Was John A. Macdonald a white supremacist?

by Aaron Wherry

History professor Timothy Stanley says our first prime minister was a white supremacist.

In 1885, John A. Macdonald told the House of Commons that, if the Chinese were not excluded from Canada, “the Aryan character of the future of British America should be destroyed …” This was the precise moment in the histories of Canada and the British Dominions when Macdonald personally introduced race as a defining legal principle of the state…

Macdonald’s comments came as he justified an amendment taking the vote away from anyone “of Mongolian or Chinese race.” He warned that, if the Chinese (who had been in British Columbia as long as Europeans) were allowed to vote, “they might control the vote of that whole Province” and their “Chinese representatives” would foist “Asiatic principles,” “immoralities,” and “eccentricities” on the House “which are abhorrent to the Aryan race and Aryan principles.” He further claimed that “the Aryan races will not wholesomely amalgamate with the Africans or the Asiatics” and that “the cross of those races, like the cross of the dog and the fox, is not successful; it cannot be, and never will be.” For Macdonald, Canada was to be the country that restored a pure Aryan race to its past glory, and the Chinese threatened this purity.

Colby digs up the debate in Hansard.

I confess I was previously unaware of Macdonald’s comments, but they have been previously noted—see here, here, here and here (click on “did you know?”). Some of Macdonald’s comments were also mentioned, four years ago, in an essay Christopher Anderson wrote for the Canadian Parliamentary Review about the Chinese Immigration Act.

Although calls for “repressive measures” against the Chinese – including their forced removal from the country – were made time and again in Parliament through into the 1880s, Prime Minister John A. Macdonald, while he personally opposed such immigration, appointed two separate commissions of inquiry to investigate the situation in 1879 and 1884. Once the CPR was completed, however, the government introduced changes in May 1885 to the proposed Electoral Franchise Act before Parliament to deny any person of Chinese origin the right to vote in federal elections. 

John A. Macdonald justified this action on the grounds that the Chinese migrant “is a stranger, a sojourner in a strange land … he has no common interest with us … he has no British instincts or British feelings or aspirations, and therefore ought not to have a vote.”9  Moreover, if given the vote, he warned, the Chinese would likely elect a sufficient number of Chinese-origin MPs in British Columbia to force the rest of the country to adhere to their “eccentricities” and “immorality.”10 The Prime Minister’s move received strong support from a number of MPs (especially those from British Columbia), but it also sparked some vocal opposition.  For example, L.H. Davies (Queen’s) argued that “If a Chinaman becomes a British subject it is not right that a brand should be placed on his forehead, so that other men may avoid him.”11 For his part, Arthur H. Gillmor (Charlotte), while he did “not think they are a desirable class of persons,” argued all the same that “as British subjects, we ought to show them fair play.”12  Despite such protests, however, the motion was carried.  For reasons that are not clear, such voices became mute when the House turned to consider the government’s legislation to restrict Chinese immigration two months later.

Stanley’s piece comes after the Harper government renamed an Ottawa parkway in Macdonald’s honour. Stanley suggests that decision should be reconsidered.

In his announcement last week that the Ottawa River Parkway was being renamed for Macdonald, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird expressed the hope that it would stimulate Canadians’ interest in their histories. Perhaps interest in the histories of all Canadians would lead Baird and the federal government to reconsider whether in a multiracial, multi-ethnic society like that of Canada today, we should be naming public monuments after white supremacists.




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Was John A. Macdonald a white supremacist?

  1. Well of course he was a white supremacist.

    He’s also famous for saying “A British subject I was born; a British subject I will die.” And what were the Brits doing in China at that time?

