Categories: Op-Ed

Oh, Canada! We see your gender-neutral anthem and raise you … something even bigger?

I feel like Canada is trolling us.

Ohh, look at our new gender-neutral anthem. Supported by our handsome, feminist prime minister. Even Margaret Atwood likes it.

Honestly. It’s almost more than a Continental American can take. Watch them put Harriet Tubman on their currency before we get around to it.

If you missed the news, Canada’s Senate passed a bill to change the country’s national anthem, which currently goes like this: O Canada! / Our home and native land! / True patriot love in all thy sons command.

In the new version, “in all thy sons command” would be replaced by “in all of us command.”

Before passing Wednesday, the bill was apparently sitting around the Senate for 18 months. It passed out of Canada’s House of Commons in 2016. It’s almost like it suddenly got timely.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the bill “another positive step towards gender equality” in a tweet.

President Donald Trump, meanwhile, told Piers Morgan this week that he’s not a feminist.

Remember when Canada’s immigration site crashed the night Trump was elected?

I don’t think we should take this lying down, people. Enough is enough.

We’re the United States! We invented the Women’s March! We gave the world the light bulb! And iPhones! And Beyonce! Our women were voting way before Canada’s women!

We need a big, bold step. Taking Steve Wynn’s name off a plaza at the University of Pennsylvania isn’t going to cut it.

Our national anthem is already gender-neutral. Another patriotic song, “My Country ’Tis of Thee,” has a “fathers” line in it (Our fathers’ God, to thee), but not until the fourth stanza and who ever gets that far. “God Bless America” already calls America “her” (Stand beside her / And guide her).

We need to think bigger.

And we need to act quickly. “O Canada” was trending on my Facebook feed for, like, four hours Thursday night. Kim Kardashian sending Valentine’s Day gifts to her haters couldn’t even knock it off its perch.

Maybe we should start talking about Oprah for president again. Ellen DeGeneres for president? Shonda Rhimes for president!

Wait! Oh! I’ve got it! We could finally ratify the Equal Rights Amendment! That would show ’em.

That sucker’s been sitting around forever. You think Canada’s anthem bill idled? The United States Congress passed the ERA — prohibiting the denial of equal rights on the basis of sex — back in 1972. But it was never ratified by the required number of states.

Advocates have been renewing their push to get it ratified in the wake of #MeToo and #TimesUp.

“If you ever feel like you don’t think that we need to have some changes, I’m going to just say two words to you: Harvey Weinstein,” Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., told USA Today in November. “The only way we’re protected is to have ironclad protection in the United States Constitution. Is it so challenging to say that women and men should have equality of opportunity, equality of protection under the law?”

It’s not! At least it shouldn’t be! And now we’ve got another reason to say it! Canada!

Let’s do this, America. It’s a race to make history, and we don’t want to be on the wrong side of it.

Heidi Stevens is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune.

Heidi Stevens
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Heidi Stevens

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