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Residential school abuse (6 July 2009)

You ask the average liberal, university-educated Cdn, how native indians were likely treated by Christians, in any context, throughout Canada's history, and s/he would say, awful, beyond awful, and would instantly summon to mind the horrors described here. And they would be right in their assessment.

And if you asked him/her how native indians treated their own children before Western "advance," what would they say? "With dignity," "with respect," "in the spirit of the warrior," or some other some such. Would they ever consider that the upbringing might have been as bad, or even worse? No way: regardless of the truth of the matter. If such a thought entered his/her head for but an instant, s/he would have half a chance of going completely mad. We cannot bear the thought, the momentary consideration, because we are still so simple we cannot distance ourselves from concluding that if native indians were -- on a mass scale -- horribly abusive to their own children before anyone else got to them, that somehow Christian education/abuse would be redeemed, that somehow they are not so worthy of societal respect and support.

There are truths that cannot bear the light of day, for liberals to consider. Hope they brave doing so, before a conservative-turning nation makes opportune use of their soft spot, the weakness in their defense.

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re: I think your thesis requires more elaboration.

I'm not sure whatever the 'situation' was relative to pre-contact First Nations 'civilization' that it has anything whatever to do with this debate.

In fact, I'd go so far as to suggest it is completely irrelevant. Absent, of course some more persuasive logic from you. [. . .]

In my view it smacks of 'blaming the victim' and I think that's the kind of thing which ought to, as you put it, give (liberals or anyone who advances that thesis) half a chance...of going completely mad' (G West, Response to post, Christine McLaren, “‘This is how they tortured me’,” The Tyee, July 6 2009)

The right can make the left seem primarily interested in using native indians to make Christian conservatives look bad. They can show the left as actually being rather uncomfortable with native american’ way of life, when it isn't "massaged," domesticated, into a preferred "storyline." And the left can/will be left thinking that it defended native indians assuming them constitutionally/communally in tune with harmonious rhythms (or some such) -- the antithesis of everything right-wing, closed-minded, oppressive/overbearing, foul; when they cannot but sense they've glossed over so much (what they truly will assess/react to as) "stink," they'll grimace, if not turn away, and they'll (i.e., they and their steadfast concern to/interest in defend[ing] native indians against further oppression) be done for.

The left is not beyond blaming the victim, unfortunately. One should sense this in its over inflation/estimation of native indian history, way of life. The left is healthy, way healthier than the right, but it is not THAT healthy. I'm doing what I can to get it there.

I am curious, though, if there is any dynamic in a culture oppressed/traumatized/bullied by Europeans that would get you to turn away from them. I hope there isn't any. I can't imagine you turning away, but I could imagine a moment of recoil, self-doubt--and the gasp of horror! this would produce amongst those depending on YOU to be the one who never fails in the defense. For their sake, make sure you can read accounts of native indian life that don't make them seem Earth's noble warriors; pretend for a moment that all such is true; and not experience a moment of doubt as to their worthiness of ongoing, expanding societal support, respect, and love.

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Re: Child rearing in pre-contact North America is worth looking into. I'm sure it wasn't a Disneyland cartoon. I'm with G West though in missing the point of comparing that to the residential school regime. "It was for their own good" makes me gag actually.

Alongside ME2's "Cultural genocide? Hogwash.", I'm very disheartened to find these attitudes even here. I'm optimistic that these viewpoints are a dying breed. We've got some atonement to do, and that starts with admitting mistakes - not excusing them. (mikev, Response to post, “‘This is how they tortured me’”)

mikev: I'm most certainly not saying residential schools were "for their own good." No abuse is ever to be redeemed (and hell, I'm a free-schooler--a true hippie). I'm saying that those interested in redeeming, maybe not residential schools, but western heritage, could begin to point out how the left has (rather sillily) tended to establish a rather romantic estimation of native indian "traditions," seeming to make a NECESSARY link between the desecration of a NOBLE past with need for our collective atonement. No link was necessary--abuse is wrong, in any circumstance. But it's been forged--primarily to set up the right wing, to set up Christians, so they seem especially cruel/evil, and to make it so that it seems we inhabit a world with beings so fantastical and perfect, they make the world seem one especially ready to loose oneself in--a wonderful counter to depression. Destroying the life of another person is never to be redeemed. But this isn't quite the argument they've set up: as I'm trying to explain, it seems to me the argument that's gone around, the particular need for atonement, does not just concern, is not just in, the ill intentions of Christian settlers, but in how they destroyed a simple, noble, essentially perfect people that had found a harmonious way of living with the Earth, we of the West have barely learned to approach. In my mind, if this truth is exposed as myth, as in error, as a near total falsehood, we will not be left with a left that thinks like you and G West do, where they can still very readily say, okay, but that's doesn't excuse you, us, from a collective need for atonement, from expanding societal services to reduce current suffering/exploitation. We will be left with a left that begins to doubt just how much effort they want to spend defending a culture they actually find a bit repugnant.

Think about how many of the left view the GG eating seal' meat "occasion." Do you not sense some of them saying to themselves, I don't know how long this practice has gone on--it could even have been for a millennium, this could never, ever have been how it's been sold to us--a demonstration of culture's harmonious relationship with nature. Some, in my judgment, are coming close to saying to themselves that, no, that's just deer hunting pathos, unredeemable cruelty--savagery, even. They'll never fully admit this, let it percolate too long in conscious thought--because few have the resources for this not to lead to considerable self-laceration, a quick turn against a right that unfortunately no longer is quite so easy to estimate as being quite so very wrong. But deep down they'll be suspecting Blood Meridian-all-is-savagery-Cormac McCarthy got it down right, and abandon the field of fight to those like Ignatieff, so moved to make Canada seem clean, united, uncomplicated, again.

Link: “‘This is how they tortured me’” Christine McLaren


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