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Culture War Roundup for the week of August 14, 2023

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Excavation after 14 anomalies detected at former residential school site found no evidence of graves: Manitoba chief

Although these excavations were at a different residential school than Kamloops, the technology and methodology used to identify the "potential" mass graves, GPR analysis, were the same that motivated the Manitoba excavations. Similar to Kamloops, the GPR results were combined with rumors and witness testimonies of atrocities to formulate a belief in the existence of mass graves on the Manitoba site which did lead to a 4 week excavation...

By using radar technology, 14 “anomalies” were previously detected at the site. This led to frenzied speculation by the media that mass graves existed, consisting of Indigenous children who were forced to attend the residential school...

... to this day, no human remains have been found at any former residential school in Canada.

Media in Canada first reported on mass graves at residential schools in May 2021. Archeologists detected what they believed to be 200 unmarked graves at an old school in Kamloops, British Columbia.

To this date, no excavations of that site has occurred, with local elders citing intergenerational trauma as the reason for leaving potential proof of a genocide buried.

The 200 “unmarked graves” in Kamloops were identified by the same technology that identified the 14 in Manitoba, which we now know turned out to be nothing more than a pile of rocks underground.

Even to this day, the CBC has been hellbent on perpetuating a ‘mass graves’ interpretation of said anomalies that have been detected at various former residential school sites.

The media’s absolute worst interpretation of the anomalies inspired protests and terrorist arson across the country.

Since the mass graves announcement, at least 83 churches have been burned to the ground or vandalized.

From the beginning I strongly suspected we were never going to see excavations at Kamloops, because this would be the result. This is a familiar M.O when waging culture war. Hysterically allege an atrocity that didn't happen, base those sensational claims on very thin evidence combined with rumor and witness testimony, and then claim some religious or spiritual dispensation for minimum-standard scientific investigation of the alleged mass graves. Lastly, make sure to denounce everyone who demands excavations as a genocide denier:

Genocide deniers ask: Where are the bodies of the residential schoolchildren?

But. Where. Are. The. Bodies?

They are where they were buried — in those secret or official graves. At this point, nobody is going to be digging up those children to satisfy a bunch of white settlers’ points of view as to what we should be doing with our tragically deceased little ones.

Currently, we don’t have protocols in place yet (that I’m aware of) on how to sensitively deal with the graves. However, we are taking our cultural beliefs into consideration, which go against unsettling rest spaces. This call for bodies is nothing more than a racist rant bordering on genocide denial.

How far will a denier go? When no longer able to refute the absurdly massive physical evidence, Holocaust deniers started to appeal to more “scientific” data. For example, they claimed that the chemical analysis of hydrogen cyanide compounds showed the amounts were not sufficient enough to kill people in gas chambers. Posing as tourists, these “scientists” would gouge chunks of plaster from the walls of gas chambers to send them for analysis.

What happened in residential schools is not about the evidence. This kind of trolling is part of genocide, as are the actual crimes. Gregory H. Stanton, an expert on crimes against humanity, described 10 stages of genocide; extermination is not the final step. Rather, its final stage is denial that it happened — such as high-profile commentators’ demands to see bodies.

I suspect we will continue to see smaller-scale excavations elsewhere, because finding any remains at all anywhere would at least be able to provide some fuel to the Kamloops narrative. But the alleged site of the Kamloops mass grave will simply become a memorial where the alleged victims can wage racial-grievance politics for financial and political gain, and it will be sacrilege to be so hateful as to demand excavations to actually investigate the claims which have been made.

Can anyone who is not Holocaust denier, with SS-man as nickname, can confirm is this summary above is true and accurate?

  • -31

Broadly correct, but I would quibble with parts of the framing.

It's certainly true that the 'bodies' found at Kamloops have never been anything more than anomalies found on ground penetrating radar, and that media and activists have never really made any attempt to communicate this to their audiences. The vast majority of people would never realise that these bodies are entirely theoretical and could easily just not be there. Chalk another one up to the media being bullshitters.

