“History is the running record of mankind trudging like a blind idiot through an endless pile of retrospectively unenlightened shit. Like Mike in Suits, if you will.”
A few mornings ago I woke up to an article from the National Post titled “Everything is offensive: Here are Canada’s other politically incorrect place names” in which the writer Tristin Hopper wittily drew the parallel between many of Canada’s key historical figures and your obliviously racist grandmother. The article was written in response to a dispute last last week brought up by the Ontario elementary teacher’s union to eradicate all John A. Macdonald references in school names.
The reason for this?
JMac, the first Prime Minister of Canada (long dead for 126 years), is now being called ‘the architect of genocide against Indigenous Peoples’ and according to some, should thus be whitewashed from public memory. Felipe Pareja, the teacher who brought up the issue claimed that “it might be difficult for Indigenous students and teachers to go to a school named after someone who he says was complicit in the genocide of Indigenous people.”
While it was ruled that the right to remove or keep the the school names remains with individual school boards across Ontario, this is hardly the first (or last) we’ll be hearing about our ‘politically incorrect’ past. Statues of Confederate ‘heroes’ are being torn down across the US as modern society repaints them as white supremacists, slave-owners, and sexist scum of history. Toronto’s own Ryerson University is also under scrutiny as Ryerson becomes brandished as the pioneer of residential schools designed to assimilate Indigenous children.
It seems that North American societies are dead set on disowning much of its past, retaining only the scraps that are politically correct, which begs the question: what exactly is politically correct?
Practical answer: not much.
Dictionary.com answer: conforming to a belief that language and practices which could offend political sensibilities (as in matters of sex or race) should be eliminated.
(If you had to read that definition more than once, don’t feel bad, I did that too. That sentence structure is pretty convoluted.)
But history is extremely offensive.
History is the running record of mankind (no I will not instead use the word ‘humankind’) trudging like a blind idiot through an endless pile of retrospectively unenlightened shit. Like Mike in Suits, if you will.
We’ve hated, discriminated, misunderstood, persecuted, tortured, feared, abused, robbed, and competed against our brothers and sisters for as long as we’ve existed, and it still happens now. The West’s insatiable appetite for cheap oil has driven us to rob the people of Equatorian Guinea of their access to acceptable standards of living, while pampering the corrupt Obiang clan to insupportable excess. Demand for cheap textiles from countries in Southeast Asia means that women are paid such dismal wages that they are structurally forced to work as prostitutes in order to make a living.
And here we are, making a fuss about something that happened over a century ago. I’m not saying that we should forget about what we have done here in Canada. I’m saying the exact opposite – that we need to recognize that it’s not about being politically correct or incorrect, but rather about reconciliation and advancement. And changing a couple of school names, or all of them as the proof by induction suggests, gets us nowhere near either of those.
Changing ‘British Columbia’ to ‘Province A’ does nothing to atone for our colonial past, to change the fact that Christopher Columbus came with guns and ships, and cheated the First Nations people of their birthright. In fact, changing it to ‘Province A’ might lead us to forget this segment before we can truly address it and make right our wrongs.
Making such a big splash about JMac also drowns out more pressing topics (given our society’s goldfish attention span), such as the lack of clean water in roughly two-thirds of water systems in Aboriginal communities.
Yes, I get it, changing a name is quick and satisfying, quoting how much we’ve spent on infrastructure makes us look big and generous. But these issues are deeper than that, and while it may be out of good intentions that these kinks on the surface, the damage may incur not all that far down the road may have our grand-children thinking we were politically unenlightened buffoons.
Blessed are the peacemakers:
for they shall be called
the children of God.
- 125 g buckwheat flour
- 125 g pastry flour
- 1 tsp fine sea salt
- 1 tsp sugar
- 3/4 c cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks
- 2/3 c cold water
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- In a food processor, pulse together the flours, salt, and sugar until thoroughly combined.
- Add all of the butter, and pulse 3-5 times until you’re left with pea-sized chunks that are coated in flour – do not over-process!!
- Stir together the water and vinegar, and drizzle it in while pulsing until the dough comes together into a single mass. You may need a couple tablespoons more depending on the mood of your flour.
- Dump the dough out onto a piece of clingfilm spread on a clean surface. Dust lightly and pat into an inch-thick round. Wrap tightly and chill for at least an hour or overnight.
- Dust your clean working surface generously with all purpose flour. Take out your dough from the fridge, unwrap it, and dust it on all sides with flour so it doesn’t stick.
- Working quickly so it doesn’t soften too much, roll the dough out into a 1/4-inch thick rectangle. With the short edge parallel to your body. Fold the top third down towards the center, and the bottom third up towards the center as well to form 3 layers, gently brushing away any excess flour with a pastry brush. Fold the rectangle in half crosswise so you have roughly a square, again brushing away any excess flour. Wrap in clingfilm and chill for at least an hour or overnight.
- Repeat step 6.
- The pastry now has 36 layers, and can either be frozen for up to 2 months, or 1 week in the fridge, tightly wrapped.
Niagara Lavender Peach Crostata
- 6-8 slightly underripe Niagara peaches, sliced (if you can’t get these in your area, seek out any local peach or nectarine that has a bolder flavour and some acidity)
- scant 3/4 c sugar
- 1 egg, beaten with 1 tbsp water as egg wash
- white sugar, as needed for crust
- 1 tsp culinary grade lavender
- 1 Buckwheat Pastry (above)
- Preheat the oven to 365 degrees F, with the rack placed on the lowest level.
- In a large bowl, toss together the peaches and sugar. Set aside.
- Roll out the pastry dough to a 1/4-inch round (it doesn’t have to be perfect). Roll it up gently around your rolling pin to pick it up and drape it onto a 10-inch fluted pie tin with a removable bottom (9-inch works as well, you’ll just have a taller tart). Gently ease the dough into the corners of the tin, leaving the edges hanging.
- Fill the lined tin with the peach and sugar mixture. Fold the hanging edges over the filling, pressing gently to hold it in place.
- Brush the edges with egg wash and sprinkle generously with sugar.
- Place the tin on a baking sheet (to catch any juices) and bake on the lowest rack for at least 60-75 minutes, or until the crust is completely golden brown and crisp when tapped.
- Serve warm or cold with cream, whipped to soft peaks with some vanilla paste.