimum as "ethnic cleansing."

Canada's historical policies towards First Nations may have been unfair, patronizing and colonial, but to call them genocidal is quite simply a lie.

To really understand Canada's historical policies toward First Nations, we need to look at them in the context of their time and not, as Farber and Fontaine do, through a distorted, telescopic rear-view mirror imposing the values of 2013 on the Nineteenth Century.

Canada compared to the United States, or for that matter compared to government treatment of aboriginals in any part of the New World or under any ex-colonial power, was extremely benevolent. Without question, our 18th Century policies considered Native culture to be lesser to that of the Europeans. But to put the times in context, slavery had only been abolished in the United States four years before Canadian Confederation and there was no country in the world then in which women were entitled to vote.

For Native Americans at that time, Canada was not a genocidal slaughterhouse, but a refuge. After the massacre of Custer's troops at Little Big Horn, it was to Canada that Sitting Bull and a band of his followers came to find sanctuary. Today, in the Royal Ontario Museum, rests a headdress that Sitting Bull gave to Canada's Northwest Mounted Police as a gesture of gratitude for the safety for his people that this nation provided.

For anyone examining all the actual genocides in history, it is clear that the method and purpose was to first segregate, then to annihilate the intended target. Racist laws in countries that had genocidal policies, such as Nazi Germany's Nuremberg Laws, were enacted to prevent, not promote integration. There is no instance, ever, that the purpose of a genocide was to integrate one group with another.   Yet, while it may offend contemporary cultural sensitivities, integration was the clearly stated intention of Canada's policies towards First Nations which Farber and Fontaine preposterously characterize as a "genocide."

Yes, there were abuses committed in Residential Schools many decades ago, for which Prime Minister Harper has apologized. But the worst of the abuses were perpetrated by corrupt individuals and were not part of any government policy.

The authors The Globe chose to promote, Farber and Fontaine, make a curious pair of "genocide" hucksters who may have driving motives other than their own particular concept of "social justice." Fontaine is a former National Chief who obviously craves the limelight, as does Farber. Beyond that, Farber now makes his living working for a company that needs to convince First Nations groups to let them build energy facilities on their land. Whether or not he believes that Canada committed a genocide, being seen as an extremist in their corner can't be bad for business.

However, that extremism comes at the cost of credibility. They are completely wrong in their inflammatory accusations and preposterous, ahistorical inventions such as that Sir John A. McDonald's policies towards aboriginals were genocidal attempts at mass murder.

And this says nothing of the facts about the current situation of First Nations in Canada. It would be a very curious form of genocide indeed that has resulted in First Nations being the fastest growing population in Canada. Last time I checked, that would make it the exact opposite of a genocide. Of course, this would not be the first time a group claimed a fake genocide, as their numbers are vastly increasing, solely for political aims.

But while what Fontaine and Farber have written in The Globe is a load of ridiculous, politicized nonsense, I don't want to give the impression that I don't think they aren't also sincere in their beliefs. After all, to borrow from and paraphrase H.L. Mencken, no one ever went broke by underestimating the intelligence of Bernie Farber.


I. Renarde said...

Technically, the Natives weren't here "first". The red-haired giants were, and they killed them all. Makes you wonder who the real "illegals" are.

Anonymous said...

To the author of this article:
It was really hard reading this article . I'm sorry, what is the first step of genocide, segregation?. Segregation. what kind of government takes innocent children from their parents. Putting the atrocities of the abuse aside. These children were not allowed to use any part of their culture. The government was trying to kill the native culture. (kill..genocide...) do you get ??You ass..

Richard K said...

Had the government genuinely been trying to "kill the native culture" there would be no remaining living native culture. Just as, had there been an actual attempt at genocide there would not be any natives left as the Canadian, and British governments before that had more than ample enough military superiority to have had achieved it if they wished.

You're emotional about the issue but neither well-informed about the history, nor the meaning of the words you're using. "Genocide" doesn't just mean "kill" it means to kill or to attempt to kill an entire race. And in international law, it also includes the intent to kill.

One could make valid claims about unfair policies, but to claim a specific and prolonged attempt at mass extermination demonstrates total ignorance of Canadian history.

It`s also worth noting that various native tribes, like the Huron and Algonquin, made war on each other and were guilty of similar offenses. Is there going to be an inter-native `Truth and Reconciliation Commission`to deal with that too?

Anonymous said...

And how about each of our families the Canadian government continues oppress. let's not just look at the residential schools as genocidal acts or the so called 60s scoop. what about the elimination of the buffalo for the purpose of starving out the plains people, or the reservations designed to ensure poverty and despair how does that impact the mental anguish, how about stripping women and children of their inherent rights if the father was registered as unknown or nonstatus, what about not allowing us to share farm equipment so that we weren't able to co-op our farms ensuring poverty on the reservation, what about sterilizing of native women in Canada as standard practice for non married women. what about the tuberculous blankets RCMP took to the mountains of the west coast, what about the current attempts to ensure no economic advantages to reserve based businesses exist that aren't related to the selling of non renewable resources. what about the wars the played on the plain and the on the west coast where the RCMP and the military killed or jailed all Indians not compliant to the Indian act and forced treaties. what about making it illegal to gather in groups no larger then three, what about it Canada. this writer overlooked something critical here. it's not just Canada doesn't want the stain of admitted historical genocide, because that would mean admittance to current genocidal acts still being committed.

Richard K said...

A number of the things you listed never actually occurred and are part of a mythology, such as the "tuberculosis blankets" - usually the myth is smallpox. Other matters you raise were not widespread. Some of them are simply a matter of the government attaching conditions to which natives are afforded privileges which non-natives never receive, and nothing you have listed would fall under the category of "genocide."

You should try to find out what that word means before you bandy it around.

Anonymous said...

Genocide is defined as a deliberate attempt to destroy either all or *part* of a specific ethnic group, just FYI.

Id suggest the "first nations" hop a boat to England and protest in London about genocide as anything which would be argued as such would be on their hands, not the "Canadian" governments.