May 30, 2005

Shotgun history

The Shotgun is approvingly citing Peter Worthington's piece on the Canada War Museum controversies today. The current allegations concern the display of unflattering Somalia-related art by an official Canadian war artist, and the publication of official Canadian statistics for venereal disease (affecting nearly half of Canadian service personnel) during the Korean War. As the Shotgun commentator puts it, "Is the Museum selling out principle for a buck and some notoriety? Or do they genuinely believe that including info about soldiers with the clap will deepen our understanding of the Korean war?"

I said what I had to say about the art controversy previously. For the other matter... I have criticized others in this space for telling untruths about soldiers, sure. But as a soldier myself, I have to say: an army in a democracy have proved able to withstand the truth -- the whole truth -- of war. And the military institution can't solve the problems it has had previously (in this case, the interconnection of STDs with military life) without first acknowledging them. When they start rejecting objective facts themselves, these people do not speak in soldiers' best interests, or the military's. The fetishization of military valour they apparently to want to see in this museum has historically been just about the most poisonous influence any army or a society can fall susceptible to, and Canadians can do without it.

Note: This is not to affirm the Korea statistic in question, which as Worthington has said elsewhere, may be misleading. But that's different from stating that all "info about soldiers with the clap" should be excluded from military history, which is the Shotgun's (and Worthington's) apparent position.

Posted by BruceR at 05:37 PM