Saturday, May 20, 2006

More thoughts on using the law

As I drove home last night, and watched horse races today (losing twice as much as I won, huzzah), I was thinking more about why it is that here in the US there's such an effort to conscript people to living a certain way, and why in Canada there is not.

I think it comes down to history.

Now - I certainly hate the fact that Canadians generally don't know that much about our history. But, at the end of the day, Canadian history, our outstanding military achievement notwithstanding, is pretty dull, particularly in contrast to the United States.

And perhaps the greatest achievement of multiculturalism has been the creation of an idea of Canadian-ness that has nothing to do with race, or religion, or apple pie. Who's ever heard of "all-Canadian looks"? Being Canadian just means subscribing to a certain set of values - tolerance, kindness, the Charter - and once you do that, you can do what you want. As a result, Canada is the shining beacon to the world, the rebuke to the rest of the planet saying that it is possible for different enthnic groups to live side by side, for different languages to co-exist together, that you can become propserous and wealthy as a poly-ethnic, multi-cultural, bilingual state. But - if you had to draw an architypal Canadian, Bob and Doug McKenzie notwithstanding - what would you draw or describe?

Contrast that with the US. Here, I think there's a very clear idea of "American." And as such, it's easy to see what is not "American." And because there is a national idea (which I would say is a myth) of what it is to be "American," it becomes easy to demand that others conform. "If you want to be American, you must do this, and behave like this, and speak like this."

The problem is, of course, that no one stands up to defend Canadian nationalism, because it's vague and amorphous. Canada might expire simply because, as Trudeau said, "We peer so suspiciously at each other that we cannot see that we Canadians are standing on the mountaintop of human wealth, freedom and privilege."

1 comment:

Carrie said...

Actually, many people *try* to stand up for Canada. However, multiculturalism shuts them up and fast.

While I don't agree with the USA method of telling their new citizens to be American or shut up, I do think there's something to be said for preserving what our nation used to be. From what I see, hear and read, the time for that passed a while ago.