In All This Son's Command

Stephen Harper, the son who commands...

I’ve been away the past two weeks, working in China, so I only got to hear about the Conservatives’ decision to review the Canadian national anthem after they changed their minds. To think that I was that close to actually experiencing two separate moments of national pride within one week is just too much so it’s all the better that the anthem will remain as is.

 

Other than hockey I’m against arbitrary notions of national pride. I will wake up at 4:45 in the morning to watch us win gold in men’s hockey (and refer to us as “us”) but I’m only really interested in the value of nationalism insofar as it’s used for promoting positive associations with free living (namely doing whatever makes you happy so long as its not at the unnecessary cost of someone or something else).

 

Since there’s little support in meaningful re-organization of national lines, such as Cascadia, we might as well make the best of what we have. So I would be proud if Canada was in fact the peacekeeping nation that we like to pretend we are, or the nation of inclusivity that we are not (see Jason Kenney’s personal interests in promoting gay rights). In general this means re-orienting our ideas of citizenship towards something that we can actually be proud of and I will maintain that this can be done without forgetting where we came from or what our traditions were.

 

Changing the national anthem to reflect our rejection of sexism is a good thing. We don’t have to forget the traditions of sexism if we don’t want to. Our history books that we use to teach children could do a much better job of showing how white male supremacy was entrenched in Canadian society from day one and that despite improvements continues to this day. Our citizenship guide could say the same things too. This way all new citizens will know our traditions.

 

But when we sing the national anthem we should be reminding ourselves, and telling the rest of the world, that white men don’t come first. The national anthem doesn’t have to be a vague history lesson, nor does it have to be completely changed, so as someone who believes in putting his best foot forward I support the idea that this change (and others) should be made. Let’s sing about inclusivity, freedom and the pursuit of happiness and not about what the first-born male wants (and this is coming from a first-born male).

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