In a previous article, I published a vintage photograph of William Lyon Mackenzie King taken during an official visit in Nazi Germany in 1937. Somehow our minds have crossed, as the National Post decided to run this series precisely at the time when I was working on that picture, as part of a book review of Allan Levine’s William Lyon Mackenzie King, A Life Guided by the Hand of Destiny. You know the popular saying, « great spirits meet ». That’s the way I would like to think about it, anyway. Again, I want to thank the National Post for talking about these things. The editorial board seems to take seriously their mission of informing the population and sharing important aspects of our history and heritage, and sometimes suppressed ones. Decidedly, it is important to know where we come from, if we want to have any chance of surviving the difficult decades and centuries to come.
During the ’20s, ’30s and ’40s, anti-semitism was rampant and became literally the norm. It was « cool » to be anti-semite in those days. Allan Levine’s book seems to deal about that extensively, as Mackenzie King was at the center of a political scene profoundly disturbed about this issue and that was forced to take a stand for strategicals reasons, among others. Levine provides a few examples of difficult situations where choices had to be made, such as an offer by the Jewish community of Canada to cover for the expanses of 10,000 Jews, which was rejected by King, the tragic fate of the SS St-Louis’ German Jew refugees who were turned away by Canada while they awaited a sure death in Germany, and the incredible statistic of only 5,000 Jewish refugees admitted in Canada between 1933-1945. The parallel with today situation throughout the world, which makes this book so extraordinary and important, is staggering, but with a slight difference. In effect, today, the new plague that corrupts this world is not anti-semitism per se. No. It is rather called « anti-zionism », which allows for hypocrit real anti-semites to cloak their hatred of Jews behind a veil of left-wing purity and candour. You see, these people are not anti-semites, no. They just can’t stand Israelis, that’s not the same… But Canada is on the good side now, with the good attitude, since the arrival of the Conservaties in Ottawa. And for Quebec, my friends and I with « Les Amis Québécois d’Israel » on facebook, are working on it… Eventually, it will pay off.
Ceci est une photo datant de 1937 tirée d’un journal de l’époque. On peut y apercevoir au centre William Lyon Mackenzie King, Premier Ministre du Canada, en visite officielle en Allemagne nazie. L’ouvrage de Normand Lester, Le livre noir du Canada-Anglais, Tome I, permet de jeter un regard explicatif à la fois sur cette photo et aussi sur cette période trouble de notre histoire. Les informations qui suivent, à moins d’indications contraires, sont tirées de ce livre, pages 267-272. Selon les recherches effectuées par Normand Lester, Mackenzie King avait un caractère trouble, crédule et irrationnel, à la frontière de pathologies psychiatriques, ce qui en faisait un candidat de choix pour des activités comme le spiritisme, dont il était un fervent adepte. Mais il était également un antisémite convaincu, à une époque où le monde entier s’embrasait dans cette vision haineuse du peuple juif. Mackenzie King vouait une admiration non seulement pour le régime nazi mais également pour Hitler lui-même, au point où il croyait que ce dernier pourrait devenir un sauver du monde, comme il l’écrivit dans son journal personnel, cité par Lester à partir de l’ouvrage None is Too Many de Irving ABELLA et Harold TROPER. Lors de cette visite officielle, Mackenzie King prend contact avec l’Allemagne antisémite et nazie dont les symboles sont affichés partout dans Berlin. Les Juifs sont exclus de plusieurs professions et endroits de la ville…comme c’est le cas également en Ontario, note Lester. Mackenzie King n’est donc nullement choqué de cet état de choses puisque c’est devenu la norme un peu partout dans le monde occidental durant les années trente. En fait, il semble même l’approuver, comme l’indique d’autres passages de son journal intime cité dans Le livre noir. En gros, Mackenzie King semble avoir été un antisémite ayant des sympathies nazies, quoiqu’il n’est pas clair jusqu’à quel point il adhérait à cette idéologie. Il demeurait néanmoins convaincu qu’Hitler et Mussolini étaient des « personnages de qualité ». À vous de juger.
This letter was sent by President Roosevelt to Prime Minister of Canada, William Lyon Mackenzie King on May 18th 1942. Roosevelt is then presenting Mackenzie King with a plan to favor the assimilation of French-Canadians, similar to what Roosevelt was apparently trying himself to do with Franco-Americans, Italians of New York and Jews. This letter was published on a website on May 12th 1998, but unfortunately, it is no longer online today. Normand Lester reproduced it in his book The Black Book of English Canada (pages 279-280 for the French-language edition). Anyway, you have it here. It is the proof that there is a very old agenda in this country to assimilate my people, from the days of Lord Durham to Pierre-Elliott Trudeau and probably to this very day. I don’t know if you realize it in English-Canada, but it stinks. You should change your behavior and your attitudes. This has got to stop.
Roosevelt’s May 18th 1942 letter to Mackenzie King – EXERPT
When I was a boy in the « nineties » I used to see a good many French Canadians who had rather recently come into the News Bedford area near the old Delano place at Fair haven. They seemed very much out of place in what was still an old New England community. They segregated themselves in the mill towns and had little to do with their neighbors. I can still remember that the old generation shook their heads and used to say, « this is a new element which will never be assimilated. We are assimilating the Irish but these Quebec people won’t even speak English. Their bodies are here but their hearts and minds are in Quebec. »
Today, forty of fifty years later, the French Canadian elements in Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Rhode Island are at last becoming a part of the American melting pot. They no longer vote as their chuches and their societies tell them to. They are inter-marrying with the original Anglo Saxon stock; they are good, peaceful citizens and most of them are speaking English in their homes.
All of this leads me to wonder whether by some sort of planning Canada and the United States, working toward the same end, cannot do some planning — perhaps unwritten planning which need not even be a public policy — by which we can hasten the objective of assimilating the New England French Canadians and Canada’s French Canadians into the whole of our respective bodies politic. There are, of course, many methods of doing this which depend on local circumstances. Wider opportunities can perhaps be given to them in other parts of Canada and the U.S.; and at the same time, certain opportunities can probably be given to non-French Canadian stock to mingle more greatly with them in their own centers.
In other words, after nearly two hundred years with you and after seventy-five years with us, there would seem to be no good reason for great differentials between the French population elements and the rest of the racial stocks.
It is on the same basis that I am trying to work out post-war plans for the encouragement of the distribution of certain other nationalities in our large congested centers. There ought not to be such a concentration of Italians and of Jews, and even of Germans as we have today in New York City. I have started my National Resources Planning Commission to work on a survey of this kind.