#3 – History? Who Needs That?

In other parts of the world, there seems to be a concept that you should actually know something about the historical significance of a place. Understanding the forces and mentalities that informed the current environment has crucial implications for improving on that environment. In the relatively short time that humans have been on Earth we have managed to learn a lot; when we study the remains of the departed we can glean valuable social, cultural, and environmental knowledge. The past is to be studied, to be considered, and to be used as a valuable way to hone the critical thinking skills of those particularly interested in the field. In essence, studying and knowing of the past improves the student and reduces the chance that bad ideas will filter through civic life.

Or, if you’re Canada, the past is to be ignored and covered up. Canadians have very little knowledge of their own history or of the history of North America. What pieces they do know are reduced to word-vomit: during the War of 1812 WE BURNED DOWN THE WHITE HOUSE WHOOOOOO!! Vimy Ridge, a strategically-irrelevant hillock that was quickly forgotten by the rest of the world? CANADA BECAME A NATION WHOOOOOOO!! And on it goes: words are known, context is actively suppressed. The Trans-Canada Railroad incited a genocide of the Plains Cree. Does that show up in the popular memory? Nope! Train means Canada got more biggerer and betterer! Thundering assclaps like Pierre Berton have contributed to this: his insanely-maudlin read of Canada is a catalog of the bullshit Canadians believe about themselves.

That’s fucked up, right? Scrubbing history until it looks good looks…well, not good. And without context revisionism takes hold. The genocidal Indian Act effectively enforces a corrupt system of governance on a population, actually contravening the UN Declaration on Indigenous Rights. But that’s no problem! Just apply some magical English Canadian Revisionism to it and “them drunking Injuns” are causing their own decay! Never mind the fact that it’s illegal to build on reserves without federal approval and many communities in fact have gone dry so as to combat the problem; in English Canada, make-believe removes all stains.

Perhaps the greatest example of this is the RCMP. The fact that they have thousands of unsolved cases to crack into and a culture that includes such amazing practices as driving people into the middle of nowhere in the winter before driving off and leaving them to die doesn’t matter because the RCMP are considered a point of national heritage. Thus, a bumbling collective of inchoate morons gets virtually unlimited leeway to be abusive shitheels. Keeping the gag going is as easy as wearing some doofy hats and riding ponies, because that’s exactly the kind of shit that Canadians would rather think about. Indeed, even when the RCMP do get nailed for being spectacularly idiotic they can rely on cheers and hoots for the hats and the serge.

That coat makes one hell of a closing metaphor. Forget that it represents a dangerously-inept police force and focus on the shiny buttons instead. Who needs historical knowledge when you can have shiny things! Hooray for Canada!

2 thoughts on “#3 – History? Who Needs That?”

  1. For the record, Canada did not burn down the White House. I don’t think that there was any significant Canadian involvement in the burning of Washington.

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    1. You are correct! The British burned down the White House as part of the Second American War for Independence; Canada had neither the power nor the government at that time to even declare a state of war.

      Thanks for calling out one of the most pernicious pieces of caker revisionism!

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