Hartley: Once-proud nation torn apart by beavers and birds
November 18, 2016
I know things seem tough right now, America. I know it feels like we've been torn in two and we're at war with ourselves. I know a lot of wimpy-ass college kids and professors need time off from classes to deal with their hurt feelings, and I know that rioting and protests are happening all over the place. I admit: It's bad. But things could be worse: We could be Canada.
That's right: Canada, that supposedly idyllic place you wish you could move to right now. You may not know this, America, since you've been so hung up on your own problems lately, but our neighbor to the north also has been a house divided for half a decade now, wracked by partisan squabbling, heated disagreement and all sorts of infighting.
I mean, sure, Canadians are content with the leader they chose, and the squabbling and infighting have been over furry critters and feathered friends, but they've been arguing anyway, and they were just as stunned as we were when an underdog won an all-important election recently.
Oh, you didn't hear about that? No, you didn't, because you thought the big election was happening in the U.S. It wasn't. It was happening north of the border, where an online vote was held to determine Canada's new national bird. The fate of the civilized world hung in the balance.
Now, Canada, as you may know, has a goose named after it. It has a loon on its $1 coin, and there's a baseball team in its largest city called the Blue Jays. So which bird did Canadians choose to represent their country? The gray jay.
What's a gray jay, you ask? Exactly. It's a little, flying bundle of bland. You've probably actually seen gray jays thousands of times and thought of them only as generic "birds," if you thought of them at all. They don't really get noticed, and their choice as national bird has ruffled the feathers of more than a few Canadians.
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The gray jay was reportedly chosen over the loon, the goose, the snowy owl and the black-capped chickadee, in part, because it doesn't migrate to warmer climes in the winter and can endure temperatures as cold as minus-30 degrees Celsius, which means it doesn't freeze to death in about three of Canada's provinces. Why that counts as a ringing endorsement is beyond me.
The argument over Canada's avian symbol echoes one from five years ago when the country's citizenry, asked to choose a national animal, opted for the beaver over the polar bear. The nation chose what one senator called a "dentally defective rat" because the beaver is humble and industrious, just like the lunatic fur traders who first settled Canada while hunting for beaver pelts.
As you can imagine, many Canadians, tired of being seen as dull, hardworking beavers, were keen to adopt the mighty polar bear as an emblem and were quite vocal in their opposition to an overgrown rodent. Ultimately, though, I think even the pro-bear crowd had to admit that the beaver was probably a better representative for a nation of lumberjacks.
So that's where Canadians stand right now. They have the gray jay, the beaver and the fearsome maple leaf as their national symbols, and they've been feuding over them like the Hatfields and McCoys would feud if the Hatfields and McCoys were polite and considerate, didn't own many guns and had universal health care for the wounds they inflicted on each other.
But that's why I say things could be worse right now, America. Instead of the majestic bald eagle, you could have a lowly gray jay for your official bird, and instead of Donald Trump, in all his orange-coiffed glory, you could have a stupid beaver as the symbol of your country. I think you all know how awful that would be.
As bad as things may be, you can always content yourself in the knowledge that an eagle would chew up a gray jay and regurgitate it back up for its offspring without a second's hesitation. So we're better than Canada in that way.
And as for beavers, well, there's really no contest there, either. Not stacked up against Trump, anyway. Because I think we all know what Trump would do to a beaver. Let's just say it would involve a lot of grabbing, and it would definitely not end well for Canada's favorite buck-toothed rodent.
Todd Hartley's national animal and bird are the sloth and the dodo, disrespectfully. To read more or leave a comment, visit http://zerobudget.net.
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