Crime And No Punishment

Throne, Altar, Liberty

The Canadian Red Ensign

The Canadian Red Ensign

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Crime And No Punishment

I recently returned to Winnipeg after visiting my father on his farm where the radio is constantly tuned to 880 CKLQ the country and western station out of Brandon.   On the morning of the day I drove back they played a familiar classic by Merle Haggard, “Mama Tried”.   The song is semi-autobiographical, written in reflection on the time the to-be country star served in San Quentin for an attempted robbery in Bakersfield.   I say semi-autobiographical for while Haggard did indeed reach the age of majority in prison the sentence he was serving was nowhere near as severe as the lyrics suggest:

And I turned twenty-one in prison doin’ life without parole
No one could steer me right but Mama tried, Mama tried
Mama tried to raise me better, but her pleading, I denied
That leaves only me to blame ’cause Mama tried

When I listened to these familiar words again this time it occurred to me to wonder what on earth someone would actually have to do to be sentenced to life in prison without parole while still a minor.  Even in 1957 when Haggard was convicted it would have had to have been a lot more than what he did.   California was not as crime-friendly then as it is today but they would not have locked a minor up and thrown away the key for an unsuccessful break and entry in which no one was hurt, not even with all of his priors.  His actual sentence was fifteen years of which he served three.   Today, it is highly unlikely that anyone in any jurisdiction outside of Texas would receive such a sentence for a similar crime.

All across North America today, both in the United States and in my country, the Dominion of Canada, major cities have seen a massive rise in violent crime especially in, but by no means limited to, their downtown, core, neighbourhoods.   More than one factor has contributed to this urban crime crisis, of course.  One of the disturbing aspects about the crisis is that “unprovoked random attacks” by strangers, i.e., when someone you don’t know from Adam comes up to you and assaults you for no discernable reason, which were previously very rare, have spiked and account for a huge percentage of the crime wave.   Two explanations for this jump to mind.   The first is the vast increase in mental illness over the last three years induced by idiotic governments forcing people into social isolation for long periods of time in a failed and absurd attempt to protect them from a respiratory disease that in most cases had only mild symptoms and from which the vast majority fully recovered.   The second is the increase in drug abuse, particularly of paranoia-inducing substances like crystal meth, which is partly due to the same thing that caused the uptick in mental illness, but which is also the result of stupid politicians having prioritized in their drug policy the making drug use safe for users over the safety of others who might be harmed by drug-induced violence.

These factors, while they help account for random stranger attacks, do not in themselves explain the larger urban crime crisis.   Another factor that significantly contributes to the overall rise in urban crime is the soft-on-crime attitude promoted by the sort of people who like to think that being forward-minded, progressive, and liberal amounts to being enlightened and that they are therefore more enlightened than others.  This attitude has in recent years been translated into various sorts of bad policies that are often described as “catch and release” or “revolving door”.   These include sentences that are too short or too soft, parole being too easily obtained and too early, and, more recently, pretrial release being too easily obtained even with multiple prior convictions.   This latter, due no doubt to its relative novelty, is the most discussed at the moment.   In several American jurisdictions liberals have demanded and sometimes obtained the elimination of cash bail either entirely, as in Illinois as of New Year’s Day this year, or for all but the most heinous of crimes, as in New York four years ago.   In Canada, criminal law falls under the jurisdiction of the Dominion government, even though in practice its day to day administration is carried out by the provinces, and so provincial premiers and legislatures cannot enact such policies within their own provinces the way American state governments can.   Not that any of the current provincial premiers would want to do so.  In January of this year all provincial and territory premiers signed a letter unanimously calling on the Dominion government to enact bail reform of the opposite sort to that of the just mentioned Illinois and New York examples, the toughening of bail laws to make it much harder for a repeat offender or one likely to repeat, to be released back into the public.  Unfortunately, the Canadian politicians most in sync with American liberals in their thinking on this matter happen to be the ones in power at the Dominion level.  

