Canadians have been grappling recently with the discovery of multiple mass graves at or near the sites of former “residential schools.” These are the mainly Catholic-run institutions that committed a cultural genocide against Indigenous people, taking children under their control, leaving them in unsanitary conditions and not caring for their sicknesses, then burying the ones who died in unmarked graves.
But if you’re Declan Leary, the associate editor of The American Conservative, all of this is a cause for celebration. The subtitle of his essay about these gravesites is literally “They’re good, actually.”
He justifies the deaths by saying child mortality for Indigenous people was high at the time (so the deaths weren’t shocking), the Church-run schools were underfunded by the government (so it’s their fault), and these gravesites were really just normal cemeteries by another name (so calm down, everyone).
I’m not kidding about that:
People die, and when they die, you put them in the ground. There is nothing inherently scandalous about this.
It’s his justification of all this, however, that’s so appalling. He thinks that because these were Christian schools, they were inherently good. That means the Christian burials were also a net positive.
… the certain fact that souls were saved by the missionaries, the enduring belief of Christians that the Gospel is true and must be spread, is paramount; everything else is secondary.
Whatever good was present at the Ossossané ossuary — where those who had not yet encountered the fullness of Truth honored their dead as best they knew how — is increased a thousandfold in the cemeteries of the residential schools, where baptized Christians were given Christian burials. Whatever natural good was present in the piety and community of the pagan past is an infinitesimal fraction of the grace rendered unto those pagans’ descendants who have been received into the Church of Christ. Whatever sacrifices were exacted in pursuit of that grace — the suffocation of a noble pagan culture; an increase in disease and bodily death due to government negligence; even the sundering of natural families — is worth it.
There you have it. Christian genocide is to be celebrated because it is, by definition, for a good cause.
This is how you can be devoutly religious and a terrible human being without there being any sort of contradiction. Leary has no sympathy for the innocent dead kids because he’s too enamored by how they got Christian burials.
If the Indigenous tribes he cares nothing about made the same argument to justify the needless murder of Catholic children, I suspect Leary wouldn’t give a shit about their supernatural rationale. But when he likes the people doing the killing, everything is acceptable.
Who knew “compassionate conservatism” meant celebrating genocide in the name of Jesus.
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