Conservatives seem to love statues. And why not? Statues can be about anything you like – they don’t have to reflect real history; they can support any myth you want to attach to them. And statues can’t talk back. And they are sturdy. Build a statue and you can point to it and say: See I accomplished something. Even while there are so many real jobs that would help real people that aren’t being done.
In America, conservatives particularly like religious statues placed in or near government buildings. It doesn’t have to be Christian – a lot of Americans want to put of Jewish statues too. You know, plaques with the Ten Commandments on them. Too bad about that pesky separation of church and state in the Constitution.
In Canada, our current government really gets hard for stone. Or bronze. They plop up statues at a moment’s notice, either building them themselves or supporting some crackpot millionaire with a chip on his shoulder. Most of those guys have more dollars than sense and hopefully, after the election, they will simply fade away.
The statue that bugs me most is the one near my office on Parliament Hill. It commemorates the War of 1812, which the Conservatives claim was the founding event of Canada. Never mind that almost all of the soldiers were British and the few locals that got involved were either Aboriginal or some farm boys dragooned into the combat. No-one really took it seriously – a few building were burned and, at the end, the borders remained pretty much where they were. Both sides claim to have won so I guess that makes it a draw. A bit like kissing your sister.
This final skirmish of the American War of Independence was hardly a founding moment for Canada – that came in the uprisings of 1837 when McKenzie and Papineau demanded responsible government. Present day conservatives are hardly likely to want to commemorate that cause. Or remember when the people rose up against the conservatives of the day.
I hate the statue to 1812. To tell you the truth I have to resist spitting on it every time I walk by. Unlike real war memorials which celebrate the sacrifice of soldiers and remember the horrors of war, these soldiers seem almost gleeful as they fire their cannons toward the Chateau Laurier (named for a former Liberal Prime Minister) and point their muskets toward the actual War Memorial across the street. Pretty ironic in light of the events of last October.
This is a celebration of war, nothing more and nothing less. It is about what you would expect from a Prime Minister and Cabinet who like to prance around in semi-military clothing, pretending to be one of our men and women in the forces. It’s no wonder so many real veterans oppose them.
And that’s ten minutes.