Mar 122021
Dr. Norman Bethune

The recent publication of the article “Cancel Culture & the Case of Dr. Norman Bethune,” on the front page of the March 11, 2021 edition of the National Post further exemplifies Postmedia’s longstanding commitment to anti-communism, racism, and war mongering.

The article’s bizarre assertion is that since anti-racist movements and Indigenous peoples are demanding the removal of statues of John A. MacDonald, then the museum at Norman Bethune’s birthplace should also be removed. The strange rationale is that since MacDonald committed genocide and Bethune fought against the fascist occupation of China, a country which is now being falsely accused of genocide, that the two men have something in common. 

John A. MacDonald, a Conservative who openly said he was fighting for “the Aryan character of the future of British North America” and who intentionally starved thousands of Indigenous people into submission, has absolutely nothing in common with Norman Bethune, a Communist who fought against fascism in Spain and China while being among the first physicians in Canada to struggle for universal public healthcare. Tories may not like it, but Bethune remains one of the most admired Canadians both at home and internationally because of his heroic embrace of all of humanity.

This idea that “cancel culture” has unfairly targeted Conservatives while ignoring Bethune is not unique to Mr. McParland’s piece in the National Post. A very similar opinion piece comparing the two historical figures appeared in the Globe and Mail by Patrick Luciani last August. Luciani is a frequent contributor to the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies which recently merged with the Fraser Institute. Maxime Bernier and the Epoch Times, the media of the pro-Trumpist, Chinese religious cult Falun Gong, have both recently gone on the offensive against Bethune’s legacy. This increasingly looks like an organized effort by Conservative and ultra-right forces to muddy the waters with regard to the historical truth about MacDonald’s role in genocide against Indigenous nations by attacking Bethune. They are trying to shift righteous resistance against colonialism and racism towards anti-communism and war.

These articles and statements are part of a new wave of anti-communist propaganda coming at a time when capitalism is showing its total inability to provide for peoples’ basic needs. They are coming now when the governments of the USA and Canada are accusing China of new and outrageous crimes every day to maintain the hegemony of US imperialism around the globe. It is not China that is a threat to world peace but US-NATO imperialism which has been engaged in wars of aggression for most of the last 80 years. It is not China which is killing Muslim people but the United States which has dropped an average of 46 bombs a day for the last twenty years on Afghanistan, Pakistan, and much of the Middle East and North Africa.

The author claims that it is unfair to judge MacDonald by today’s standards. This negates the fact that there was always Indigenous resistance to colonialism in Canada. The battle over who we choose to put on a pedestal today has to do with what kind of society we want to build tomorrow. We, along with millions of others internationally, are convinced that Bethune’s legacy deserves to be remembered and honoured.