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Sean Carleton @SeanCarleton
, 9 tweets, 4 min read Read on Twitter
1. With a twitter essay I wrote last year about confronting #JohnAMacdonald's controversial legacy with political cartoons from his OWN time making the rounds again, I wanted to offer a few new thoughts about "political correctness" + changing historical interpretation #cdnhist
2. I am currently reviewing a new book "Sketches from an Unquiet Country" for the Canadian Historical Review (CHR) that deals with political cartoons in #cdnhist:…
3. I came across an interesting example of how one artist, John Wilson Bengough, offered "politically correct," or changing interpretations, on the War of 1885 - waged by Canada with Macdonald as prime minister - through political cartoons. This is in a chapter by Robyn Fowler.
4. This first image, by Bengough in Grip, conveys enthusiasm for Macdonald waging war against Riel, the Metis, and Indigenous peoples in 1885, with "Miss Canada" encouraging troops from Ontario to go fight. This was standard sabre-rattling, in keeping with majority colonial view.
5. Just the next year, however, 1886, the same artist in the same publication offered a sympathetic view, where "Miss Canada" offers a "Redress of Wrongs" medal to an Indigenous soldier, which can be read as a critique of the Macdonald government's actions, execution of Riel etc.
6. It is thus frustrating, as a historian, to see people today cry foul/crying "political correctness," when people changing their minds about certain actions (including those taken by JAM - see the first image, too) was exactly what people in #Macdonald's OWN time were doing.
7. These cartoons are just the tip of the iceberg, but they show that changing our minds about #Macdonald and his role in waging war against Indigenous peoples, starving them deliberately, initiating a genocidal school system is NOT new. It was how he was treated in HIS time.
8. As a result, we should embrace decisions like the one to remove the #Macdonald statue in Victoria - not as erasing history, or whitewashing it - but, like was done in JAM's own time, grappling with and criticizing his abhorrent actions, instead of uncritically celebrating him.
9. Doing so, I think, is historically responsible + reflects a spirit of reconciliation, as long as we can use the JAM debate to fuel more meaningful, systemic change to Canada's ONGOING colonial treatment of Indigenous peoples. #cdnhist #cdnpoli #Macdonald
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