Shawn Atleo and Neville Chamberlain: “peace for our time”.
Written By Robin Mathews firstname.lastname@example.org
Shawn Atleo, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations in Canada, is an intelligent, concerned human being, deeply committed to his people.
So was the British prime minister leading into the Second World War, Neville Chamberlain – forever cursed with the name of an appeaser of Adolf Hitler, and charged by many with responsibility for the war. Chamberlain did everything in his power – as appeaser - to head off war … agreeing to okay some of Hitler’s crimes. We know what happened.
Coming back from a meeting with Adolf Hitler in the fall of 1938 Chamberlain told grateful and adoring crowds there would be “peace for our time”.
Speaking in Vancouver on January 24, 2013, after meeting with Stephen Harper, Shawn Atleo declared that the native peoples of Canada have a common enemy. That common enemy is very clearly Stephen Harper – who has forced through omnibus bills C-38 and C-45, both of which undercut First Nations power and place in the Canadian community. Shawn Atleo would not name Stephen Harper, but called the common enemy “the status quo”.
The common enemy is not the status quo.
Before the two omnibus bills, the condition of First Nations people in Canada was parlous, unacceptable – needing serious attention and constructive action…without delay.
The omnibus bills significantly worsen the place of First Nations people … beyond what was the status quo.
The bills change negatively the Fisheries Act and environmental assessments. They close aboriginal-specific programs and information gathering. They work to undermine aboriginal treaty and constitutional rights – in fact, to erase them in real terms. They undertake to divide and conquer, both First Nations peoples and people in the larger Canadian community.
In the aftermath, Harper supporters may even be inciting racism in order to alienate other Canadians from the First Nations people. Anyone who has been taken on by the Harper support group knows that truth, honesty, integrity, and fairness become the victims of ruthless slander, deceit, and falsehood, especially on social media where the identity of abusers can be hidden.
What is Shawn Atleo doing in saying that the common enemy is the status quo when the common enemy is Stephen Harper and the Harper Junta? He is practicing appeasement. He is attempting to deny the fact of the wholesale attack upon the Native people by the Harper Junta. He is hoping he can jolly Stephen Harper into warm, agreeable reforms. He is hoping that if he pretends Stephen Harper is honourable and honest, that is what Stephen Harper will be.
Stephen Harper will never be those things.
At the time of Chamberlain’s attempted appeasement of Adolf Hitler, Winston Churchill said the country had a choice between war and shame and had chosen shame. And, he said, it will [also] get war. Anyone might say the same thing of Shawn Atleo and his choice: he has chosen shame … and the condition of the First Nations people will get worse, much, much worse than it is now.
Looking over the gulf of more than seventy years that separates Neville Chamberlain and Shawn Atleo, many will say the comparison is ridiculous. “There is nothing in common between the two historical events”, they will say. But they are wrong. There is a major, significant similarity – in my view.
Both Neville Chamberlain and Shawn Atleo faced fundamentally dishonest men: liars, manipulators, deviously destructive men. We know Stephen Harper lied about the multi-billion dollar F35 aircraft.
Under his management, we have seen the falsifying of government documents, suppression of research, misinformation about persons, intimidation and bullying of adversaries, production of an elaborate handbook on how to destroy parliamentary committee work, illegitimate attacks on journalists, the insane misnaming of destructive legislation, an alleged attempted bribery of a member, and – as Susan Riley, Ottawa journalist reported recently – the complete creation of ALL Harper MPs into lying parrots.
We know his Party and supporters admit guilt to attempting, illegally, to destroy a fair election in 2006. We know they are believed by the majority of Canadians to have attempted to rig the 2011 election by fraud, with Robocalls. And they may have succeeded in doing so.
We know Stephen Harper has not shown the tiniest concern or regret that those things have happened.
The world now knows that Neville Chamberlain faced a psychopath when he negotiated with Adolf Hitler. I believe that Shawn Atleo also faces a psychopath when he negotiates with Stephen Harper. (Others may disagree … so far.) Psychopaths, we are told, are morally dead. They are manipulative. They are consummate and tireless liars. They work to dominate. They stop at nothing to “fulfill” their desires and mad dreams. They can be, in turns, charming and lethal. They want to seem normal and make special efforts to hide their real selves. (Stephen Harper has travelled for years with a personal attendant in charge of his appearance and self-presentation!)
Interviewed by CBC reporter Duncan McCue in Vancouver on January 25, Shawn Atleo seemed strangely reticent about his meeting with Stephen Harper. He seemed unwilling to speak frankly about the man I believe is a psychopath. What motivated Shawn Atleo’s unreasonable reticence? A desire to appease?
Neville Chamberlain did everything he knew how to do in order to prevent the Second World War, by practicing appeasement. And he failed. He was succeeded by Winston Churchill who insisted on the reality of the situation. Bold, courageous, dramatic, imaginative action had to be undertaken with the recognition that a psychopath was loose and had to be met head on. Action replaced appeasement – and eventually succeeded.
Shawn Atleo, attempting appeasement, is plainly failing to protect Canada’s First Nations. Things will get worse. Who will succeed him … and how soon?
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