Is a strong sense of national pride tantamount to isolationist thinking?
One of the common criticisms of national pride is the development of xenophobic, “Us vs. Them” thinking. Living in Canada, a nation which has a relatively small population of approximately 33,390,000, compared to America, a country of an estimated 303,824,000 people (Central Intelligence Agency, 2008), gave me a glimpse of how this kind of thinking can work. Canadian culture is, at its core, incredibly nationalist. Canadians have an irrational fear of cultural dilution at the hands of America's exported entertainment, news, and world politics. Given the fear and righteous self-view of the dominant culture, it is an inevitability that co-cultures separated from the dominant culture by national identity are treated as sub-cultures.
My mother, Molly Galloway, is a Canadian. She grew up in what would also be my hometown, Stratford, Ontario. My father, Wil Perrell, is an American. He spent most of his childhood life in Crossnore, North Carolina. They met in Boston where my mother attended university. Married in Denver in 1978, my parents moved to Canada in the summer of 1984, so that they could have their first child under the superior Canadian health care system that my mother’s nationality afforded them. I was born Aaron Galloway-Perrell, a Canadian-American, June 21st, 1984 in London Ontario’s Parkwood Hospital, the first son of an international couple.
The summer before of my birth, my parents moved to Canada and started to build a life there. My father describes living in Canada as the “most fun you can have while surrounded by elitists jerks.” After moving to Canada with his pregnant wife, my father set out to find a job befitting a seasoned pressman from the Carolinas. Unfortunately, he found that few Canadian print shops wanted to hire an American. Perhaps it was fear of his perceived American bias. There was a long running argument within the Canadian government at the time regarding American cultural expansion. Later this debate would become known as the Canadian The Excise Tax Act *. Hiring an American printer may have given the publishing house an untrustworthy public image, or worse still, the new employee may begin to inject American ideals into publications. After about a month of being turned down for jobs for which he was more than qualified, his brother-in-law, Jim, gave my father a piece of advice. He told Wil that during his next interview, he should find a way, no matter now rough the transition, to tell the interviewer that he moved to Canada with my Canadian mother, so that they could start a family. Today dad says he “thought Jim’s advice was bullshit. Why would it matter if [he] was starting a Canadian family? If [he] interviewed well, and had the skills required, a good employer would give [him] the job.” But with mom due any day, he felt the pressure to try whatever it would take. In his next set of interviews, Wil made sure that he mentioned...