I. When your not so humble host happens to get frustrated, there exists an assortment of methodologies he employs to ameliorate this debilitating psychological condition. One way is to walk up to a brick wall, cordially introduce myself to this wall, then proceed to bash my head against it seven or eight times. Another technique, which some persons might deem anomalous, if not odd, is to engage in a conversation with my household appliances. My blender - whom I have named Mr. Swirly - tends to bleat rather vociferously when the right buttons are pushed. More often than not, however, such conversations tend to be one-sided. Nonetheless, it is a helpful exercise. Indeed, my frustration over particular affairs of the day is alleviated, by degrees significant, whenever I partake in such cerebral assuagements. Alas, there still remain those situations so stupefying that none of these remedies will remit this frustration. One such irremediable event was the cancellation of The Love Boat. The comedic interplay between Gopher and Doc always had me in stitches, let alone Isaac's antics whilst tending bar. The cessation of that TV series was a personal tragedy and nothing can be done to placate my disappointment at that injustice. A comparable frustration, seemingly never to recede, relates to that diehard Myth of the Noble Savage. About this time last year I wrote an lengthy essay regarding this myth within a Canadian Catholic context. The reader may peruse it here.
II. This myth is reintroduced because a recently issued report indicates the CCCB has uploaded a new page at its website, on Canada's Aboriginal peoples. So yours truly hopped on over to the Star Chamber's virtual headquarters and commenced an assessment. The web page provides a synopsis of the Church in the New World, with commentary on missions and some saints involved therewith. There is an image of what appears to be pagan tapestry and a photograph (copyright Osservatore Romano) showing the Holy Father greeting an Indian chief, with the ubiquitous Archbishop Weisgerber grinning in the background. That Sparkles, what a guy. The web article concludes with some "Contemporary Reflections" on... ummm, frustration is now setting in so let's put on the brakes for a few moments...
III. Before diving in, at this point it should be underscored that there exists a clear-cut reason why the boys devoted a new web page to Canada's "First Nations" people - a label, one speculates, that would have displeased John A., especially if liquored up, but that's another story. It's plausible the hipsters down Ottawa way took a cue from the recent romanticization of the Mi'kmaq on the East Coast, as profiled in the now defunct Atlantic Catholic. Shazam! See the pagan berserker front cover here. Reportedly, however, the page was launched to coincide with the feast day of St. Marguerite Bourgeoys, Canada's first female saint. But more likely than not, statistically speaking I mean, the web page production looks to be another dissimulation. That is, a knee-jerk reaction to the controversy, starting last November, surrounding reports of execrable living conditions suffered by the Cree at Attawapiskat in northern Ontario. The story made national headlines and its propped importance will fade out when the next hot news item peaks the "national interest". Such destitute existences for Indians in Canada as a whole have been known for decades. So why this issue suddenly gained momentum probably means that certain individuals with (cough) self-congratulatory propensities are currently in need of informing everyone about their humanitarianism. Watch OWN-TV to see an example of what I mean. Speaking of decades, since the 1970s Canada's bishops have conducted numerous "fact finding" tours, performed "interventions", proposed "initiatives", composed multitudinous tracts, all whining about military activity, gas pipeline incursions, industrial activity - let's just call it "progress" - affecting Indian-designated lands. These documents have awkwardly grandiose titles such as Let Justice Flow Like a Mighty River, taken from Amos 5:24. To me, the title is reminiscent of some boring, mostly unwatched film directed by Robert Redford. But that's just me.
