Thursday, September 28, 2006

Viewing the past in the context of today

Even here in the Great White North we can't get away from the trend toward politically correct memorials or displays.

While the various high profile 9/11 memorials in the States definitely set a very high bar when it comes to designs in bad taste (see this post), here in Ottawa we've managed to generate our own little controversy with a collection at the Canadian War Museum. The focus of the display is the involvement of Canadian Bombers during the second World War and their attacks on civilian industrial targets but it's the statements that refer to the bombing runs as controversial and of little military value outside of demoralizing the civilian population that have veterans groups riled up. As the vetrans groups see it, it is essentially comparing their actions to that of war criminals.

While I'm sure there were people around at the time calling for a stop to the bombings of German facilities (though I'm sure very few lived anywhere near London) the fact was that civilian targets were generally seen as valid, on both sides, because it was only through the continued and active support of an entire nation that any country was able to keep their war efforts going. Demoralizing a population had a very real world impact on a country's ability to fight. Without people donating their metal objects for reprocessing much of the equipment needed to fight couldn't be made. Without people (mostly women) stepping up to fill position left vacant by deployed soldiers the economy would have collapsed.

It's simply not like that today. People do not have to sacrifice much, if anything, to allow their governments to go to war and can just generally sit back and watch from the sidelines, if they pay any attention at all. In today's world targeting civilian populations, even accidentally, causes international outrage because it is generally unnecessary. That's not to say that there aren't still situations where targeting civilian infrastructure isn't valid, just that while once it was the norm, today it is the exception and it is through that lens that the curators of the War Museum have decided to focus their display. As with so many of these type of inappropriate memorials, context is sacrificed on the alter of political correctness.

Let me just say, it's a good thing this type of mindset was not the predominant one at the time or we may still be fighting today.


Blogger D.C. said...

Dear Wisdom,

Indeed "viewing the past with the context of today".
The political correctness of our times is blinding us.

I found your great site while looking for info on Sgt. Marc Leger as I am making a tribute for the fallen soldiers in the past 4 years.

We were at the War Museum last week with my 10 year old boy and his pal. The historical treatment was quite disappointing regarding the conflicts and the role of our troops and the allies in the past few decades.

Particularly remarkable was the negligence regarding the history of the Holocaust, perhaps a wall of 20 to 30 feet long is given to this display. Unbelievable.

November 06, 2006 3:25 p.m.  

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