Gotta love a column by Peter Shawn Taylor that turned up today in the Waterloo Region Record -- one week in advance of St. Patrick's Day. Faithful readers will appreciate that I am a man without bias, ahem, but I do believe Taylor hits his stride when he invokes Celtic Lightning and, all right, paraphrases Our Hero. "With more than a quarter of Canadians tracing their ancestry back to Scotland or Ireland, McGoogan claims these ancient Celtic precepts were gradually inserted into our cultural DNA and have today come to define Canadians of all backgrounds. From this perspective, anyone who celebrates their Irishness on March 17 — whether genetically valid or not — is simply acknowledging the inherited meaning of Canada. McGoogan's theory thus offers some important lessons for those who attack Canada's history or feign outrage whenever anyone "appropriates" the symbols of their ancestors.
"The striking lack of complaints from Irish voices over the culture appropriation of St. Patrick's Day — particularly when the popular stereotype tends to emphasize drinking, fighting and swearing — reflects those admirable Celtic attitudes of good cheer, open-mindedness and inclusivity. All are welcome to join in the fun. Surely that's healthier than shouting "racism" at the drop of a hat.
"Every culture should similarly seek to define itself on the basis of accomplishment and aspiration as opposed to victimhood. Those many waves of Scottish and Irish peasants faced plenty of discrimination, poverty, marginalization, colonialism and hardship when making their way to Canada. As McGoogan points out, Sir John A. Macdonald, the father of Confederation, was a third-generation refugee whose family was evicted during the Highland Clearances of the 1700s. And while religious strife was once a defining characteristic of Ireland and Scotland, any sectarian connotation to St. Patrick's Day (or Robbie Burns Day for that matter) has long since been swept away by an all-embracing Canadian mosaic. It is the party that remains.
"If you want to know what it means to be Canadian, just pretend to be Irish on St. Patrick's Day."
You can read the whole column by clicking here. Go ahead. You know you want to!