Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Ugly Face of Patriotism

What kind of person walks into an elementary school classroom, sits down on a little kiddie chair at a little kiddie table, and tells his child's school principal that if he thought he could get away with it he would happily drag him out to the parking lot by his shirt collar and "beat him senseless"?

Apparently, such people are called "Patriots".

I actually felt physically ill after watching this piece on The National (h/t to Impolitical, Alison and others), in which Erik Millett explains what he did and did not do in regards to the playing of 'O Canada' in his school, and describes the phone calls, the emails and the death threats he's received since this story became a Conservative cause célèbre.

He hadn't been back inside the school in over a week. He's not sure he'll ever teach again.

The woman who first raised the hue and cry is also interviewed in this piece, and shows us exactly where she's coming from:
"First we lost saying the Lord's Prayer in school, then the Pledge of Allegiance, and now the singing of O Canada..."

Yes, Mrs. Boyd, we really have lost something essential here. What we have lost is the ability of too many of our citizens to distinguish between our country's traditions and institutions and those of the United States.

What we are struggling to keep is the culture and tradition of fairness, inclusiveness and accommodation that makes this country unique among nations. A tradition that predates Pearson and Trudeau and any modern notion of 'political correctness' by centuries. A tradition born out of our earliest efforts to live with and among the First People of this land, then out of our unique partnership of French and English, Protestant and Catholic in a single nation, and later out of our inclusion of other newcomers representing cultures, languages and faiths from every corner of the globe.

All these are woven into the fabric of our nation, each thread intact. This is our great strength. This is Canada. It always has been. Where have you been living, Mrs. Boyd?


  1. Conservatives proccupation with symbols is quite disturbing. They are only concerned with the image not the substance and in doing so come of looking fascist.

    The anthem was NEVER banned as claimed by these conservatives and the scheduling for the anthem as arranged by the principal from what I can gather was done a long while ago. The fact a Con MP brought this up and the principal had run as a green candidate makes me wonder if someone is trying to steal support. More of a character assassination than genuine concern. I guess the Cons need that 10.1% support to ensure they win against the liberals again next time. Everyone knows former PC's are hiding out under the Green banner.

  2. I was sickened when I heard that someone wanted to throttle the principal because he didn't have his school play the anthem every day. Whether one agreed or disagreed with the principal's decision, no adult should ever threaten violence against another adult because of a disagreement.

    People should want to feel proud to sing the anthem. No one should be threaten to sing the the anthem in the name of patriotism.

    "True patriot hate, in all thy thugs command."

  3. This makes me sick. Back in my school days I noticed some of my classmates not singing the national anthem and not once was their patriotism ever questioned -- never. And this was the 1980s.

    Also I remember someone using a firecracker at school to torch and burn the Canadian flag flying from the pole right at school -- I think I was in Grade One. We were shocked, but we never would have thought of that person as "unpatriotic" even if we understood what that means.

    And yeah ... we had the pledge of allegiance. Riiiiiiiight. That so many of knew actually the words to that, and also knew the lyrics to Gord Lightfoot's Canadian Railroad Trilogy but did not know the words to our own anthem -- well, that says something.

    If the American experience is any indication, we'll have to endure this kind of character assassination from neocons for another 28 years -- say, until the year 2037.

  4. While I agree with what you have to say, the following is pretty revisionist:

    A tradition born out of our earliest efforts to live with and among the First People of this land, then out of our unique partnership of French and English, Protestant and Catholic in a single nation,

    We have a dark history with the First Peoples, and even the French and English weren't trying to get along for a long time here.

    You could say in the last ~100-150 years we've started moving toward cooperation as opposed to competition, but we shouldn't forget the darkness in our country's cultural past.

  5. And I bet these "patriots" all support the Harpercons - the very force that works night and day to pimp this country to the USA.

  6. Is it too early to use the word "fascist?" Seriously.

  7. As a school trustee, I am disgusted by the threats to the principal. Where is this school board and why are they not standing up?

