Playing the Indian Card

Monday, February 26, 2018

The Centre Cannot Hold

Two recent bits that make basic points about the malaise in the US and across the Western world these days. Both courtesy of Sarah Hoyt at Instapundit:

Before You Tear It Down...

If So, Then Why Tell Stories?

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Thunder Heard

Last night there was thunder
And the kids drew back from the windows.
"Look," they said at each flash,
"There's a crack in the sky."

And behind it all-consuming fire
Or infinite light.

-- Stephen K. Roney

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Chanie Wenjack

Apparently many schoolchildren in Canada are being taught about the horror of Indian residential schools through the books Secret Path, by Gord Downie and Jeff Lemire; and Wenjack, by Joseph Boyden. Both are about Chanie Wenjack, a 12-year-old Ojibway boy who ran away from school in Kenora in 1966 and died in the bitter cold supposedly trying to walk home—600 miles away. It has become the emblematic narrative about the residential schools. It is even the subject of one of those “Heritage Minutes.” 

Peter Shawn Taylor has just pointed out in the National Post that most details of the story are fiction. It seems to have been mostly invented to slander the residential schools (and the Catholic Church). And most of this upcoming generation will probably just assume it is all true.

To being with, Chanie Wenjack was not a student at a residential school. He attended a public school. Yet Downie, Boyden, and the Heritage minute all make it a residential school, and even all make it Catholic. That’s a pretty major fabrication.

All three also claim Chanie was running away from school because he was being sexually abused. By the staff. There is no evidence of this. According to witnesses, he just said he was lonely.

It is a sad thing that Chanie Wenjack died. But who is at fault?

To begin with, and obviously, Chanie Wenjack is at fault. He walked off without planning anything, wearing light summer clothes in Northern Ontario in late October. Having lived his entire life in Northern Ontario, he must have known better. He set out for home not knowing how to get there. How is that supposed to work? And he was in bad physical condition, frail, with a history of TB.

Looks, in sum, a lot like suicide. Which should not be surprising to us, in a 12-year-old aboriginal boy. We all know about Attawapiskat. 

But Chanie was just a kid, you say. What about the adults in whose charge he was? Surely they bear responsibility? What about the school principal?

They say the school principal did what he could. In any case, you can’t blame “the whites” here. He was an aboriginal himself. Any such search, once the student has gotten a decent distance away, is going to depend on other adults spotting him and reporting his whereabouts.

Which certainly should have happened. Chanie spent his first four days or so with an aboriginal family. Yet they did not report him to the school or alert the authorities. When Chanie said he was going to walk home, frail as he was, with no warm clothing, and no food, and not knowing the way, they just gave him a half-dozen matches and advised him to beg for food on the way. Which, apparently, he did not do.

Surely if Chanie was too young and stupid to realize this was all a bad idea, these adults had a responsibility to tell him it was, and stop him if necessary. They did not.

Neither the residential schools, whites, or the government, so far as we can tell, had anything to do with Chanie’s death. If he was done in by anyone, he was done in by fellow aboriginals. Apparently because they just did not care.

The most you could argue against the larger society is that, if he had not been sent to a school six hundred miles away from his home, he would not have felt so lonely, and he would have had a better shot at getting home. Maybe. But then, it seems pretty improbable that he really thought he could walk home.

And if he made it home? Would he have been better off?

This still looks a lot like suicide, and we all know about Attawapiskat. Home may have been where his problems began.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Patrick Brown Runs for Ontario PC Leader

Kelly McParland is criticising Patrick Brown in the National Post for entering the current Ontario PC leadership race. McParland is arguing that Brown is wrecking the party.

I utterly disagree. I think Brown both has every right to run, and has made the choice that is most honourable and best for the party in doing so.

Really, at bottom, isn’t McParland’s argument against democracy? Shouldn’t matters be decided, when possible, by open popular vote, and not in backrooms?

As McParland agrees, Brown was railroaded. He seems to have been unjustly accused. Yes, in the circumstances, the party was right to dump him: time before the next election was short, and they could not know whether this might only be the first of more accusations.

Now it seems that will not be the case, and re-evaluation seems proper.

McParland says, “politics is unfair, and Brown knew politics was unfair when he decided to become a politician. So he needs to accept and submit to that unfairness now.” This is a fundamental philosophical error: mistaking an “is” for an “ought.” We might as well argue that, since there will always be murders, there ought to be no penalty for murder. Brown, like anyone, has a moral right to defend himself against injustice, and, in doing so, he is defending everyone else against such injustice at the same time.

But is he, in doing so, wrecking the party?

Given these circumstances, the worst thing Brown could have done was to stay out of the leadership race. A lot of people then would suppose that any new Tory leader was not legitimate, because Brown was dumped unjustly. It looked, many said, like an “inside job,” a coup. For what sinister invisible powers was one really voting for, then, if one voted Tory?

By running, Brown prevents this impression from taking firm hold. If he wins, he wins. If he loses, as seems far more likely, the new leader won the leadership fair and square. The party members could have stuck with Brown, and they chose otherwise. He is legitimately no longer the leader. On that basis, the party can come back together. Ghosts exorcised.

I think Brown owed it to the party to run. This clears the air. I find it sinister that anyone would think otherwise


Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The Right to Choose Your Own Sex

Sorry, folks, I guess I need to vent. The following cartoon came down on an international editors’ Facebook feed.

One of the rules of the list is that political posts are forbidden. And this one was apparently posted by one of the moderators. Nothing political here, it seems. Nothing that could be controversial. This is something all editors, around the world, are now apparently expected to impose on any authors seeking publication. One is not to designate anyone by sex until the person itself [sic] tells you which sex they choose.

True, it is not political, really. It would be more accurate to call it psychotic. This is the definition of psychotic: out of touch with the physical world around you.

Sex is a lot more a part of your biology than just the dangly bits. It is programmed into every cell. It affects the various organs. Female arms are different. Male brains are different. Females experience different symptoms before a heart attack. Men do not ovulate. And on and on.

Just try to extend this logic: if biology is irrelevant, and we may not say what a person is, regardless of biology, until they make a decision themselves on the matter, how can we possibly know, in the first place, who is a person? As opposed, say, to a gorilla or a watermelon? In this case, too, in just the same way, the difference is biological.

Some people have apparently already applied the logic to insist they are really cats or ponies. In Delaware, I read, everyone is now free to choose their own race. Which seems only right: race is far less biologically conditioned than sex.

So much for any justification for “affirmative action” programs.

But if you think that is still okay, you still have not thought it through. Look again at that comic strip. If we have no right to assume that someone is a male or female until they tell us so, even if they are evidently not capable of making that decision for themselves, then we have no right to assume that someone is a person and not a cat until they say so; and then we equally have no right to assume that someone is a cat and not a person until they say so. Until and unless each individual apparent cat, watermelon or wildebeest announces their decision, we can make no assumptions.