IV. Unless you've been your getting Catholic news and info from the usual unreliable sources (hello there Pete and Glen and Pedro and Jim), the behemothic transnational corporation that goes by the name of "Social Justice" has been the bane of Catholicism since Vatican II. Basically meaning, corporal works of mercy have overtaken, effectively annulled, spiritual works of mercy. Factor in the nullification of Catholic morality as well. The exemplar of this Marxist corporatism in Canada is an organization called Development and Peace, managed by Nu-Church fossils, thoroughly cosseted by the CCCB - itself abetted (let's not forget) by Mr. Roarke and his team of trusty Tatoo's at the Salt and Light Media Foundation. Smiles, everyone. So what we are witnessing with respect to this latest cause célèbre, e.g. Attawapiskat, is feigned "care" within the framework of "social justice", emotionally driven and, as with any emotion, its duration will be ephemeral. Accordingly, like the MSM, certain individuals populating the offices at 2500 Don Reid Drive are jumping on the Bandwagon of Concern, drafted up another bogus, never-to-be-seriously-considered document (or web page in this case), saying the right words just to show the right people that it really does "care" about the circumstance of Canada's Aboriginals. An easy cause to advocate, void of risk, retaliation or criticism from the secular intelligentsia, from whom CCCB apparatchiks always hope to get an approving wink. Thusly, we read stuff like this from an editorial in the Catholic Register relating to Attawapiskat:
Archbishop James Weisgerber of Winnipeg ranks as the most important issue facing Canadian society today - forging a new relationship between the First Nations, Metis and Inuit people and the rest of Canada.The "most important issue facing Canadian society", eh? Over and above abortion? A bishop made that statement? That's just super duper. Well, at least he didn't mention his enthusiastic support for the D+P campaign against bottled water. "Forging a new relationship"? What does that mean precisely? And, hey, did you notice? CR referenced +Weisgerber in an editorial piece nearly concurrent with the date release of the new CCCB page that - Heavens to Murgatroyd! - embeds a photo of said bishop. That Sparkles, what a guy.
V. Another issue to which the CCCB machine has complained involved past government defunding of Aboriginal programs. The underlying assumption for this grievance, implicit to the Fabianist outlook, is that, by simply funnelling more and more money into a problem (i.e. "forging a new relationship" again and again), this problem will actually, eventually get solved. The CR editorial evidently takes this stance too:
Canada would benefit from a well-funded plan to attack child and maternal health on native reserves... the Harper government should attack native health care with the same gusto it brought to its overseas initiative. For aboriginal women, that means access to professional prenatal services and ongoing medical care and parenting support well after pregnancy. For children, it means building healthy environments that provide clean water, proper nutrition, warm clothes and mould-free housing that comes with heat, electricity and plumbing... First Nation, Metis and Inuit children have a right to a proper education, the key to sustaining a comfortable living standard.Now at this juncture I slap my forehead and then wonder what Captain Stubing would think. Even the somewhat oblivious mariner possessed the mental acuity to respond with these questions: For how many decades has such funding been effectuated? How many failed programs - purportedly developed to address Native health, housing, nutrition, education, utilities access, etc. - have there been over the years? Has there been any significant improvement in the overall welfare of the native population in recent times? No, obviously. Case in point: Attawapiskat. Appalling living conditions at other reserves are yet to capture the limelight and just might do so in due course.
VI. So, then, what's going on here? Yes, there is the issue of tribal chiefs, through whatever machination, apportioning a good part of government funding to satiate whatever fancy. We also got the casinos, tax exemptions on booze, cheap cigarettes and other encouragements to vice. The Indian Act of 1876 needs to be revamped. Better that it be scrapped altogether, I say. Though this won't happen in the near future, judging by what PM Harper said at the recent summit with FN chiefs: "Our government has no grand scheme to repeal or unilaterally rewrite the Indian Act. After 136 years, that tree has deep roots. Blowing up the stump would leave a big hole". Mr. Steve takes the "incrementalist" approach, which seems to be a euphemism for waiting on future poll results to determine what direction to take. Nonetheless, the aforementioned are mere symptoms of an underlying disorder. At core, the "Indian problem" and the apparent inability to resolve it comes down to policies, themselves a function of values. Values, not socio-economic welfare, should and must be of foremost concern from the Catholic perspective.