In 2018, while they still had a majority government, the Liberals introduced Bill C-75 which passed Parliament the following year.   Bill C-75 contained a number of amendments to the Criminal Code and related legislation such as the Youth Criminal Justice Act.   While I consider most, if not all, of these amendments to be bad, they fall into three categories.   The first is those which are bad for reasons that are not germane to what we are discussing here, such as the lowering of the age of consent for anal sex.   The second consists of amendments that limit the traditional rights of Canadians when accused of crimes.   Examples include the near-elimination of preliminary inquiries (intended to speed cases through the court system this has the opposite effect and so infringes on the right to a speedy trial), the abolition of peremptory challenge in juror selection (this infringes as it was intended to do on the defense’s right to exclude those prejudiced against the accused from the jury system), and allowing police to testify via affidavit (this infringes on the right of the accused to confront and cross-examine his accuser).   What needs to be said about these amendments is that while they do not err in the direction of being soft-on-crime in the sense we have been discussing (1) they are not legitimate steps in the opposite direction either.   There are a lot of people who confuse the rights of the accused with soft-on-crime but they are very different.   The rights of the accused are there to protect the innocent from the abuse of the criminal justice system.   They may, at times, result in a guilty person getting off, but they are based on the traditional conviction that for justice to fail in this manner is to be preferred over it failing by punishing the innocent, a conviction that is right and Scriptural (see Genesis 18).   Soft-on-crime policies do not protect the innocent from wrongful accusation but are rather about lighter sentences for criminals that disregard the safety of the public.   The third category consists of amendments of the soft-on-crime type.   Examples of this include the hybridization of offences and the related reduction of sentences and, most relevantly, the amendments to the bail provisions of the Criminal Code.  The stated purpose of the bail amendments was to make the earliest possible release the default outcome of an arraignment rather than detention, with fewer conditions and less requirements of cash, bond, or other surety.   In other words it was very similar in intent to Cuomo’s experiment in bail elimination in New York around the same time.

It was similar in effect too and one consequence of that was the aforementioned unanimous letter by the premiers demanding that the Dominion government walk this back and make bail harder for repeat violent offenders.   In May, David Lametti, who lamentably holds the portfolio of Minister of Justice and Attorney General in His Majesty’s government – lamentably because he has shown in numerous ways, the most recent being his favourable attitude towards criminalizing disagreement with the obviously distorted and easily debunked false official narrative about the Indian Residential Schools, that he ought not to be put in charge of the penalty box at a hockey game, much less the Ministry of Justice –  responded to the premiers’ demands with Bill C-48 which proposed further amendments to the bail system.   Unfortunately, but sadly not unpredictably, the “reform” that stands out the most is itself an egregious error of the sort contained in the second category of bad amendments in Bill C-75.   This is the proposed reverse onus for repeat violent offenders.   In other words, someone previously convicted of a violent offence, arrested a second time, would have to prove that he should be granted bail, rather than the Crown having to prove that it should be denied him.   This is something that all the Justice and Public Safety Ministers – Dominion, provincial, territorial – called for when they met in Ottawa in March.   Admittedly, this is a lesser offense against the principle of the presumption of innocence than reversing the burden of proof when it comes to guilt in an actual trial would be, but it still offends against the principle, opening the door for worse such offences.   Indeed, an examination of Bill C-48 demonstrates that most of the proposed amendments are merely different variations on the idea of reverse onus.   With all the possible ways out there of toughening up our policies towards crime without violating even in minor ways the ancient and sacred principles like the presumption of innocence that protect us all from abuse of the criminal justice system, this was the best the provincial governments could recommend and the federal government could come up with?

What is behind this push to implement policies that turn dangerous criminals back out into the streets as quickly as possible and to meet complaints about how this undermines public safety not by walking back said policies but by eroding the rights of the accused and the principles that underlie them?

We might say that it is an inversion in the priority of sympathies in which some people sympathize more with those who commit crime than with those who are its victims.    This inversion manifests itself in a number of different ways.   One of these is the liberal’s refusal to acknowledge the legitimacy and right of defending one’s self, one’s loved ones, and one’s property from criminals.    Look at the current uproar over country and western singer Jason Aldean’s song “Try That in a Small Town” and the accompanying video.  The song’s lyrics talk about violent urban crime such as sidewalk assaults, carjacking, liquor store robbery, etc. and challenges the thugs who do these sort of things to “try that in a small town”.   Sniveling idiots like Sheryl Crow have accused Aldean of “promoting violence” in the song and worse idiots have accused him of promoting “lynching” on the flimsy grounds that one had apparently taken place a century ago on the popular filming location where he shot the video.   To normal people, the person who sucker punches someone on the sidewalk, the carjacker, and the liquor store robber are guilty of criminal violence, and someone fighting back in defense of himself and his community is using legitimate force.  The distinction is lost on liberals – and people who whatever their politics have had their minds and souls destroyed by being brainwashed with human resources and public relations “education” – who use the word violence to describe people who exercise their God-given right of self-defense to repel criminal assaults with force but avoid using this word for the criminal assaults themselves.  While this inversion would not be a wrong answer to the question, it is a description of the problem rather than an explanation for it.

