Montreal professor exposes extremist ideology behind anti-communist Ottawa monument

Minister Jason Kenney (far right) signs agreement with Chair of Tribute to Liberty Ludwik Klimkowski to fund anti-communist monument with public funds, on “Black Ribbon Day” in Ottawa, August 23, 2013. Tribute to Liberty has been unable to get public support to build the monument that would commemorate those who fought with the Nazis and were defeated by the Soviet Union. (CIC)

(July 25, 2015) – The Montreal daily newspaper Le Devoir recently carried an article by University of Montreal History Professor Yakov Rabkin in which he points out that the Harper government’s ill-conceived plan to build a “monument to victims of communism” next to the Supreme Court building in Ottawa is much more than just cynical political manoeuvring for the coming elections. The article makes a well-reasoned argument that this project, which is being so fervently pushed in spite of opposition from all sides, is part of the Harper Conservatives’ ongoing attempts to manipulate the collective social memory to suit their own extremist ideology.

Professor Rabkin says, “This project is part of the radical transformation Canadian society has undergone and which the Harper government, with unparalleled ideological coherence, has implemented year after year.” He points out, “The name of the monument itself is taken straight from Cold War rhetoric…. To take up this vocabulary twenty-five years after the end of the Cold War is not haphazard. It is part of the warmongering and Manichean rhetoric taken up by the Harper government in the international arena.”

The article explains that in many East European countries like the Ukraine and some of the Baltic states monuments are being built to honour the memory of those who collaborated with Nazi Germany in World War II. To justify this, Nazi collaborators are being promoted as “patriots” who fought communism.

Professor Rabkin explains, “Hence the ideological necessity to establish a moral equivalence between Soviet socialism and German Nazism. In Estonia, for example, I visited the ‘Museum of Occupations.’ In this Museum, four years of Nazi military occupation is put on the same level as almost six decades of being part of the Soviet Union. In Estonia, local Nazi collaborators exterminated the near totality of Jews, making this country one of the first to win from Nazi authorities the title ‘Judenrein’ (cleansed of Jews). One leaves the museum feeling that Estonia is but an innocent victim and that there is actually no difference between the Hitler Regime and the Soviet Army, which played the key role in Hitler’s demise.”

The article also points out that Harper’s snub of the Moscow ceremonies commemorating the 70th Anniversary of the victory over fascism in Europe was part of a conscious effort to erase from the collective memory the decisive role played by the Soviet Red Army, which fought alone for more than three years against the Nazi aggressors.

Professor Rabkin concludes by exposing the extremist positions of the Harper Conservatives in international affairs:

“In light of the Conservative Party’s ideological commitment, his monument in Ottawa is in honour of the ‘victims of Communism’ rather than the victims of capitalism. In attempting to obliterate the role of the Soviet Union in the struggle against Nazism, Harper seeks to create a new collective memory with regards to the Second World War, while reinforcing hostile, anti-Russian feelings. As far as threats against Russia are concerned, Mr. Harper is by far the most warmongering of all Western leaders. He also leads the way in descrediting all left-leaning solutions against triumphant neo-liberalism.

Professor Rabkin notes that the right-wing ideologues are patient and determined to use this monument project as a political tool in spite of the fact that many Canadians do not approve of it (on the CBC website, 88 per cent said they were against the monument).

For the full article in Le Devoir, click here

(Quotes translated from original French by TML.)

TML Weekly Information Project, July 25, 2015 – No. 30

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