Wednesday, March 03, 2010

O Manada

I've heard that one of the morsels from the 2010 Throne Speech is a promise by the federal Conservatives to ask Parliament "to examine the original gender-neutral English wording of the national anthem."

Jeez, not this again. For years there has been a fringe element demanding that "True patriot love in all thy sons command" be changed. "We know that that language was not meant to include all of us," said Janet Keeping, president of the Sheldon Chumir Foundation for Ethics in Leadership. "I would just change it to, 'In all of us command,' and be done with it."

I reject that sentiment categorically. "Sons" in this context was originally intended (in 1927) to be an inclusive term representing all citizens. To think or say otherwise is absolutely boneheaded. There's something to be said for preserving elements of one's past, even (and perhaps especially) if they don't mesh with the flitting whimsy of modern shallow thought.

But the Harper Tories here are being clever and are trying to disarm people like me. For they are not putting forward Ms. Keeping's suggestion of "all of us." Instead they are suggesting a return to an even earlier (1908) rendition of the lyrics. "True patriot love thou dost in us command" is how it would go, assuming this ever passes into law. So they're not rejecting tradition by bringing this up - they are hoping that by proposing an even earlier tradition they will nullify the traditionalists out there. And I admit, it's hard to argue against.

Except, of course, you'll then get the immigrant population objecting to singing that Canada is their home and native land. And the atheists, both English and Francophone, will have to speak out against the line asking God to "keep our land glorious and free" / "et ta valeur de foi trempée" (thy valour steeped in faith). What next... will the CNIB object to "we see thee rise" or the War Amps to "we stand on guard for thee"? I'm being facetious, of course, but this does have the potential of spiraling down another telling of the fable of the man, the boy, and the donkey. Please all, and you please none. There is great political wisdom in those words.

Of course, we could make the objection that Parliament's time could be spent on better things than this frivolous issue. Heh. I'll let you know how that goes.

Oh, and a big hearty STFU to Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff for his analysis of the issue: "It would be good for us to get gender-neutral language. We of course support it. But if you want to do something for women, can we get families some child care?"

My wife and I are very happy with the current arrangement, which by giving us the money directly, means we have more feasible choices for how we can raise our kids. Under an Ignatieff plan, the federal government would fund daycares only, and families like ours would be excluded as there is no way we would let the state raise our kids. No bones against anybody who prefers that, but it's not for us, and we appreciate having the ability to choose an alternative.

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