Diversity, or Disrespect?

I make it a point not to read the comments on news articles online. I’ve had plenty of interesting, educational and thought-provoking discourse online, but there is something about the comment function on news websites that brings out the trolls. The ignorance, lack of empathy and poor writing just makes me sad.

However, after clicking on a link to this article via Twitter (the only reason I’d be visiting the Sun site), I accidentally scrolled too far down the page, and saw the first comment.

“I am slowly becoming a white supremacist. All I want is my traditional holidays and beliefs to be left alone.”

Now, I’m not sure what my opinion on parents opting their children out of Remembrance Day ceremonies at school is. My instinct is to say that all public school students in Canada should have to attend. That said, I rarely deal in absolutes, and apparently this is decided on a case-by-case basis. One suggested reason for opting out was if the child had recently experienced a death in the family. Who am I to say that a child should be forced to attend a somber ceremony and possibly have to grieve her own loss publicly? And really, we adults are not required to attend Remembrance Day ceremonies. It’s not even a national holiday anymore. So why do we expect more from our children? Or is it possible that people who don’t attend public services still honour the sacrifices of our veterans in their own way?

The comment above is offensive on so many levels. It suggests that anyone opting out must surely be “non-white.” It is also a slap in the face of the “non-white” men and women that have served in the Canadian military. Some parents are apparently pulling their children for religious reasons. I’m not sure what religion these families follow, but I do know that the students I’ve worked with who are exempted from standing during “O Canada” for religious reasons? Are white. Skin colour is not a religion.

But what I really want to know is, how does this even affect this self-proclaimed “white supremacist” anyway? No one has asked that Remembrance Day services in schools be cancelled. White Supremacist is free to remember in any way he or she chooses. The choices of other families in no way interfere with White Supremacist observing his or her “traditional holidays or beliefs”, whatever they may be. Isn’t it great we live in a country where we all have that freedom?

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2 Comments

Filed under education, in the news, schools

2 responses to “Diversity, or Disrespect?

  1. Juliette

    I think you’re attributing too much intelligence to White Supremacist, personally. Pretty sure they have no idea what they’re actually saying when they invoke that.
    As for whether I agree with the opting out, yes I do, and for the same reason as this quote from the article:
    “But retired major-general Lewis MacKenzie, 71, says demanding every child adhere to a social standard is a slippery slope.”

    I’d love to hope that every parent, whether or not they observe Remembrance Day (and here, it’s really just an excuse to go shopping for many people – my daughter has friends in grade 2 with very little clue what it’s all about), is explaining the reason for the poppies and the respect for our veterans. I know that doesn’t happen, which is a shame. But I completely support the right to opt out, even if personally I think it’s incredibly important to opt IN. Those that forget the past are doomed to repeat it, after all.

  2. I always hesitate to put my opinions on these matters “out there,” but since reading your post and the comment above, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it, so I’m hoping that voicing my opinion will free me to think about other things.

    I don’t think there should be an “opt-out” choice in Remembrance Day ceremonies in schools except perhaps in cases similar to the one you mentioned: a child who has suffered a recent loss. Many children will learn the meaning of Remembrance Day *only* through school. It is predominantly schools that shape their social conscience and their understanding of our country (whether their homeland or not, it is their country if they live here) and its history.

    Frankly, had I not experienced Remembrance Day ceremonies as a child, November 11 would pass me by with scant notice. My parents didn’t recognize it in any particular way, and neither of them served our country or had parents who did (that I know of). Perhaps they wore poppies, but they never talked to me about what poppies symbolized. Because its importance was something I learned in school–through those ceremonies, assignments, and class discussions–Remembrance Day strikes me to my core as an adult. I show veterans the respect they deserve; I think about the sacrifices they and their families made and continue to make, whether the veterans themselves survived or not; and I appreciate the freedom we have and the peaceful nation we live in.

    Remembrance Day is not about religion or even about nationalism. It is a day we single out out of 365 in a year to honour those who have fought for what we–as the human race, not just as Canadians–hold dear: our freedom.

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