Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Alexander Boulerice Vimy Ridge Blogpost: A Total Non-Story

When I read Alexandre Boulerice's blogpost about Vimy Ridge, I said to myself: This is the source of scandal?

I did not find any criticism of the soldiers per se.

I think it was a pacifist (and socialist) denunciation of war.

I don't agree with the premise that World War I should not have been fought. Germany invaded Belgium and France in a pre-emptive strike to stop France from aiding Serbia in its fight with Austria. The only possible reaction was to resist.

Notwithstanding my fundamental disagreement with the MP, much of what he said was correct.

He writes of the soldiers in a sympathetic vein. "Thousand of poor buggers [or fellows] were massacred to take control of a hill." (My translation).


"Cut down too young, they were taken from their lives and their loves."


"Why? Because Canada was under the orders of Great Britain, and the latter responded to the call from France, which was involved in a struggle with Wilhelm II of Germany."

Gross simplification, but true.

"Why? Because two European nations were in a struggle to the death for primary resources, of colonies, of foreign markets."

I think this is not untrue. Britain and Germany were in a struggle for European predominance, and Germany was looking to gain more resources, colonies and markets. I don't think this is the primary cause of World War I, but it was definitely a factor. I think nationalism was the ultimate cause of World War I, and that nationalism expressed itself in a desire for colonies and "greatness".

"A war between the bourgeois who wanted to make more money."

I think at the outset of World War I, there were definitely people who thought they could make money. But again, I don't think money was the motivating factor.

"A purely capitalist war on the backs of workers and peasants."

I was just watching John Robson objecting to the use of the word "peasants" on Sun News. Canada didn't REALLY have peasants, but lots of European countries still did, namely Russia.

I think this statement is partially true. A lot of workers and peasants died, but it's wrong to say only the poor died, because people of all classes fought on the front. That was one distinctive feature of this war, it's that people of all classes were at the front, and in fact this may have contributed to a certain breakdown between social classes.

"Note that today no one thinks about it. What good would it do? There is only 'sacrifice' and 'bravery' to celebrate."

Here, somebody who is sensitive to veterans might think this is a disparaging remark on sacrifice and bravery. I don't think so. I think it's a statement against refusing to look at the war in order to avoid hard truths.

And to a degree, I think this kerfuffle around the blogpost confirms what he's saying. Instead of examining what he wrote, instead of examining the nature of World War I, his blogpost is viewed as a stain on the sacrifice of veterans.

I don't think that's the case at all. Maybe he does feel that way, but I don't get that impression from his post.

"You will hear even less that at the time, the only people who refused this butchery and to have rejected this "Sacred Union" within each nation were communist militants."

Substitute "leftists" for "communists" (because they are not one and the same) and I essentially agree. It doesn't mean they were right in doing so.

"Cruel but usual look on history: History's losers can never have been right. Even against barbarity and inhumanity."

World War I was definitely cruel and barbaric. That does not mean it should not have been fought.

So where exactly is the insult against the veterans? My reading of this blogpost is that they were all killed off and it was the elite's fault. Not their fault. While they may have been participants, they were essentially victims.

Now you may disagree with it, as I do, but it's not necessarily insulting to veterans.

I really hate the fact we're wasting media time on this when there are far more important stories out there.


Brigitte Pellerin (another right-wing female Quebecker) essentially agrees with my assessment that he was not insulting soldiers.