More on the waste that is our universities these days. Very sad. These are the people teaching our kids.
In my line of work, it’s good to stay humble. After all, the insights I had today are destined to line somebody’s cat-litter box tomorrow. The online world makes my precious prose seem even less important. If it’s not on newsprint, it's not even worth peeing on.
But once in a while, people really care. Sometimes, my work lives on in a way I could never have imagined.
A couple of years ago, I wrote a light-hearted column for Canada Day. I described how I’d come to Canada at an early age and gradually embraced the values of my adopted land. I quoted that grand old icon Pierre Berton, who (perhaps apocryphally) declared that “a Canadian is someone who knows how to make love in a canoe,” and I confessed that, inspired by his words, I, too, had once tried this hazardous and uncomfortable feat. Whimsically, I wondered whether any of today’s immigrants would choose to express their patriotism as I had.
It wasn’t my best work. But I never dreamed it would live on in infamy.
My feeble effort at weekend humour is now Exhibit No. 1 in a scholarly new book called Rethinking the Great White North: Race, Nature, and the Historical Geographies of Whiteness in Canada (published by UBC Press). According to the introduction, my column is insidiously racist. “The implication is that somehow Canada might become less Canadian unless measures are taken to ensure that immigrants are taught the j-stroke,” the authors warn. “Against a backdrop of imagined wilderness, it [the love-in-a-canoe comment] privileges the universality of Canadian canoe culture, marginalizes dark-skinned bodies as peripheral to national origins, and positions white heterosexual procreation in a canoe as the highest achievement of national identity.”