1984 redux

The EU ministry of truth in action: Vikings? Such friendly folk, say textbooks. The official story told schoolchildren today, it seems, is that Europe has always been a sort of idealized EU living in happy harmony with its Muslim neighbors.

In the meanwhile, the Canadians have noticed a problem: “We … are terrible in our failure to create myths and legends, and honour and recognition and pride in our heroes.” A further problem is that the only conceivable topics of public celebration today are tolerance and diversity (i.e., the impossibility of common celebration of anything in particular). But the latter problem just makes the uniquely right solution shine all the more brightly: a national museum of human rights. The museum is the outcome of “years of negotiation” with “a host of Canadian ethno-cultural communities whose histories are scarred by gross acts of discrimination.” It’s going to “tell the dirty stories very clearly. And that relates to women, that relates to gays, that relates to the Doukhobors, it relates to the internment of the Ukrainians.” And it will be located at “an ancient meeting ground for aboriginal people, birthplace of Louis Riel’s struggle for a Metis nation and gateway to the West for thousands of immigrants who fled tyranny in their homelands and changed the face of Canada.” If all those things don’t create a poetry of national identity, what will? Nonetheless, many of the details of the proposed museum are being closely guarded for fear that otherwise the project will get mired in controversy. How odd.

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