Mike points me to Douglas Ord’s piece ‘It Weren’t Just Hockey’, a timely link indeed for me, coming as it does hard on the heels of the recent Daypop-fueled kafuffle over Canuck Robert MacDougall’s rant about America. I think it illuminates quite ably some of the anger and resentment many Canadians feel towards America, by dwelling on the specifics of some events of which I was only vaguely aware. Much as the “Canada sux, d00d!” meme has taken over among the Youth Of America, fueled mostly, I think, by the Blame Canada! silliness in the South Park movie, lifted out of context and taken at face value, there seems to be little awareness in America of the reciprocal strength of real ill-will in many parts of Canadian society towards the 800-pound gorilla to the south. And if conjoined siblings are at odds, to a degree where some sort of ritualized catharsis is necessary, what of the rest of the world?
But the Toronto – New York series had an especially nasty edge, with the question widely asked as to whether hockey had reached a new low.
The series went a full seven games, & was ultimately won by the Maple Leafs on home ice, four games to three.
It also featured bizarre anomalies.
Among them was persistent booing of the Canadian national anthem in New York, even as the US national anthem was cheered in Toronto.
The booing in New York only got louder as the series went on, notwithstanding that the night before the series began on April 18th, four Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan had been killed, & eight wounded, by a laser-guided bomb dropped by a US F-16 fighter plane.
In fact the entire period of the series, from April 18th to 30th, was one of confused national mourning in Canada, on account of the killing of the four soldiers, who were the first Canadian combat casualties in nearly fifty years, & who were victims of the US Air Force.
Nevertheless, it has now emerged that for the sixth game of the series, & the last in New York, the audience there did more than just loudly boo the Canadian national anthem.
According to Bruce Arthur in the May 2nd National Post, a paper I don’t much like but that sometimes has interesting tidbits, the opera student who had sung both national anthems in Toronto for an earlier game got a surprise when he arrived in New York for the sixth one:
“Days after being cheered as he sang the Canadian and American anthems before an NHL playoff game in Toronto, Robert Pomakov watched, horrified, as unruly New York hockey fans burned his Canadian flag in the parking lot of Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
“Mr. Pomakov, an opera singer, saw both his Canadian and his Toronto Maple Leaf flags torn from his car and set on fire by a crowd chanting ‘USA! USA!’ in the moments before Sunday’s Game 6 between the Leafs and the New York Islanders.
“‘We lost four of our soldiers and they were basically defending these idiots,’ an outraged Mr. Pomakov said. “If patriotism is what drives these people and their ignorance, then I am ashamed to have our soldiers defending them… There’s a line that needs to be drawn, and this was just so far across.”
What Pomakov did not mention, of course, was that the Canadian soldiers were not just killed while implicitly defending American citizens from “terrorist attack.” They were killed by an American fighter pilot, and are the only Canadians to be killed, or even wounded, in the war in Afghanistan.
Nor, it should be noted, did the American mob shout “New York! New York!” or “Islanders! Islanders!” while burning the Canadian flag.
Instead they chanted “USA! USA!”.
This being the chant which accompanied George W. Bush’s first visit to the ruins of the World Trade Centre in that same New York City, & which has become the semi-official vocal accompaniment to the “war on terror.”