While I have some sympathy for Irish republicanism, I loathe the IRA and their cult of violence. But it has to be said that IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands was a man willing to give his all for the cause. Never a heavy-set figure, he refused food of any kind for 66 days and died.
This was after the “dirty protest” when he and other Republican prisoners smeared their cell walls with their own excrement.
Chief Theresa Spence is a very different case. She is, with all due respect, a fleshy lady, and we’re told by several sources that far from being on a genuine hunger strike, she’s merely eating little other than broth.
Forgive me, but that’s a detox regime rather than a serious political protest.
She also being visited by pretty much every ambitious leftist politician, special interest group leader and banal Canadian writer who can find the time. She seems to have become one of the country’s major tourist attractions, a sort of CN Tower but with more public funding.
The latter point is about as central as it gets, because while many natives live in poverty and degradation, the same cannot be said for their myriad leaders.
Hundreds of millions of dollars are pumped into the native community through their leaders; that this fortune so often fails to find its intended target is a condemnation of chiefs rather than government ministers. It’s a multi-faceted, complex, historical problem, and emotionalism and hysteria only make it worse.
Most of us can trace ethnic or religious backgrounds where we’ve been persecuted, disenfranchised, massacred. Some are worse than others — natives owned black slaves in America, for example, but no black people owned natives.
This government has in many ways been more empathetic and pro-active regarding First Nations than most others, but the extremists now exploiting this latest protest are far more concerned with attacking Conservatives than dealing authentically with native grievances.
Let’s be clear here. Hunger strikes in a democratic society are immoral and irresponsible. In dictatorships, extremes of political opposition are understandable, but not where the electorate can reject a government and end a prime minister’s career.
It’s ideological narcissism: I matter more than you and my cause is more important and unless you meet with me I shall not eat.
Imagine a pro-lifer on hunger strike, or a Caledonia resident who was tired on native thuggery. B-list celebrities and politicians would not bend the knee, liberal media would not abandon any sense of balance and bow and scrape. Nor should they.
Blackmail is never acceptable, especially when it’s downright contemptuous of the democratic process.
It’s really a very Canadian protest. Not really starvation, not really about what is claimed, very safe, and all wrapped in blankets of cozy white guilt and an obsessive fear of being labelled as politically incorrect.
This won’t be the last word or action in the native debate, just as Bobby Sands’ death had little to do with the eventual peace in Northern Ireland.
That came about when both sides were simply exhausted. Have a Big Mac, Chief Spence, and close down the circus.