Saturday, March 12, 2005

Canada: The Great North American Afterthought

And yet, as chronicled by the Weekly Standard's Matt Labash, the country can't stop looking down it's collective nose at the U.S.

JUST HOW PERFECTLY GOOD a country Canada is, is a matter of dispute. The expats I eventually meet buy into Canadian self-mythologizing without so much as giving the tires a kick. Yet even some Canadians gag on the constant stream of virtue-proclaiming advertorials that are, for lack of a better word, a crock. This is self-evident in the pathological Canadian claims of modesty and politeness.

Will Ferguson is a cockeyed nationalist and brilliant satirist, who calls his country "a nation of associate professors." In his book Why I Hate Canadians, he writes that his countrymen even boast about their Great Canadian Inferiority Complex. While it's difficult to go five minutes without hearing how collectively nice Canadians are, Ferguson says, "what we fail to realize is that self-conscious niceness is not niceness at all; it is a form of smugness. Is there anything more insufferable than someone saying, 'Gosh, I sure am a sweet person, don'tcha think?'"

This strain of nails-on-the-blackboard nationalism is most evident in the recent bestseller Fire and Ice, an Americans-are-from-Mars, Canadians-are-from-Venus study of the two countries' values by Canadian sociologist Michael Adams. Based on three head-to-head values surveys done over a decade, it shows Americans coming up short on matters from militarism to materialism. This is hardly news. But Adams pushes his luck, giving conventional wisdom a twirl by advancing that it is the Americans who are actually the slavish followers of an established order, while Canadians are rugged individualists and autonomous free thinkers.

Give Adams points for cheek. His is, after all, a country that didn't bother to draft its own constitution until 1982, that kept "God Save the Queen" as its national anthem until 1980, and that still enshrines its former master's monarch as its head of state. Her Canadian title is "Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom, Canada and Her other Realms and Territories Queen (breath), Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith." Maybe they should change their national anthem again, to Britney Spears's "I'm A Slave 4 U."
It Didn't Have to Happen

The recent courthouse shooting in Atlanta prompted a Michelle Malkin blog reader to pass along some interesting, if not prophetic, quotes from a 2002 written opinion by California Supreme Court Justice, and GW Bush nominee, Janice Rogers Brown. Justice Brown was dissenting in a case where the majority of the California Supreme Court ruled that the criminal defendant could not be required to wear an electronic shock belt. As noted by the reader, the Court's decision back then sent shockwaves throughout the nation's legal system to where the recent events in Atlanta, while distressing, was not all that surprising.

Update: Unless the legal restrictions on restraining criminal defendants are done away with, I fail to see how imposing the death penalty in this country can be deemed, from a Catholic perspective, to be unjustified.
Views From the Left

Re: the SCOTUS' recent ruling on the death penalty for minors.