VII. So, then again, what of these policies and values? Here, let me provide you with a short course on How to Discombobulate a Catholic Careerist: Policies that promote endless funding for a bottomless pit of programs, demonstrated repeatedly to be ineffective, are rooted, in a secular sense, with the fallacious notion that Western civilization (or, specifically, Canadian society with its foundational precepts and mores since 1867) is not superior to the variegated cultures of Indian tribes (nota bene: "civilization" indicates a much wider range of awareness, activity and accomplishment than does "culture"). Cartier and Champlain came, they saw, they conquered - and good golly Miss Molly this drives liberals bonkers. Therefore, every non-Aboriginal Canuck, particularly those of West European stock, must feel guilty and undergo retroactive reprimand for national accomplishments supposedly done at the expense of the country's earliest inhabitants who, yes, happened to be primitive. The former are eternally indebted to the latter in whatever manner the Antinomian Left deems pertinent, or anything else it conjures up at those committee meetings with the free croissants and mocha lattes. In a spiritual sense - meaning views of the CCCB and its allied boomer careerists entrained within Church structures, it is based on the wicked notion that Catholicism, as a religion and attendant values, is effectively equivalent to the animistic paganism of the Cree, Huron, Iroquois, Inuit, Metis or suchlike tribes. Respect, you know. This ecumaniacal relativizing, of course, is justified often by citing an ideational monster called Multiculturalism. Policies anchored on this ideology were emplaced, indeed enforced, by Trudeau and company in the early 1970s. They are still in effect as of 2012 AD... oops, I meant 2012 CE. We don't want to offend anyone by expressly mentioning the YEAR OF OUR LORD. Ooops, again. Apologies for the capitalization. Having trouble with my keyboard.
VIII. In a sense - a very strong one, Canada is no longer a nation. Rather, the country is a mosaic of juxtaposed yet disconnected cultural units (like tribes, ironically), each possessing its own value set with whatever degree of assertiveness (i.e. power). Differences between groups are exaggerated, promoted, and the strongest rise to the top of whichever power structure. Caveat: groups with any colouring of "white", "Western", "European", "colonialist" or "imperialist" are invariably penalized, if not altogether disallowed from playing this game. For Indian reserves, then, this apartness - much more so than Quebec as a "distinct society" - is not only reflected by a wretched socio-economic situation, but also in spatial remoteness. Reserves are located in the boonies, faraway from metropolitan centres, whereat opportunity is rife. Even at the sparsely populated Nunavut town of Resolute (229 people based on the 2006 census), an Inuit hamlet exists at the outskirts of this transportation hub for research scientists. There's one for Ripley's Believe It or Not. Accordingly, in the wacky world of Multiculturalism, overemphasis on cultural differences inevitably leads to extreme inter-cultural disparities intra-nationally. Legitimate complaints against those cultural attitudes and views, Aboriginal or not, antithetical to Western sensibilities must only be discussed in muted tones at the office water cooler. If spoken aloud in the public square, be prepared to be assailed with words like fascist, bigot, racist, xenophobe, intolerant and, perhaps, to receive a visit from this intrepid CBC reporter...
Mary, darling, you look rather savage in that outfit, yet still noble in your pose. Would you agree? ...you ...you feisty little muffin.
IX. On that note, we return to the newfangled CCCB web page. What really interests me is the "Contemporary Reflections" section, the title itself being a giveaway. Enter the guilt complex syndrome, Stage Left:
Today Catholics, like other Canadians, are becoming more aware of how their relationships with Indigenous peoples have often been marked by imperialism and colonialism.That handy canard always works in the bubble-world of liberal self-contempt. Incidentally, use of the word "marked" is code for "oppressed". The assertion here, tacitly, is that European powers were largely nefarious in their explorations of the Americas, in their establishment of settlements, in bringing advanced technologies, instituting legal systems, introducing Christianity, and so forth. I've already quoted the following remarks in previous posts. Again, it's worth reiterating Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn's devastatingly demythologizing observation:
There is, of course, nothing evil and nothing extraordinary about colonialism. It is the inevitable result of a historical law according to which not only nature, but also political geography, does not tolerate a vacuum. Where no effective resistance can be expected, other powers, other nations, other tribes will occupy, dominate, and administer an area. Our history could not be imagined without the forces of colonialism constantly at work.Now, obviously, such impeccable logic and factuality doesn't even cross the minds of those hardcore believers in the historical revisionism found in textbooks churned out by the academe over the last 40+ years, if not garnered from viewing History Channel documentaries (you know, that channel that broadcasts Ancient Aliens marathons). That is the meaning of "becoming more aware". So much does the CCCB believe colonialism a spectre to be exorcized, so much is it shameful of the past, so much does it want acquiescence with non-Catholic faith systems, so much does it desire to prostrate itself before the secular media, so much does it need to dilute, if not omit, the exceptional and supremely beneficial achievements of Catholicism in Canada (pre-V2), that we find this commentary:
There were always those missionaries who established relationships with Native Peoples that were marked by profound respect and mutuality as well as dedicated service. While some of their actions may be criticized today in the light of new understandings, they were first and foremost men and women of the Gospel who, within their human limitations, tried to act with love and compassion... However, it must be acknowledged that the missionary endeavour was deeply marked by the prevailing attitudes of the superiority of European culture. When this conviction was translated into social action in the 19th Century, it manifested itself in a paternalistic model of charity which at times expressed itself as protection of Native rights and freedoms and at other times took the form of coercion and control. [TH2 emphasis]At first glance this seems a balancing act to come across as moderate in viewpoint, affirming good aspects, decrying those not so good - which is why some text is bolded, to emphasize the duplicity involved.
