Tuesday, February 14, 2006

I like a good flag-burning as much as anyone, but I don't get this.

As a Canadian, I secretly get a warm feeling every time someone sets the Stars and Stripes alight. (This is literally true. You might not know this, but many of us get through our long, cold winters by heating our houses with furnaces that run on American flags.)

That said, I was confused by the photo in this story I saw in today's issue of 24 Hours:

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No, it's not the errant apostrophe in the caption that's bothering me. It's that these Pakistanis are burning the American flag when it was actually the Danish who published the Islam-themed cartoons that have everyone in such a hubbub. I don't know. Maybe it was just reflex. Maybe they didn't have a Danish flag laying around.

Or maybe it's just something they always do when there's a whole bunch of them hanging around and the mood seizes them to do something but they don't know precisely what to do, so they just do something that they ordinarily enjoy doing even if they know it's not quite right.

Here's a similar example: When the Toronto Blue Jays won the 1993 World Series, I was in my first year at Queen's University, whose students are generally acknowledged as having far too much school spirit for a Canadian university. When Joe Carter's championship-clinching homer flew over the left-field fence, seemingly the entire population of the Queen's Ghetto poured out into University Avenue for an impromptu street party. The celebration was raucous. It was joyous. And then it happened, as it always does when that many Queen's students get together:

Everyone linked arms in a big circle, did that little kicking can-can dance, and sang a rousing rendition of the school song, the Oil Thigh:
Queen's College colours we are wearing once again,
Soiled as they are by the battle and the rain,
Yet another victory to wipe away the stain!
So, Gaels, go in and win!

Oil thigh na Banrighinn a'Banrighinn gu brath!
Oil thigh na Banrighinn a'Banrighinn gu brath!
Oil thigh na Banrighinn a'Banrighinn gu brath!
It was odd, even awkward if you stopped to think about it. It made no sense. What the hell did Queen's University have to do with the Blue Jays? Nothing. We'd played no part in the World Series win. Hell, with the lone exception of one outfielder, no Canadian had had anything to do with it. But the situation seemed to call for something. We were brimming over with vague pride, we and happened to have a song celebrating a sporting victory. So we sang it. Close enough.

That's what this is like.


Blogger Steve Ely said...

Now, when you say "everyone linked arms..." and "we sang," you're including yourself, yeah? Because it's hard to picture. And not just because, having never seen you, it's hard to picture you at all. I can't remember ever having been so spirited myself, and you seem much more cynical than I.

2/14/2006 10:42:00 PM  
Blogger Peter Lynn said...

I did. I was worried I'd be torn apart by the mob if I didn't go along with it.

2/14/2006 11:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Nick Iannitti said...

I am as appalled as you are at the mistaken apostrophe. And, as a fellow Canadian, I am not incensed at the mistaken inflammation of the U.S. flag, though I bear no ill will to that particular flag per se.

Though I am interested in the wide arc of religious insensitivity that is permitted before one crosses the line. Jesus has taken his fair share of cartoon hits, no doubt. It's time to spread the love. That's why I'm currently undertaking a project to offend all religions equally, through a series of cartoons on my blog. Excelsior to me!

2/15/2006 10:36:00 AM  

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