Letters – In Solidarity With Our Fallen

An open letter to Demilitarize McGill on behalf of patrons of this university and citizens of this country:

I am certain I speak for a majority of students when I tell you that we were hurt, offended, and downright shocked at the way in which members of your community conducted themselves at the Remembrance Day ceremony on the morning of November 11th, 2014. And while I will endeavour not to succumb to the quality of the inciteful comments that have since laden your Facebook page, it goes without saying that your actions were not acceptable – and for this you must be held accountable.

When familiarizing myself with your political platform, I couldn’t help but bring to bear upon you some thoughts to ruminate on. In a Remembrance Day article you authored in The McGill Daily last year, you claimed that “[McGill] University places profit before human dignity.” Your actions that morning attest to the fact that Demilitarize McGill places the right to express the extremist views of a few before the human dignity of the many.

On the day of the ceremonies, you tweeted: “Though we’re glad there were no cannons this year, helicopters flew over campus, glorifying warfare.” Might I also ask if you believe this past weekend’s worldwide coverage of the 25th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall – and all of its accompanying accoutrements – also constituted a “glorification of warfare?” To me it seems as though you are not attacking glorification of warfare as a principle, rather you disapprove of the brand of warfare you think is being glorified.

You endeavour “to remind people what is erased from [the Remembrance Day] spectacle” yet shroud in vagueness what exactly your community strives to achieve. You call for “full and accountable Remembrance” yet selectively employ such tactics in your own political discourse. You extol that Remembrance Day is disrespectful to “those terrorized by the Canadian state” yet in turn so publicly terrorize those that fought to ensure the sovereignty of the nation many of you proudly call home.

It is my belief that your feigning political self-righteousness is a guise for the shameless promotion of your own ideology – one that is ultimately less accountable, less tolerant, less peaceful, and more hypocritical than the one Remembrance Day so courageously espouses. You openly glorify dissent and encourage insurgency at a time when our world has never so desperately needed more compassion, more cooperation, and more togetherness. If you do indeed concur with this claim, then surely you must concede that your actions that day have achieved nothing but the opposite. These are dangerous ideological waters to inhabit.

Biographer Evelyn Beatrice Hall famously summarized the philosophical work of Voltaire with the following words: “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Please think about those brave souls that gave their lives to enable your very actions on that morning. Instead of propagating further divide between left and right, man and woman, rich and poor, native and immigrant, I earnestly suggest you reflect upon the overarching values that drive your community – and ask yourself what it is you are doing to make this world a better place.

Bryn Bowen

The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Bull & Bear.