About Me


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

My grandfather, a "BAD Canadian"?

So my grandfather seems to think that the best use of the internet is email forwards. Which is fine. I highly enjoy the dirty jokes he sends me on an almost-weekly basis. However, he also tends to send me these ranty, ideo-political, emoticon-heavy forwards that are so right-wing and ignorant that they kind of offend me. He sent me one such today, and it struck me that he seems to be buying into a contradictory idea that doesn't particularly represent him well.

Without further ado, the email in question, accompanied by my commentary/response/deconstruction:

I Am the Liberal-Progressives Worst Nightmare.
I am a Canadian.

Oh, that's interesting. I didn't know those damn pesky Liberal-Progressives were still around. I thought they went out with William Lyon Mackenzie King.

I am a Master Mason and believe in God.

No you aren't, Grandpa. You're Catholic. You're supposed to think that the Freemasons are the devil and trying to eat your soul. Get with the program.

I ride Harley Davidson Motorcycles and believe in Canadian products.

But the Harley Davidson isn't a Canadian product. And you don't actually ride one either, Grandpa. I also support Canadian products, which is one of the reasons why I'm confused that at least half the stuff you own is American-manufactured.

I believe the money I make belongs to me and my family, not some Liberal/PC governmental functionary be it Conservative or Liberal!

Okay, so the PCs have only been gone since 2003. Some confusion is understandable. Especially since I think 2003 was the last time I sent an email forward.

I'm in touch with my feelings and I like it that way!

I don't think the Liberals are trying to take that away from you. The HarperCons, maybe.

I think owning a gun doesn't make you a killer, it makes you a smart Canadian.

See, if NO ONE had guns there would be a lot less people dying. It's just so much easier to kill someone if you can just shoot them from a distance, rather than getting, you know, all up close and personal and messy with strangulation and stabbing and whatnot.

I don't care how many rifles you have at your hunting lodge. If you live in inner-city Toronto and own a handgun, I am going to find you suspicious.

I think being a minority does not make you noble or victimized, and does not entitle you to anything. Get over it!

I also believe that being a minority does not entitle people to something "special." I do, however, believe that everyone, regardless of their minoritarian or non-minoritarian status, deserves to be treated the same. That means that minorities deserve not to be discriminated against. They also deserve to not have their accents or cultural customs mocked--I'm looking at you, Grandpa.

I believe that if you are selling me a Big Mac, do it in English.

WHOA. WHOA. WHOA. Slow down there, buddy. Grandpa--I don't know if you've noticed this, but English is actually not your first language. In fact, Grandpa, even though you live in Ontario now, you have actually lived the great majority of your life in Quebec, and a few years in the bilingual province of New Brunswick. And, in fact, even though you do now live in Ontario, and have for a while, you live in a bilingual city with a lot of francophones in it, and before you retired, you worked exclusively in French. Are you actually telling me that you would be offended if someone tried to sell you a Big Mac in French?

I believe that everyone has a right to pray to his or her God when and where they want to.

Yes, freedom of religion is in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This is important. Remember it.

My heroes are John Wayne, Babe Ruth, Roy Rogers, and Willie G. Davidson, maker of the awesome Harley Davidson Motorcycle.

Dude... none of these guys are Canadian. Babe Ruth played (ick) baseball. How about some Bobby Orr? Phil Esposito? Paul Henderson? Would you still love John Wayne if you knew that that's only his stage name and his real name is Marion Morrison?

I don't hate the rich. I don't pity the poor.

Well, maybe you should.

I know wrestling is fake and I don't waste my time watching or arguing about it.

...what does this have to do with anything?

I've never owned a slave, or was a slave.

Good, because that's been illegal in Canada since 1834.

I haven't burned any witches or been persecuted by the Turks and neither have you! So, shut up already.

I'm very confused. Who are you telling to shut up? Who is this mysterious person who thinks they've burned witches and been persecuted by the Turks? Is this an anti-intellectual/anti-history thing? Do I have to remind you that I, your granddaughter, am studying history quite passionately?

I believe if you don't like the way things are here, go back to where you came from and change your own country!

Well... see, that's the thing. I AM from here. And I know people who are refugees--people whose families were kicked out of Iraq by Saddam Hussein, people who are fleeing from anarchist, chaotic Somalia, people escaping from lives of extreme, soul-crushing poverty in South America. They kind of can't go back. Those problems are going to take a really, really, really long time to fix.

This is CANADA. We like it the way it is!

Well. I mean. There's always room for improvement. Like, for example, not treating Native people like shit. (They really, REALLY can't "go back to where they came from.") However, if this is a "Harper, you megalomaniac idiot, what are you DOING to my COUNTRY" kind of rant, I can support that.

If you were born here and don't like it you are free to move to any Socialist country that will have you.

Can I get an AMEN on that one?

Um, no.

You see, no country is perfect, but from where I'm standing, Canada is about as close as they get. We've got good social programs, a healthy economy, good job prospects, low violence, and relatively few racial/ethnic issues (barring the whole language issue and the treatment of First Nations people). Women, such as myself, have a lot more rights and a lot more options here than in some other countries.

But as I mentioned earlier, that doesn't mean that I think we should stay exactly as we are now. There is room for improvement.

I also think the cops have the right to pull you over if you're breaking the law, regardless of what colour you are.

