June 21, 2012

Anniversary of war of 1812

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:16 am by changisme

The celebration of the War of 1812 in the Great White North has always been this interesting spectacle for me. Even before this bicentennial anniversary, I have always heard songs such as this and this  (I always preferred the latter); There have been stamps, comics, toys, you name it. Everyone drank to the victory of the Canadian independence, even though kids in grade schools knew that the Canadian Confederation wasn’t until 1867, and it was from the British rather than the Americans. The fact that I hold no patriotism to any country in this world makes it seem funny.

Recent years I have lived in the United States. To my astonishment, few remembered or ever knew of the great War of 1812 with the shame that has rained down on America with her little leader Madison. Among those who remembered, most told me the war was a draw. Who could argue? Neither side gained anything, and both lost nothing but life of the soldiers who never counted. The burning of the White House Canadians hold dear is also met with sneer, as Washington DC was barely a swamp merely a couple decades after the American Civil War.

Some such as Alan Taylor have argued that the War of 1812 was merely an after shock of the American Civil War, fought between the refugees and the Republicans. It was hence the regressive pro-slavery faction among the Canadians (or ex-Americans?) who were fighting. Woe! I can just feel the scorching fury from Canadian nostrils right now.

But of course, who are the true losers here as it always is on this fertile and ancient continent? The First Nations. They were bullied before when the fighting was directed at them, and they lose again even when the fighting was supposed to be between white men. They lost large number of their territories and the trade support with the British.

A lot of these reminds me of the Korean War. That war was really between the US and China (+Russia maybe). China wanted a cushion between herself and some powerful western country, while the US… actually… the motivations of American wars overseas have always been difficult to be taken seriously. In any case, both sides lost significant amount people and resources before the DMZ was established. The amount of war crime committed in the Korean War was far greater than that during the War of 1812, mostly because east Asia was just been through WWII a few years prior. Nevertheless, no territories were gained or lost by either side. China, like Canada, claims to have won the war, because she has successfully established the “cushion”, though with great cost. The US, well, has somewhat contained communism, though later this container of hers was to capture American journalists and simmer in Nuclear weapon.  Other than that, any significant consequences of this war was that it probably have stopped China’s invasion of Taiwan. Just like the War of 1812 for Canadians, the Korean War became a shining point that established the national identity of post-1949 China and North Korea.

I guess like any war, 1812 is more valuable as a story to tell. It is stories that establishes nationhood afterall. Like when mothers talk about their children, stories from the past are bookmarked, not just by grades and migrations, but also by violence, which may be hard to avoid, but can certainly be lessened and should never taste sweet.

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