It follows that anyone who eats a watermelon should be tried for murder. Or anything else, for that matter. And why even recognize the biological significance of organic chemicals? Anyone who burns gasoline in their car, for example, or melts metal in a mold, or perhaps even moves a stone from here to there, is also a murderer.

The collapse of civilization would be the least of our worries. Within a month or two, all human life ends on earth.

Sure, you can get around this. You could remove all punishments for murder, and make it okay to kill and eat human beings as well. I’m not sure that would be much better.

I think this demonstrates, and not for the first time, that our current professional class, our “elites,” our modern Pharisees, are on the cusp of collapse. They have become too obviously flat-out insane. This present trajectory is not sustainable. It is as though they are crying out for an intervention from someone, somewhere.

Monday, February 19, 2018

A Warning to Peoplekind

At the time, I noted that I thought it was silly for everyone to pile on Justin Trudeau for his “peoplekind” comment. It was obviously a joke. Everyone present laughed. The proof of this is that Trudeau said “peoplekind,” instead of the well-established alternative “humankind.” If he’d said the latter, it would not have sounded foolish enough to be funny.

But it turns out that my friend Xerxes not only though it was no joke, but endorses the idea. We should always say “peoplekind.”

“Mankind” simply means the human race, regardless of sex, and it always has. I know you hate dictionaries, but they are the authority on the language. Both Merriam-Webster and Oxford give this as the first definition. Both also list “men as distinct from women” as a second definition, but Oxford even labels this obsolete. The Etymological Dictionary notes that this sex-neutral meaning of mankind is also older that the usage that limits it to males.

So an objection to “mankind” is simply wrong. You are objecting only to the phoneme “man.” On those grounds, you also have to object to “woMAN” (shortened over time from the original “womb-man”) or huMAN, or perSON, or feMALE. And on and on. We’ll have to go back and change the national anthem again: it still says “In all of us comMANd.” We are getting close to having to recreate the language from the ground up.

At the same time, that this usage could be considered a problem needing fixing is compelling evidence that woman are not discriminated against in our society—and do not need to be patronized in this way. There is accordingly no good reason to do it. If they were oppressed, they would have neither the time, nor the energy, nor the power, to devote to such Princess-and-the-Pea incidentals. And would certainly never presume the power to demand that everyone else conform to satisfy them—especially considering how much change seems necessary by the logic of this one.

Even if women were discriminated against, however, changing words will do nothing to help. Slavery ended in the US long before anyone thought of switching from “negro” or “nigger” to “black” as a descriptive term for “African-Americans.” And please, do not use that word, “black.” It is now offensive. You can still, I think, use “African-American,” but it too is being replaced, it seems, by “people of colour.”

Which demonstrates first, that a change in language is irrelevant to changing social policy: social policy changed without any linguistic change; and second, that changing the language accomplishes nothing in terms of changing attitudes. Unless you change people’s thinking, the new term just comes to have all the same associations as the old one. “Idiot” began as a polite term. Then “retarded” replaced it as a more polite term. Now “retarded” sounds like an insult. And on it goes, forever. “Nigger” began and lived for centuries as a purely descriptive term.

Therefore, this tinkering with words demonstrably does not benefit the group supposedly being harmed by them.

So whom does it benefit?

The only benefit to anyone of proposing or using such new “politically correct” terms, and the only reason they are used, is to mark class distinctions and allow class discrimination: those who know the latest terms are those who have gone to a proper college to learn them, and/or who associate with the “right” people. Those who do not are revealed by this as social inferiors, and are to be treated accordingly—with disdain. They are the “other.”

As a secondary benefit, politically correct speech is a satisfying opportunity to bully the less powerful, showing your authority.

It is fortunate that these attempts to police language actually accomplish nothing. Because what they actually intend to accomplish is mind control. This is just what George Orwell warned of as “newspeak” in 1984; the attempt to limit what people could actually think by limiting the words they could use. “Politically correct” language is an overt attempt to control what people are permitted to think and say. We are just terribly lucky that it does not work.

It is still not harmless, however. Aside from promoting class discrimination, such arbitrary redefinitions of words and neologisms falsify the past. They make it more difficult to understand the best thoughts of the best minds who have lived: Shakespeare, say, or Locke, or Donne, or Newton. This is like loosing a wrecking ball on civilization.

For example, if Trudeau’s new definition of “mankind” were to be generally accepted, people could easily misunderstand that, when Neil Armstrong said “One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind,” he was excluding women. Or that when Alexander Pope wrote “The proper study of mankind is man,” he was excluding women. Which perfectly suppresses the point they were actually making.

One of Yeats’ finest poems is “Lapus Lazuli.” The last line is the kicker, summing up the whole point of existence, and it is “Their ancient glittering eyes are gay.” I read it to a colleague not long ago, and, inevitably, the line now evokes a titter. The poem has not been effectively destroyed. And the vital point it was making effectively lost.

Why would anyone want to do this? Sadly, erasing our knowledge of the past is valuable for people in power. Past authority limits present freedom of action. This was why Winston Smith’s job in the Ministry of Truth was to send inconvenient facts down “the memory hole.” Under the slogan, “He who controls the past controls the future. And he who controls the present controls the past.”

And, it might be added, he who controls the past controls the present. Break the tablets of the law, and might makes right. If you have the might, you get to do as you like.

Accordingly, groups reaching for absolute power have often, in the past, promoted some form of iconoclasm, of wiping out knowledge of the past. This was Mao’s Cultural Revolution, or what Pol Pot was trying to do in Cambodia. The original Chin Emperor, to ensure and complete his rule, tried to burn every book that had ever been written.

Confucius made plain the depth of the danger. When asked what he would do if ever given political power, his answer was, “The first task is the rectification of names.” The most important thing for good, honest, moral government is to ensure that nobody is playing around with words, that all words retain their proper meanings.

If names be not correct, language is not in accordance with the truth of things. If language be not in accordance with the truth of things, affairs cannot be carried on to success. When affairs cannot be carried on to success, proprieties and music do not flourish. When proprieties and music do not flourish, punishments will not be properly awarded. When punishments are not properly awarded, the people do not know how to move hand or foot. Therefore a superior man considers it necessary that the names he uses may be spoken appropriately, and also that what he speaks may be carried out appropriately. What the superior man requires is just that in his words there may be nothing incorrect.

That is how serious the battle is, in which we are now engaged.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Guns and Mental Illness on the Rampage in Florida. Why Won't the Politicians Do Something?

The usual suspect.

Seventeen people have been killed in a random mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. And, with annoying predictability, politicians are exploiting the catastrophe, as they always do, to blame Republicans for not bringing in some new law further restricting gun ownership. As if the solution to the problem were obvious, and the Republicans were just being evil. They’ve all been bought by the NRA.