We could say that it is a result, intended or otherwise, of sixty to seventy years of liberal and progressive crusading against discrimination.   The population of prison inmates looks very different from the general population.   This may be true of economic status.   The imprisoned are far more likely to come from poverty than from wealth.   Note, however, that the poorer outnumber the richer in the general population in any society.   It is certainly true of race.   In the United States the black percentage of the prison population is far higher than the black percentage of the general population.   In Canada this same disparity exists between the representation of North American Indians in the prison population and the general population.   By contrast, in both countries, the percentage of Asians in gaol is far lower than in the general population.   It is also true of sex.   Indeed, here the greatest disparity is to be found.   In Canada, women represent on average about five percent of the incarcerated.   In the United States it is higher, about eight to ten percent.   In both countries, however, men are vastly overrepresented in the prison population if the basis of the comparison is their representation in the general population.   Even though the disparity with regards to sex is much, much, greater than the disparity with regards to race, and greater still than the disparity with regards to economic status, it is never alluded to by those who demand the criminal justice system be reformed in a softer-on-crime way because it is unfair.   Neither do they reference Asian underrepresentation.   This is because both of these facts go against their narrative in which society and its structures are biased against women rather than against men and in favour of whites against all other races.   Indeed, when it comes to the huge disparity with regards to sex, this not only goes against the narrative it rebuts it entirely.   The reason men comprise ninety percent or higher of the prison population is because men commit ninety percent or higher of the crimes that land one in gaol.    There is not really much of a dispute about this.   Discrimination in the system, therefore, is not the cause of male overrepresentation in the prison population which is not really overrepresentation when the basis of comparison is what it should be, the percentage of males in the general population who commit crime.   This suggests that something similar could be argued for the overrepresentation of blacks in the American prison population and of Indians in the Canadian prison population, a suggestion supported by the underrepresentation of Asians in the prisons of both countries, which can hardly be explained by a racial bias that favours whites against all others, and by statistics gleaned from the victims of crime as to the race of the perpetrator.   Liberals and progressives treat any suggestion that the races overrepresented in the prison populations of Canada and the United States are not overrepresented when contrasted with the percentages of each race among the criminal perpetrator population rather than the general population, no matter how backed by facts and data that suggestion may be, as arising out of racism.  Their actions, however, and the policies they support demonstrate that they do not really believe this, that on an unspoken level they acknowledge it, but in their need to be seen and to see themselves as sympathetic with American blacks, Canadian Indians, and, to switch to the economic status category, the poor, they blame the larger society for this.   This makes them, of course, vulnerable to all the ugly accusations they hurl against others.   Blaming the larger society for the overrepresentation of American blacks, Canadian Indians, and the poor is to deny agency to blacks, Indians, and the poor.   Furthermore, justifying being soft-on-crime in the name of being fair to these groups, overlooks the fact that they are also overrepresented among the victims of crime.   This is a fact that goes hand-in-glove with these same groups being overrepresented among the perpetrators of crime because the majority of crimes are in-group rather than perpetrated by members of one racial or socioeconomic group against members of another.   Therefore, it is favouring soft-on-crime policies that is discriminatory against these groups, because even if American blacks and Canadian Indians are represented among perpetrators of crime at a higher percentage than they are represented among the general population, the majority of these groups are not criminals and all members of these groups, here including the poor, are at a higher risk of being the victims of violent crime than the general population, and so need the protection of hard-on-crime policies more.   However, liberalism and progressivism’s misguided, ill-informed, and myopic crusade against discrimination, while it may explain the shape of the arguments currently used by soft-on-crime liberals and the policies they currently support, it does not explain the origin of their way of thinking.

