Vimy Ridge. Never again.

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Unionist
Vimy Ridge. Never again.

I have not heard a single voice of dissent - of reality - in the mainstream media with regard to the horrendous slaughter that was World War I. Youth of today will need to be brave and persistent if they are to break through the militarist triumphalism and find the truth. And learn the proper lessons for the future.

Here's a powerful song launched yesterday by Richard Desjardins. Please listen and read. And let me know if anyone wants a quick translation.

Vimy

We will remember them.

6079_Smith_W

Not to mention the lie about that slaughterhouse being the thing that created this country, when many people here wanted nothing to do with that war.

I have read and heard dissenting opinions in the media. But there are far more who are still slinging the nonsense that Harper was pushing so hard. It is bad enough that Remembrance Day has been co-opted by pro-militarists. This big lie is even worse.

(edit)

This isn't one of the articles I was talking about, but I just looked again and was surprised that even Macleans used the occasion to bust that balloon:

http://www.macleans.ca/news/canada/vimy-ridge-myth-4-canada-became-a-nat...

 

Unionist

May 23, 2007, this article by Prof. Michael Fellman in The Tyee:

Let's Talk About Creeping Canadian Militarism

Quote:

One risks being labeled unpatriotic if one questions either the larger military program or the highly freighted patriotic rhetoric of such occasions. But was Canada really born at Vimy Ridge? I thought it was constructed in 1867 as an economic and political constitutional bargain to head off any potential American threat and serve larger British imperial aims, tied to the material aspirations of the dominant merchants in the Canadian colonies.

But of course, however historically inaccurate, Vimy Ridge makes for the heroic birth of a nation, in bloodshed. (So had the Plains of Abraham, but that was the English conquering the French, which is not a useful victory for purposes of Canadian unity.) National birth in blood sacrifice is important to emphasize when one wants to make the pitch for a current war and the re-militarization of a society.

So, where are we today, ten years later?

 

6079_Smith_W

The CBC radio coverage is actually surprisingly good. Just heard an interview about the propaganda war that existed at the time, to the degree that soldiers at the front published their own paper just to learn what was really going on. There were no regular Canadian media at the front, and the MSM coverage was just about the victory, and complete suppression about how divisive it was. I was expecting some mention; not serious consideration of the differences of opinion. There was also mention of the fact the "nation building" myth was first floated by Lester Pearson in 1967.

lagatta4

Jean Jaurès and Rosa Luxemburg issued stern warnings about the bloodshed to come, brothers killing brothers, workers and farmers killing people just like them in a squablble among crowned heads and industrialists.  As Desjardins reminds us. 

Here in Montréal, David Fennario wrote the play Motherhouse some years ago. It is about a munitions factory in Verdun (named for one of the bloodiest battles in the "Great War").

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

The stats on who volunteered are very interesting when one drills down below the Conscription Crisis narrative of French versus English.  It seems that our volunter army was primarily British born immigrants going back to serve the Empire. Most everyone else said no thanks. When the conscription notices were sent out around 80% of the men did not reply and of the ones that did reply almost all of them replied asking for various kinds of exemptions from service. If the war had not ended the Conscription Crisis would have turned into a country wide roundup of hundreds of thousands of men who refused to even answer the draft notice.

British-born men made a much greater proportional contribution to the CEF than any other group. Of the roughly 300,000 men born in Great Britain and British possessions, 72 percent volunteered their services, and 63 percent were posted overseas. The comparable figures for the eligible Canadian-born male population were 20 and 18 percent, respectively.

http://encyclopedia.1914-1918-online.net/article/recruitment_and_conscri...

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

Thing 2 had to do a major project on WWI for her history class - paper, analysis of a source for the paper, an ethical argument relating to the subject and a public presentation. She chose aboriginal soldiers as a topic.

I'd proposed a doc on this some time ago, but hadn't revisited the material for several years. Something like 1 in 3 First Nations men who were eligible to serve volunteered. File Hills saw every one of their young men sign up. More than 4000 men, and rarely mentioned.

She did a pretty good analysis of the subject and provided a well-written short piece blasting the ethics of accepting the service of these men and then returning to them to the reserve system and denying them the benefits given to white servicemen. Certainly a more challenging subject than some of the other choices, like war machines and technology of WWI.

NDPP

I had an old uncle who fought at Vimy and told me all about it as a kid. Never touched upon whether it was right or wrong but lots of horrible stories of the conditions of death and destruction, including the bayonetting of German prisoners.  I still remember his little boyish photo with his army details and the big lion underneath, just above the frame, and the caption; "For King and Country."

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

After all the Canadian casualties up to and including Vimy Ridge no sane person would enlist to die in the trenches.    Pierre Berton in Marching as to War wrote about those who obeyed the compulsory registration under the 1918 Military Services Act;

Of the 401,882 who registered under the Act, 379,629 sought exemptions.  P200

NorthReport

Thanks for starting this thread Unionist.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

The 75th anniversary of the Japanese Internment is at the same time as the Vimy Ridge rememberances.  Least we forget the Japanese Candians who volunteered to fight in WWI and then 25 years later were interned.

By 1926, the veterans had established their own branch of the Canadian Legion — Branch #9. Through it and with the help of other veterans, they continued to lobby for the vote.

The battle was won April 1, 1931. Legion president Masumi Matsui and secretary-treasurer Kobuta witnessed the vote in the legislature. The motion passed by a vote of 19 to 18.

Back at the cenotaph to celebrate, Kubota read a poem he’d written to the 20 men he’d recruited and who were buried somewhere in France.

“Although you are gone you are not dead

Surely the setting sun will rise again for you

Your heroic spirit will live in our hearts

We take the torch from your hand to fight and carry on.”

The hard-won gain of the veterans was short-lived. It was extinguished along with the cenotaph’s eternal flame in the days that followed Japan’s Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor.

During the next few years, the veterans were among 22,000 Japanese-Canadians forced into internment camps.

http://www.vancouversun.com/Japanese+Canadians+fought+their+country+acce...

NorthReport

Well said krop.

lagatta4

Yes, not among the moments the Feds want us to recall in "The Story of Us"...