05 January 2010

On Being a Patriot

An hour ago, Kevin Gaudet, CEO of the Canadian Taxpayer's Federation, sent the following Twitter update:

"I am ashamed Maude Barlow is Canadian. She may hate Harper but should love Canada."

Gaudet was responding to this article by Barlow, which appears today in The Globe and Mail. In essence, Barlow was criticizing Canada's failure to act on a number of issues, failures for which the Harper government is responsible. 

Gaudet took particular exception to this:
I am personally ashamed of my country as I travel internationally. [emphasis added]

Gaudet has a peculiar understanding of patriotism. In his view, to express shame for the actions or inactions of one's country is to be unpatriotic. But he's dead wrong.

As I responded back: "Shame is the emotional equivalent of taking responsibility." For someone to love one's country, per Gaudet's requirement for patriotic citizenship, one must never express shame for what one's country does. Such a concept of citizenship is empty of meaning.

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