Oh Canada! For Once, Political Correctness is Stopped Cold
Don’t mess with a century-old tradition even if it is sexist, Canadians told the Conservative government this week, forcing Ottawa to scrap plans to make the country’s national anthem gender-neutral.
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For nearly 100 years, the anthem has included the line, “True patriot love in all thy sons’ command.”
In a major policy speech last week, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government had proposed referring these lyrics to a committee to review its gender neutrality. But
Complaints from irked citizens poured in to radio and television shows, invoking the sanctity of national symbols and tradition.
When I first read the offending line, I took “sons” to mean all of Canada’s progeny, regardless of gender, just as I’ve always understood “mankind” to mean all members of Homo sapien sapien and so on, down the list of words and terms which are purportedly offensive as they are gender-biased.
However, not everyone in Canada sees it that way.
The opposition Liberals called it a gimmick proving the Conservatives were not serious about women’s rights.
Here’s an idea: let’s judge a country’s attitude towards women not by words but by their treatment under law, in politics (in the United States, for example, all parties are eager to have women run for office) and by tradition (i.e., all children regardless of gender having equal standing in an inheritence, unless a will specifies otherwise). It strikes me that the final step to this considerable progress is to celebrate it by entertaining the possibility that genderized words become gender neutral in certain contexts. Including that of a nation’s anthem.