The real problem is, there is no good reason to suppose that any possible law involving gun ownership would make such events less likely. As this painstaking statistical analysis shows, mass shootings are actually no more common in the US than in other developed countries. Folks in the US suppose they are, first, because the population of the US is much larger, so that there are inevitably more such events there, and second, because in America, mass shootings in other countries are given less media coverage.

These different countries have different gun control laws, and indeed different policies in many areas. This is strong evidence that no law is going to make any difference; and no law on gun ownership is going to make any difference.

Those in support of greater gun control point to Australia. Oz significantly restricted gun ownership after a mass shooting in 1996—about 20% fewer guns in private hands now—and, the gun control advocates point out, there have been no mass shootings in Australia since.

Still, this is not strong evidence. Mass shootings are rare; there having been none in Australia since 1996 might only be a small statistical anomaly. There have also still been mass killings in Australia, but not using guns. Does it really matter what weapon is used? There have even been attempted mass shootings, but they did not succeed well enough to meet the standard threshold of four people dead.

Overall, violence involving guns in Australia has indeed declined since the tougher gun laws were passed. However, gun violence has declined in the US over the same period, and even at a faster rate. And the US, during that time, has somewhat loosened its gun laws. In the first three years after the laws were passed, in which one should have seen the most dramatic effect, gun violence in Australia actually grew.

Nothing there that counts as scientific evidence. Nobody knows why the rate of violent crime has been declining, in the US or in Australia. My bet is improved technology leading to more efficient policing.

In sum, there is no reason to think that new and tighter gun control laws would do anything but win some politicians some votes. And, if there is any valid reason for the US Second Amendment, that too goes out the window.

Alongside the demand for stricter gun control laws, there has been a demand to attack the “real problem,” which is supposedly putting more money into mental health. President Trump just made that call, and it is almost as familiar a response.

It is no more sensible. Just as the various other developed countries have various other gun laws, yet do no better at preventing mass shootings, they have various mental health systems, yet do no better. If there is a problem here, then, it is not with the particular laws or resources surrounding mental health, but with our general understanding: with the mental health field. For the “science” of mental health will be more or less the same in all those countries.

Actually, many studies show that the “mentally ill” are in fact no more likely to commit violent crime than the general population. There seem to be no studies showing that they are more likely. Accordingly, putting more money into mental health, while it might be a fine idea for other reasons, would do nothing to reduce mass shootings.

Those advocating this “more mental health” approach will point to the fact that, although statistically the mentally ill are not killers, statistically, the killers are mentally ill. Again and again, when someone has gone somewhere with a gun to shoot everyone in sight, it turns out he was either taking antidepressants, or had just gone off antidepressants. This column makes that case. Other studies show that, while there is no statistical connection between mental illness and mass shootings, there is indeed a more specific statistical connection between [diagnosed mental illness with substance abuse] and [mass shootings].

So is putting more money into the treatment of mental illness indeed the answer? No—all the killers examined by Leo Knight in his column are actually united not by being mentally ill, but by being treated for mental illness. They were already in the system and receiving the standard treatment. More of the same will not make matters better. The problem is not that people are being overlooked, missed by the mental health system, not receiving needed treatment.

In fact, you could as easily argue from this data that the problem is with the treatment. Was the violence caused by the depression, or was it a side effect of the drugs? If the latter, the best way to prevent mass shootings might be to put less money into mental health, not more.

So, okay, is the problem with antidepressants, then? Not in itself; that cannot be so. When statistics show that the mentally ill are no more likely than the general population to commit acts of violence, how do they determine who is mentally ill? This almost has to mean anyone who has this medical diagnosis, and anyone who has this medical diagnosis will, as a matter of course, have been given these same antidepressants.

Another important question is going begging here. How can it be that, one the one hand, the mentally ill are no more statistically likely than the general population to be violent, yet violent people are statistically more likely than the general population to be mentally ill? The solution to that puzzle should give us the answer to the mass shootings.

I think the only possible explanation is misdiagnosis. There are two quite different phenomena, two quite different classes of people, being diagnosed and treated as depressive or mentally ill. One group is significantly less likely to be violent than the general population, and the other is significantly more likely to be violent than the general population. Since we use the same diagnosis for both, the stats for both get thrown together, it ends up a wash, and we miss important data.

My hypothesis: the symptoms we call depression, and more broadly the symptoms we call mental illness, can come from two sources. In the first—the non-violent group—they are essentially caused by PTSD. They are caused by trauma; by being abused; or by experiencing some intolerable life situation. In the second, the violent group, the same symptoms, of sadness and anxiety, are largely the voice of the individual’s conscience. They are caused by his or her own tendency to choose to do evil. They are anxious because of instinctive fears of cosmic justice; they have negative thoughts about themselves because they have, in fact, done negative things. A narcissist or psychopath will also feel they deserve whatever they want. Life and other people will not give them whatever they want. As a result, they will feel a general ennui, dissatisfaction, depression, if you like.

While the first group might want to kill themselves, this second group, with the same superficial symptoms of sorrow and anxiety, will instead want to kill everybody else.

These are opposite tendencies. In fact, the people with tendency two are probably the people who originally abused those suffering from tendency one.

It is a crowning injustice, if I am right, that the very victims of injustice are now being accused of and blamed for the acts they suffered. This is what happens when you conflate the two groups.

The problem with antidepressants, and psychiatric drugs generally, is that they only treat symptoms. They are like taking an aspirin for pain. The leg is still broken. For the first tendency, this may be worthwhile. But for the second group, the narcissists and psychopaths, the antidepressant will largely serve to numb conscience. Allowing them to dig their grave that much deeper. It is telling that this violent group is the same group that tends to abuse alcohol and drugs—these work the same way, numbing conscience, “inhibitions.”

To reduce mass shootings, and violence in general, we need to become aware of this vital distinction. We need more accurate diagnosis, and different “treatments” for some. But legislation has nothing to do with it, and can do nothing.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Jordan Peterson: Sounding the Tocsin

Nietzsche in his final madness.

Suddenly Jordan Peterson is everywhere. On YouTube, he offers hours of lectures. He is being interviewed by everyone. His book is top of the NYTimes bestseller list, and similar lists in Canada, Australia, and Britain. How did this happen, so quickly?

A lot of us feel we owe Peterson admiration and support for his principled stand against Bill C-16 and compelled speech. I myself recently gave him high praise for his performance in a debate/discussion with William Lane Craig on the meaning of life.

But now that I have seen more of what he says on YouTube, I begin to be alarmed. He obviously has a lot of positions on a lot of other issues beyond free speech, and he is eagerly exploiting his new fame to push them. It is almost as if the free speech thing was a gambit to get the publicity and the opportunity. It is almost as if he had it all waiting to ship.

And these other views look alarming.

