And then there is this Victims of Communism memorial.
As a victim of communism, I should be a cheerleader. Finally! Recognition of decades of suffering under a totalitarian regime. I should be thankful to the great Prime Minister who had the courage to erect a memorial to the tens of millions who were killed in Stalin’s purges, disappeared in the Gulag or perished in the Great Leap Forward, not to mention the hundreds of millions, myself included, whose lives were destroyed or at the very least crippled or diminished by one of the most inhumane regimes ever devised on planet Earth.
And yet I am not.
First… the communist bloc collapsed more than a quarter century ago. And for decades prior to that, it was already a much tamed version of itself: whereas my mother’s generation stood in line for basic foodstuffs and feared the doorbell at night, we stood in line for rare Western imports like a Beatles record or fresh bananas, and feared nothing. To be sure, it was still a totalitarian regime with severe restrictions on our political economic, even personal freedoms, but it was a faint shadow of its murderous former self.
Of course that does not mean that victims of communism do not deserve recognition. But… a memorial the size of a building, right next to Canada’s supreme court? Does communism really deserve that kind of recognition in this country?
The upcoming issue of Ottawa Magazine also raises another point. Never mind the location… but victims of communism? With no qualifiers? Does that include Canada’s second oldest registered political party after the Liberals? Does that include the celebrated Canadian physician Norman Bethune, a pioneer of treating TB and mobile transfusions, who was celebrated on a stamp issued by Canada Post, whose former home is a National Historic Site… and who also happened to be a member of the aforementioned Communist Party?
Ottawa Magazine accuses the Conservative Party of historical revisionism, and I tend to agree. This country needs no memorial to victims of communism. A modest memorial to victims of totalitarianism might be appropriate, but not on a prime location between the Supreme Court and Parliament Hill. The irony, as Ottawa Magazine points out, is that rewriting or erasing history is something in which totalitarian communist regimes used to excel.