|Book Review, Alberta Report, 1998 05 04, page 44
History, beaten to death by a gang
Inept educators ...ignorant media...pusillanimous
bureaucrats...scheming academics — all of them took cudgels to a
noble, nation-building subject.
WHO KILLED CANADIAN HISTORY?
By J.L. Granatstein
HarperCollins Publishers Ltd.
156 pages, hardcover, $22
Who killed Canadian history?
Take your pick from a whole phalanx of villains, all arguably guilty. Some appear to
be more culpable than others, however, and you may not always agree with author J. L.
Granatstein as to the worst offenders.
That Canadian history is indeed dead -- or at best on life support -- is hard
to dispute. Survey after survey has lately demonstrated that most young people today
know scarcely anything about the origins and development of this country, and most of
their parents are also "culturally illiterate." Distinguished historian
Granatstein himself observed a catastrophic decline in his 30 years at York University,
Toronto. Honours history students of the mid-'90s, he found, possessed less than
half the knowledge and capability of the predecessors of the 1960s and these were
the brightest, best and most interested.
Had student intelligence deteriorated? Certainly not, but elementary
and high school history courses assuredly had. That process began in the 1930s, when
the "child-centred" disciples of educational philosopher John Dewey decided
knowledge was unimportant and attitude what counts. Then came Social Studies,
whereby non-chronological and unrelated segments of history could serve to demonstrate any
point you liked. Meanwhile, provincial education departments kept cutting back such
historical content as remained, especially western European, British and Canadian.
Here Mr. Granatstein gets to the major current villains: provincial bureaucrats who want
to teach only regional history; the federal government, for not even trying to introduce
national standards, and for continuing to pour millions into Pierre Trudeau's divisive
multi-cultural policies; local ethnic lobbies, and school trustees that cave in to them;
the media, interested only in digging up historical scandal; finally, the "social
historians," especially the Marxist and feminist contingents, who seized control of
university history departments and have fragmented and distorted the entire
Only an Ontario centrist like the author will be persuaded that Canadian
history has lost out to regional. Nor will many Westerners likely share his faith in
federal bureaucrats as its saviours. But Mr. Granatstein's arguments on the media,
multi-cult forces and certain social historians are very convincing indeed. Allied
in their devotion to current political correctness, these are all intent upon rewriting
Canadian history with little reference to actual fact.
Thus great achievements (such as the valiant liberation of Holland by
Canadian troops) are ignored, while anything at all dubious (such as relocation or
internment of aliens in wartime) must be magnified and distorted out of recognition.
Presenting Canada warts and all is fine and right, says Mr. Granatstein-but not warts
He is naturally most illuminating on the infighting in academe. Funny
too. In one delightful instance, the women's studies feminists discovered Ontario's
first woman lawyer, Clara Brett Martin, who against all odds was called to the bar in
1897. She soon became a heroine, with lecture series and research centres named
after her-until they further discovered that she was anti-Semitic, and had to quickly
re-inter the otherwise admirable Clara.
The main point, Jack Granatstein contends, is that "history
happened." Each generation must interpret it anew-but not undo it to fit our
current ideological attitudes. Canada has a fascinating history, during which mostly
British influence produced a country universally admired as a very fine one.
So why can't we tell our children about it-and our immigrants too? If we
do not, he warns, Canada may not long remain so admirable.
|Ted Byfield, dedicated his weekly editorial (page 52, of the same issue of the AR) to
comments about J. L. Granatstein's book. Amongst other things, he said:
"Mr. Granatstein also answers another question that has always intrigued
me. Why did the university history faculties.stand meekly aside while their
subject was eradicated in the school system, or was converted into an instrument of
ideological indoctrination. He explains that the history faculties were taken
over first by the Marxists, and then by the feminists. As long as it was their
propaganda that was being promulgated in the education system, and it always was, why should they
Ted Byfield appears to underestimate the importance of an agenda of deliberate
obfuscation and suppression of the achievements of the "patriarchy" as executed
through the women's studies programs throughout the world. It is not so much that
the feminists gladly accepted the program of eradication of the subject of history, but
that they actively promoted and accelerated that program. It isn't that the
faculties stood idly by but, rather, that feminist-dominated faculties actively promoted
the purging of texts and the curriculum of all politically incorrect content.
The extent of the impact of women's study programs on history is
apparent when one looks at library listings at the Edmonton Public Library. For
example: there are 1954 listings under the heading Women, but there are only 369 listings
under the heading Men. What is particularly noticeable is the tenor of the women's
books. A large proportion depicts women as victims of a patriarchal society.
Few, if any of the men's books listed make a comparable impression. The
proliferation of publications in women's studies is but one manifestation of the impact of
feminist teachings on our society. Certainly, with feminists in control of what is
being taught at our universities and in all other sectors of education, it shouldn't
surprise anyone that the history being taught to our students is largely comprised of
When all sectors of the media are under control of the feminists,
as it is increasingly coming to be, the re-writing of history along the lines of
what George Orwell envisioned in "1984" will be completely under the control of
the State a feminist-controlled state.
J. L. Granatstein was the guest on the Dave Rutherford talk show yesterday (broadcast in
most of western Canada), 1998 05 05. The subject of the discussion was Mr.