You can take the boy out of Canada, but you can’t (completely) take Canada out of the boy

As a U.S. federal employee, I’m going through a security clearance for the first time in years. The guy who came to interview me a few weeks ago seemed particularly concerned about my Canadian connections and wondered why on earth I would want a Canadian passport. I told him that it seemed like a good idea. He then asked me–I can’t remember the exact wording–whether I considered myself an American. “I’m 98% American,” I said, “and 2% Canadian. The 2% is when Canada plays the U.S. in Olympics hockey.” [Notice that I didn’t say “ice hockey.”]

But I think I have to revise those percentages. Yesterday morning I watched a video that Canada’s government broadcaster, the CBC, shared on YouTube showing the tribute that the Canadian Parliament gave Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers, the man who shot the gunman who had run into the Parliament building. My wife, who was upstairs, heard the applause and asked me what it was for. I choked up as I told her and started crying. When she came downstairs, I told her that the American/Canadian percentages were 90/10. “But you were just responding to his bravery,” she said. “I know,” I said, “but if this had been, say, a story about Poland, I probably wouldn’t have to the same extent.”

I know that among many of my libertarian friends, it’s not “cool” to have any nationalism or even any patriotism in you. But one of the hardest lessons I learned early in life was not to disown my feelings. Under the influence of Ayn Rand’s weird ideas about love, I told my brother that I didn’t love him, in the last real conversation I had with him before he committed suicide. Of course, I did love him, but I had adopted Rand’s and Nathaniel Branden’s idea that you couldn’t love someone who didn’t share your philosophical views. And, boy, did my brother ever not share my philosophical views.

So, even if it’s not cool and even if get criticized for, gasp, celebrating as a hero a government worker who was, gasp, protecting other government workers, I won’t disown that feeling.

Here’s the video, which CBC is making easy to share on web sites: