CONTRIBUTION · 2nd September 2011
Kevin D. Annett
It was that Brit turned Yankee firebrand, Tom Paine, who observed,
“Kings could not exist without priests. First enslave the mind, and the slavery of the body follows as natural as the shadow its object.”
I landed in Toronto yesterday after a month abroad, and was surprised to be let back into the country. I sort of secretly hoped that I’d be detained at the airport by the Mounties and charged with treasonous sedition, after my many public broadsides at Lizzie Windsor. But things are never that upfront and honest, here in the Great White North.
Take the recent demise of Jack Layton, for instance.
I wandered tonight through my old haunts from my Toronto street ministry days, twenty years ago, including across Nathan Phillips square, where loads of homeless families used to squat: most of them aboriginal. They’re all gone on now, forced out by politicians like Layton. In their place, I discovered walls and walls full of chalked graffiti praising the just-dead NDP leader in a manner normally reserved for a messiah.
“LAYTON- NATION LIVES ON”
“JACK LAYTON: THE VOICE OF CANADA’S VOICELESS WILL NEVER DIE”
“WE LOVE YOU JACK”
And so on.
OK, so the guy never once replied to my letters or appeals, even when I was stuck in a British Immigration prison. I’m not bearing him much of a grudge, really. He was, after all, a politician.
What I find hugely ironic, and oh so Canadian, is how none of the people adorning the walls of downtown Toronto with their accolades for Layton have ever managed to do the same thing for any of the thousands of aboriginal children killed off by Jack’s United Church of Canada, which he clung to as a self-described “loyal member” to the day he died.
True to his denomination – whose consistency has sometimes been termed “spiritual jello” - Jack himself never once mentioned the Indian residential school atrocities until after Prime Minister Steven Harper did. Jack even claimed that he didn’t think what went on within those deadly walls constituted genocide. I guess, like the Moderator of his church, Layton thought that 50,000 dead kids can be wrong.
Leaving dead Indians aside – and we usually do – one has to admit that honesty about ourselves is not a strong point among Canadians. And Jack Layton and his United Church so perfectly embody White Canada: smiling, concerned, self-congratulatory, and politically correct and involved just so long as certain toes aren't stepped on and the Great Canadian Myth - that we’re all generally nice, civilized and humanitarian folks – can endure.
It’s this, our sanctimonious untruthfulness, which causes the Americans to hate us so.
On the other hand, during my time on Toronto’s streets as a novice minister, I met some big exceptions to Canadian duplicity, primarily among people who had been at the receiving end of it.
Back in 1991, I seemed to be the only person on staff at the United Church’s Fred Victor Mission who was enthusiastic about the people I was meeting on the hot air grates at the Square. I kept inviting these staffers to accompany me at nights to meet the homeless people they always talked about abstractly, but none of them ever came along. Almost all of these people were staunch United Church and NDP members. They had all the talk, but that was about it.
I was angry at them for awhile, until I saw the real problem was not their hypocrisy but the culture of duplicity in which they lived, as heirs to a Canada ruled so absolutely by those two enormous fraudulences of Crown and Pulpit.
No matter what the politics of a white Canadian, they have universally pulled back from confronting the churches that slaughtered the innocent with impunity, and keep torturing children: even when all the proof of their crime is out there.
Granted, it’s hard to know what to do when the courts, the cops, and the government are all in bed with the Christian wolves in sheep’s clothing, and are doing their best to intimidate and criminalize the victims, and their few allies. But you’d think that such collusion would make more of us stop and question our allegiances: and our tax-paying and church-attending practices.
Sadly, within Canada’s neo-colonial culture that’s so rooted in automatic deference to authority, the psychological power of what’s called the Christian church is still formidable; and yet, it’s also extremely thin on the ground. I’ve seen that power snap and break at moments, like when bunches of us have invaded church services in Toronto and Vancouver, and spoken of the crime to startled parishioners.
If even one Member of Parliament had have had the temerity to call for the law to come down on the churches that raped, sterilized and murdered so many Indian children, those grassroots actions would have kindled a political and even spiritual revolution in Canada unseen since the days of Louis Riel and William Lyon McKenzie.
However, every MP, including Jack Layton, knew the personal consequence of taking such a step, being the oath-bound legal agents of the very foreign power that instigated the residential schools holocaust: the so-called Crown of England.
Standing last night outside Toronto’s City Hall and scanning the orgasm of cheerleading for Layton all over its walls, I couldn’t help but wonder how many of the enthusiastic inscribers knew the words of the Oath of Allegiance that Jack had taken upon entering Canada’s Parliament:
“I swear to bear loyalty and true allegiance to Queen Elizabeth the Second and all her descendents.”