However, what I would disagree with in SecureSignals post is the implication that this stuff therefore didn't happen, or that the backlash against the Catholic Church is unjustified. I personally see the 'graves' at Kamloops as a catalyst for action, rather than the substance of the grievance itself. It is undeniable that the Canadian government in association with the Catholic Church basically kidnapped tens of thousands of native children and stuffed them into places like Kamloops, where the conditions were pretty awful (though perhaps not so awful by the standards of the time). Many deaths resulted. Official records from Kamloops say 50 children died there; the true total is likely higher. Though I admit I have little sympathy for the Church to begin with, I don't see the arson of a couple dozen churches to be an outsize reaction to the Church's involvement in residential schools. You reap what you sow.

  • -12

One of the problems with excusing misrepresentations that you think are directionally correct is that many of the people doing so don't know how their own views have been shaped by lies or misrepresentations, building a new layer of bullshit on top of the old one. For instance:

It is undeniable that the Canadian government in association with the Catholic Church basically kidnapped tens of thousands of native children and stuffed them into places like Kamloops, where the conditions were pretty awful (though perhaps not so awful by the standards of the time).

This is how it is often described, but sending your children to residential school was optional.

Even the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has helped spread erroneous information. At the final National Gathering in Edmonton, one of the Commission’s information displays stated that, after 1920, criminal prosecution threatened First Nations parents who failed to enrol their children in a residential school. This falsehood, one frequently repeated by supposedly reputable journalists, is a reference to a clause in the revised Indian Act that said children had to be enrolled in some kind of school, a clause that was little different from the Ontario government’s 1891 legislation — nearly 30 years earlier — that made school attendance compulsory for that province’s children up to the age of 14, with legal penalties for failure to comply. Other provinces had similar laws.

And the “criminal prosecution”? The penalty specified by the Indian Act for the “crime” of not sending a child to school was “a fine of not more than two dollars and costs, or imprisonment for a period not exceeding ten days or both.” And as with provincial laws regarding school attendance, there would be no penalty if the child was “unable to attend school by reason of sickness or other unavoidable cause... or has been excused in writing by the Indian agent or teacher for temporary absence to assist in husbandry or urgent and necessary household duties.”

Now if you lived in a location without local schools residential schools were the only ones available, and the percentage of natives living in such locations was higher. But conversely getting out of sending your children to school was easier than it is today, and indeed native enrollment was low:

In 1921, when the revised Indian Act solidified the compulsory attendance of Indigenous children in some kind of school, about 11 percent of First Nations people were enrolled in either a residential school or a federal day school. By 1939, that figure had risen to approximately 15 percent of the First Nations population, but the total enrolment of 18,752 still represented only 70 percent of the 26,200 First Nations children aged 7 to 16. Not until the late 1950s were nearly all native children — about 23 percent of the First Nations population — enrolled in either a residential school (in 1959, about 9,000), a federal day school (about 18,000) or a provincial public school (about 8,000).

And absenteeism among those enrolled was high:

For most of the years in which the IRS operated, between 10 and 15 percent of residential students were absent on any given day

Day school attendance was far worse. In the 253 day schools operating in 1921, only 50 percent of native students were showing up, and until the 1950s, these poorly-funded, inadequately-staffed schools consistently had absentee rates in the 20 percent and 30 percent range. In the 1936-37 academic year, to choose just one example, attendance in Indian day schools sank as low as 63 percent. The only residential school in Atlantic Canada, at Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia, was established in part because two previously-established day schools had been forced to close due to poor attendance. Some of the reasons for this absenteeism — the movement of families to areas where seasonal work beckoned, the need to help out at home during the Depression, and the opportunity to take labouring jobs left vacant by servicemen — are understandable, and it is worth noting the the TRC Report acknowledges that very few parents were ever charged or convicted for keeping their children out of school. But children who aren’t in school aren’t getting an education.