X. What is amazing - more so than Bill Shatner's toupee - is the nonchalant manner by which "actions" of missionaries are inferred as disgraceful based on the "light of new understandings". The reader will notice that no specific action or missionary is given as an example to bolster this claim, and "new understandings" is deliberately phrased vaguely because the wheeler-dealers on the banks of the St. Lawrence don't want to be too explicit in what they really mean by the term, i.e. Modernism. You see, missionaries "tried to act with love and compassion" and erroneously exercised a "paternalistic model of charity". Oh goodie, according to the CCCB, paternalistic charity - occurrent and successful for two millennia in exotic lands like, say, the Indian subcontinent, the African subtropics and (let me check my atlas...) the Northern Hemisphere - is substandard and, presently, outdated. This is news to me. Apparently, I've forgotten to turn on, tune in and drop out because such has been the case since the Summer of 69. Charity is now expected to be principally maternal in its implementation, or at least that's implied. It certainly sounds like feelings and feminization now rule the day. Does this mean all Indian reserves have the right to a free supply of Dove's Body Wash for Men? Anyhow, why must the apologetic disposition be incessant and the exclusive domain of Catholics? As if the relatively insignificant sins of a few are unforgiveable and, by implication, yield a rationale for downgrading Catholicism as such to the lowest plane of primal paganism.
XI. Yes, abuses occurred because of "human limitations", which methinks also applies to past Aboriginal "actions": slavery, incidents of cannibalism, inter-tribal warfare, the horrific killing of St. Jean de Brébeuf and so forth. Now that's "coercion and control" par excellence. Moreover, let's not forget those "actions" whereof the natural environment was, as the kidz say, disrespected. If your worldview is informed by the disinformation disseminated by CBC Grand Inquisitor David Suzuki, you'd think that indigenous peoples cherished nature, were "one" with it, conscientious of its value when exploiting it for whatever purpose. Thus rambles Dave:
For many hunter-gather groups, protecting the spirits of the animals they kill is a sacred responsibility. Performing proper rituals, killing no more than they need and wasting no part of their prey are all ways in which they express gratitude and acknowledge their dependence on these animals.Fascinating, that. Although, if we bypass Dave's tree-humping claptrap and dig into the historical record we discover delectable tidbits like this...That was the tactic by which the Blackfoot hunted bison. Whole herds, numbering in the hundreds, would be rounded up, frightened, then channelled to run off cliffs for an quick and easy kill. Did somebody say extinction? Brilliant method, I say. Yet one wonders how PETA would react? Wonder what the reaction would be if Maple Leaf Foods, inspired by that WKRP in Cincinnati episode, decided that a more cost-effective way of ending the lives of chickens would be to drop them en masse over Downsview Park from a squadron of Sikorsky helicopters? Or how about "broadcast burning"? Fires were purposely lit to clear land, making animals better detectible during the hunt. These fires covered thousands of hectares and frequently grew uncontrollable, into conflagrations. Bambi doth protest - and not too much, methinks. Though don't bother mentioning these facts during the First Nations session at the next Plenary Assembly in Cornwall - you'll get banned, just like LifeSite News. Omission is my name and pretense is the game!
