Wednesday, August 4, 2010

By Their Heroes Shall Ye Know Them

Supposing I were to tell you that in Gravenhurst, Ontario, the town where I spent this past weekend and where I met up with my canine doppleganger, there was a national historic site dedicated to a man who's a "hero" both in Italy and Canada. And, further, suppose I told you that this "hero" was Benito Mussolini's army doctor, a noted "humanitarian" who did his utmost to ensure that the fascist forces were treated for wounds incurred on the battlefield in furtherance of the fascist cause. And, as the icing on this suppositional cake, what if I said that every year thousands of Italians make the trek--pilgrimage, really--from Italy to Canada to visit this historic site, once this fascist hero's home?  

"Preposterous! you might well exclaim. "Unfathomable!" I can hear you add. And, of course, you'd be correct. It is absurd to think of Parks Canada maintaining such a shrine. Preposterously and unfathomably, however, it does maintain one to a man who's a hero both in China and Canada--Dr. Norman Bethune, who garnered fame and glory for being Mao Tse Tung's army surgeon.

Mao--you know, communist dude, perhaps the greatest mass-slaughterer in history, a guy who, when it comes to bloodthirstiness makes Benito Mussolini look like the Dalai Lama?

Mind you, since the good doctor was a communist and not a fascist, and since both plaques in front of the historic site--one placed there by the province, the other by the feds--mention that the he was an early champion of "socialized medicine" (while, shall we say, overlooking both the communism and Mao's proclivity for mass murder), and since Parks Canada's Bethune House continues to attract pilgrims from China come to pay homage to Mao's army surgeon, thereby boosting the local economy, I guess it's okay to continue venerating this "great" Canadian.

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