The punishment for your children being truant was mild, seems easily avoided by giving an excuse like chronic illness, and most importantly hardly ever enforced to begin with. That is not the sort of coercion required to get parents to send their children to a concentration camp. Native children didn't go to residential schools because they were "kidnapped", they went because their parents believed it was better than the alternatives, including the alternative of not going to school at all. That is compatible with them being low-quality schools, it isn't compatible with the insane rhetoric about them that is prevalent today.

Many deaths resulted.

Many deaths resulted from native americans being biologically more vulnerable to diseases like tuberculosis. Is there even any evidence that the death rate of native children at residential schools was higher than the death rate of native children elsewhere? Skimming chapter 16 ("The deadly toll of infectious diseases: 1867–1939") from the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, it looks like the closest they come to an overall comparison instead of talking about individual outbreaks is this:

In response to the issues Tucker had raised, Indian Commissioner David Laird reviewed the death rates in the industrial schools on the Prairies for the five-year period ending in the summer of 1903. He concluded that the average death rate was 4%. He compared this to the 4.4% child mortality rate for the ten Indian agencies from which students were recruited for 1902. On this basis, he concluded that “consumption and other diseases are just as prevalent and fatal on the Reserves as in the schools.”

Good finds. Reading those articles seems to indicate that the entire narrative is wrong and this story is one part bigotry against Catholics and one part they are lying to use because that’s what they do.

I wouldn't say the entire narrative is wrong -- regardless of the laws on the books, there was definitely considerable coercion involved in 'encouraging' attendance -- this spin is similar in nature to how the authors of COVID restrictions said things like "nobody's forcing anyone to be vaccinated, we are just stopping them from eating out/leaving the country/etc if they don't".

What is quite pernicious (and I believe originates with the current government) is the spin towards blaming the church (churches actually -- many of the schools were run by protestant denominations, and at least some by non-religious entities) for the issues.

Whoever was running a given school was acting as an agent of the Canadian government -- so that fault for individual behaviour like molestation etc lies with the individuals involved, and the systemic issues (coercion, underfunding, 'cultural assimilation) with the sitting governments. Government has been trying to downplay this since forever, but have suddenly succeeded due to the surge in people who somehow didn't learn about this in elementary school (starting in the late 70s) and think they have discovered some new thing. (which happens to be the government narrative, and has only tenuous relations with the truth) Plus the general propensity for hating Catholics in the water these days I guess.

The Catholics were known to sometimes cover up instances of molestation and other misbehaviour by moving the offenders around and not reporting to authorities -- like many aspects of the story this is bad enough in itself! Yet someone there is the need to invent other things which would be even worse if they were true, but weaken the case IMO considering that they are not.

I guess Id say the systemic issues was just being poor. Which isn’t something your guilty of. It’s not like the Canadian government had unlimited resources. And it sounds like the schools outperformed alternative Options.

Eh, it shades towards Copenhagen Ethics I suppose, but "you touch it you own it" is still pretty valid in this situation. Conditions on reserves (govt related!) and in generally remote areas (not so much) were not great in the late 19th/early 20th centuries -- but if you want to take people away from their homes the bar should be pretty high to ensure that the results are much much better than just leaving them alone. Which very clearly seems not to be the case -- there's the odd satisfied 'customer' of the residential school system out there, but it's legitimately unusual. And normally the super-succesful FN people that you see in business/law/politics had their education in regular mixed day-schools, whether due to not living on the reserve at all or being in the sweet spot of 'reserve too small for its own school' and 'not too far away from regular towns' where it made the most sense for them to go to school with everyone else.

I guess I reject Copenhagen ethics. That’s basically saying we should only build gated communities because then we never interact with the lower class and can’t be blamed for it. Comes up a lot with trade. Like Nike getting yelled at for using cheap labor. Yet those people are better off because the factory is there.

So I disagree the bar needs to be very high. Improving the world should just be improving the world. 21st century mostly leftist ideology leads to worse outcomes.

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