Vive Le Canada

God Bless Canada?
Date: Friday, January 20 2006

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Expose Harper for what he is and what he isn't

God Bless Canada?

By John Chuckman

I hadn't realized until recently that Stephen Harper was using "God Bless Canada!" as a tagline for his speeches. Some may think this a harmless, or even beneficent, expression for a politician to use, but for those with knowledge of history, nothing could be a more frightening.

I do believe we all know to whom Harper is tipping his hat with these words. George Bush, author of two wars which have killed more than a hundred thousand innocent people and the champion of an ugly set of repressive laws in the United States, says "God Bless America!" every chance he gets.

Some might say Bush uses the line because he has nothing else to say, and I don't doubt this is part of the truth. But slogans of this kind are always used to protect dangerous people from criticism. The words are used also as code, a kind of insidious political wink, to bloodthirsty supporters, the Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell types. They says things that cannot be uttered in public.

Bush usually says it in front of a set of gigantic, eagle-topped American flags, reminiscent of nothing so much as the days when Germany's leader spoke and sputtered in front of platoons of monstrous, threatening flags.

Bush also always wears a prominently-placed American flag pin on his lapel, just in case you forget where he's from. I can never help thinking of the image of Hitler wearing his quiet Iron Cross on an otherwise plain, neatly-tailored uniform. Neatness and patriotism for the cameras instead of troops sloshing through human blood.

The belt buckle of the German legions which murdered their way across Europe were embossed with "Gott Mit Uns" (God With Us) over a fierce eagle grasping the swastika. This is only to say that there is a record in fairly recent history of the use of religious slogans in politics to cover horrors. I recall a photograph of American Marines, having illegally invaded Iraq, kneeling for a quick blessing before going out to kill more Iraqis in their own land.

Canadians must think hard when voting. The nation has been prospering without Harper's policies and it has avoided at least one pointless war. In politics, you have to pick your battles carefully because no one party can represent all the issues about which you care. Peace and civility and dedication to broad human rights are priceless and may well be put at risk with a Harper majority.

[Proofreader's note: this article was edited for spelling and typos on January 22, 2006]

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