Doing What They Wouldn't Tolerate

London, Ontario - Monday, March 11, 2002 - by: Chris Blackman


I enjoy watching the program "The West Wing". That's why I was very upset at a scene in Wednesday night' March 6th's episode. Late into a party at the White House the Canadian National Anthem was played due to confusion over a member of the staff's nationality. "O Canada" was played, and Canadian flags were waved in a mocking fashion. No one, including the American President, showed any respect.




The show is fiction, and the American President didn't actually take part in any such actions, but the lack of respect shown for a song of such importance is, however, very disheartening.




"O Canada" is not a top 40 hit nor a song to play in the middle of a party with drinking and carrying on.




"O Canada" represents Canadians as a people. It deserves respect, just as Canadians deserve respect. It represents the belief in Canadian ideals, and an appreciation of Canadian values.




Our anthem represents today's Canadians, the contributions of past generations, and makes us mindful of the generations of Canadians who will continue this wonderful experiment in nationhood long into the future.




A song of celebration recognizing Canadian achievement it also represents Canadian loss and sacrifice. Many of the fictional foreign dignitaries portrayed in the episode had they been real would have appreciated this, because they were at the White House representing nations that have benefited from Canada's contributions abroad in war and in peace.




Right now, there are thousands of Canadian men and women serving abroad in Canada's Armed Forces, and they deserve better than to have the flag and anthem of the nation they bravely represent disrespected in such a manner.




As Canadians we would do well to consider this. Allowing others to disrespect our flag and our national anthem is a collective avowal of failure on our part. It mocks the memory of past generations, makes fools of the living, and threatens the prospects of future generations of Canadians in the eyes of Americans.
  Some may view this commentary as an uncalled for overreaction. Failing to speak out though may be taken as tacit approval of something Americans would not tolerate being done with the "The Stars and Stripes" and something they will agree was wrong to do to people when and if they come to think about it in these terms.

Chris Blackman

  Does West Wing's Aaron Sorkin have a thing for the Great White North? by Helen Branswell , Canadian Press
  Questions and comments about the abuse of the Canadian National Athem in the Dead Irish Writers episode of West Wing
  A synopsis of the "Dead Irish Writers " episode of the West Wing, March 6, 2002
  Flag Etiquette in Canada