David R. Henderson  

I'm 90 Percent American and 10 Percent Canadian

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You can take the boy out of Canada, but you can't (completely) take Canada out of the boy

As a U.S. federal employee, I'm going through a security clearance for the first time in years. The guy who came to interview me a few weeks ago seemed particularly concerned about my Canadian connections and wondered why on earth I would want a Canadian passport. I told him that it seemed like a good idea. He then asked me--I can't remember the exact wording--whether I considered myself an American. "I'm 98% American," I said, "and 2% Canadian. The 2% is when Canada plays the U.S. in Olympics hockey." [Notice that I didn't say "ice hockey."]

But I think I have to revise those percentages. Yesterday morning I watched a video that Canada's government broadcaster, the CBC, shared on YouTube showing the tribute that the Canadian Parliament gave Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers, the man who shot the gunman who had run into the Parliament building. My wife, who was upstairs, heard the applause and asked me what it was for. I choked up as I told her and started crying. When she came downstairs, I told her that the American/Canadian percentages were 90/10. "But you were just responding to his bravery," she said. "I know," I said, "but if this had been, say, a story about Poland, I probably wouldn't have to the same extent."

I know that among many of my libertarian friends, it's not "cool" to have any nationalism or even any patriotism in you. But one of the hardest lessons I learned early in life was not to disown my feelings. Under the influence of Ayn Rand's weird ideas about love, I told my brother that I didn't love him, in the last real conversation I had with him before he committed suicide. Of course, I did love him, but I had adopted Rand's and Nathaniel Branden's idea that you couldn't love someone who didn't share your philosophical views. And, boy, did my brother ever not share my philosophical views.

So, even if it's not cool and even if get criticized for, gasp, celebrating as a hero a government worker who was, gasp, protecting other government workers, I won't disown that feeling.

Here's the video, which CBC is making easy to share on web sites:


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COMMENTS (10 to date)
Pseu writes:

After watching that I think I must be about 2% Canadian myself. And I've barely even visited.

ColoComment writes:

It's a lovely & fully justified tribute to a worthy man & I, too, was moved by it and by his self-deprecatory attitude of having done nothing extraordinary, just his duty.

I am also reminded, however, that hundreds of thousands of law enforcement personnel at federal, state and local levels, as well as our service men and women in all branches and at all levels of rank and in all corners of the planet, do EXACTLY the same thing day after day after day.

...to no standing ovation, and lucky if they get a quiet "Thank you."

As John Lott might say, More guns, fewer live terrorists.

Andrew_FL writes:

I don't think you should lose any sleep over whether your national pride makes you less of a libertarian (presumably more of a conservative, we are so the uncool guys). I think I now have less national pride than most libertarians and that doesn't make me less of a conservative, so I think the opposite should also be true: having national pride doesn't make you less of a libertarian.

Also (and don't mistake this for a statement of religious sentiment): I prefer the old Christian aphorism to Rand's tenet: Hate the sin, love the sinner.

Gene Marsh writes:

Thanks for sharing your story. This marks the end of the week for me. Shabbat shalom.

"One of the hardest lessons I learned early in life was not to disown my feelings. Under the influence of Ayn Rand's weird ideas about love, I told my brother that I didn't love him, in the last real conversation I had with him before he committed suicide. Of course, I did love him, but I had adopted Rand's and Nathaniel Branden's idea that you couldn't love someone who didn't share your philosophical views."

Cameron Neumann writes:

I'm sorry to read the story of your brother, David. I guess I'm lucky to have made it through that phase with nothing worse than a reputation for being insufferable and a lost year of enjoying youth.

David R. Henderson writes:

Thanks, Gene and Cameron.

Tiago writes:

David,

That was an amazing post and I'm sure it must have been difficult to write it. Thanks for sharing.

Gene Berkman writes:

I only lived in Canada for two months, during the Vietnam War, but I have fond memories of everyone I met.

I was touched by the standing ovation for someone who truly deserved one. Mr Vickers accepted the acclaim with true dignity.

As for me, I am 100% American, but I treasure my German and Scottish heritage, and don't feel any shame about my cultural affiliations. So I for one enjoyed your tribute to Mr Vickers.

Mr. Econotarian writes:

Tribalism and religion are clearly both evolved behaviors that pervade humanity. We learn to enjoy the tribe and religion of our parents as easily as we learn the language of our parents. No doubt both behaviors at some point had evolutionary survival value. However that doesn't mean that there is any "reality" in either.

Our quite natural enjoyment of them should always be tempered to make sure that we do no harm in that enjoyment.

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