To begin with, I am concerned with the simple and basic fact that he is giving out “Rules for Life.” That is a pretty pretentious thing to do. What gives him the authority? Or, more precisely, what makes him think he has the authority? It speaks of narcissism. He now seems to have an opinion on almost everything, and his opinions do not seem on the whole to be backed up with reasoned arguments, but are stated as if intuitions or revelations of the truth.

I have checked him on a few now, and they seem to be unsupported by the facts or by the current research. Some are, some are not. It does not seem to matter.

But the big red banner is that Peterson keeps quoting Nietzsche. And with high praise. Good people, quite simply, do not cite Nietzsche as their authority or inspiration.

Nietzsche leads by a pretty direct path to Nazism.

Yes, I know, you will have heard he has been exonerated of this accusation. The Nazis misinterpreted him. His sister, his literary executor, was a Nazi, and she twisted things. He was not an anti-Semite at all. No, no! He was against anti-Semitism.

This misses, or deliberately avoids, the datum that Nazism was about more than anti-Semitism. No, it would not have all been okay if Hitler had just left the Jews alone.

There is no way, surely, to read Nietzsche as other than a bad man promoting evil.

The core of Nietzsche’s philosophy, his key assertion, is that all philosophers before him were not actually seeking or asserting truth. No, they were just asserting what they wanted to be true. Philosophy was wish-fulfillment.

If Nietzsche is right, then this must also apply to his own philosophy. Including this assertion, this claim about other philosophers. We have a right, therefore, to dismiss it; Nietzsche just wants it to be true.

But then, we need to accept that everything else in Nietzsche’s own philosophy is just wish-fulfillment. This is necessarily true whether or not Nietzsche is right about anyone else. If Nietzsche is right, his philosophy is just wish-fulfillment, and has nothing to do with reality. But if Nietzsche is wrong, his philosophy is just wish-fulfillment and has nothing to do with reality. It is perfectly self-refuting.

But Nietzsche’s core assertion here, nonsensical as it is, is the central premise of all narcissism: Things are true because I want them to be true. Things are good because I consider them good for me.

This, then, is the essential rule for living Peterson is promoting.

It is also strikingly similar to Hitler’s basic argument in Mein Kampf. But perhaps I digress.

One you hold this view, that you are the ultimate arbiter of truth, and truth and good is whatever you want, you face an obvious and immediate problem. What about everybody else? There appear to be other human beings around you, and some of them do not accept “your truth,” or are not giving you whatever you want. So what are you supposed to do?

Given Nietzsche’s assumptions, you have every warrant and right to either silence or destroy them.

There is no way this does not end in Holocaust.

Among other fun ideas, Nietzsche despised Christianity and Judaism as “slave morality.” The superior man follows a “master morality” instead. This is much better. It basically means he gets what he wants, if necessary by subjugating others. Being master, he gets to make all the rules, and they get to be whatever he wants.

According to Nietzsche, of course, most famously, “God is dead.” He has been defended as not really an atheist by people claiming that he was not happy about this. Does not stand scrutiny: to assert that it is possible for God to die is to deny he ever existed. It is to presume he is a human creation.

“Christianity,” Nietzsche wrote, “is called the religion of pity. Pity stands opposed to the tonic emotions which heighten our vitality: it has a depressing effect. We are deprived of strength when we feel pity.”

Hitler was on about pity in the same way. The goal is to be pitiless—and to destroy anyone weaker than yourself. It is a direct appeal to resist your own conscience.

Nietzsche titled a book “Beyond Good and Evil,” and declared the division of acts into good and evil a “calamitous error.” If this is not a clear call to do evil, I cannot imagine what is. This is the devil talking, with a contract in his hand, and urging you to sign on the dotted line.

If good and evil, or conscience, or compassion, are not to guide our actions, what is?

Nietzsche says “the will to power.” Hitler took this one to heart: “The triumph of the will.” Life is all about trying not just to achieve your own will, but to ensure others do not achieve theirs. That is what “power” consists of. Making others do things they do not want to do.

And then there is Nietzsche’s concept of the “ubermensch,” the “superman.” He based this on Darwin, and this is the reason so many religious people have for so long been so concerned about Darwin. No, it has nothing to do with a literal interpretation of the first chapter of Genesis. It has to do with the risk of seeing Darwinism as a moral guide. Based on Darwin, Nietzsche explicitly rejected the concept of human equality. Of course humans are not equal; some are smarter, stronger, than others. The logic of evolution says these smarter, stronger people have the right and the duty to kill all the weaker ones so that only they reproduce. They are creating a new species, the “superman.” And, indeed, everyone has the natural right to assume they are this “superman,” and to destroy everyone else with whom they cannot breed. Their success in this endeavour is enough to prove their righteousness in this endeavour.

“The superman does not follow morality of common people since that favors mediocrity but instead rises above the notion of good and evil and above the ‘herd.’”

So, by declaring yourself a superman, you get to do whatever you like, and have a moral right to take whatever you consider in your own interest from anyone else. And, if you do not do this, you are simply proving yourself inferior and worthy of destruction. You, and other such weaklings, are only pissing in the gene pool.

It worries me in this context that Peterson is so big on “bucking up” and taking personal responsibility.


“You have made your way from worm to man, and much in you is still worm. Once you were apes, and even now, too, man is more ape than any ape... The overman is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the overman shall be the meaning of the earth... Man is a rope, tied between beast and overman—a rope over an abyss ... what is great in man is that he is a bridge and not an end.”

This is a direct and explicit rejection, not just of Christian morality, but of all morality. Kant said, morality consists in treating other human beings “not as a means, but an end.” “Love thy neighbour as thyself” says essentially the same thing in different words; as does “do unto others.” Nietzsche says the opposite: treat all others as a means, not an end. They exist only to be useful to you in your struggle. Your kampf.

Nietzsche went full-tilt mad, psychotic, in his later years. His supporters are adamant that this had nothing to do with his philosophy. It was long claimed that this psychosis was all due to syphilis. More recently, however, it has been pointed out that his symptoms were not consistent with syphilis. Had he had syphilis, for example, he should have died within months of the onset of psychotic symptoms. He lived like this for eleven years.

I think it is only too obvious that his madness was directly related to his philosophy. I was simply the philosophy stated plainly; the philosophy is mad. Nietzsche had set himself up as God: he had the right to do whatever he liked, and since reality was a matter of will, he had created the world, the universe, himself. Perfect narcissism. This is exactly what he says, in what are called his “mad letters.” He declared himself the god Dionysus, and Jesus Christ, and simply “God.” He says he created the world. He orders the pope jailed and the Kaiser shot. After all, both have impudently claimed power over him. It all follows.

“God is on the earth. Do not you see how all the heavens rejoice? I have just taken possession of my empire, cast the Pope into prison, and let Wilhelm, Bismarck, and Stöcker be shot. [signed] The Crucified.”

I hope I am wrong, but it looks as though this is what Jordan Peterson is pushing. This is apparently what he has to sell.

