Protesting against protests
When the Victoria Colonist decided to assign a reporter to cover television in its early days my father was given the job, and with it a brand new black and white Philco that was still working when he retired a quarter century later. It was that set that he sat me in front of while Walter Cronkite showed film of demonstrators being attacked by the police in Selma, while Dad explained why this was so important. Many years later, when I asked him why he had been so far ahead of the curve on racism, he explained that when he was growing up in Britannia Beach his idols had been Louis Armstrong and Edward Kennedy Ellington. As a young musician those were the gods he aspired to equal, so how could he accept the idea that they were not his equals?
Today we see the same story being retold in the streets of the United States as the desperate neoconfederate rump tries to roll back the tide. Racists in police uniforms have disgraced themselves and the institution they are supposed to represent by summarily executing black people for “crimes” that barely rate a warning when committed by whites, and have done it on camera. How can we be surprised that this has resulted in protests and violence? There is no Dwight Eisenhower in the White House to ensure that the law is respected by all.
What does surprise this long time antiracist is the way the culture of victimhood has transposed the American experience into an attack on Canadian institutions. Certainly our own society has flaws and the treatment of our native Canadians has been particularly shameful, but I cannot help asking if the protestors attacking the police and destroying statues are not themselves guilty of that cultural appropriation they so eagerly call out in others. The statues that American blacks are objecting to are those of traitors who fought a bloody civil war to perpetuate slavery, but because we have none of those the cultural appropriators feel obliged to attack statuary in general.
John A. Macdonald was certainly a racist, as were virtually all public men of his time. He was also a drunkard, and verbally abusive. That is not why we have erected monuments to him. We do so because despite his serious character flaws the man led us to nationhood and left us a legacy of freedom we can build on and improve. The moronic idea that this equates with a statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest, slave trader, Confederate general and founder of the Ku Klux Klan, is simply foolish. The hysteria of those who believe themselves required to follow the fashions of anarchy is actually helping the racists.
The morons who toppled a statue of the great black abolitionist Frederick Douglass make my point. The stupid fool who defaced George Vancouver on the Victoria causeway hammers it home. The only comfort this provides is to the enemy, and the only consolation it affords this student of history is that the statues the self righteous erect to themselves will be toppled when their own flaws are discovered by future, and hopefully more tolerant, generations.