  2. So, rename it John A. MacDonald was maybe a white supremacist Parkway

  3. What’s more depressing is that so few spoke out against him at the time. Revolting as his views were they were also the views of both the country and the Parliament. So i find it difficult to single him out. But of course it should be noted he was a racist. His record with the metis and Aboriginals of the time speak against him also[ he tried to have the Sioux starved out of the country when they came north after offing Custer]. What i do find interesting was the degree to which even here he was a pragmatist – allowing the Chinese to remain unmolested until the railroad was completed.
    A great man. Perhaps not a good man? Have to judge him in his time though.

    • We cannot judge the past by the standards of the present.

      Just be thankful we know better NOW

    • Not absolutely though. There are always people who thought properly about issues no matter what time period you go to. However, I do agree that most historical figures that we honour are probably seriously flawed in a variety of ways. I think you have to judge people based on absolute values, but you can also forgive them.

      • Yeah i think we’re saying pretty much the same things – judge him for sure but be willing to forgive or understand and realize he was a child of his time.

        • But at the same time he was doing this, there were both abolitionists who repudiated race theory and those who had a strong appreciation for the Chinese, their civilisation and their culture.

          So I don’t think I can let him off the hook for being a product of their time, because he had the option of choosing a different belief system. Everyone always does. For example, in the middle ages Jews were attacked as Christ-killers by Christians but it was also religious orders who sheltered them and paid their ransom.

          I think it is far too patronising of past historical figures to dismiss them as “having no choice in their actions”. I think they did, but did it anyway. Just as I think people know that the various things our culture does is wrong (such as our contempt of human life through war, abortion and capital punishment) but choose to justify it because it is expedient to do so.

          • Where do you get this stuff from anyway?

            None of this is true, or even sourced,,,,just fantasy.

          • Eh, you like wikipedia, so this should be good enough.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_antisemitism

            In it you find people of their time brutally murdering Jews, oppressing Jews, and confiscating property of Jews, even though they held the highest offices of pagan, Muslim and Christian authority. It is considered a mainstream opinion of the time that this is correct.

            However, you also have people defending Jews, sheltering Jews, and paying ransoms for Jews, and some of them were in the highest offices of Christian and Muslim authority.

            So why should we excuse the first, no matter what the century, when we obviously have examples from the latter that people knew perfectly well how they should behave?

          • A timeline of anti semitism isn’t even relevant. Nothing to do with China.

            Get hold of yourself

          • Oh, okay, the proof that there were people that respected China. I don’t know, how about the translations of Chinese works such as the Dao de Jing or the Analects of Confucius into English (and many other Chinese sages and philosophers), the gathering of Chinese Artifacts in museums? The hundreds of books of the period that speak positively of China and its culture? New religious movements of the time (such as Theosophy) that had explicitly eastern ideas? Any of those good enough?

            Oh wait, you’re Emily, you never admit when you’ve been overwhelmingly proven wrong, by anyone of any political stripe, even by people who are far more intelligent and persuasive than I am. I’m just wasting my time.

          • Weren’t any Brits that ‘respected ‘ China….they were too busy selling them opium

            Brits swiped Greek artifacts too….[along with everybody elses] doesn’t mean they respected any of them

            Theosophy? Surely you jest.

            Hey, if I’m proven wrong I’ll be the first to admit it….in fact I”d love any info that’s new and different. But this is just bilge.

          • Yep, there were many acted like human scum. But there are some who didn’t, which is my point.

            As for the Greeks, are you seriously going to suggest that the Brits didn’t respect and admire the classical civilisation of the Greeks? Really?

            As for you admitting things when proven wrong, you must have never learned anything in the history of all your posts here on Maclean’s if that is true.

          • Perhaps you could consider separating the postion of the Brit govt….and some lone individual who liked Greeks? Cuz history doesn’t know them.

            I have always admitted being wrong when I have been proven so

            In fact, it’s such a rare event I make note of it.

          • I don’t believe i said he had no choice. Just that he shared an ignorant ethnocentic view of the world that looks silly in our liberal times but was very widespread, Nevertheless it is much easier to be anti racist or progressive now than it would have been for John A in his time. There’s nothing much for us to be smug about. But i do not disagree with you – he had a choice.

