Monday, November 8, 2010

Your Nationalism's Showing

I realise I've been poking fun at my husband's nationality a lot lately. I know it's time to spread the snark around a little, but I couldn't help myself the past couple of days and when you've finished reading this you'll see why. As a Canadian, it's practically embedded our national psyche. Why? Well, back in 1776 (which is an important date in history if you're British, American or... actually that's all really), the American revolution said 'adios'* to Britain, forming it's own country with eagles flying free, and flags flying free, and people living free, and animals running free, and Amerindians dying of smallpox (but hey, they did it freely right?). And when that happened, the Northern part of North America split in two. Most people learn it in very simple terms: George Washington and Co. vs.** The Loyalists.

But it wasn't really that simple, because Washington and his cronies weren't really all that nice. Not everyone wanted to join them and the revolutionaries freely*** persecuted anyone who wasn't exactly keen on their plan for world domination creating a free land, many of whom weren't even British and certainly weren't loyal to the Crown. These people of varied European descent just didn't like Washington and many of them were punished for it. **** Eventually many of these anti-revolutionaries fled North so they wouldn't be forced to join the freedom.

So what Washington essentially achieved was a separation between people who wanted to be American and people who didn't. Which is where the part about my national psyche comes in, and why even though I am married to one, have lovely American in-laws, and have met very few Americans I didn't like... I just don't ever want to be one.

But all this is just background to SPREADING THE SNARK, because this whole idea of not being American has been taken way too far by Canadians, and has led to one of many fallacies of Canadian identity. I'd like to take this opportunity to make fun of my own people now.

Will Ferguson writes that the motto of Canadians (if we had one, which we don't unless it's 'please pass me another cold one!') is 1) Keeping the Americans OUT 2) Keeping the French IN and 3) Trying to get the Natives to somehow disappear. I think it goes further than this, though.

FALLACIES OF CANADIAN IDENTITY (or Lies Canadians Tell Themselves, Each Other, and the Rest of the World)

1) Tim Horton's Coffee is actually good. I don't know what all the high end coffee chains are doing in Canada because apparently Canadians can't tell good coffee from bad. Timmy Ho's has become some sort of symbol of Canadian identity even though it serves fatty sugary doughnuts and coffee that tastes like it came from the Sidney Tar Ponds. I refuse to identify with this, so please stop telling foreigners it's 'SO CANADIAN'. It's not. They have one in Trenton, Michigan.

2) Canadians are nice. Really? I don't think so. I think this is just something we say to ourselves when we feel bad for ...

3) Crapping on Americans and pretending we're better, even though we secretly love them and have been watching their television programming for years. Come on! You know you wish we were the focus of international attention like that. Just admit it already... they are so cool with their Obama-drama and tea baggers! Our last interesting anglo politician was Mulroney, and that's only because Canadians were glued to the drama of 'it can't get any worse... can it? Yikes, it just did!'. And while we're on the subject of falsely telling Americans how much better we are, we didn't exactly, entirely...

4) Win the war of 1812. Actually, it was kind of a stalemate. In the end, the British troops kept them out (see Ferguson's mottos above), but no land was really gained on either side, so no one really won. And yes, it's kind of cool that we burnt the White House to the ground, but try gloating about it anywhere in DC and they'll have you arrested. Moving on...

5) Hockey is our national sport. Wrong. Yes yes, I KNOW everyone knows that Lacrosse is actually our national sport. What I really mean to say is: hockey is not MY national sport. I don't care about hockey, so please don't lump me in with you when you tell foreigners how 'everyone in Canada watches hockey'. Everyone in Canada does NOT watch hockey. In fact, it's best not to talk to foreigners if you've believed any of the fallacies 1 through 5.

Well, I can think of many more but since it's NaBlo, you'll only have to wait a whole day read them.

*Wait, they had Mexican immigrants back then?
** I think this is where the 'us vs. them' mentality came from.
*** There's that word again.
**** Here I'd like to point out that I got most of this information from Will Ferguson's book of humorous political and historical essays entitled 'Why I Hate Canadians'. And yes, Michael, Ferguson DID check his factual information.


TheFemDish said...

Great post. I actually clapped when I read #1. Seriously, Tim Horton's coffee is the only coffee I can't take black. Maybe it's the nicotine in it that I don't like that makes everyone else crazy for it.
I'd prefer it if everyone just ignored #4 though....


Evelyn said...

If Tim Horton's and hockey are the sum total of Canadian culture, then we have ourselves an embarrassing oxymoron.