This is so because liberals have been soft-on-crime for a lot longer than they have been obsessed with discrimination.   In the “Enlightenment”, the seventeenth and eighteenth century movement away from the light of orthodox Christianity into the darkness of the superstitious idolatry of science and materialistic reason that took Puritanism, the anal retentive form of Calvinism and transformed it into liberalism, the anal retentive form of secular agnosticism, the early liberals decided that traditional criminal justice was barbaric and cruel both in its penalties – death for capital crimes like murder, corporal punishment, fines, public humiliation, exile and such for lesser crimes – and its underlying theory – that by breaking the law, criminals incurred a debt to society which they had had to pay.   In place of the older penalties the early liberals wanted incarceration to become the default penalty for crime which they achieved in the nineteenth century.   In the traditional system gaol was merely for holding the accused until trial, long term imprisonment was reserved for political prisoners.   Punishing people for their crimes, the liberals said, was not justice but revenge.  This is nonsense.  In all the ancient accounts of the origins of the traditional criminal justice system, from Aeschylus’ tragedic account of the origins of jury trials in his retelling of the myths of Agamemnon, Clytemnestra and Orestes in the Oresteia to the account of the establishment of refugee cities in ancient Israel in sacred Scripture, the criminal justice system was not based on revenge but implemented to curb the lust for revenge and protect societies from out of control cycles of vengeance.   Although obviously, for criminal justice to do this, it must legitimately satisfy the need which blood vengeance seeks to satisfy in an illegitimate manner – unsuccessfully as its tendency to get out of control indicates – there is a careful and clear distinction between the two.   In revenge, a wrong doer’s debt is owed to the victim or his kin, and they exact it from him to the extent that they are able and that they themselves see fit.  Under justice, the debt is owed to the laws of society, it is not exacted by those with a personal stake in the case but by the lawfully appointed court and its officers, guilt has to be investigated and established and the accused has the right to present his own case, and the law places limits on the penalties that can be exacted.   The Lex Talionis – “an eye for an eye” – whether enshrined in the Code of Hammurabi or the Law of Moses is in its fundamental nature, a limit on the penalty someone can be made to pay for injury to another.   The principle underlying it is that expressed by Cicero in De Legibus III.4, noxiae poena par esto, more commonly remembered as the Roman legal maxim culpae poena par esto which means “let the punishment fit the crime” (or “offense” in Tully’s wording).   By treating the traditional system of criminal justice as being the very thing it was designed to limit, prevent, and replace the liberals committed a most impious injustice against multiple generations of their ancestors stretching back to antiquity.   They argued that making a criminal pay for his offence must not be the goal of the criminal justice system, that the only acceptable goals were deterring others from committing similar crimes and reforming or rehabilitating the criminal.   This was the original liberal soft-on-crime attitude.

C. S. Lewis answered this earlier version of the liberal soft-on-crime attitude in an essay entitled “The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment” that was originally published in The Twentieth Century in 1949 and later included in the collection of his essays posthumously edited and published by William Hooper as God in the Dock in 1976.   Lewis clearly felt very strongly on the matter – he alluded to it in later essays, asked T. S. Eliot to write an essay about it in a letter in 1962, and included a discussion of it in his novel That Hideous Strength.   What made Lewis’ response so interesting is that he based his case against the progressive view to which he gave the name found in the title of his essay and his defense of the traditional view on the argument that the progressives’ humanitarian theory failed on the very point on which it claimed superiority over the traditional view, that is, treating offenders in a humane, dignified manner.   Its advocates think it “mild and merciful” but in reality it “disguises the possibility of cruelty and injustice without end”.   Removing the concept of “desert”, i.e., the offender getting what he deserves as punishment for his crime from the picture, removes “the only connecting link between punishment and justice” so that without retributive justice, rehabilitative justice is not justice at all.   By treating crime as essentially pathological and the courts and prison system as essentially therapeutic, the progressive humanitarian theory opens the door to excessive punishment by transferring the decision as to the fate of the convicted into  the hands of “technical experts” trained in “special sciences “which “do not even employ such categories as rights and justice”.   These, since they are operating under the idea that they are curing the criminal rather than punishing him, are not bound by the limits which justice places on what punishment can be exacted from a criminal and will keep on until they are convinced he is cured.   Lewis argued that this theory made it possible for good men to act “as cruelly and unjustly as the greatest tyrants” or “even worse” because “a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive” since “those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience” and while they “may be more likely to go to Heaven” they are also “likelier to make a Hell of earth”.   Lewis argued that far from being “humane” the system advocated by the progressives in the name of humanitarianism treated law breakers as less than human.   This seems indisputable.  The traditional system treated the criminal as responsible for his actions and so owing a debt the payment of which squared the criminal with the law and society.   The progressive humanitarian system denies responsibility to the criminal and keeps his crime dangling above his head forever as the experts who “cured” him keep perennial watch lest he have a “relapse”.

Lewis’ answer to the humanitarian theory, since it addresses it on the level of its fundamental injustice, is an answer that would stand even if the experiment in “curing” criminals had been one hundred percent successful.   The experiment has not been successful.   It has rather proven to be a colossal failure.   Yes, people have gone to prison and come out reformed.   Merle Haggard, referred to at the beginning of this essay, is an example.   His reformation in San Quentin, however, had less to do with the prison’s rehabilitation system working than with its retaining part of the older retributive system.   California did not abolish the death penalty until 1972.    Haggard was sent to San Quentin while Caryl Chessman was serving his last days on death row there before his execution in 1960.   Chessman’s early life, with the experience of being in and out of detention, initially for petty crimes, later for more serious ones, mirrored Haggard’s in some ways.   Later, however, he had been convicted of the “Red Light Bandit” crimes, a series of robberies and rapes that had taken place in the Los Angeles area in 1948, and sentenced to death.   By Haggard’s own testimony it was the experience of being caught brewing liquor in San Quentin and sent to “the shelf” – a row of solitary confinement cells in the same part of the prison as death row – where he saw Chessman, awaiting his execution, and this scared him straight.    He was rehabilitated in prison, but not by the prison, at least not in the direct sense that liberal supporters of the rehabilitation theory had in mind.   Others have entered prison and for various reasons – being further corrupted by worse criminals themselves, being hardened by prison culture and as a necessity for survival, etc. – have ended up worse than when they went in.   According to a research summary entitled “The effect of prison on criminal behaviour” published by Public Safety Canada in November 1999 which looked at 50 studies involving 300 000 offenders “None of the analyses found imprisonment to reduce recidivism”.

