Memo to the Parents of Cannon Fodder

Cross-posted from Anthropologists for Justice and Peace, this important video was produced by the Fédération des femmes du Québec [Quebec Women’s Federation] (see also in Twitter), to denounce the continued practice of the Canadian Forces recruiting at schools. In addition, the video calls on Canada to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan immediately.

In the video, the mother says:

“People say, ‘Make love, not war,’ but, come on, that’s not what they should say. What they should say is ‘Make love for war,’ because it takes a lot of children to build an army.”

“If I had known that in giving life, I would be providing cannon fodder, I might not have had a child.”

The mother in the video says that her oldest child was killed in Afghanistan, while her youngest returned from the war with mental problems. Her third child, a daughter (whose duffel bag she is packing), has just been recruited at her school.

The conservative and pro-war mainstream media in Canada, which is releasing more and more articles featuring grieving parents requiring more war to validate and vindicate the deaths of their children, has marshaled a selective group of parents to express outrage at the video. The FFQ, I am very happy to say, stands by the video and its message and refuses to take it down.

Quebec is Canada’s leading anti-war province in terms of the overwhelming majority that has consistently opposed the war in Afghanistan since the start. That is one of the things that makes Quebec a great place in which to live and work. In addition, Quebec has been the site of recent armed action against a Canadian Forces recruitment centre. Résistance Internationaliste has claimed responsibility for that and other actions. The Canadian Forces are not allowed to recruit on university campuses, but can recruit at the university-preparatory schools known as CEGEPS as well as high schools. In other provinces, especially in impoverished zones, Canadian Forces set up tents on campus and focus on students graduating in areas where employment prospects are very dim. The Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper has devoted increases in funding to Canadian military recruitment via a media campaign, and even the guide to new citizens stresses the “nobility” of serving in the military.

Here is an old anti-war hit song, sung by Marilyn Horne in 1915. Will it be protested as well? Is there a Facebook page that has been launched to rail against it too?

5 thoughts on “Memo to the Parents of Cannon Fodder

  1. Tremendous! Thanks John, had I seen it before, yes, it’s very likely I would have used it. Then again, we have a very much related poster right here to the right, in the sidebar.

    Incidentally, by accident, and out of pure idleness, I happened to watch “Starship Troopers” a few weeks back, which was made in the 1990s, before these wars of course. War, and the military, in that movie are referred to as a meat grinder, and troops are depicted as meat sacks that you sacrifice to the war effort. I don’t recall anyone picketing this movie, if anything, it was quite popular.

  2. Hi Max,

    From the facebook page of “les militaires ne sont pas de la chair à canon”.

    IL S’AGIT DE DÉNONCER LA FAÇON GROSSIÈRE DE CERTAINES PERSONNES DE QUALIFIER LES MILITAIRES EN RÉFÉRANT À EUX EN TANT QUE CHAIR À CANON

    [(Our aim is) to denounce the gross way in which some people describes members of the military by refering to them as cannon fodder”.]

    I guess if these people wish to be a bit consistent, they’ll also have to ban at least the following songs in Canada, because they also use the phrase “chair à canon” to refer to soldiers :

    Les amis de ta femme – Diguidig dondon (et mort aux cons) :

    “Pitoyable vassal soumis
    Cocu, prolo, chair à canon
    Plus on l’ encule plus il sourit
    Maître ou esclave à mort pas d’ pardon ”

    [pathetic submissive vassal,
    cuckold, prole, cannon fodder,
    The more he gets fucked, the more he smiles,
    Master or slave, death to them, no mercy”]

    This one too would have to be banned :

    Noir désir – Gagnants perdants :

    “Il y a la chair à canon
    Il y a la chair à spéculation
    Il y a la chair à publicité”

    [“There is cannon fodder,
    There is speculation fodder,
    There is advertising fodder”]

    And they’ll also have to ban all and every historical documents of anti-militarist movements which contain the phrase.

    BTW, reading the comment wall of the said facebook page, I now understand what is the unforgivable sin that has been committed : “irreverence to the military”. Amen.

    Now, whether these people like it or not, les soldats sont de la chair à canon. (shoud I open a facebook page ?). To ban the expression won’t change the reality, it can only make the truth harder to recognize.

    What I don’t understand is why these people take this as an insult to soldiers who gets killed, while it is in fact a denunciation of the militarists who are responsible for putting them in danger of death, who are themselves never in such a danger, and who profit (politically and economically) from war :

    “Ceux qui donnent des canons aux enfants
    Ceux qui donnent des enfants aux canons.”
    (Prévert)

  3. Thanks very much for the research, Jérémy. I was looking at their Facebook page last night, reviewing various comments. There is some disagreement there, especially about the right to freedom of expression (which some of them would deny in this case), and lots of pompous assertions that make one thing painfully clear, and it is the one thing that we were told we were not being sold by such sentiments: that supporting the troops means supporting the war. If one does not support the war, and its rationale, that and anything critical is taken as an offense against the troops. It reminds me of early anti-Iraq war protests in Canada, when some Aboriginal mothers in First Nations that span the Canada-U.S. border, and whose sons joined the U.S. military, asked that protesters not protest because it hurt their feelings since their sons were going to Iraq. Yet, all the time we have also been told that just because one does not support the war, it does not mean one cannot support the troops. Obviously, that was a dishonest claim. Clearly then, we cannot support the troops, not at this cost. The troops should consider not offending, and supporting, the majority of Canadians who do not want them there. If saying that they died for governments that took decisions that went against what Canadians wanted means they get offended, then so be it, get offended.

  4. Looks like the FFQ did removed the phrase “chair à canon”.

    http://matin.branchez-vous.com/nouvelles/2010/10/federation-femmes-modifie-publicite-diffusee-youtube.html

    A great victory for freedom, which is, of course, best defended by occupying a country, supporting criminal warlords, and silencing dissent at home. Well done peeps.

    Just one thing though, maybe these families should worry about the respect due to their children and their lives before they get sent to fight a nonsensical war. I am sure their children can better appreciate the respect and love when they are alive .

    I am a bit puzzled by the stereotypical manner in which some “opinions” are expressed on this comment wall. “The soldiers are defending our Freedom” (1st move, I must admit I can’t figure that one out), and then “It’s outrageous to use that very freedom to criticize the soldiers-who-are-defending-our-freedom” (2nd move, where it appears that with this conception of freedom, one can very easily end up in a pure totalitarian state and still think that one is free, or at least, that the state is protecting “freedom”).
    Freedom : pretend to defend it, empty it of its meaning, and despise it. There, you’re free.

    Something else that really pisses me off, is the argument : “it’s their choice, it must be respected”. I beg your pardon ? And if my (to be born) child decides to become a human trafficker, the choice still must be respected , simply because it’s her choice ? Just because someone decides to do something, then, just because it’s “her choice”, it’s OK ? If my child decides to commit suicide, I should not try as strong as I can to convince him not to do so ?

    I’ll stop here for now because all this really makes me mad.

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