Identity Affirmation Games

Christmas is bringing out the inner degenerate in many people. Here is Juan Cole with a post titledWould Syrian Refugee Baby Jesus be allowed to immigrate to the US?

On the subject of Syrian refugees: it is no longer possible to have a conversation with a Canadian without them trying to manipulate you into some bizarre national identity affirmation game. I have already learned to avoid saying things like, “I’m seeing my doctor tomorrow” in front of Canadians because the response is always a didactic, “In Canada, medical care is FREE!!!” and then as an afterthought, “Oh, are you sick?”

Now I’m learning that the identity affirmation game has a fresh iteration. It goes as follows: a Canadian person interrupts whatever I’m saying with, “So. . . how many refugees is your state accepting? Because in Canada we welcome all refugees! It’s what it means to be Canadian!!! So wait, you were saying that your sister gave birth? Did you know that in Canada medical care is FREE!!!”

I love you, Canadians, but start getting over it because it’s annoying. Especially since I never come back at you with, “And how much taxes have you paid last year? Because here in the US. . .”

By the way, the game is most actively played by people who were not born in Canada. And that makes it even more weird because the idea of two foreigners exchanging these nationalistic slogans is way too bizarre.

8 thoughts on “Identity Affirmation Games

  1. Does the song go something like this?

    In Canada we accept all refugees,
    our poutine always has gravy!
    The maple trees say “Bless you!”
    When you sneeze
    In Canada medical care is FREE/whee!
    Oui-oui!
    We are Canadian, but definitely not American!

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  2. There’s the idea of the “new convert” – the more recent was your change of belief system, the louder you pronounce it, either because to prove yourself to your new peers or just because these thoughts stand out the most in your own mind still (because otherwise you wouldn’t have changed anything to begin with).

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  3. More simply, there’s human nature. People like affirmation that decisions they have made are correct. People born in the US or Canada haven’t made a decision; their parents did. People who have moved have made a decision, and they like others to tell them how wonderful that decision is. Affirmation.

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    1. Yes. And that’s the most obnoxious characteristic of immigrants: the need to have the correctness of their decision to emigrate confirmed. As an immigrant, I detest this kind of thing because I encounter it so often.

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    2. Migration isn’t really a choice for a great many, maybe the majority, of people that move from one country to another. Only at the very highest levels is it generally a matter of preference rather than necessity. I mean sure I could have stayed in the US and made $0.00 a year as opposed to $10k a year here in Ghana or the $8k a year I was making in Kyrgyzstan earlier. But, a choice between being unemployed and having no money and leaving the country to take a poor paying job is not much of a choice.

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      1. A bad choice is still a choice. For me, it was either getting to emigrate to Canada or taking my life. So what? It was still my choice.

        And it’s precisely the realization that the decision was mine and nobody else’s that allowed me to avoid any regret or doubt.

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