It may be that he is not a “white nationalist,” as is so often claimed. Just as Nietzsche was no anti-Semite. But we seem to be missing the forest for the trees. Peterson actually looks far more dangerous, to his followers and to everyone else, than a mere “white nationalist.”

Thursday, February 15, 2018


Jesus was not swallowed by,
But swallowed up a whale.
And then, the sea thing conquered,
Climbed a mast, become a sail.

And he billowed out so wide
That he became the shroud of sky;
And, sum of stars, capsized,
That all the world might die.

And is he dead?
World never knew before such emptiness.
And is he dead? Our only one?
The night wind answered "Yes."

Then lonely Mary, full of grief,
Turned face away from dawn,
And stumbled down the hillside west,
And wandered sightless on.

Until she came to bitter sea,
And sat down there to die.
All before her seemed a flood,
Such flood was in her eye.

And is he dead?
One perfect son, the diamond of the West?
And is he dead? Our only one?
Ocean answered: "Yes."

And Mary saw her life in sand,
And sat upon a stone;
And, hard as mother's lot is hard,
Prayed God to take her home.

And as she looked unseeing out,
Where waves wet tent of night,
She dreamed, where vision blends with hope,
A sail, a nonce thing white.

And does he live?
So small it seemed a foolish thing to pray.
And does he live? A sea-blown dove
Appeared above the spray.

And the sail that billowed out then bore
The image of her son.
Strangely old, yet strangely calm
As Galilee at dawn.

And the sail, in growing nearer,
Grew to fill the Western sky,
With golden sun transfixed in one,
Pale moon in the other eye.

And does he live?
The stone awoke as Virgin rose to pray.
And does he live?
Stone grew a church
That Pentecostal day.
-- Stephen K. Roney

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Selling Choppers to the "Repressive Duterte Regime"

Philippine President Duterte.

Many are concerned, it seems, with Canada’s sale of helicopters to the Philippines. The Duterte regime, after all, is a repressive totalitarian government. The same sort of concerns were raised not long ago about military sales to Saudi Arabia. 

I have lived in both countries, and I think these concerns are wrongheaded.

The real issue for ordinary people in countries like the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, or China for that matter—I lived there too—is not repression by government. That barely enters the field of vision. It is chaos.

In such countries, nothing works. Far from being oppressive, government in particular seems to do nothing at all. Very expensively.

The problem, in short, is too little, not too much, government.

Canada, by contrast, is an example of a country that has too much government.

In daily life, the average person living in the Philippines, China, or Saudi Arabia has far more personal freedoms than a Canadian. The Canadian government is, in practice, far more totalitarian.

But chaos is hardly preferable. It is hard to make any money or to be secure in your possessions. Or even to manage something simple like getting a telephone hooked up. My own current headache is trying to figure out how to get signed up to pay Philippine taxes. You’d think the government would want this. You’d think they’d make it easy…

As a result, in the mind of the man in the street, a tough guy coming in and cracking a few heads is cause for hope, not for concern. Sure, it may turn sour; but that is a purely secondary worry. Duterte was elected. There was a reason for that, and Canada has no moral right to challenge the will of the Philippine people. You want to condemn colonialism? That’s colonialism.

The average Filipino or Saudi probably welcomes the helicopters and the ATVs for the same reason.

Among other things, the Philippines has a large domestic terrorist threat from ISIS/Al Qaeda.

In the case of Saudi Arabia, look on a map and get real. Who are her neighbours, and do they model a much better way? Iran? Iraq? Syria? Egypt? Yemen? How many different ways can you spell “chaos”? Granted, the Gulf Emirates seems to have done better—but following the same system as Saudi Arabia. Saudi also hardly lives in a peaceful neighbourhood. Everything it has is under constant and direct threat. It has a need for and a right to the weapons to protect itself. In context, they are clearly the good guys.

Better government will probably come to Saudi Arabia or to the Philippines eventually, in the same way and for the same reasons it has come to such other nations as South Korea or Taiwan within recent memory. A stable, healthy democracy tends to arrive with the development of a large, financially independent middle class.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Nice Precipice There. Shall We All Hold Hands and Jump?

There is much furor across Canada over the acquittal of Gerald Stanley for the murder of Colten Boushie.

It seems to me hardly debatable that justice was served. It would have been a travesty were Stanley convicted. To recap the basic facts, Boushie was shot while trespassing, with a group of friends, on Stanley’s property, in an attempt to steal an ATV. Stanley fired two warning shots. Obviously, the group of intruders did not withdraw. The shot that killed Boushie, however, Stanley maintained, was inadvertent. His gun discharged as he was reaching for the keys to Boushie’s vehicle.

Stanley has a natural and a legal right to protect his property. On a farm, he cannot expect police to arrive in time to protect himself, his property, or his family. Boushie and his companions were responsible for creating the situation in which something dire might happen; Stanley was not. They were the aggressors. Granted, shooting someone might be excessive force—even though Stanley was outnumbered by Boushie and his companions, and they had a gun in their truck. But not so obviously excessive as to justify a murder conviction.

And how can you prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Stanley fired intentionally? He says it was an accident. Boushie’s companions were blind drunk at the time, and not reliable witnesses.

So it seems that justice was served.

The outcry against the verdict, however, has stretched from coast to coast. It almost immediately prompted the prime minister to say “we can do better,” and that we need a systemic change to our justice system.

It may be relevant here to note that Boushie was aboriginal, and Stanley was not.

It is irresponsible to second-guess a jury decision: they have heard all the facts, we have not. It is irresponsible, without good cause, to question the justice system. Our freedoms, our prosperity, and our personal safety depend, to a far greater extent than most seem to realize, on preserving a social consensus that matters are fair and the laws are on the whole just. Laws are useless without a general will to obey them, and no amount of enforcement can replace that general will if absent. Without that, societies must veer either into chaos or totalitarianism. Or, often, both.

Now the prime minister himself has publicly insisted the justice system is unjust. A very grave claim.

The claim is that the verdict was racist.

The grounds for the charge are that the jury in the case did not include any “aboriginal” members.

Superficially, this looks like a valid concern. Jury trials in the US South reputedly used to always acquit white suspects charged with harm to black accusers/victims. It is an obvious danger for hated or despised minorities. If a minority of the general population, they are bound to be a minority on any jury. If the minority is despised, they are not likely to get justice.

As it happens, our system takes that into account. To prevent such injustice, a defendant can choose not to have a jury trial, but to go before a judge. Judges, too, may be biased, but they are supposedly strictly trained not to be, and disqualified if found to be. This protects from mob rule. The jury option emerged, historically, to protect from the opposite danger, of oppression by an autocratic government.

And there is a third option. If the local community is felt to be biased, the case can also be heard in a different jurisdiction, with a more disinterested jury pool. This is a well-established practice.

