July 24, 1998 Halifax Herald
Halifax at 250: genocide nothing to celebrate
Halifax at 250: genocide nothing to celebrate
Last week, while driving past Halifax's Westin Hotel on Hollis Street, I happened to glance into Cornwallis park and saw workers removing the accumulated pigeon dung, mold, and other crap that Mother Nature had so judiciously covered the statue of Edward Cornwallis with. Hopefully, the municipality is not providing the funds for the undertaking. If this is the case, it escapes me why a civilized society would do such a thing.
In the 1740s, under his command, rebel Scots were subjected to genocidal treatment during their rebellion. Then, in 1749, he came to Nova Scotia and applied the murderous skills learned in Scotland here.
In October of 1749, with the intention of exterminating the Mi'kmaq, he issued a proclamation which set out bounties for their scalps. Further, on June 21, 1750 - apparently they weren't being exterminated fast enough - he issued another order upping the bounty considerably. During the three years the bounty was in effect, more than a few scalps of Acadians and those of citizens from other races were also processed for payment.
Considering the horror of the crime against humanity he authorized, any attempt to justify the cleanup of Cornwallis's likeness - by using the excuse that things need to be brought up to par to celebrate, in 1999, the 250th anniversary of the founding of Halifax - falls flat. Ethically, in view of his repugnant crimes, no more than a passing reference to his name should be included in the celebration. To do otherwise is offensive in the extreme to the Mi'kmaq and those from other races, in particular the Acadians, whose ancestors were also victimized by him.
When trying to understand the adulation given by normally compassionate and justice-seeking whites to such criminals as Cornwallis, I have on several occasions, without receiving a logical answer, publicly asked this question: What is it about the mentality of many whites that prevent them from seeing the horror which the Natives of the Americas were subjected to by the leaders of their ancestors? It doesn't seem to matter to these people what insidious means of mayhem Cornwallis, Amherst, Cortes, Boone, Jackson, etc., employed to rob Natives of their dignity, freedom, lives, etc. They idolize them.
Is this absence of moral indignity among many whites towards the crimes of these barbarians explained by a probability that racial bias against people of colour is so ingrained in their mentality, that they cannot appreciate that to subject a people of colour to genocide is as much a hellish a crime against humanity as it is to commit such abhorrent crimes against whites? Itís interesting to note, even in the face of the strong evidence which supports a charge of genocide against Cornwallis, that not one prominent white has yet drummed up the moral courage to publicly condemn him for the horrible proclamation he begot!
I sometimes wonder what would have happened if Hitler had restricted his genocidal madness towards trying to exterminate peoples of colour, instead of whites. Would he have been so widely condemned? Make no mistake: what he did in trying the exterminate the Jewish Nation, and other whites deemed by him inferior, was a crime of unspeakable barbarity. But is the crime committed by Cornwallis, just because it was an attempt to exterminate a people of colour, any less repugnant than his?
If the municipality is responsibly for the clean-up of his statue, I want a tax refund. There is no justification for forcing a person whose ancestors were victimized by genocide to help pay for the upkeep of the likeness of the individual who was responsible for initiating the genocide.
Now to discuss what seems to be a sick joke. This headline appeared in these papers on June 25th: "Halifax plans bash of century." The story relates that a massive celebration is planned, which will be begin with the spectacle of seeing Mi'kmaqs greeting a tall ship carrying actors depicting Cornwallis and 100 British soldiers. Such involvement would leave the Mi'kmaq in the untenable position of participating in a charade which will polish the image of the man who authorized an attempt to exterminate them. Unthinkable!
The only way the Mi'kmaq Nation should ever agree to participate in such an undertaking should be with an iron-clad agreement that the full story will be acted out. This would include an re-enactment of the August 1749 meeting in Cape Breton where English officers informed the Mi'kmaq chiefs that the King of England was the rightful owner of Nova Scotia. This declaration caused the Mi'kmaq, in an attempt to stop a foreign takeover of their land, to resort to war.
Also they must re-enact the October 1, 1749, council meeting aboard HMS Beaufort, where Cornwallis and council approved the means to take inhuman retribution against the Miíkmaq for their declaration of war. It will be most interesting for the public to see how a group of so-called "civilized" men went about justifying placing bounties on the heads of Mi'kmaq men, women and children. God help us all if ever such barbarous crimes can ever be defended and justified by compassionate, intelligent, logical and sane human beings.
In response to those who suggest that I let Cornwallis rest: I will do so when it is acknowledged by society's majority that he is resting in a well-earned place in Hell!
Daniel N. Paul