  4. Why go so far back in time to look for PM with dodgy racial beliefs? PH Harper, and a bunch of PMs before him, have been funding racist org for decades. Sure, John A’s words are shocking but I find it much more troublesome that my current PM gives money to racist org that kills black and brown babies around the world.

    CBC ~ Sept 2011
    “Canada will fund an organization that provides family planning services around the world …. Planned Parenthood, which provides an array of sexual and reproductive health services, including abortions, abortion counselling and training for providers, is getting the federal funding after Oda let the agency’s previous request sit on her desk for a year without a response, and after a Conservative MP told an anti-abortion group that the government wouldn’t be giving the organization any money.”

    Black Genocide
    Planned Parenthood is the largest abortion provider in America. 78% of their clinics are in minority communities. Blacks make up 12% of the population, but 35% of the abortions in America. Are we being targeted? Isn’t that genocide? We are the only minority in America that is on the decline in population. If the current trend continues, by 2038 the black vote will be insignificant.

    Did you know that the founder of Planned Parenthood, Margaret Sanger, was a devout racist who created the Negro Project designed to sterilize unknowing black women and others she deemed as undesirables of society? The founder of Planned Parenthood said, “Colored people are like human weeds and are to be exterminated.” Is her vision being fulfilled today?

  5. And if he had appeared a generation or so later he would have been rapt by
    the promise of Galtian eugenics. Another couple of generations and much of
    the upper middle (including the political) class was in thrall to the seance and
    paranormal. These days it’s all the magic of free market dogma, no ?

    • I notice you don’t mention the centralisation of the economy and redistribution of wealth, which condemned millions to starvation.

        • I got the point. But the fact is that free markets, while they may cause some income disparity, are still more fair and more able to provide everyone what they need than the left wing solution. It baffles me that people think that political favours of a bureaucratic elite are somehow a fairer way of distribution that the market. If it was so, First Nation Reserves wouldn’t be such basket cases.

          • First Nations aren’t IN the system

          • Exactly. They are under it. The department of Indian Affairs ultimately controls all economic activity.

          • No, they are totally outside it….145 years of racism

            The military…now THEY are socialist

          • Racism is a huge problem, I’ll grant that. But it was the deliberate thwarting of economic activity by the department of Indian Affairs because they had socialistic and sociological ideas on how to build the perfect society.

            For example, did you know it was deliberate department of Indian Affairs policy to forbid them from using mechanised equipment, because the bureaucrats thought they had to “progress” to an agrarian society with hand tools first? Or that they thought, like you Emily, that natives in the North needed to forced to quit hunting and gathering and resettled into towns, again so they could “progress”. The legacy of absolute poverty, alcoholism, and suicide is the legacy of left wing ideology that was absolutely and utterly evil.

          • Do you know this shit is over 145 years old? Long before any left/right nonsense of the Cold War.

            Stop with the crap already. It’s simple racism.

          • No, it is racism wedded to bad sociology and socialism. Racism alone wouldn’t have done nearly so much damage.

          • Racism always does damage.

            You are stuck in some simple-minded 50s Cold War

            The infamous Holocaust happened before the Cold War ferchrisakes.

          • What does the holocaust have to do with direct government policy to the First Nations? Get a hold of yourself.

          • Jeebus….follow your own comments!

            Racism dude….. .long before communism.

          • So you deny that socialism and sociology had any negative impact on the First Nations, despite my direct examples? I’m certainly not discounting racism as a factor, but racism alone isn’t the sole reason that the First Nations reserves have generations of poverty and other problems. You can deny it all you want, but it is true.

          • LOL you are inserting Cold War crap into Canadian reserves from the 1800s………..get a grip.