The system is set up to protect the rights of the accused. In the present case, the argument is about the rights of the victim. The issue is supposed unjust acquittal, not unjust conviction.

Still, the crown as well as the defense, if this was thought to be a problem, could have requested a change of venue. Problem, if problem there be, solved.

It is absurd, however, to think that this was a problem here. There is no prejudice in the majority population in Canada against aboriginals, that might lead to an injustice in a jury trial. Rather, the popular prejudice is strongly in favour of aboriginals. The great public outcry from coast to coast against the verdict in this case dramatically proves this. This is exactly the opposite of what would happen were there a general popular prejudice against aboriginals. So does the fact that the prime minister himself immediately spoke against the verdict. There is, accordingly, obviously no risk in Canada of an aboriginal person not getting a fair trial. The risk is of an accused middle-aged white male, like Stanley, not getting a fair hearing should the victim be aboriginal. From, it seems, either the general popular consensus or the powers that be.

It is worth pointing out that, if there were no aboriginals in the jury in this case, there were also no middle-aged white males. If the defense counsel were doing their job in objecting to jurors who might identify too closely with the victim, crown counsel was doing the same job in objecting to jurors who might identify too closely with the accused. The system is built to ensure, as much as possible, an impartial jury. It looks as though the system worked rather well to prevent bias either way.

How might one improve on this system? What concrete measure might be better? Requiring by law that, in any case involving aboriginals, at least one juror must be aboriginal? In contrast to the present system, this would bake in racial prejudice. Surely only an ignoramus could assume that a minority could not be prejudiced against a minority, or in favour of its own members. Hardly an improvement.

Nor would it be likely to materially change anything, if the problem really is racial prejudice; other than making trials more expensive. Jury decisions must be unanimous, to prove there is no reasonable doubt. If the white jurors are all racists who will not convict a white, they are not going to change their mind because one, or five, or even ten, jurors are aboriginal. All that happens then is that, instead of a straight acquittal, you get a hung jury. And perhaps a new trial, which will reach the same result, at great expense; and on to trial after trial until the crown drops the case.

There is no problem here, but any solution would be terrible.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Sarahah the Bully

There is a campaign afoot, with petitions flying, to ban an app popular with teenagers called Sarahah. The problem is that it is reportedly being used for “cyberbullying.”

I cannot go along with the call to ban. It seems to misdirect from the basic problem: which is bullying, not Sarahah. It seems rather like banning fire because bullies can use it to burn someone.

There is a very simple and obvious way to avoid being bullied by anyone on Sarahah: don’t install the app. What could be easier? Indeed, according to a review I read online, to get comments, you not only have to download the app, then create an account, but it is then up to you to share the link with those you yourself choose, and ask for their comments. If, after this, anyone starts sending nasty comments, individual senders can be blocked at any time. If you want to be shot with this gun, you have to buy it, load it, and cock it yourself, before handing it to the bully. Then you have to pose for them in plain sight.

Nor are comments on Sarahah really anonymous. I checked for “Sarahah” in the Google play store, and that search term produced not just the app itself, but a variety of other apps promising to reveal the names and email addresses of anyone who sends comments. Anyone offering to allow others to comment anonymously is really simply on their honour not to check. Conversely, if you want to bully someone anonymously, it is simple enough to do that by email. Just create a dummy email account. Or, for that matter, just start a rumour at the corner or the water cooler.

Sarahah, on the other hand, clearly has valid uses. Like the one it was designed for. It could be a blessing for a conscientious boss.

Accordingly it seems to me that the only value to anyone of a campaign against Sarahah is to distract attention from the real problem of bullying, and deflect blame from the bullies.

The best way to prevent bullying is to raise general social awareness of morality and personal responsibility. This campaign goes in the opposite direction. It blames things for the acts of people.

And I think that has to be the deliberate point; otherwise complaining about Sarahah is utterly illogical. People want to avoid the concept of personal responsibility. The idea of the campaign is to have everyone accept the idea that individual humans are not responsible for their acts. Lets the bad people off the hook; they can then feel free to do as they like. And this general social tendency is what is making things like bullying more common.

Thursday, February 08, 2018

McCartney versus Lennon

The usual rap against Paul McCartney is that his songwriting lacks depth. They are just pleasant confections, Tin Pan Alley tunes, no more. He suffers in comparison, in particular, to his songwriting partner, John Lennon. McCartney was shallow, Lennon was deep.

This is actually, it seems to me, the reverse of the truth. The idea originates largely with Lennon, who often made this public complaint against McCartney. McCartney, by contrast, tends to say in public how much he admired Lennon, how intelligent John was.

Hmm—who really sounds shallow here?

It is true that McCartney wrote a lot of songs with no deep meaning. Just bouncy tunes. “Paperback Writer.” “O-Bla-Di-O-Bla-Da,” or however you spell it. “Silly Love Songs.” “Rocky Raccoon.” “When I'm Sixty-four.” “Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time.” “Birthday.” “Back in the USSR.”

But this does not mean he was incapable of stringing a guitar with his own guts. What about “Blackbird,” “Long and Winding Road,” “Let It Be,” “Got to Get You into My Life,” “Mull of Kintyre”? These are actually deeper than anything Lennon wrote.

Lennon tends to go for empty sloganeering: “Give Peace a Chance.” “All You Need is Love.” “Happiness is a Warm Gun.” “Mind Games.” "Instant Karma." Superficially this sounds profound, but it takes no thought. He usually even cops the key phrase from somewhere else. You might say he is the stupid man's smart person. When he tries to go deep—most famously with “Imagine”—he comes up with really puerile stuff. Deep down, he is shallow.

Lennon can/could indeed compose powerful and deep songs. But only when he concentrated on the personal and did not try to get philosophical: “Girl.” “In My Life.”

McCartney gets a bad rap in part because he is so good at beauty; because he is such a fine musical craftsman. There is a Protestant iconoclastic prejudice permeating English-speaking culture that beauty is superficial and trivial. It is not. McCartney's melodies are of immense value in themselves. They speak from his heart, often, and they touch our own. There is no moral nor intellectual value to ugliness.

Another reason McCartney gets a bad rap is that his thinking is so Christian. People don't want to hear that. He has claimed the “Mother Mary” who is appealed to in “Let It Be” is his own mother. Bollocks. He is not praying to his mother, and Lennon has mocked the song for its Christianity. McCartney has used this as a cover, because otherwise he would face a backlash from the pagans.

And it is perverse as well to turn up one's nose at celebrating the simple things in life, as McCartney's “trivial” songs often do. Getting married, having children. There is immense value in ordinary people and their ordinary lives. If God did not love them, why did he make so many of them? The folks in “Penny Lane,” or “When I'm Sixty-Four,” or “Eleanor Rigby,” or “O-Bla-Di, O-Bla-Da,” are the same folks Jesus called the “salt of the earth.”

Even when McCartney is shallow, he is deep.

