Memo to Sir Paul: colonialism is invisible to the colonizer

TO:  Sir Paul McCartney

FROM:  Historiann

RE:  Comments concerning your performance in Québec

Congratulations on the successful show, sir–it’s wonderful that you were greeted by such a warmly enthusiastic crowd yesterday, and addressing it in French occasionally was a very nice touch.  But in the future, in the course of mollifying one Canadian ethnic group, it would be best if you would try to avoid pissing off another ethnic group.  Please be advised that comments like “I think it’s time to smoke the pipes of peace and to just, you know, put away your hatchet because I think it’s a show of friendship,” (emphasis mine) may reasonably be interpreted by the First Nations peoples as invoking outdated stereotypes about Native warriors and First Nations cultures.  Both First Nations peoples and Francophone Canadians have heard it all before when it comes to displays of “friendship” by English people and other Anglophones.

Please also be advised that your performance was on the site of the battle where the people of Québec were conquered by the English and Anglophone Canadians, at least for the following 249 years.  Therefore, perhaps it would have been wise to avoid overtly militaristic metaphors lest you be suspected of not respecting Québecois politics or of not appreciating that the Plains of Abraham is not just a pretty park now, but also a sacred space in Québec history, not to mention a graveyard for many of the soldiers who died there in 1759.  This impression was only reinforced when you said, “The kind of thing I read about in the schoolbooks when I was a kid was … who was General Wolfe?. . . . I still haven’t figured it out.” En Anglais, they made you sound like a condescending jerk, especially since your performance was part of the 400th anniversary celebrations of Québec history!  (French Canadians know that the vast majority of Anglophone Canadians, Britons, and U.S. Americans don’t really know much or care at all about Québec history, but let’s try not to rub in in their faces, m’kay?) 

Always looking out for you, baby!  Your pal, Historiann. 

0 thoughts on “Memo to Sir Paul: colonialism is invisible to the colonizer

  1. The Stones were always the brainier band, between the two, or at least the non-knighted (so far as I can remember) frontman, Mick Jagger, was, who put in his time at the LSE. I wonder who we could get to play at Fort Pitt this fall, maybe in Heinz Field when the Steelers are away? General Forbes won that one in 1758 in a more interesting way. He considered the area’s Indians to be players, not just scalpers. So he encouraged the Quakers, who quit the Pennsylvania government and set up one of the world’s earlier NGOs, the “Friendly Association for Regaining Peace with the Indians by Pacific Means.” They intruded in the official imperial diplomacy that summer and helped to negotiate the Lenape people’s abandonment of their tacit partnership with the French. Fort Duquesne fell in November with relatively little bloodshed and indeed with few shots being fired. Forbes died a few months later, but in bed in Philadelphia, of natural causes, unheroized by painters. Is Country Joe MacDonald still out there, or maybe it’s time for a Fugs reunion tour?

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  2. Je me souviens!

    Perhaps the Francophone Canadians would “smoke the pipes of peace” if the rest of Canada, and the United States and Great Britain apparently, would stop treating them like second-class citizens. Growing up in Vermont, there were all sort of derogatory terms for French Canadians which I won’t print here — suffice to say that they were similar to many of the stereotypes and bigotry applied to Mexican-Americans in other areas of the country.

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  3. Good point, KC–I’ve got family members in Maine, so we probably have heard some of the same disparaging terms…

    Indyanna: maybe you could get Paul Revere and the Minutemen Raiders?

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  4. A Boston band in Point Park could be trouble. They might say “we thought the Charles had ‘Dirty Water’ (r), but this is rid…” at which point the Rolling Rock bottles would start flying. I think I’d go with Chrissie Hynde, who’s from neighboring Ohio, and could keep it friendly.

    Not to ‘jack the thread, but what did anybody think of this Danica Patrick flap? I YouTubed it, and compared to what you’d see if Kyle Horton was fussing with Billy-Bob Clarke, it seemed like a model of decorous colloquy especially with all of that provocative towel-flapping. You just can’t win, even in practice, in that league! Not thatI really watch NASCAR (except for the interviews)!

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