          • What cold war crap? You think I was giving examples from the 1800′s? You think the forced resettlement of the Dene and Inuit was from the 1800′s. You think that the absolute destruction of agriculture on reserves happened in the 1800′s? You think laws that forbid reserves from trading with each other went away in the 1800′s? You think government bureaucrats building public housing on reserves but not bothering to hire building inspectors was in the 1800′s? No, that’s post-cold war Emily, and things were far worse for natives on reserves after 1950 than before it. As a fault of direct, government policy implementing ideas based on sociology and exercising centralised control that only brings poverty.

          • You have totally confused 1800s racism with recent Cold War crap, and some strange personal beliefs you have. Separate them

          • Wow, what an invincible ignorance. Well, time to forfeit. Make sure you vote Emily up everybody, as kcm2 said, she proved me wrong!

            Communists never invented famine, and therefore their economic policies weren’t ruinous and destructive, but just part of the natural cycle of human society. That is that argument done, and Emily is rarely ever wrong.

          • Name the person who invented communism, and include the year he did so

            We’ll just eliminate the millions of years that preceded that….for your benefit.

          • Leave me out of it. I merely agreed with E on 1 point, that’s all. Your arguments should have enough force to stand without the theatrics Yanni.

          • Wow you completely absolved the church and its part in a deliberate policy of cultural genocide, merely so could pin it all on socialists and progressives – that’s quite a feat of cognitive dissonance.

          • Sorry, I”m not pinning anything on ‘socialists, or progressives or even the church’…..YOU are ,sweetie LOL

            YOu are one confused dude.

          • Que!!

          • Heh…..Yanni is convinced everything that ever went wrong on earth was because of Karl Marx….who died in 1883

      • Er…while i get your point i hope you aren’t implying everything was hunky dory pre Soviet era? I’m pretty sure egregious as the soviet system was they fed their people at least as well and probably better than the Czars managed to. I know, the Ukrainian famine/ genocide – but that was a political decision implemented by a megalomaniac. The west has had one or two of those too, if not on quite such an epic scale.

        • No, it wasn’t hunky dory in pre-soviet russia or pre-mao China. But I hope you are not implying that it was anything near the horror of the famines and repression of the Soviet Union, Maoism, the enforced Agrarian communism of Cambodia etc.

          • Famines and wars and repressions have occured throughout history….long before ‘communism’ was ever heard of.

          • Yes, but they took it to a new level, and it was also completely and utterly a result of their policies rather than an accidental shortage or crop failure.

          • No, they didn’t. Everything in history has happened before. Stop blaming it on something in your limited time

          • What are you saying that the millions who died under the communists would have died anyway because it all happened before, or that people have died in such numbers purely from economic policies before? Because you would be wrong on both counts.

          • Mmm no, I’m sure I said nothing like that. You just made that up.

          • So if it wasn’t socialist or communist policies that caused it, then what caused it. Also, I’d like a reference to a similar famine that was nearly so devastating. The Irish famine was severe for example (which was caused by government policy + the potato blight) but it doesn’t hold a candle to the sheer number of human deaths that communism caused by its economic policies alone.

          • Doofus…..communism , capitalism, and socialism are recent events in human history……we have like….millions of years of history. Thousands in the ‘modern’ era alone

            And stop confusing numbers with percentages….you know better.

          • No, but I think E makes my point below- communists didn’t invent famine or suffering per se.

          • No they didn’t invent it. But the suffering that their economic policies caused is unparalleled in human history. Policies that the left still thinks is the solution to economic inequality, and why being a socialist or communist isn’t considered to be as bad as being a Nazi or Klansman, even though it should be.

          • No, it’s not ‘unparalled in human history’

            Try actually READING some human history!

          • As a matter of scale, yes it is. That fact is simply not controversial to anyone but you Emily.

          • Mmm no, it isn’t.

            A percentage is always a percentage, no matter what the population

          • Who is mentioning percentages besides you Emily?

          • You are NOT…..which is your entire problem!