The liberal and progressive attitude towards how society should deal with crime and criminals has consistently been based on the conceit that their ideas are more “humane”, “enlightened”, “kind”, “compassionate”, et cetera ad nauseam than anything that preceded them no matter how ancient and time-tested-and-proven.   Initially, this manifested itself as the idea that it is more “humane” to treat criminals as rats in a social experiment in rehabilitation in prison laboratories than to treat them as men, responsible for their actions, who owe a debt to society and society’s laws.   Later, as the progressive conceit evolved from an attitude of superiority to the past and the civilization we have inherited from it to one of hatred for said past and civilization, it manifested itself in the idea that the criminal is the true victim, the real blame belongs to civilized society, and so civilized society must be made to pay rather than the criminal, who should be released into the rest of society as soon as possible with as few conditions as possible.   The progressive mind has proven remarkably resistant to the abundance of evidence demonstrating these ideas to be the very opposite of “humane” and “enlightened”.   For people who are always shooting their mouths off about their “compassion” and demanding that various groups be made “safe” from words and ideas that offend them they are extremely blithe about how their absurd policies make everyday life less safe from the threat of actual physical harm due to violent crime in our cities.

Ultimately, the liberal and progressive conceit goes back to the superstition they imbibed during the period that would more appropriately called the Darkening rather than the Enlightenment.   Having transferred their faith from the True and Living God to the idol of science, they no longer recognized that the True and Living God, in Whom both Perfect Justice and Perfect Mercy are untied without compromise, has delegated authority to two earthly institutions, to one of which He gave a sword and charged it with the exercising of Justice, to the other of which He gave a pulpit and an altar and charged it with bringing His Mercy and Grace to people all of whom are offenders under Divine Law.   The State, consisting of the king and his ministers, an earthly depiction of the government of the Universe, God as King of Kings, served by His ministers in Heaven, for which reason king-headed government is the only legitimate form of the State, was given the sword of Justice, but Justice that was to be tempered with Mercy, for which reason kings and the courts that act in their name have always had the power of clemency and pardon.   The Church, consisting of the Apostolic priesthood and the congregations of baptized Christians they shepherd, brings God’s Mercy and Grace to the sinful world by preaching the Gospel and administering the Sacraments.   While the Church’s ministry is primarily one of Mercy and Grace, as the State’s ministry is primarily one of Justice, just as the State must temper the Justice it exercises with Mercy, so the Church’s Apostolic leadership has been given the keys – the power of excommunication – to exclude from the ministration of Grace those who defiantly persist in rebellious and open sin until such time as they repent.   No longer recognizing the God from Whom the authority of Church and State alike are derived, liberals and progressives reject the Church and have replaced divine Mercy and Grace with inferior human substitutes the burden of distributing which they have placed on the State, the divine authority of which they have sought to replace with democratic power, the power of the mob.   Idols always fail those who worship them, however, and it has become abundantly clear that liberalism’s efforts to create a new justice superior to the old and more merciful after cutting itself off from the Source of true Justice and Mercy have failed and unleashed upon our civilization the opposite of both Justice and Mercy.

It is about time that we as a civilization turned our backs on liberalism forever and returned to the True and Living God, Who is Merciful and Gracious to all who turn to Him in repentance and faith, but has given to the State the sword to punish crime and expects it to be used for the safety of us all.

Stand Up to the Mob– The Statue Wreckers & Their Establishment Enablers!

Throne, Altar, Liberty

The Canadian Red Ensign

The Canadian Red Ensign

Friday, June 11, 2021

Stand Up to the Mob– The Statue Wreckers & Their Establishment Enablers!

