Saturday, January 19, 2008

Because the museum-of-the-consequences-of-war was too wordy

Conversation at dinner last night turned to the Canadian War Museum (architectural faboulousness by Raymond Moriyama). A. was opposed to the idea of a museum about war; R. euphemistically called it "Museum of Death". And M. chose to consider it a museum of remembrance of those who died, citing the fact that the displays give space to soldiers on both/all sides of conflicts Canada has been involved in, as well as movingly commemorating victims of war who's involvement is comprised pretty much of having the thing go on around them or to them.

My only real contribution to the conversation was to suggest that I preferred having a museum of war to one of "Military History" which gives the entire process grand overtones that I don't agree with and deflects further from the commemorative/reflective process that questions if war is right vs. merely a fact in history.

Thinking about it later, I wondered if the word "war" still packed enough of an emotional punch to resonate with the average person as something wrong--the thing that must be resorted to only when other measures have failed.

Then I read in Cathy Crowe's January newsletter. War must still have enough negative connotations in the public if the Gov. General's euphemism in her New Year's message is any indication. If we followed her wording for the Afghanistan War then we'd have a Museum of Multinational Reconstruction Efforts....


simplesyrup said...

...this is R replying... my comment about 'museum of death' was offered with little thought given to the contributions of millions who suffered, who died and who risked life in the name of a cause that for their country was more important than the lives of individuals. Given the number of conflicts and the number of perspectives on each conflict it is an impossibility to select right from wrong, good from bad and successfully cast judgment on past wars (as if there was some higher truth that transcends personal opinion or cultural belief system). So, after consideration, I now say it is far better to have a living repository of perspectives from which to learn and hopefully stimulate good decision making from current and future leaders than to leave military history to grade 10 history class and the authorized history text of the decade and country in which it was taught.

Jen said...

Hey R--like the simplesyrup handle! Thanks for the thoughtful reply. I was interested most in the variety of euphamism in the conversation and with the Michaelle Jean euphamism for the war in Afghanistan. A. responded back to me and prefered the GG's euphamism. Personally though I think the word 'War' adequately captures the sentiments of those wanting to commemorate war as valourious or vilify it. [Please excuse the horrible spelling mistakes I know I am making]