XII. You know, there is confabulation and then there is transcendental confabulation. Rose, on the Golden Girls, was very good at the latter, the best I've heretofore witnessed. While casually chatting, she would say utterly preposterous things with a demeanour of utmost seriousness. However, it appears Rose has finally met her match: "it must be acknowledged that the missionary endeavour was deeply marked by the prevailing attitudes of the superiority of European culture". Hmmmm... the person who wrote that line in all likelihood did it with a straight face... while typing on a 40 Gigabyte hard drive computer with SurroundSound stereo speakers and wireless router access to the internet which, if I remember correctly, contains nearly every available idea or information bit cognized by more or less every human being since, roughly, 10000 BC. Forsooth, Al Gore didn't invent the internet and, based my knowledge of the archaeological record, neither did the Mohawks or Ojibway or, for that matter, the always-hilarious Rose Nyland. From Gander to Vancouver Island, I've heard no reports of excavations discovering prototypes of a telecommunication cable with packet switching capabilities, no remnants of what might be considered to be a steam engine or the Clapper, no scrolls with mathematical-like notations or symbology prefiguring asymptotic expansions of Bessel functions, no wood or stone inscriptions outlining polities analogous to Plato's Republic. Well, enough of that. The easily refutable falsehood that European civilization isn't a superior one is dealt with in the aforelinked essay, linked again here.
XIII. Still, a minor point on the superiority question in the context of technology. Take, for instance, a rifle versus a crossbow. Both are weapons, the former wielded by Europeans, the latter by Natives. In the affair of conflict, both are used to kill another human being, be it justly in a formally declared war or, as anti-colonialists like to overstate as regards the treatment of Native peoples, unjustly in the form of whatever criminal/malicious deed. The proficiency by which the Europeans killed was considerably greater than that of Natives (i.e. with the superior technology of rifles more persons could be killed within lesser time and spatial scales, just as a Vulcan chain gun supersedes a .22 calibre rifle). The Blackfoot brandished a bow and Europeans buckshot. Yet this does not intimate that a proficient Western killer is less noble than an Aboriginal killer. To kill is to kill, and its prohibition is based on principle, not the effectiveness of the action. If someone transgresses a law, be it criminal or other, does this mean the law as such is at fault? Therefore, the freely chosen act of killing must be distinguished from weapons used to commit such an act. Technology, regardless of advancement level, is not evil. It is the manner by which it is used that is evil. That is, human behaviour not living up to a standard. One other thing: tribal denizens of the New World didn't necessarily need "European invaders" (as Dave says) to trigger their demise. The archaeological record evidences that this could be done by themselves, or that societal decline was actuated by other factors, like environmental change coupled with the inability for adaptation. Example: the disappearance Mayans occurred circa 900 AD, well before the arrival of Cortés et allia, even a century prior to when the Vikings ventured along the Newfoundland coast.
XIV. Considering all of the above, what we have in the new CCCB web page on Canada's indigenous people, as with most of its related issuances since the 1970s, is an act of subservience to the god of Political Correctness. My opinion otherwise might have been less harsh had another subject therein been broached (see concluding paragraph). Cannot help but think that the exercise is one of those countless occasions when Whitey apologizes to Crowfoot for all the subjugation and, to make up for it, we're going to talk nicely about you and "celebrate" your ways and rituals, overlook your past faults, because in reality we Catholics deserve all the blame for all your travails. We won't propose our religion as a viable, real and truthful alternative, as we are quite ashamed of it and its past. Instead, we submit unto you, accept your worldview as entirely authentic, and want to learn from your spirituality. To boot, we will passionately petition for, and endorse, constant funding for your material well-being from any monetary source or agency because, well, you always were, are and will forever be a victim. You are therefore entitled. Correlatively, we find this verbosity in Let Justice Flow Like a Mighty River:
What was lost, or nearly so, was the free expression and celebration of the spirituality of the first Peoples of this land. This weakening of the spirit of the Native Peoples was the most profound loss at the heart of the more obvious losses of Native culture and land... it has also been a lost opportunity of enrichment for this country and our Church... we are profoundly in need of learning the values from the wise spirituality of the original Peoples....and with these melodramatics the CCCB instills within itself a cozy but false sense of virtue, only affectively elevating itself above everyone else of non-Aboriginal origin. In actuality, this mush only encourages envy on the part of Aboriginals, augmenting the differences between "us and them". You have to wonder: Does the CCCB really want the First Nations to be self-sufficient and happy? If such a situation came to be, it would then be unable to nationally showcase its "concern" for the Aboriginal sector of Canada's downtrodden population. It would then have to move onto (and does so routinely) the next subject of "concern" (mainly secular in aspect) found on that endless roster of causes coming under the banner of "Social Justice" (reports are now out that the boys are preparing a new document on "climate change"). What the Star Chamber does is to romanticize the proverbial gutter - by focussing solely on corporal works of mercy and superelevating Aboriginal paganism, it effectively keeps the very people it allegedly wants to help in this gutter. When a class of people are perpetually told that they are victimized by colonialist/imperialist forces enlivened by a "falsely" proclaimed European-Christian superiority, the real message relayed to these people is that they have not the ability, the potential or even any hope of escaping from this so-called state of oppression. Entitlement is the only option. No value incentive for betterment, not even one inspirited by 2000 years of Catholic tradition, is offered except for surreal animistic-inspired platitudes and solaces issuing downward from the "Spirit of the Sky" - and therefore we come to the crux of this pathetic dilemma.