When a mob vandalizes or tears down statues that have been in place for generations of nation-builders, whether statesmen like Sir John A. Macdonald, Father of Confederation and first Prime Minister of the Dominion of Canada, or educators like Egerton Ryerson, one of the chief architects of the Upper Canadian – Ontarian for the hopelessly up-to-date – public school system, back the in days when schools were a credit to their builders rather than a disgrace, this tells us much more about the mob than about the historical figures whose memory they are attacking.   It is far easier to tear something down than it is to build something, especially something of lasting benefit.   It is also much quicker.   What these acts tell us is that the members of these mobs, whether taken individually or collectively, who are howling for the “cancelling” of the memories of men like Macdonald and Ryerson, do not have it in them to achieve a thousandth of what such men accomplished.  Driving them down this quick and easy, but ultimately treacherous and deadly, path of desecration and destruction, is the spirit of Envy, which is not mere jealousy, the wish to have what others have, but the hatred of others for being, having, or doing what you do not and cannot be, have, or do yourself.   It was traditionally considered among the very worst of the Seven Deadly Sins, second only to Pride.    This makes it almost fitting, in a perverse sort of way, that last weekend’s mob assault on the statue of Ryerson at the University that bears his name, took place at the beginning of the month which, to please the alphabet soup people of all the colours of the rainbow, now bears the name of that Sin in addition to the Roman name for the queen of Olympus.

The toppling of the Ryerson statue came at the end of a week in which the Canadian media, evidently tired of the bat flu after a year and a half, found a new dead horse to flog.   Late in May, a couple of days after the anniversary of the incident which, after it was distorted and blown out of proportion by the media, sparked last year’s wave of race riots and “Year Zero” Cultural Maoism, and just in time to launch Indigenous History Month, yet another new handle for the month formerly known as June, the Kamloops Indian Band made an announcement.   They had hired someone to use some fancy newfangled sonar gizmo to search the grounds of the old Indian Residential School at Kamloops and, lo and behold, they had discovered 215 unmarked graves.  

The Canadian mainstream media was quick to label this discovery “shocking”.   This speaks extremely poorly about the present state of journalistic integrity in this country.   When used as an adjective, the word shocking expresses a negative judgement about that which is so described but it also generally conveys a sense of surprise on the part of the person doing the judging.   There was nothing in the Kamloops announcement, however, that ought to have been surprising.   It revealed nothing new about the Indian Residential Schools.   That there are unmarked graves on the grounds of these schools has been known all along. The fourth volume of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Final Report is entitled Missing Children and Unmarked Burials.  It is 273 pages long and was published in December of 2015.    According to this volume the death rate due to such factors as disease – tuberculosis was the big one – and suicide was much higher among aboriginal children at the Residential Schools than among school children in the general population.   The TRC attributed this to the inadequacy of government standards and regulations for these schools which fell under the jurisdiction of the federal government rather than the provincial education ministries like other schools, as well as inadequate enforcement of such standards and regulations, and inadequate funding.   Had the TRC been the impartial body of inquiry it made itself out to be it would also have compared the death rate among Residential School children to that among aboriginal children who remained at home on the reserves.     At any rate, according to the TRC Report, unless the families lived nearby or could afford to have the bodies sent to them, they were generally buried in cemeteries at the schools which were abandoned and fell into disuse and decay after the schools were closed.    All that this “new discovery” has added to what is already contained in that volume is the location of 215 of these graves.   One could be forgiven for thinking that all the progressives in the mainstream Canadian media who have been spinning the Residential School narrative into a wrecking ball to use against Canada and the men who built her are not actually that familiar with the contents of the TRC Report. EGERTON RYERSON'S  TOPPLED HEAD.jpg

The Canada-bashing progressives have been reading all sorts of ridiculous conclusions into the discovery of these graves that the actual evidence in no way bears out.   The Truth and Reconciliation Commission was hardly an impartial and unbiased body of inquiry.   Its end did not seem to be the first noun in its title so much as painting as unflattering a portrait of the Indian Residential Schools, the Canadian churches, and the Canadian government as was possible.  Even still, it did not go so far as to accuse the schools of the mass murder of children.   The most brazen of the progressive commentators have now been pointing to the discovery of the graves and making that accusation, and their slightly less brazen colleagues have been reporting the story in such a way as to lead their audiences to that conclusion without their outright saying it.   This is irresponsible gutter journalism at its worst.   The Kamloops band and its sonar technicians have not discovered anything that the TRC Report had not already told us was there, and bodies have not been exhumed, let alone examined for cause of death.   Indeed, they did not even discover a “mass grave” as innumerable media commentators have falsely stated, with some continuing to falsely say this despite the band chief having issued an update in which she explicitly stated “This is not a mass grave”.   The significance of this is that it shows that the media has been painting the picture of a far more calloused disposal of bodies than the evidence supports or the band claims.