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Fording the Rubicon

Dig Dug Doug.

I'm calling it: Doug Ford wins the Ontario PC leadership.

Granted, my track record on reading the public mood in this way has not been great. I did not expect Trump to win the Republican nomination. I did not expect Clinton to win the Democratic nomination. I did not expect Trump to best Clinton. I did not expect Justin Trudeau to win the past federal election.

So when I say Doug Ford will win, you can probably take it to the bank.

For a withdrawal.

Here's my reasoning. Conventional political sense and her resume says Christine Elliott should win. But she has run twice before, and lost both times. There seems to be an enthusiasm deficit. I think to the average party activist, to elect her now would feel tired, dull, conventional. She is the obvious establishment candidate. I think the current mood in the party is anti-establishment, or ought to be. About to dance to what looked like a slam-dunk win over the provincial Liberals, the party establishment seems to have managed to tie its own shoelaces together on the bench. Party leader suddenly resigns. Party president suddenly resigns. Talk about missing or misappropriated funds. Talk about rigged nomination meetings. Not the best argument for “steady as she goes.”

There was also a lot of discontent in the party about Brown running too far to the left. Darn it, a great opportunity to take power, and Brown chose to run on the same platform as the Liberals. So who cares who wins, now? Maybe sly politics, on the grounds that those to the right have nowhere else to go; but the electorate for the leadership is going to be mostly party activists. They are in the game, for the most part, out of ideological conviction. They are not happy. They don't want to get fooled again.

And the stark fact is, in the last leadership race, Elliott ran to the left of Brown.

It sets up a situation like that in the Republican Party that produced Trump—only more so. The party faithful are likely to feel betrayed by the party establishment. They are not going to want to act like sheeple. They will not obediently vote for Jeb Bush.

So—does that mean they vote for Mulroney? Nah; she's another establishment candidate, ideologically close to Brown or Elliott. All she has to offer when contrasted to Elliott is being younger and having the last name Mulroney (instead of Flaherty). It hardly amounts to a worthy reason to vote for her instead of Elliott. Worse, the comparison to Justin Trudeau and the federal Liberals is too obvious. It will not sit well with many PC activists to think they are imitating the Liberals. These guys have been going on for the last few years about how Trudeau is not qualified just a pretty face, about nepotism, and so on. Are they going to want to feel like hypocrites? For no ideological advantage?


But, if they do not want to emulate Liberals, it is the standard Canadian tendency, on the other hand, to emulate the last big thing that happened in politics in the US. Witness the current fit of statute-tipping. The last big thing in the US, especially on the right, is Donald Trump. There have already been rumblings about finding a Canadian Trump: Kellie Leitch and Kevin O'Leary both tried to ride that horse in the recent federal leadership contest.

Both failed badly; but the most obvious reason was that neither was a plausible surrogate Trump. They lacked that essential rough edge. Everybody knew Leitch was faking it; she was a Red Tory, an MD, an establishment figure. And her imitation was insultingly obvious: “let's drain the canal.” O'Leary shared nothing with Trump but being a businessman and a TV personality.

Doug Ford, love him or hate him, is probably the closest thing in Ontario to a Canadian Trump. His brother Rob was Trump before Trump was Trump. Doug is no Rob, but that may be to his advantage. Rob might have been a bit too baggage-laden.

I say the Conservative footsoldiers are in the mood to vote Ford in to poke eyes and clean house.

To be clear, I am not saying this is a good idea. I am not saying it is a bad one. I am saying I think it will happen.


There is a lot of mocking of Justin Trudeau currently for, at a town hall meeting in Edmonton, correcting a speaker referring to “mankind.” He suggested “peoplekind.”

The mocking is misplaced. It seems obvious he was making a good-natured joke. Give it a rest, persons.

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Canadian Museum of Free Speech

Joseph Howe

In case you have not noticed it, an intense battle has been raging in Canada over the right to free speech. As you are probably not aware, this has been a key struggle throughout Canadian history. We are a nation built, perhaps like none other, on the issue of free speech and the fight for it.

If private donors were available, much good might be done by creating a Canadian Museum and Hall of Fame of Free Speech. It could issue annual medals to those who have made a significant contribution.

This could not, however, be a government entity. That would automatically compromise the mission.

Among those currently defending the freedom of speech in genuinely heroic terms, who could use the validation of a commendation or medal from such an institution:

Ezra Levant

Ezra Levant—for his resistance to the Human Rights tribunals.

Jordan Peterson—for his resistance to Bill C-16 and compelled speech.

Lindsay Shepherd—for her resistance to a panel trying to discipline her for showing a video in her class at WLU.

Mark Steyn—Levant's co-defendant.

As you can see, the challenges to free speech are coming thick and fast.

And some of the heroes of Canada's past:

Joseph Willcocks—prosecuted for the crime of printing an opposition newspaper in Upper Canada in the early nineteenth century.

Robert Gourlay—unjustly and illegally deported for sedition in 1817 for questioning the issuance of provincial land grants.

William Lyon Mackenzie—had his office burned down in 1825 and his printing press thrown into Lake Ontario by a partisan mob for putting out an opposition newspaper.

Francis Collins—imprisoned for seditious libel in 1828 for publishing an opposition newspaper.

Joseph Howe—for his fight against the charge of seditious libel in 1835. He beat the charge by convincing the jury to ignore the judge's instruction to convict. Howe later had to fight a duel on the issue.

John Diefenbaker—author and great advocate of the Canadian Bill of Rights.

Sadly, Pierre Trudeau cannot be added for his work on the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Although it includes freedom of speech, Trudeau also passed the “Hate Laws” in direct contradiction.

Sunday, February 04, 2018

Dirty Pictures

The Manchester Art Gallery has taken down the famous pre-Raphaelite painting “Hylas and the Nymphs” because of “tricky issues about gender, race and representation.”

Here is the painting.


There is irony here. We have now officially become more prudish than the Victorians. The pendulum swing away from the “sexual revolution” of the Fifties and Sixties has come in recent months full semicircle.

To be fair, though, there is more to the story. This is supposedly only for seven days, as a form of “video art” by artist Sonia Boyce. It is supposed to “provoke discussion” on these issues, and visitors are supposed to post sticky notes on the blank wall space where the famous painting was giving their reactions.

A pretty lame sort of “art.” Sticking up Post-it notes on the wall expressing your feelings? That's an elementary school cliché.

And the “video art” is at least suggesting the painting should be taken down permanently. It is hard to explain otherwise why the “video art” required all postcards featuring the famous painting to be pulled from the museum shop as well. Looks more like a trial run, to judge popular reaction to removing the piece permanently. Or the museum management is protecting their bureaucratic butts. If the painting suddenly becomes politically incorrect, as they apparently expect, they can say they were on the side of the angels, but the public, not they, made the decision.