          • So that solves the question, then: John A. Macdonald was responsible for communism and the holocaust. Well tangented Emily and Yanni!

          • LOL

          • Man those Scandinavian socialists got a lot to answer for. Only a matter of time till they start firing up the gas ovens and march on Poland I guess.

  6. So when is Aaron going to do a piece on Tommy Douglas’s advocacy of eugenics, forced sterilization, and separation of the mentally-challenged from general society?

    • When the government re-names some Ottawa thoroughfare Tommy Douglas Parkway?

    • He was soft on separatists and terrorists too…thought Pierre was naughty to implement the WMA.

    • Already done…ever heard of the NFB? Oddly enough AW posted it here earlier this year. You were probably away on a CPC sponsored “real history of Canada course.”

  7. So how about the Nemni’s book on young Pierre Trudeau, where they found evidence that he was a fascist, anti-Semite, and a separatist.

    • He (and his government) also believed that the traditional culture of Natives needed to be eradicated so that they could join the modern era.

    • You forgot Catholic.

      • Oh, is being Catholic as bad as being a fascist or anti-Semite? (I don’t personally see anything wrong with being a separatist myself).

        Plus, I doubt if Trudeau was ever really anything but a cultural Catholic anyway.

        • I was trying for satire. And no, as far as I know Trudeau was a life long practicing catholic – or does being a Liberal rule this out in your mind?

          • Eh, the fact that he divorcedand slept around kind of puts some doubts in my mind. His support for the cause of abortion kind of makes me doubt it even more, especially since that is grounds for automatic excommunication.

            Don’t get me wrong, I think his beliefs were informed by Catholicism, and he may have believed in God, and perhaps even in the divinity of Jesus, but I don’t think he was “Catholic” in the same way that I am Catholic. As in someone who believes and moral absolutes and sweats the details.

          • Your support for back-alley abortions kind of makes me doubt your catholicism.

          • I generally don’t support abortions, back alley or otherwise.

            I do not accept that abortions are an inevitable part of human society. We live in the 21st century, and we are supposedly more enlightened than our ancestors. You don’t have to kill your own children anymore.

          • You can refuse to accept whatever you want – doesn’t change the fact if take away womens’ choice to safe abortion you condemn them and their foetuses to back-alley abortions.

          • Does anyone make it on to your team accept you and the good lord? You’re a tough marker Yanni.
            Trudeau opposed the concept of state interference in the moral and religious affairs of its citizens – i believe it is consistent with the concept of separation of church and state; i have no idea what his personal view on abortion was – neither i suspect do you. If you object to this notion i’d like to know just where you do stand in the matter of the state interfering in the moral affairs of its citizens. We aren’t and never have been a theocracy.

          • No, we are not a theocracy, but the idea that Catholic politicians shouldn’t be informed by their Catholic beliefs is ridiculous. When you elect a Catholic politician, you should expect to elect a Catholic politician.

          • You appear to have a very narrow take on governance in a modern liberal democracy – we have separation of church and state for very good reasons as i’m sure you’re aware.
            It’s widely recognized that all Trudeau did as justice minister was modernize the law re: homosexuality. IOWs it was decriminalized. No one forced you or the church to change your views, indeed there’s no evidence i’m aware of that Trudeau approved of homosexuality or abortion. As for being informed by ones Catholic beliefs – you assume too much. As far as i can tell you merely sit at one end of an ongoing theological debate. The power to judge isn’t ultimately yours or mine.

          • Believing in moral absolutes is one thing, living by them is another.

          • Touche’. And of course there remains a little debate over just what those absolutes are. Yanni seems to feel that’s all settled. Maybe in his mind?

  8. And will Canadians actually ever be told the entire truth about Lester Pearson? Or is the truth forever buried in the interests of national security?

    • You mean the lisp was faked? Not thu.

      • LOL no we knew about the lisp….and the bow ties.