The media, of course, are not acting in bona fide.  This time last year, they were using the death of George Floyd to promote a movement that was inciting race riots all across the United States and even throughout the larger Western world.   Coinciding with this was a wave of mob attacks on the monuments of a wide assortment of Western nation-builders, institutional founders, statesmen, and other honoured historical figures.   The New York Times, the American trash rag of record,  had been laying the foundation for this for months by running Nikole Hannah-Jones’ 1619 Project, a revisionist distortion of American history that interprets everything by viewing it through the lens of slavery, in its Sunday Magazine supplement.    What we are seeing up here this year is simply the Canadian left-wing gutter press trying to reproduce its American cousin’s success of last year.

Those who use their influence to support statue-toppling mobs have no business commenting on history whatsoever.   By their very actions they demonstrate that they have not learned a fairly basic historical lesson.   Movements that seek to tear down a country’s history – her past cannot be torn down, but her history, her “remembered past” to use John Lukacs’ definition, can – never end well but rather in disaster, destruction, and misery for all.   The Jacobins attempted this in France in the 1790s when they started history over with their Republic at “Year One”, and endued up with the Reign of Terror.   It has been a pretty standard feature of all Communist revolutions since.    Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge, when they took over Cambodia in 1975, declared it to be “Year Zero”.   Watch the film “The Killing Fields” or read my friend Reaksa Himm’s memoir The Tears of My Soul to find out what that was like.  Anybody who fails to grasp the simple historical fact that these are terrible examples and not ones to be emulated has no business passing judgement on the errors of the historical figures who built countries and institutions, led them through difficult periods, and otherwise did the long and difficult work of construction, enriching future generations, rather than the short and easy work of destruction that can only impoverish them.

There are undoubtedly those who would feel that this comparison of today’s statue-topplers who are now likening our country’s founders to Hitler with the Jacobins, Maoists, Pol Pot and other statue-toppling, country-and-civilization destroyers of the past is unfair.    It is entirely appropriate, however.   It is one thing to acknowledge that bad things took place at the Indian Residential Schools and to give those who suffered those things a platform and the opportunity to share their story.   It is another thing altogether to use those bad things to paint a cartoonish caricature so as to condemn the schools, the churches that administered them, and the country herself, wholesale, and to silence those whose testimony as to their experiences runs contrary to this one-sided, un-nuanced, narrative.   It is one thing to acknowledge that admired leaders of the past were human beings and thus full of flaws, or even to point out examples of how they fell short of the standards of their own day or of timeless standards.   It is something quite different to use their flaws to discredit and dismiss their tremendous accomplishments and, even worse, to condemn them for failing to hold attitudes that are now all but ubiquitous but which nobody anywhere in the world held until the present generation.  

When the so-called Truth and Reconciliation process began – I don’t mean the appointment of the Commission but the proceedings that led to the Indian Residential Schools Settlement which brought about the creation of the Commission, so we are talking about two and a half decades ago – the discussion was primarily about physical and sexual abuse that some of the alumni of the schools had suffered there, over which they had initiated the lawsuits that led to the Settlement.   With the creation of the TRC, however, the discussion came to be dominated by people with another very different agenda.   Their agenda was to condemn the entire Residential Schools system as a project of “cultural genocide”.

The concept of “cultural genocide” is nonsensical.   Genocide, a term coined by Raphael Lemkin in 1944, means the murder of a “people”, in the sense of a group with a common ancestry and identity.  The Holocaust of World War II is the best known example. The mass murder of Tutsis in Rwanda towards the end of that country’s civil war in 1994 is a more recent example.   The concept of “cultural genocide” was thought up by the same man who coined the term.   It refers to efforts to destroy a people’s cultural identity without killing the actual people.   Since the equation of something that does not involve killing actual people with mass murder ought to be morally repugnant to any thinking person, the concept should have been condemned and rejected from the moment Lemkin first conceived it.    Soon after it was conceived, however, the leaders of certain Jewish groups began using it as a club against Christianity.   Christianity teaches that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ, the Messiah, the Redeemer prophesied in the Old Testament Who established the promised New Covenant through His death and Resurrection and Who is the only way to God for Jews and Gentiles alike.   Christianity’s primary mission from Jesus Christ is evangelism – telling the world the Gospel, the Good News about Who Jesus is and what He has done.   While not everybody believes the Gospel when they hear it and it is not our mission to compel anybody to believe, obviously the desired end of evangelism is for everybody to believe.   Since rabbinic Judaism has long taught that a Jew who converts to Christianity ceases to be a Jew, the Jewish leaders in question argued that evangelism amounts to cultural genocide – if all the Jews believed the Gospel, there would be no Jews any more.   On the basis of this kind of reasoning they began pressuring Christian Churches to change their doctrines and liturgical practices as they pertain to the evangelism of Jews.  Sadly, far too many Church leaders proved to be weak in the face of this kind of pressure.