Note that there’s nothing in there about bearing true allegiance to the people of Canada, and to their Constitution and laws.
Jack Layton, and every other M.P., as well as every judge, cop, soldier and civil servant in Canada, is the agent of the Crown, and is bound to do its bidding: not ours. We elect them in our name and pay for all their expenses and goodies, but legally and constitutionally, they are not accountable to us at all.
People overthrew Mr. Ghaddafi recently for running things in that kind of manner in Libya. In any other country, our political system would be considered treasonable, and grounds for ignoring such collaborating lackies, and even overthrowing them altogether. But Canadians would rather labor under tyranny, it seems, than fundamentally upset anything.
That’s why our ludicrous colonial arrangement desperately needs popular figureheads like Jack Layton in place, to convince us sheepeople that there is in fact hope and possibility in such an unrepresentative system. All we need, I keep hearing from the “progressive” deludinoids of the left, is to win another hundred or more seats in Parliament. Then we’ll have our day!
What all these folks stubbornly refuse to learn is that the entire arrangement is a stacked deck, controlled by the clique William Lyon McKenzie derisively called “The Family Compact”: the wealthy elite of church, state and corporation that run Canada as a waterhole and filling station for once the British, then the American, and increasingly Asian empires - all under the tight control of a fictitious thing called the Crown that legally owns all of the land and wealth of our nation.
Jack Layton saw nothing wrong, basically, with that arrangement: he and his party just wanted it played out a bit more “fairly” for those whom it is chewing to pieces.
Well, for some of those, at least. The homeless Indians and slaughtered kids of the residential schools somehow didn’t get included in Jack’s vision of justice, since he had his own church to consider.
Back in 1994, when I exposed how an NDP cabinet minister in B.C. who was also a United Church clergyman – John Cashore – was using his office to protect his church from scandal for their profitable trading in stolen native land, I was asked by an amused “Conflict of Interest Commissioner” why I thought that church and state were somehow separate in Canada.
They’re not at all, of course. And so both of those institutions are thoroughly above the law that the rest of us are expected to follow.
But I don’t expect Canadians to stop that crime from carrying on. Instead, we’ll keep funding and honoring such church-state official whitewashes as our “Truth and Reconciliation Commission”, where the very churches – including Jack’s – that ran the Indian residential schools and buried all those kids get to investigate themselves, and tell us all what really happened.
It’s a funny thing, but I always noticed that Jack Layton and Steven Harper always smiled with the same expression.
Comment by Janice P. Robinson on 3rd September 2011
The convicted sex offender I mentioned (from the Salvation Army) was actually convicted for his crimes in the 1980's (NOT in the 1990's, as I mistakenly wrote).
In June, 1990, my calling was engaged, and I entered the front doors of a Canadian federal prison, for the first time. I served individuals who were doing federal time for sexual and/or violent crimes. Most convicts and staff I worked with were most respectful, and grateful for my help........ still are.
others......like Robert Willoughby, unrepentent Indian sociopaths (include gangs and pimps), and this particular "preacher" seen me as their sworn enemy. They still do.
Comment by Dave on 2nd September 2011
I truly feel your "anger" but unless you can suggest a better candidate for people's heartfelt appreciation of someone who stood up for the downtrodden in our "SOCIETY" please don't try to destroy something/someone we can emulate.
We buried our Mother, and left her legacy to stand.
Comment by Janice P. Robinson on 2nd September 2011
We all leave a legacy. It is what it is. If your legacy is anything like mine.......well.....God grant you the serenity.
I am Tsimshian, am culturally astute, and am a product of my nation's yesterdays.
Long before they came, when our ancestors heard they were coming......the word was, not to worry because they were bringing good news. The good word. How could anybody know what was in store for us?
As recent as the 1990's, preachers have been convicted of sexual abuse offenses in this area. One of the most recent was a representative of the Salvation Army. (I digress). And believe me...it was a field day for white and native sociopaths.
Who knows when the first white man stood on Tsimshian Territory with The Bible in his hands, and said, "I've brought you good news. It's the good word." At the time, the Tsimshian was one of the most advanced and richest nations on the planet.
We used to pray all day, and practice rituals to make sure all/everybody was respected. Some have said we were superstitious. Then we had nothing.......
but a prayer, and faith that our desperate prayers will be answered (even though we could no longer "legally" practice the rituals we had thought so important to our prayers). And this book.
The Tsimshian Nation is still one of the most civilized nations on Earth. We are also one of the richest, and we still don't believe in death.
So far, the Bible is the absolute best thing ever shared by white men and ladies with us Tsimshian.
Anyways, let Jack go, Mr. Annett...get back to work.