Sunday, 6 July 2008

The Baffled Hymn of the Republic

Obviously, I could not let Independence Day (or "Yank Wank", as I like to call it) pass by without some deflationary commentary, as I am particularly keen to retain the respect of my American readers, many of whom, I am sure, absolutely depend on Tory exotics like myself to provide a cheap (and feasible) alternative to time travel. I shall never let it be said that, in my duty to serve as the Internet's official voice of America in the 1760's and Canada in the 1960's, I was ever guilty of delinquency. Note well that I allowed the holiday to expire before posting (it is now July 6th): I allowed you to have your fun before being rude, which I think is terribly polite and Canadian of me.

By the way, I do have American readers. I am deeply incredulous, but Sitemeter's ISP data, like the leader of America's founding junta, cannot tell a lie. Now, their number is admittedly small--probably close to the number of Americans who like the French--and I am terribly suspicious that they are in fact NSA analysts selecting targets for "executive action" in advance of the inevitable U.S. invasion to "liberate" Alberta and take Canadian resources out of the hands of us godless, non-basketball-playing socialists.

Nevertheless, my earnest prayer is that the innocent members of my U.S. readership will be careful to keep their subversive enthusiasm a secret as deeply hidden as their back issues of the Utne Reader. Sadly, I haven't the slightest clue as to how they can spare themselves the ghastly ordeal of having the ghost of Jesse Helms burn a cross on their lawns.

Frankly, I've always wondered why America needs to set aside a day to celebrate its nationhood, since self-celebration appears to be an hourly-triggered instinct for them--an hourly requirement, in fact. America needs an Independence Day the way Canada needs a "The Grass is Green and the Sky is Blue Day", the way China needs a "Making Cheap Stuff For Foreigners Day" and the way Iran needs an "Anti-Semitism Day".

That said, I suppose there is some value in devoting twenty-four hours out of the year to a particularly deep meditation on the peerless nobility of refusing to pay taxes to the empire that had expended so much of its blood and treasure in crushing the French and Indians for you and then begging to pay taxes to a slave-owning oligarchy that seeks to create an empire by stealing land from Spaniards and Mexicans (while enslaving their formerly free blacks, of course) and invading its peace-loving northern neighbours. Nor can we deny the appeal of dragging out that old "Ayatollah Assahollah" T-shit and wearing it proudly while polishing off a case of Schlitz as you ride the "America Rules" float down some beautiful vista named after one of America's many freedom-loving heroes.

My ex post facto contribution to the festivities' weekend hangover has a Canadian connection. In the early 1980's, Canadian scholar and journalist Gwynne Dyer produced a brilliant documentary series called "War", which investigated the social, geo-political and psychological features of modern warfare. Scandalously, it has yet to see a DVD release (as have many fascinating NFB and CBC productions, such as Donald Brittain's masterful series on the Trudeau/Lévesque rivalry, "The Champions"), but much of it has been uploaded onto YouTube.

Of particular interest is the Oscar-nominated episode "Anybody's Son Will Do", which follows a group of young aspirant Marines through their basic training. Watch this clip of it, paying particular attention to the young Marine instructor at 3:42, who bellows, "There are far too many Iranians in the world today...We should go over there and flatten that country". Gosh, I wonder whose talking points he's been writing?

Finally, look at the helpful suggestion the United States Senate is passing on to the President. I really must stop thinking aloud; I'm clearly more influential than I want to be (see the last paragraph of last week's post for what was once merely macabre satire).


Shaftesbury said...

You know, it's too funny to see the reaction one gets when one counters American propaganda regarding the foundation of that sad Republic.

When you confront an American with the fact that their so-called "War of Independence" was really about not wanting to pay their fair share of Imperial Defence, and that in fact they were "free-riders" on the back of the British Government, they absolutely lose their minds.

Sir Francis said...

...they absolutely lose their minds.

As a rule, America is not a place where one "loses" one's mind; it is a place where one throws it away.

Ti-Guy said...

Watch this clip of it, paying particular attention to the young Marine instructor at 3:42, who bellows, "There are far too many Iranians in the world today..

I'm really quite surprised that the US military has been ginning up the hatred for Iranians as far back as 1983. I thought they had gotten over the unbearable humiliation of the hostage crisis by that time and that it had only been resurrected recently to provide a distraction from the mess in Iraq.

Anyway, I was listening to the July 4th edition of WRCW's Left, Right and Centre on the issue of patriotism in the US presidential campaign, and I was struck by the weirdness of the discussion. I can't remember who remarked that patriotism in the US, unique among the nations of the world, is a necessity because the US does not constitute an ethnic nation, and thus must be bound by that unifying force.

These odd notions about how most of the rest of the World is constituted continue to baffle me.

Sir Francis said...


Well, I can see their point. I mean, we Canadians do not need to be bound by institutionally generated chauvinism because, fortunately, we're all Inuit, so we can rely on that ethnic homogeneity. The Americans are not so lucky...

Anonymous said...

I strenuously object to the notion that Canadians do not play basketball.