Walls, Bridges, Homes is a series of essays written in response to the emerging global appetite for a progressive narrative around inclusion and immigration. The series frames the thematic focus of 6 Degrees Citizen Space, a forum presented by the Institute for Canadian Citizenship.
So reads the intro to a full page opinion piece by John Ralston Saul in last Saturday's Globe and Mail. The forum in question is open to the public - for a price! Yes, dear citizen, you too can witness important thinkers of "progressive" thoughts reaffirm one another's greatness! The great Ai Wei Wei will be on hand, together with a goodly slice of the Canadian literary establishment. At a mere $65 to $175 per ticket, it's a bargain, at least for the kind of people who like to name drop; "I was at a conference last week, and asked _______________ (fill in the name of your choosing, although it's obvious that the big draw here is Ai Wei Wei) to clarify their theory of ____________."
Of course, once you've paid for your ticket you're no longer involved as a citizen, but as a consumer.
So JRS (Saul has a ways to go before his initials get the same instant recognition as the initials BHL, but I'm doing my best to help raise his profile) and his wife start an "Institute," they have fund-raising forums, and the Globe and Mail donates tens of thousands in free advertising by way of a "series of essays..."
Hmm... are the people writing this ad copy also being paid for it by the Globe? No wonder they don't make money on ads anymore. The old model, wherein advertisers pay the paper, has been completely turned upside down!
Anyway, lets have a look at JRS's essay, The bridges we must build, right here at home.
The first quarter or so is an incoherent ramble about how some white Europeans invented racism, "the Westphalian model," and spread it all over the world. It's part of "our imperial inheritance," and "we took it up with enthusiasm."
Sorry, John; "we," meaning white settlers in North America, didn't take it up, enthusiastically or otherwise. We brought it with us. The colonial project was always about the dispossession of the indigenous population. There was no golden age when settler and native lived in egalitarian harmony. True, there are many examples of various First Nations having alliances of convenience with various settler groups (British, French, Spanish, Dutch) in the many wars that wracked the continent from the late fifteenth century forward, but the over-arching theme was always one of destroying the natives and stealing their land.
Saul then segues into a discussion of the "migrant crisis" that struck Europe in 2015. Apparently this crisis is due primarily to the lack of a sufficient bureaucracy within the EU to handle this population in-flow in an orderly manner. Yup, all those refugees from Iraq and Syria and Afghanistan and Libya would have caused nary a ripple if the EU nations had proper policies and sufficient bureaucrats. There is no hint that there might be some connection between US/NATO foreign policy in those countries and the migrant crisis.
This is of course complete bullshit. The vast majority of actual refugees are fleeing the death and destruction visited on their countries by ourselves and our allies. Suggesting otherwise is beyond dishonest; it is propaganda for a blinkered and profoundly racist world-view that seeks to shift responsibility for our crimes against humanity to unfortunate policy failures and faceless bureaucrats.
Saul wraps things up with a patronising tribute to the great comeback Canada's Indians are making. Sure, we can celebrate, if we are so inclined, the inclusion of Indian writers in the canon of the Canlit establishment, but what's that worth to a teenager in Attawapiskat?
JRS concludes with this, addressed to First Nations; "...one of the first things you do is show respect by saying thank you. That is how bridges begin to be built."
In other words, we stole your land, we destroyed your culture, we're still killing your kids, but we are deeply grateful to you.
Please appreciate our heartfelt respect.