Re: Editorial, ‘We can redefine the Genocide word if we want to’
As much as I have agreed with and admired your sense over the years, I must part with you on the position you have taken on the use of the term ”genocide” with respect to Canadian history.
Although the term was coined in relatively recent times — post World -War II — its roots refer to the deliberate, planned, state-sanctioned killing (cide) of a specific race, type, or species (geno). To put Canada in the same category as Hitler, Eichmann and their ilk is not just inaccurate, it is insulting — to scholarship, to history, and to the nation.. Perhaps the sensitivity of your heritage contributed to this view?
I, as a Canadian of Scots and Irish descent, view such things as England’s Corn Laws of the 1800s as deliberate, genocidal attempts to eradicate those Celtic races via starvation. Canada has no such history.
To argue that Canada committed genocide is to adopt the intellectual fluidity of the Mad Hatter in insisting that words
mean precisely what we want them to mean, when we want them to, regardless of common understanding, cultural/intellectual precedent, and literary convention.
Let us call hyperbole when we see it. It is all around us.
I suggest a better word for the situation at issue would be “sociocide,” the eradication of a culture. And have not all invaders done that? Had they not done so, they would have been little more than unsuccessful travellers who abandoned their own heritage. There is no history of such groups. Or rather, they are called “losers”, or “the conquered.”
Despite Canada’s clumsy, shoddy, even negligent history of dealing with indigenous peoples, including the attempted eradication of cultural practices, there has been no official attempt to achieve that goal by the murder of individuals or groups of individuals.
Ironically, Canada’s indigenous tribes waged genuinely genocidal wars against each other. Canada tried, on a cultural/educational level, to take the Indian out of the child, not to kill the child. And it is a matter of record that a majority of murdered native women were murdered by native men. Was that genocide? We are now into the realm of silly.
Thanks for your time.