  8. Liberal, or Conservative whatever it doesn't matter what national party you elect MP's to they are all the same when you belong to a minority prov in this phoney federation. All of the national parties have to work within the same tyranny of the majority system where in order to win power you need to be on the good side of the majority and the majority in this confederation live in Ontario and Quebec. 66% to be exact and further to that some 50%of the canadian population live in the urban cities none of which count from our province. You must be delusional if you think any national party will go to bat for 1.5% of the population and that includes the MP's you elect to those same national parties. Sure we don't even comprise the margin of error in the polls which is usually 3%. It isn't the national parties we need to change as we have seen it is the political system of Democratic Discrimination against the minority provinces by all of the national parties in favor of vote buying in the majority provinces. You could be playing this game till the cows come home of electing one or the other national proxy parties for ON/QU and expecting a different result it is time to stop the insanity. These are all symptoms the real root cause of our place in confederation is our lack of equality. If you really want to send a message to the confederation and have your elected MP's stand up for you tell them to cross the floor and stand up as Newfoundland and Labrador First MP's. As for defeating the budget it can only be done with the Liberals or in the Senate that is assuming Iggy doesn't tell the Liberal senators to pass it Like Dion did. So much for sober second thought. The senate is nothing but an extension of the systemically flawed HOC Per Capita Colonialism.


    Where is the equality among provinces?

    NL - the highest public debt load in Canada - those greedy devils on the east coast (sarcasm).

    NL - the highest unemployment in Canada - those greedy devils on the east coast (sarcasm).

    NL - the worst provincial infrastructure in the country - those greedy devils on the east coast (sarcasm).

    NL - newly signed Hebron deal alone will add approximately $8 billion to the coffers of the rest of Canada - those greedy devils on the east coast (sarcasm).

    NL - billions more flowing to the coffers of the federal government from off-shore development - those greedy devils on the east coast (sarcasm).

    NS - Harper strikes a backroom deal with NS so that only NL is affected by this most recent unilateral change to the Atlantic Accord - those unprincipled idiots (no sarcasm here).

    The new version of the NEP, created and imposed by a leader from Alberta. How ironic is that?

  9. NL-ExPatriate -

    Fascinating, but COMPLETELY off-topic. Please restrict your comments to the subject at hand. And do try to make better use of paragraph breaks. Thank you.

    Ian -

    I'm actually in the middle of reading a pretty revisionist book ('A Fair Country'), so that's definitely colouring my view. And yeah, I really shouldn't have made that a statement of fact when it is really just opinion. But I'm really beginning to think this view - that our earliest history was marked more by cooperation and accommodation, at least on an unofficial level - might actually be more accurate.

    There was conflict and abuse, certainly. But when you compare and contrast what happened here with what happened in the U.S. with both the First Nations and with competing colonial powers, the difference is striking. We have official bilingualism - they have fits when someone sings their anthem in Spanish. Our great Native warriors often fought with us and even led us - theirs were invariably enemies. And despite all our differences and disagreements, we have Quebec and Nunavut as unique, autonomous entities, while they have... what, New Orleans? The Navajo Nation?

    Somehow, we found a way.

    I have family roots in the Mohawk River Valley where the Johnsons and the Brants formed their great alliance, so a lot of this rings true for me on an instinctive level. But agree or disagree with Saul's conclusions (and yeah, his documentation is a little lax), the arguments he makes are persuasive and will definitely get you thinking.

    Formal book review to come...

  10. Not really so off topic as you might think.

    What I have tried to highlight to you and your readers is that the canadian federation is systemically flawed.

    While the country is great and the people as individuals are great when united in political parties and along provincial lines there is no equality in this federation and without equality you are bound to have discrimination abuse and in essence colonialism.

    Hope springs eternal in a democracy.
    Unfortunately for Newfoundland and Labrador it is eternally hopeless!

    You feel you have a choice with the false gods of left and right wing parties, you feel your involved and can make a difference by marking your x.

    Unfortunately for us being a minority prov NL in this parliamentary confederation with no equality voting for any of the national PROXY parties of ON/QU which represents the majority 66% it is ETERNALLY HOPELESS!

    "Pledge of allegiance?"

  11. Ian: I take it you haven't been reading A Fair Country...or if you have, you disagree with Mr. Ralston Saul's observations and conclusions?