#141 – Laments for the Nations

Genocide Appreciation Day is upon us, friends! And with any Genocide Appreciation Day, the requisite 9/10s of all public space are festooned with the Canadian flag already. I’d like to talk about a different flag, one which represents struggle and resistance in the same way that the Stars and Stripes do. It’s a common sight along sides of roads and near illegal tobacco stalls (one of the few places an Indian can expect to make a living that isn’t relegating them to a collapsing shack), and it is to me the flag worthy of celebration today.

Enter badass. Yeah, buddy! Now we’re cooking with gas! Shockingly, a Mohawk woman in Quebec (why is it that Quebec and the Indians are the only ones who are actually willing to look into anything?) wrote her thesis on the matter, where she argued that the flag is “a symbol of Indigenous unification and impetus to assertion of identity and rights commencing in the Kanienkehaka community of Kahnawake”. Basically, the equivalent of the Terminator telling hundreds of John Connors, “come with me if you want to live”. It’s a banner that strikes fear into the hearts of cakers, a symbol of the legitimate rage and mobilization of cultural and social resources among a class that Canada simply threw away.

Meanwhile, Canada bleats about being post-racial, I’d like to think in a desperate attempt to convince itself of that. It also tries to smear the idea of Indian independence by attaching the flag to lawlessness and Red Power – the irony of this is staggering since Canada basically ignores organized crime and is if nothing else a society of deeply ossified economic stagnation supported by government structure. From Rainville to Oka, the Canadian flag is a flag of cowardice, of savagery, and of the suffering of thousands.

Regarding claims of criminality, the links to the Stars and Stripes get all the firmer. Indian crimes are overwhelmingly economic in nature – smuggling, illegal cigarette sales, blockades – that sort of thing. I fail to see how the Boston Tea Party wasn’t an economic, and, to the eyes of the British illegal act. When a government lets things go to rot, people will simply learn to work around it. Of course the Indians are going to get involved in smuggling – they can basically do it out in the open because of how poorly Canada polices its supposed territory. If I had a choice between selling native smokes or being abused and slandered until I bow a knee to the thing that so burned my people, I’d be shilling ciggies with the best of them. Not like Canada has bothered to provide any other economic incentive after throwing people as far away from infrastructure as possible.

Was the original American flag a witness to violence and cruelty against colonizers and loyalists? I’d find it hard to argue otherwise. But at the end of the day, the Americans did break free and their country, a young spry thing in comparison to the European states that birthed it, achieved tremendously. I posit that this is because the American flag meant something to those who wanted better. Just like the Oka Mohawk did before they were carted away to CFB Farnham, holding that flag against someone who would tear it down means that the struggle and the recognition of the legitimacy behind that struggle are real and valid. While comparisons between the American and Mohawk experiences aren’t entirely fair to the Mohawk, at least their flag deserves pride of place as a banner pregnant with meaning and condemnation.

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