Canada’s Laurentian political class showed a similar lack of backbone when it came to defending our country against the smear that the Residential Schools were designed to wipe out Native Indian cultural identities.   Indeed, their attitude throughout the entire “Truth and Reconciliation” process was to accept the blame for whatever accusations were thrown against Canada and to refuse to hold the accusers accountable to even the most basic standards of courtroom justice.   Imagine a trial where the judge allows only the prosecutor to call witnesses, denies the defense the right to cross examine, and refuses to allow the defense to make a case.   That will give you a picture of what the trial of Canada by the TRC over the Residential Schools was like.

The reality is that had Canada wanted to erase Native Indian cultural identity she would have abolished the reserves, torn up the treaties and declared the Indians to be ordinary citizens like everyone else, insisted that they all live among other Canadians, and that their children go to the same public schools as everybody else.   In other words, she would have done the exact opposite of what she actually did.   The Canadian government’s policy was clearly to preserve Indian cultural identity, not to eradicate it.   Had they wanted to do the latter, residential schools would have been particularly ill-suited to the task.   The TRC maintains that the idea was to break Indian cultural identity by taking children away from the cultural influence of their parents. If this was the case one would think the government would have had all Indian children sent to these schools.  In actuality, however, in the approximately a century and a half that these schools operated, only a minority of Indian children were sent there.   This was a very small minority in the early days of the Dominion when Sir John A. Macdonald, whom the TRC et al seem more interested in vilifying than anyone else, was Prime Minister.   The government also ran day schools on the reserves and in those days the government only forced children to go to the residential schools when their parents persistently neglected to send them to the day schools.    The Dominion had made it mandatory for all Indian children within a certain age range to attend school – just as the provinces had made it mandatory for all other children within the same age range to attend school.  It was much later in Canadian history, after the government decided to make the schools serve the second function of being foster group homes for children removed from unsafe homes by social workers that a majority of Indian children were sent to the residential schools.     Even then, the eradication of Indian cultural identity is hardly a reasonable interpretation of the government’s intent.

The TRC, in the absence of serious challenge from either Canada’s political class or the fourth estate, created a narrative indicting our country and its founders for “cultural genocide”, featuring a one-sided caricature of the Indian Residential Schools.   Now, after a discovery that adds nothing that was not already contained in the TRC Report, left-wing radicals egged on by the mendacious and meretricious media, have gone far beyond the TRC in their defamatory accusations of murder against the schools and their Pol Potish demands that we “cancel” our country, her history, and her historical figures.   It is about time that we stood up to these thugs who in their envy and hatred of those who did what they themselves could never do by building our country wish to tear it all down.   It is slightly encouraging that the Conservatives were able to stop the motion by Jimmy Dhaliwal’s Canada-hating socialist party to have Parliament declare the Residential Schools to have been a genocide.   I didn’t think they had the kives – the Finnish word for “stones” the bearing of which as a last name by a local reporter brings to mind how the biggest man in Robin Hood’s band of Merry Men was called “Little John” – to do so.

For anyone looking for more information about the side of the Indian Residential Schools story that the Left wants suppressed I recommend Stephen K. Roney’s Playing The Indian Card: Everything You Know About Canada’s “First Nations” is WRONG!, Bonsecours Editions, 2018 and From Truth Comes Reconciliation: An Assessment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report, edited by Rodney A. Clifton and Mark DeWolf and just published by the Frontier Centre for Public Policy here in Winnipeg earlier this year.

Since the progressive wackos are calling for Canada Day to be cancelled, I encourage you this July 1st to fly the old Red Ensign, sing “God Save the Queen” and “The Maple Leaf Forever”, raise your glass to Sir John and celebrate Dominion Day with gusto.   The only thing we need to be ashamed of in Canada is the way we have let these ninnies who are constantly apologizing for everything Canada has been and done in the past walk all over us.   While I seldom recommend emulating Americans in this case I say that it is time we forget about our customary politeness and take up the attitude of old Merle, who sang “When they’re runnin’ down my country, man, They’re walkin’ on the fightin’ side of me”.  — Gerry T. Neal Labels: Egerton Ryerson, Jagmeet Singh, John A. MacDonald, John Lukacs, Mark DeWolf, Merle Haggard, Nikole Hannah-Jones, Pol Pot, Raphael Lemkin, Reaksa Himm, Rodney Clifton, Stephen K. Roney, Year Zero