        • He must have been secretly gay…that was it…a secretly gay lisper who sported bow ties made behind the iron curtain. My God! When will the nation ever be allowed to know the full import of this? No wonder the CPC ignored the anniversary of his bogus peace prize. I have to go lie down now – my heart can’t take the strain anymore.

  9. And like Douglas, what about the Famous Five and their support of eugenics also.

    • Hmmm, didn’t some of that happen in AB?

      • Yep, they had their “progressives” in AB too back then. Unless you want to try to make the case that they were socially conservative for their time.

        • The liberals were to blame for that one too eh!

          • Well it depends where the ideological branches and guilt by association lies. You want to blame it on Albertan conservatives (or Albertans generally). Maybe you should think about the ideology of eugenics, and think of where it comes from.

          • The Socreds just as victimized as the folks they sterilized.

          • I don’t know too much about this period of AB history so all i’m going to say is i’m not aware that too much was said publically against eugenics by the Albertan Conservative community, which was well represented within Socred govts of the time. In any case i prefer to ultimately view history from an individual context rather than blame any one particular political group – sadly people find it so much more convenient to not rock the boat in whatever era. No doubt there were extrordinary individuals of both liberal and Conservative pedigree who had doubts and tried to have such an odious policy ended or mitigated – at least i hope so.

        • First time I’ve heard anyone call the Socreds “progressives”.

  10. Why does Mackenzie King have his name plastered over Ottawa when he was responsible for the internment of Japanese Canadians?

    • I believe we had a war some time around then; i further believe that the Japanese may have started it…just say’n.

      • This will come as a shock to Hitler, not to mention Roosevelt who cut off Japanese oil….an act of war.

        • The attack on Pearl Harbor was definitely a violent act of war!

          • Yes, retaliation for Roosevelt cutting off their oil.

          • So in your book Venezuela and the OPEC cartel declared war on the rest of us in the seventies? Do you think retaliation by military means should have been the solution?

            I gather you would have found the Japanese interventions in China in the thirties quite acceptable too?

            In my book, a military attack on a military base in a definite act of war. An oil embargo remains a drastic diplomatic tool. Unless you are completely unaware of Japanese aggressive expansion actions in the thirties, if so, read up, it’s quite interesting.

            2012/8/22 Disqus

          • The US was protecting its own interests in China…..everybody was intervening in China at the time…..lots of money to be made.

            Roosevelt went too far, the Japanese took offense and voila the US was suddenly in WWII

            PS So far the 21st century does not support war. Let’s hope it stays that way.

          • Roosevelt cut off their oil because of what the Japanese were doing to the Chinese

          • The Japanese were doing the same thing to the Chinese that the US and UK were doing to them. The Chinese call it the Century of Humiliation, and have vowed ‘never again’.

  11. While such views are undeniably repugnant and abhorrent today (and are generally regarded as hopelessly ethnocentric), it’s somewhat self-righteous to condemn their adherents and to label them with the benefit of hindsight as “racist”. To do so is to engage in another bias that sociologists call temperocentrism, the tendency to evaluate past beliefs pejoratively, from a post-modern perspective.

    My own mother was born into rural Canada in the early ’20s and grew up in the Depression with few opportunities for formal educational (and almost no personal experience with people of colour). For much of her early life she regarded such beliefs as totally normal and an accurate construction of “reality”. To be fair, she moderated her views considerably as she matured, but she was far from alone in that era.

    • Not a fair comparisan. Your mum, bless her, had little or no formal education – the same couldn’t be said for sir John. But I certainly would cut him some slack…I thought I did.

      • Nothing to do with ‘education’…..common beliefs in those days. Especially when white people only met white people.

  12. Here is a news flash for op-ed contributor Tim Stanley. Canadian society is not perfectly enlightened
    today, nor was it in the 20th century or the 19th century
    when Macdonald held power.

