Montreal: should we unbolt the statue of a racist?

After the new American wave of destruction of statues of slavers, it is the turn of the English to take action. Bristol anti-racist protesters have debunked the statue of Edward Colston, the slave trader whose ships dominated the transatlantic human trade between Africa and the American slave states. His bronze statue was ripped from its pedestal by the crowd, then sprayed with red paint and thrown into the Avon River.

Rest assured, it is unimaginable that the statue of another white supremacist whom the Anglo-Montrealers honor with a statue, Horatio Nelson, suffers the same fate. The man who defeated the Napoleonic fleet at Trafalgar was a contemptuous racist, as a 2017 British newspaper article recalled. The Guardian who demanded that the column erected in his honor in London be unbolted:

Nelson was a white supremacist. While many around him were denouncing slavery, Nelson was vigorously defending it. Britain’s best known naval hero used his seat in the House of Lords and his position of huge influence to perpetuate the tyranny, serial rape and exploitation organized by West Indian planters, some of whom he counted among his closest friends.

Quebecers have wanted to get rid of his statue for a long time. In 1893 Prime Minister Honoré Mercier’s son, then a law student, was arrested while preparing to blow up the monument.

Mayor Pierre Bourque wondered in the 1990s if it would not be a good idea to move it to Westmount. This will never be done: the English who control the town hall of Montreal would take umbrage. Our Nelson column is one of the oldest monuments in the world celebrating the British racist admiral. Older than that of London. We should be proud!

Mayor Plant is not to displease those who carried her and who keep her in power. You will tell me that it renamed Amherst Street, which recalled the memory of another heinous British military leader. Amherst was one of the first military leaders to use a biological weapon during the aboriginal uprising in Pontiac in 1763.

Our mayor, who seems ignorant of history, relied on her Anglo advisers who told her to give Amherst Street a Mohawk name. What she did.

The Mohawks fought alongside Amherst and his troops. Giving a Mohawk name to Amherst Street is not only nonsense, but an insult to the memory of the native allies of the French who were the victims of the epidemic of smallpox triggered by Jeffrey Amherst.

Here is what happened.

The first Governor General of Canada has a sickly hatred for the Indian allies of the French. His contemptuous racist attitude eventually provoked an indigenous uprising led by the great chief Pontiac, a long-time ally of France. The indigenous rebellion continued after the Treaty of Paris of 1763, which ended hostilities. No fewer than ten tribes are on the warpath across the entire American Midwest. It was then that Amherst conceived the diabolical plan to exterminate them using blankets infected with smallpox. It was the first time that the user of a biological weapon had deliberately exploited the opponent’s immune weakness: the British were aware of the immediate and devastating effects that smallpox had on the native North Americans.

Peter of Erico, professor at the University of Pennsylvania, notes that the letters exchanged between Amherst and his subordinates “are filled with comments that indicate a genocidal intention.It is estimated that the smallpox epidemic has claimed tens of thousands of Aboriginal lives. It will even spread among tribes in the southeast who had not participated in the uprising.

By giving the toponym Mohawk Atateken at rue Amherst, Valérie Plante pays tribute to the native allies of the British genocidaire. We should have renamed it “rue de la Paix” to commemorate the “Great Peace of Montreal” signed between the French and the Aboriginals in 1701. It saddens me that Ghislain Picard, the leader of the Assembly of First Nations in Quebec participated to this pro-Mohawk propaganda operation. For the ceremony, Our Lady of Perpetual Smile was surrounded by Mohawk chiefs from Kanesatake and Kahnawake.

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