Friday, April 20, 2012

1812 and the bullshit attached to it

You will read Lawyers Guns and Money.

You will visit the links.

You will then utter, in the quiet of whatever space you occupy, " Fuck you Stephen Harper"

You will have commemorated the fact that, if Harper considers the war of 1812 a Canadian exercise, then we Canadians probably started it.

And if you think "we" won, well then, cancel your weekend cross-border shopping trip.


ricky said...

The whole retelling of the war of 1812 is a fantasy. Its perfect for Harper. They have troops, they don't need any equipment. all are volunteers and they display a union jack.

sassy said...

Ah yes, the fine art of rewriting history. Makes me wonder what was said in this meeting

Purple library guy said...

Well, I'm no fan of wars in general, but the links you point to, to the contrary, seem to indicate a somewhat belated preparation by the British to defend against a United States that seems eager to attack.
Perhaps you're not catching the sarcasm in the post.

Purple library guy said...

To be sure, I won't disagree that Harper's invocation of the war of 1812 is cynical in the extreme, not least because he himself has less loyalty to Canada than to the US Republican party. Harper could care less about the war of 1812, he just wants the public to think about something other than robocalls and F-35 lies. And he'd prefer people use their nationalist feeling on something militaristic than on political accomplishments like Confederation or nationbuilding accomplishments like the railway, 'cause Cons don't do nationbuilding or positive politics.

"Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel." Certainly true in this case.

But all that isn't the war's fault. The war of 1812--the Americans attacked us, thought they could take over, we fought back, didn't do too bad, they didn't take over. I really don't see why we should be apologizing for that. And sure, no doubt there were some diplomatic frictions between the US and Britain at the time, which Britain apparently was moving to defuse--but so what? There are always diplomatic frictions. They didn't have to attack us. There are plenty of nuances to the story, but I've never heard any that change the basic deal: They attacked, 'cause they thought they could cream us and maybe that lots of Canadians would be eager to be part of the awesomeness that was US democracy, and they were wrong.

The Mound of Sound said...

My family was around in 1812 not very far from Ft. Malden which then was garrisoned by Isaac Brock and the 49th Regiment of Foot. You may recall that Brock, disobeying orders, took the initiative to pre-emptively attack into the US, capture Detroit and move north to the Mackinaw. It's believed he actually saved Canada from a certain defeat in that first year of the war.

The American take on the War of 1812, their first and first failed foreign war, is really more interesting than our own. Our narrative is quite simple - we were attacked, we repelled our invaders, we prevailed. Theirs is remarkably complex. Donald Hickey's two books, "Don't Give Up the Ship, Myths of the War of 1812" and "The War of 1812, A Forgotten Conflict" are both terrific reads.

For Americans the War of 1812 is as interesting for the divisions it opened at home that it would revisit half a century later than for its foolish and doomed belligerent adventure itself.

Unfortunately, few Americans or Canadians have a realistic grasp of the war or its ongoing significance. Canadians, like our southern cousins, seem to need to dress it up and gloss it over. That pretty much sums up Harper's take on the war.

If anyone likes fascinating tales of heroism, check out "The Green Tiger" (if you can find it). It's an account of the exploits of a Brock protege, a poor Irish boy raised from the ranks, Lt. James Fitzgibbon, who came to fame largely due to the Battle of Beaver Dams where he used a ruse to persuade a vastly larger American force to surrender.