Wednesday, September 27, 2023

History is just one damn thing after another

Like everyone, I have been following the uproar with House of Commons speaker Anthony Rota and his ineptitude in hosting and applauding Yaroslav Hunka, who as a WW2 Ukrainian teenager was fighting for the Nazis against the Russians. 
When this first hit the news, I thought "Doesn't anybody know history anymore? Who couldn't have figured out that of course the people fighting the Russians in Ukraine in WW2 were the Nazis?" 
But it's actually not quite that simple. 
Justin Ling wrote a brilliant column yesterday that delves into the politics around that period of the war in Europe - About the SS Officer in the Gallery: History is messy, horrible, complicated. All we can do is face it:
 ...Dozens of veterans of the Ukrainian 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS, the Galicia Division, came to North America after the war. As did soldiers from the 15th and 19th Waffen Grenadier Divisions, the Latvian Legion. As did others from Estonia, Lithuania, and elsewhere. 
Back then, we considered their actions and, ultimately, welcomed them here. And then we tried to forget about it. 
While there are occasions where crying “Nazi!” should be the beginning and ending of the conversation, this isn’t one of them. 
 ...Yaroslav Hunka was 14 years old when Nazi Germany and Communist Russia signed the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, invading Poland and divvying up Ukraine. ...
Ling continues to summarize the events of WW2 in Ukraine, the shifting alliances as the war evolved, and how peace was achieved. He concludes: 
The Galician Division, like many aspects of the war along the eastern front, is caught in a tension. It exists in a difficult space between one genocidal regime and another. 
For those of us in North America, whose democracies sided with one over the other, we often pretend as though the choice was a simple one. 
It wasn’t. 
The compromise we settled on long ago is, I think, a good one: For those who fought with the SS in Eastern Ukraine and the Baltics, we looked for evidence of war crimes and, finding none, we accepted that war is hell. We let these men go about their lives, without ever forgetting that history. We chose not smear that fight for independence — which is still happening today in Ukraine — with the decisions made during the war. 
Rota’s decision to put Hunka in that gallery upset that fragile compromise. The histrionics have only made things worse. 
As Shkandrij concludes: “The force’s controversial, complex, and long story presents contemporaries with a range of lessons and challenges, and obliges them to consider how a previous generation reacted when trapped in the maelstrom of war.” ... 
 ...Trudeau often apologizes for concepts and for things he didn’t do, out of Canadian courtesy and representative moral duty. 
News flash: Trudeau apologized. 
Presumably every MP who voted for Rota as Speaker apologized personally to each of their constituents but I have no way of checking, also do not care. 
 “This is something that is deeply embarrassing to the Parliament of Canada, and by extension to all Canadians,” Trudeau said. 
No, not really. I’m not embarrassed. I checked my calendar. I didn’t do it.... 
Rota’s education included a political science degree from Wilfrid Laurier. It’s not much, apparently, but it’s something. 
He should have understood how complicated history is, how, post-Holodomor, a Ukrainian caught between Hitler and Stalin made a fatal choice. 
We can hate Hunka for that now. I do. 
 But would every Canadian MP have made immaculate choices inside Stalin’s “Bloodlands” in 1943? Of course you and I would have been heroic, joined the White Rose movement, been executed for our troubles. But everyone? 
I would have checked Hunka’s background because the Second World War was another of the consecutive moments when human nature was defined. Definition: We are horrible. Except when we’re not. 
Dale Smith makes this interesting point too:
And also worth noting:
And Kady O'Malley raises an interesting point about CPC hysteria:


Cap said...

We all saw how Harper made the RCMP the PM's police force. When Harper became frustrated with Mike Duffy, he got the RCMP to charge him with 31 counts. Among those counts were charges of accepting bribes, but curiously, Harper's right-hand man Nigel Wright was never charged with giving bribes. In aquitting Duffy of all charges, Justice Charles Vaillancourt noted, "Mr. Neubauer (the Crown prosecutor) stated that Senator Duffy’s actions were driven by deceit, manipulations and carried out in a clandestine manner representing a serious and marked departure from the standard expected of a person in Senator Duffy’s position of trust. I find that if one were to substitute the PMO, Nigel Wright and others for Senator Duffy in the aforementioned sentence that you would have a more accurate statement." PP is following in his master's footsteps.

Cathie from Canada said...

Yes - projection is a consistent Conservative fault.
Watch what they accuse the Liberals of doing, because it is what they do, or want to do, themselves.