Trashing the tacky of tradition.

Speaking of mixed metaphors! Thinking of trashing Conrad Black over his recent bereavement brought to mind both the BBC’s Downton Abbey series and musical  Fiddler on the Roof. It really takes both to put Conrad Black in perspective.

Downton Abbey is a period piece despite the fact that it was only 100 years ago. It is a wonderful dissection of the traditions and mores of the period. The noble Earl, his extended family, his retainers and the influences of his time interact in a poignant tale of the richness, refinement and basic cruelty of the times.

You probably have to be more of a mensch to really understand Fiddler on the Roof as it is a more allegorical discourse on the Jewish diaspora. For the rest of us, it is alternately joyous and sad and an enthralling piece of theatre. Based on a story by Sholem Aleichem, it is set in Tsarist Russia in 1905. There is a song on tradition that sets the audience up for the changes in the times.

And this thinking was stimulated by Conrad Black’s troubles. Poor Conrad, the Governor General has dispensed with not only his Order of Canada but his honour of being a Privy Councillor. Since the Order of Canada is a pin you can wear on your lounge suits or a thingy you can wear on a ribbon when dressing for a formal dinner, they will be missed. And since the Queen has not asked for advice from her Privy Council for quite some time, the P.C. after his name might not matter.

But, damn it all, back at Downton Abbey or in Tsarist Russia, it would have mattered. A gentleman wears these honours proudly. And, Conrad needs to understand that when a gentleman dishonours them, he gets more than a white feather. We are also tired of him overstaying his visit to Canada. He renounced his citizenship, after all.

Still, it is too bad that Canadians cannot find some proper way to bestow honours on those Canadians who achieve for us and do our country honour. The Order of Canada is forever blemished by some of the overt hypocrisy of this overly politicized honour.

Mind you, last year’s distribution of the Queen’s Jubilee Medals still ranks as the most politicized disgrace we have ever seen. Trust the Conservatives to come up with something that could be done in such a tacky way.


Copyright 2014 © Peter Lowry

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