Vocabulary conflations and nationalism
By Eric Wilkins, Contributor
As a country, we’re judged by the performance of our government. Our government is held responsible for all previous administrations, regardless of how much time has gone by or the complete lack of any political cohesion with the previous reigning party. As a result, buzzword historical issues such as “racial inequality” and “sexism” fall to whatever faction “wins” the right to bear the burden. And somehow in this political game of hot-potato finger-pointing we started to equate our country, our flag, and our pride with the loathsome pool of politicians we’re allowed to pick from.
It’s almost become taboo to celebrate Canada Day in this country. “Are you homophobic? Transphobic? A racist? How are you okay with all of the horrible things this country has done?” I’m not. And no patriot is.
Somewhere along the line the media started spinning the narrative that patriots imagined their country to be perfect. When has that ever been the case? A true patriot knows the country isn’t perfect. A true patriot knows there’s always work to be done; improvements can always be made. A country is never done growing.
A series of dangerous conflations by the media have led us to this point. When did it become a bad thing to be a nationalist? Nationalism is defined by Merriam-Webster as “devotion or loyalty to a nation.” It doesn’t mention political leanings. It doesn’t mention blind devotion. It doesn’t even hint at military might. Nationalism isn’t jingoism. It’s curious that in a world where we’re so uppity on using the proper vernacular in every social issue so as not to offend, no journalist hesitates for even a moment before tossing their thesaurus into the trash. Related words are not synonyms.
Nationalism is often portrayed as globalism’s opponent, but the two are not mutually exclusive. It could be argued that nationalism is rooted in basic self-help theory. How can you help others until your own ship is righted? COVID-19 has shown the world’s dependence on China for medicine and medical supplies (among others) and many countries are looking to bring more production within their own borders as a result. Is this nationalist movement a blow to globalism? Of course not. Self-sufficiency is always a positive and results in a more competitive marketplace—which, in turn, results in a better product for consumers.
The tricky bit with nationalism is that many have pushed it to mean that you think your country is better than other countries. In today’s contexts, this connotation assumes that because you think your country is better than others that you think the people of your country are better than another’s (i.e., you’re racist). It’s very subtle and quite a sneaky play, but that’s notwhat it means. As a Canadian, I do think my country is better than any other. Every person who lives somewhere they have the means to leave shouldfeel that way about their country. If you know of a nation you would be happier to live in, move there. Why remain in a prosperous place if you’re not happy? Don’t enjoy our rights and freedoms if you’re just going to complain about it; there’s many who would do almost anything to reside within our borders. Such[mf1] folks come off as petulant children still posted up with mom and dad, mooching off their hard-earned dough—and many are.
Canada welcomed over 300,000 immigrants in 2018. That same year, the country took in over 721,000 international students. While not all of the students will stay, that’s over a million people each year choosing Canada over the other 196 countries of the world. That’s over a million people doing whatever they can for a chance to live in a place where women are equal. Where the LBGTQ+ community has been increasingly open in the last few decades. Where a racist comment in a café or bar is going to result in outrage rather than small talk. Try telling one of these fresh faces that they’re wrong to celebrate Canada Day. Try telling someone who’s never been able to express their true sexuality that Canada is a horrible place.
Nationalism is belonging. Unity. Knowing the majority of your fellow countrymen and women share the same values as you. Our flag isn’t a divisive symbol—it’s a binding one. Our flag’s designer, George Stanley, wrote in 1964: “If a flag is to be a unifying symbol it must avoid the use of national or racial symbols that are of a divisive nature.” Traditionalists were angry; some even threatening to kill Stanley at the official ceremony. He went anyway.
Moments like Stanley’s are what make us Canadian. The fortitude to push for what’s right. The courage to stand in the face of oppression. The knowledge that save for our few racist lowlifes, we are united as a people. Our country isn’t perfect—no country is—but as long as we have strong citizens fighting to uphold Canadian values there’s no place I’d rather be.
Strange insult that I’m not sure adds anything to the topic or the article [mf1]