I agree. The police should really step up in that whole pulling-over-white-people thing. It's kind of embarrassing how underrepresented we are in fines, tickets, and charges.

And, no, I don't mind having my face shown on my drivers license.

Good for you. That is not exactly a defining characteristic of a Canadian.

I think it's good.... And I'm proud that 'God' is written on on our Government Buildings.

But what if it interferes with someone else's ability to pray to his or her God whenever they want, like you said you believed in...?

Oh, I'm sorry, I misunderstood your previous statement. You want people to be able to pray to their God, so basically you exclude all non-monotheistic religions, and potentially even monotheistic religions that refer to their deity by some other name.

I think if you are too stupid to know how a ballot works, I don't want you deciding who should be running the nation.

Dude. That's not even funny. That's downright ableist, not to mention offensive to people who came from places where democracy didn't exist, and thus have never seen or heard of a ballot before they became Canadian citizens.

I dislike those people standing in the intersections trying to sell me stuff or trying to guilt me into making 'donations' to their cause.
Get a job and do your part!

But what if it is their job to sell you stuff at intersections, or to collect donations for a charity?

What if they are people who are discriminated against for any number of reasons (race, gender, sex, ability, religion, etc.) and are unable to find a job? What if the person is a single parent who can only try to make money during the three hours a day the neighbour is able to watch the kids?

Better yet, what if there is a global economic recession and there simply aren't any jobs?

I believe that it doesn't take a village to raise a child, it takes two parents.

So single parents, including widows and widowers, should either find a partner quickly or be forced to give up their children to a couple. Interesting.

Do you believe in nannies? What about babysitters? Teachers? Aunts, uncles, grandparents taking any kind of active role in raising the child? (Be careful what you say about this one, Grandpa!)

What about kids who have two parents, but are being abused by one or both of their parents? Should the aforementioned "village" not then step in and do something?

I believe 'illegal' is illegal no matter what the lawyers think.

Now I'm confused. Well, illegal and illegal are the same thing. As in, they are the same entry in the dictionary. And what lawyers do is compare the case before them to something that has occurred before that was found to be either legal or illegal, and try to argue that the current situation is the same as, or different from, that previous situation. Thus, lawyers try to decide whether what has occurred is illegal or not. They don't really spend much time debating the definition of illegality as far as I can tell.

I believe the Canadian flag should be the only one allowed in CANADA !

This causes far, fare more problems than it solves. What would the embassies do? What would happen if we ever had the Olympics here again? And are you so violently against provincial, territorial, and municipal flags? I feel obligated to remind you here that Canada is a Confederation of ten provinces and three territories, and not some kind of monolithic state.

If this makes me a BAD Canadian, then yes, I'm a BAD Canadian.

I don't know if there's such thing as a "bad" Canadian, unless you really do mean "BAD" Canadian and the BAD stands for something. I mean, you can be a bad person, like if you do something really unethical or immoral, which I guess makes you a bad Canadian too. Or you can try to take the citizenship test and fail it, which means you are bad at being Canadian. But I don't think there's such thin as a bad Canadian.

If you are a BAD Canadian too, please forward this to everyone you know.

We want our country back!

Oh, I'm sorry, Grandpa. I didn't realize you were advocating for the rights of First Nations people. That changes everything.


Or not. Dude. When was the last time you sang the national anthem? Try it again,and then reconsider that sentence.


Okay, I can get behind this one. But it doesn't have anything to do with the rest of the... manifesto, shall we call it.

One of the problems I have with this, and specifically with receiving this from my grandfather, is that it feels like a very rural, WASPy kind of movement. And while my grandfather is W, he isn't ASP. The God in this email seems to me like a Protestant God, and the emphasis on the English language troubles me, even more so because it didn't seem to trouble my French-Canadian grandfather. It sounds like something that could come out of Alberta, especially with all that cowboy crap, and I feel like the guy who originally wrote this (do YOU think it could have been written by a woman?) would probably look down on my grandfather for being French Canadian and Catholic. When you start being an agent in your own oppression, it means you can't see it, and things get really, really tricky.

That being said. When a person becomes a Canadian citizen, they do have to agree to obey Canadian laws. There has recently been some movement toward implementing Sharia law in Canada, and I don't think that should happen (especially since some people came to Canada to escape Sharia law). And I can understand that from a privileged perspective, it might look like minorities get unfair advantages, because privileged people often don't recognize their own privilege, and don't usually see the casual discrimination that happens all the time as truly harmful (race-based jokes and insults, the way someone's behaviour can change based on the appearance of the person they're talking to, the underlying assumption that if your skin isn't white you probably can't speak English and aren't from Canada).

It must be so nice, to be privileged like that, not to have to confront your oppression every day. Not having to think of yourself as female, as ethnic, as disabled, as queer, as different, before you even think of yourself as a human being. Not having to wonder whether the next person you meet on the street is going to be this guy, the BAD Canadian guy, the guy who looks down on you because you have that little qualifier attached to your very humanity.

I should probably just stop opening emails from my grandfather.


  1. I'm pretty sure that I've read that e-mail before someone did a find&replace "America" with "Canada"

    I'd think that Canadian conservatives and ultra-nationalists would want to be more distinct from Americans.

  2. Here we go: http://www.snopes.com/politics/soapbox/carlin.asp