And how are visitors supposed to comment on the art work sight unseen? It seems the game is set up to be prejudiced against it. Unless they know the piece well, they are left taking the curator's and Boyce's word for it being objectionable.

I suspect that, below the claimed political issues of “gender and race,” disgusting and philistine as they are when applied to the pre-Raphaelites, whose slogan was “art for art's sake,” there is something else involved. After all, the “race” being portrayed is/are nymphs. Nymphs are purely spiritual beings. They have gender, yes, but no physical sex. Warning to sharks: at this point, look up. It's pushing things pretty far to read politics into this.

The real issue is that a lot of people resent beauty. And a lot of the people who hate and resent beauty are currently working as artists, and artists of some renown. The real scandal here is that the nymphs in the painting are more beautiful than the artist, or the museum curator; and neither the museum curator nor the artist has ever painted anything nearly so good. What is not your own, you need to destroy.

This attitude seems widespread in the arts currently. The people posing as artists to the public are people who have the least possible feeling for art—indeed, they hate it.

I subscribe to a Facebook feed called “Artists trying to make a living creating art.” I recommend it for those who, like me, do love art. Better yet, if you have any money, buy something. I discover through it that there are a lot of artists out there doing wonderful work. Not all of course, but a striking proportion. The problem is, they are never featured in galleries and never manage to sell their work. Most of them would be hounded out of any art school. The people who run the institutions are anti-art. They have been for generations.

Another sphere which, like media and education, has been destroyed by being professionalized.

BB King; from the Facebook feed.

From the Facebook feed.

Artist trying to make a living creating art.

Saturday, February 03, 2018

Toronto Stiffs

George Brown

It is inevitable that Montreal has a much stronger sense of place than does Toronto. There is more history there; it is something special to be a French-speaking city in North America; the geography is more interesting.

Canada suffers from this, now that Toronto and not Montreal is our chief city.

But there are things Montreal does that Toronto could do. For one thing, Montreal seems full of public statues of local importance: a statue of Jean Drapeau, of Rene Levesque, of Brother Andre, of Maurice Richard, and so forth. I think it adds a lot, and you don't see the like in Toronto. If there are public statues there, they seem to refer to people and events without any special ties to Toronto. More of less on the very site of the Battle of York during the War of 1812, for example, you have—a monument to the massacre in Katyn, Poland. And nothing about the War of 1812.

I think Toronto should make a point of putting up life-sized bronze statues of local heroes—people whose lives and characters are forever associated with Toronto, who made Toronto what it is. Not away up on pedestals—at street level, as if they were still walking around with the rest of us. Because they would want to be, if they loved Toronto, and they really are in a sense, if they left their mark. Not just famous people who once lived in Toronto, but people who left a personal imprint there. No Mary Pickfords.

A proposed list:

Ed Mirvish
William Lyon Mackenzie
Wayne and Schuster
Northrop Frye
Marshall McLuhan
Banting and Best
Ronnie Hawkins
Glenn Gould
Timothy Eaton
Roy Thomson
Johnny Bower
Gordon Sinclair
King Clancy
Robert Baldwin
Bishop Michael Power
James FitzGibbon
Jack Layton
Richard J. Needham
Gregory Clark
Duncan Macpherson 

I do not include Egerton Ryerson, George Brown, or Ned Hanlon, because they already seem sufficiently represented. All already have statues, and more.

Others are not included because they are still living: Dave Keon, Mary Margaret O'Hara, David Crombie, Sharon, Lois, and Bram.

Others are not included because, although they contributed to Toronto, they have stronger associations to some other place: William Kurelek.

How about Rob Ford? Borderline. Controversial, and in the end, only one term as mayor.

Looking back, I see there are no women on the list. Tough. No affirmative action here. That's despicable. You want a bronze, you have to earn it by what you do, not how you were born or who you are.

Friday, February 02, 2018

First Families of Ontario

We now have three entrants for the leadership of the Ontario PC party: Christine Elliott, Doug Ford, and Caroline Mulroney.

It is at least now a contest. But I see a problem with all the announced candidates.

And it is the same problem.

Each one of them owes much of their present prominence to family ties. Caroline Mulroney has no political experience, but is daughter of a past prime minister. Doug Ford has only been a city councilman; and he inherited his council seat from his better-known brother Rob, the Toronto mayor. Christine Elliott at least has her own real track record; but she is the wife of the late federal finance minister, Jim Flaherty. She owes a lot of her political career to that—she married well.

This is not healthy in a democracy. It speaks of a developing ruling class and of a monarchical instinct. Nothing against the Queen, but one queen is sufficient. Beneath the Queen, the Canadian tradition has been equality and advancement by merit.

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Cornwallis the War Criminal

The statue in Cornwallis Park

The city of Halifax is now pulling down the statue of Edward Cornwallis that has stood for over 75 years in Cornwallis Park; having originally been a charitable donation by CN hotels. Cornwallis has been traditionally felt worthy of the honour as the founder of the city. He has, however, fallen afoul of modern politics because he put a bounty on the scalps of local Micmacs.

I fear this is a manufactured controversy, and mostly a case of little brother Canada feeling the need to emulate big brother America, in his recent flurry of iconoclasm involving Civil War heroes.

Edward Cornwallis can plausibly be accused of war crimes. But not so much in Nova Scotia. The better case would be his behavior in the Scottish Highlands after the Battle of Culloden, in which he burned down barns and scattered cattle to punish the population for rebellion. In his defense, he was acting on clear orders from his superior, the Duke of Cumberland. And such scorched earth policies have been followed elsewhere: by Sherman in Georgia, or by the allied bombing campaigns during World War II.

More interestingly, in a place named “Nova Scotia,” largely settled by Highland Scots, there has never until now been an outcry against his commemoration.

Instead, the outcry has come from the Indians, or their spokespeople, over the more dubious case of his actions in Nova Scotia during Father LeLoutre’s War. Yes, he put a bounty on Micmac scalps. But it seems unfair to single Cornwallis out on this basis; he was following established custom of the time. The French already had a bounty on English scalps; the British in New England already had a bounty on Indian scalps. And, of course, scalping was standard practice among the Indians during war. Given the position and the times, Cornwallis was more or less obliged to follow suit; just as, once the Germans in WWI resorted to poison gas, the Entente were more or less obliged to use it as well. Notably, Cornwallis limited his bounty to scalps of Micmac “fighters”; Indian civilians, women and children, were not supposed to be so molested. This was not the Indian practice.

Moreover, it seems that few Indians were actually affected. According to historical records, the bounty was deemed to be “ineffective.” As a result, Cornwallis raised the scalp price. With the raised bounty, precisely one scalp was ever presented for redemption during Cornwallis’s tenure. That’s some historical atrocity. Indeed, the French Father Maillard, on the other side in the conflict, recorded Cornwallis’s term as governor as free of any atrocities.

Cornwallis is being used, in a thoroughly cowardly way, as a scapegoat.