    It’s true that when immigration remained within the purview
    of the British government Macdonald’s government introduced the Chinese Head
    Tax. But the successor Liberal
    government of Sir Wilfrid Laurier doubled the tax in 1900; then quintupled it in
    1905. The tax was maintained for 38 years before Canada banned Chinese
    immigration entirely. The Americans had
    banned Chinese immigration in 1882.

    While it’s also true Chinese Canadians were restricted from
    voting, so too were women. Despite Macdonald’s early efforts to enfranchise
    women, it was not until 1917 that women in Canada, at least those with family
    members serving in the military, were given the right to vote. And Women were not considered persons, and
    eligible to serve in the Senate, until a British Court said so in 1929. Still, you had to be a property owner to
    serve in the Senate, a provision that remains in place today.

    Among Canada’s worst atrocities was the confiscation of the
    assets and the internment of Canadians of Japanese and German origin during the
    first and second world wars. It took us
    until 1969 to remove homosexual acts from the criminal code in 1969. Even then, Trudeau’s government labeled such
    acts to be repugnant and immoral.

    It is easy 100 or more years after the fact to place blame on
    our past leaders for the ills of society.
    And we can easily find a few voices of the day who spoke out against
    policies of discrimination, such as the 16 MPs who opposed the invocation of
    the War Measures Act that suspended civil liberties in 1970.

    In Macdonald’s day the biggest threat to the creation and
    survival of Canada was the divide and prejudice between the English and French
    in Canada East and Canada West. The
    respect, tolerance and unity that Macdonald inspired has been the example that
    has helped to keep our nation intact for the past 145 years.
    Bob Plamondon

    • Dude, MacDonald’s national policy for immigration was also tainted with racism, blatant blatant racism: did you know he had a pecking order for immigrants (hint: those of colour were really really low on that list).

      You might also want to check out some of his views on First Nations peoples before you try to revise history and state that he was all about “tolerance and unity.” Cuz he wasn’t.

  13. I think it might be instructive for journalists of all stripes to stop morally judging long-dead people on the basis of 21st century norms held by a very particular western liberal elite. Even more instructive to have them study enough logic and philosophy to understand the difference between their own belief systems and self-evident “truths”. It’s not shocking, or even disturbing to anyone with a sense of cultural history to hear that Johnny Mac was a racist. Would have been surprising if he wasn’t, actually…

    It’s unfair to suggest that people who lived in accordance with different social norms and moral codes should be judged in accordance with those of the journalist or historian who examines their lives and their actions (I won’t even go so far as to claim that this is about “today’s” norms vs. those of a bygone era – Wherry and Stanley are both guilty of assuming their moral perspectives are the commonly held moral perspectives – which may or may not be true. Either way, it’s poor journalism to take the implicit position that their views are the common or “correct” view). So to conclude that recognizing Johnny Mac’s role in our political history with another monument is “bad” because Johhny Mac wasn’t a nice man by today’s standards is intellectually bankrupt.

    If journalists want to propagate a particular philosophy, they ought to be honest enough to simply admit it (and to get out of jobs that allow them to pretend that they’re reporting/observing). And they should apply their efforts to educate/influence their contemporaries. By all means, refer to examples of behaviour or philosophy as practised in the past to compare and contrast with the desired modus vivendi – but don’t hold those figures responsible for adherence to a belief system that is, in fact, a recent (and somewhat limited, in the frame of reference of all societies) development.

  14. .

  15. That was a different era, when the vast majority of the people of the world, not just white Europeans, were racist. I would venture to guess that the vast majority of the world still IS racist.

  16. Bessmerging long ago leaders who made Canada the best country on the planet is just wrong. I’m a 5th generation Canadian and proud of our ancestorie. I suggest you show some respect and look for current day issues instead of muck raking our founding fathers.

  17. i not a real racist , but i too feel that the Chinese government and people should be doing there own politics in there own country. just like any other country , our own people should be the ones in politics , and any mix race should stand aside.

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