XV. Readers unfamiliar with this blog might, after reaching this point in the post, consider its host to be abrasive and mean-spirited. No objection. Though these bloggeristics don't translate into an opinion that rejects any and all aid to Canada's indigenous peoples. To the contrary. The nitty gritty of running programs or subsidizing funds for the material benefit of a people who have suffered greatly belongs in the secular sphere. The government plays a singular role. As Catholics, we have a dual role. We are in the world, but not of it. Again, the immanent/transcendent collocation which, in the context of the subject addressed herein, can also be articulated as a corporal/spiritual (works of mercy) collocation. Problem is, corporal works of mercy, transmogrified into "social justice" over the last 4+ decades, have completely overtaken spiritual works of mercy. The CCCB has facilitated this process to the n'th degree. Do you think the bishops will admonish sinners during the next Plenary at Cornwall? Do you think they will initiate an all-out campaign on teaching Aboriginals the basics, beliefs and - yes - morals - of Roman Catholicism, including the Rosary, devotions and proscriptions against animistic paganism? And all this done with the ultimate intention being to - dread the word! - convert? These questions cannot be answered because the subjects are not moot. The CCCB already has submitted to the religion of the elders, euphemistically stated as being "profoundly in need of learning the values from the wise spirituality of the original Peoples". That's a no go, boys. So, rather than this kowtowing, Catholics must lift up Canada's Aboriginal peoples, not drag them down by inculcating senses of victimization and entitlement. How is this done? Jesus Christ and Our Lady first. That's where it all starts. Everything else follows. Not vice versa. Right? But, you see, there is a cadre of apostatic criminals who would be both aghast and contemptuous of such a proposal. Unfortunately, they have within their control mechanisms in place to prevent it from ever being considered as a solution.
Frustration, frustration. So, Mr. Swirly, how ya doin today?...
NOTES / REFERENCES
1. D. Gyapong, "Bishops create webpage on the Church, aboriginals", Catholic Register, January 18, 2012.
2. The Catholic Church in Canada and Indigenous Peoples, Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, January 13, 2012.
3. N. Myshak, "Membertou 400 A Chance for Renewal, Says Sister of St. Martha", Atlantic Catholic, June 12, 2010, vol. VIII, no. 19, pp. 1, 6, 10.
4. See, for example, R. Lux, "Hundreds homeless in Attawapiskat", Timmins Daily Press, November 2011; O. Ross, "For Attawapiskat residents, life is a constant struggle", Toronto Star, November 29, 2011.
5. See a timeline of these documents/letters in J. Chafe, B. Dufresne, J.-C. Éthier and J. Leddy, Let Justice Flow Like a Mighty River, Brief by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops to the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (Ottawa: Concacan Incorporated, 1995), Appendix A, pp. 38-45.
6. "Make a new start with First Nations leaders", Catholic Register, January 17, 2012.
8. Quoted in K. Kirkup, "Harper says Tories won't scrap Indian Act", Toronto Sun, January 24, 2012.
9. E. von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, Leftism, From de Sade and Marx to Hitler and Marcuse (New Rochelle, NY: Arlington House Publishers, 1974), p. 340.
10. D. Suzuki, The Sacred Balance, Discovering our Place in Nature (Toronto: Douglas & McIntyre, 1997), p. 50.
11. D. Suzuki, Inventing the Future, Reflections on Science, Technology and Nature (Toronto: Stoddart Publishing Company Limited, 1989), p. 234.
12. Op. cit., p. 20.