The Fractured Nation Interviews

Maude Barnstone

What's in a Name and the Apologetic Canadian

Canadians in the last half of the twentieth and beginning of the twenty-first century took the easy way out.

Canadians occupied a vast country with almost inexhaustible natural resources which they squandered for short term economic or political gain; rather than nurture the skills they would need to maintain their economy, they robbed from the rest of the world and claimed it was compassion for the less fortunate; they started more and more to depend on others rather than depend on themselves; they denied their country had a past and a culture that it could be proud of and to fill this alleged historical and cultural void they looked to other countries, to other cultures and became in the words of a twentieth century politician called Joe Clark (not Joe Who) “a community of communities”; they tried to be everything to everybody and eventually were nothing to anyone and simply, like the Cheshire Cat, faded away.

E-mail from viewer, name withheld on request

Fractured Nation InterviewsJohnny: I would like to thank the viewer who sent us that e-mail, which, except for perhaps her last remark about Canada fading away like the cat in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is a fair summary of what two of our guests Diane Frances Smith and Dr. Tamil Singh had to say about the cause of Canada’s collapse ten years ago this week – an event which historians call The Fracture.

I would also like to thank the viewer for pointing out that the politician who wanted Canada to become a type of “community of communities” was called Joe Clark not Joe Who or Joe Somebody. Our researchers informed me that Joe Who was the name he was given by the media after coming out of nowhere, a relative unknown, to win the leadership of the then Progressive Conservative Party of Canada.

We also received quite a few e-mails about the interview with his Excellency the Ayatollah Muhammad Abdullah Domeini. Needless to say, His Excellency elicits strong views ranging from those who see the spread of Islam as a signal that judgement day is at hand when Allah will return to reward the righteous and punish the wicked, and those who see the spread of Islam as further evidence of the coming of an Islamic Dark Age. Emails revealed little middle-ground between these two extreme views.

In response to some e-mails, I would like to assure our viewers and our guests that apart from a certain fondness for Canada’s early settlers and first inhabitants, whose stories and accomplishments I may recount during the course of an interview, I try not to take sides. And I repeat, for all those who sent in those e-mails claiming I was anti-Muslim, I am not, although I will admit, among other things, being uncomfortable with Islam’s attitude towards women and the fact that a man in an Islamic relationship seems to literally and figuratively have the whip-hand. I apologize if my feelings in these matters are interpreted as being anti-Muslim.

Today is our fourth show or fourth interview in a week devoted to exploring with well known authors, experts and pundits what caused Canada to fracture the way it did ten years ago, this week. Our guest tonight is a well-known feminist, historian and author of the definitive biographies of two greats in the struggle for women’s rights, the Canadian, Nellie Mooney McLung and the American, Susan B. Anthony. Please welcome the one and only Maude Elizabeth Barnstone.

Johnny: Welcome. May I call you Maude?

Maude: Sure, if I can call you Johnny … Johnny.

Johnny: So Maude and Johnny it is. Barnstone that is not, not a traditional black-African name?

Maude: Not a traditional black-African name??? What are you talking about?

Johnny: I mean, prominent figures of the North American African-Caribbean League have taken the name of African ancestors. You have not?

Maude: That’s their choice. I am comfortable with the family name my great-great-great grand-father chose. As a slave he had only one name. When he was given his freedom, he was required to chose a second name, a family name. Like many a freed slave, he took as the family name the name of the plantation on which he had spent most of his adult life. I have no problems with that, the choice of family name that is. It is part of my history, my heritage, which I am proud of.

Having said that, I was born in Canada, the former Canada, the real Canada – not its poor, embarrassing, disconnected offspring, the Canadian Federation. I considered myself Canadian, a proud Canadian, at least until all this fracture nonsense happened. I have no desire to become a born-again African, a born-again Canadian maybe, if such a thing were possible, but it’s not, we must move on, the mistakes of the past can not be undone.

Johnny: What about Maude?

Maude: What about Maude???

Johnny: Is there a story behind it?

Maude: You mean, apart from the fact that it is a very common woman’s name. If you must know, it is my grandmother’s name; a white woman who had the courage to marry outside her race when it just wasn’t done. She married for love, which is the only reason you should marry. I am very proud of the name.

Johnny: What an inspiring story.

Maude: What is your obsession with names anyway?

Johnny: I believe that names sometimes tell us something about the person. For example, the wonderful story you have just told us about what your name means to you tells me a bit about you.

I apologize if …

Maude: Is it my imagination, or do you spend a lot of time apologizing on your show?

Johnny: It’s just a sign of the times. The former Canada did a lot of apologizing. For most former Canadians apologizing is almost as natural as breathing. Then, the government apologized for real and perceived injustices that had caused real people, ancestors of real people, real discomfort. Today you apologize for perhaps causing what is now commonly referred to as Dogmatic Distress Syndrome or DDS for short.

Maude: Dogmatic Distress Syndrome! What are you talking about?

Johnny: It’s a newly catalogued psychological affliction. It refers to the distress or discomfort caused to an individual by something someone said or did which the individual perceives as an insult to his or her god or some other real or mythological religious figure.

The psychiatric profession started taking dogmatic distress seriously after mostly innocent cartoons of the Prophet were published which caused a world-wide psychotic reaction among the believers. You apologize so that someone experiencing dogmatic distress will not take it out on you thinking you are the source of his discomfort.

Maude: I know what you mean. In my writing I have caused a lot of dogmatic distress, especially in writing about women and religion. I cross my fingers and hope that some religious nut somewhere will not think I have offended his god, his religion or his prophet and to avenge the perceived insult to his god, his prophet or his religion come over to my house and blow my brains out.

Johnny: I don’t think anything I said would elicit that type of violent reaction from any rational human being.

Maude: Don’t count on it! We’re not talking about people praying with a full set of beads here.

Johnny: You have had some run-ins with people who took exception to what you wrote, if I recall?