Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Anthem in N.B.

You've seen the story? I caught a video story on this again last night, too. A New Brunswick elementary principal (Millet, see pic) decided (with his staff's support) to stop playing the Canadian anthem every morning in response to "inclusion" concerns from some parents. Another parent fired back, making it a patriotism/support our troops issue, her daughter likes the anthem as it reminds her cousin who died in Afghanistan. The principal suggests that the anthem can be played at regular assemblies; the daughter can even lead in O Canada. But... the principal is vilified by his community (threats of violence) and the press (making it out to be a ban on the anthem), thousands of calls and emails (including death threats), even Conservative MPs put on their pointy white Reform hats in Commons and stand up to condemn the principal for his unCanadian actions. To top it off, his N.B. school district superintendant overrules his decision (even though it was a school choice to begin with to play the anthem daily) and the education minister is considering mandating the anthem in all schools.

In my mind, having an anthem played to children every day (just like the Lord's Prayer or American pledge of allegiance, etc.) is a form of indoctrination, a propaganda technique that fits a totalitarian or nationialistic regime but not Canada. I admire quirky rituals and chance to sing in public, but once in a while is fine for flag-waving and musical salutes. I am a creature of the earth on which I was born, a citizen of humanity, a plant grown in a Canadian ecosystem. I do not have to be patriotic to love certain Canadianisms, nor is "country" always right (although it could be always wrong). My wife jokes that Maritimers are messed up with each other and cruel to the "different" and blind to change when it is needed... too bad the "attackers" on this issue fit the stereotype. I am disgusted with the people who trashed the principal (especially the neocon/nutter-mother and the ball-less superintendant) and used ignorant 19th century arguments to do so. I wish we could find him a job in our district... he seemed completely broken on the news last night.