Super Student Lesson III: Canada, the Bradys and Constitution Day

Tony Reiss

Tony ReissSuper Student

Last week was full of fun experiences for me. First, on Monday, Consulate General of Canada Martin Loken spoke on campus. Mr. Loken gave a lecture about the relationship that the United States has with Canada. His talk was full of information about the importance of trade between our two countries. Mr. Loken explained that the United States has never had a more important ally than Canada. It is true the United States and Canada share a unique relationship.

During the question and answer portion of the presentation, an audience member asked why Canadians know more about the United States than we know about them. The answer of course is simple: we’re bigger. Mr. Loken pointed out that the population of the United States is ten times the size of Canada, and when there is a behemoth living next door you’re bound to pay attention. The relationship between our two countries got me thinking of another famous relationship: the relationship between Marsha and Jan Brady. Like people paid more attention to Marsha, people pay more attention to the United States than they do Canada. But, Canada is far nicer to us than Jan was ever to Marsha. For instance, when a football was lobbed at our face in December of 1941, did Canada relish in the fact that the United States was never going to be a teen model? No. Canada extended a helping hand in restoring peace in the world. In that respect Canada is more like cousin Oliver, helping us solve our problems, and for that I am thankful.

Friday was Constitution Day. As the name suggests, Constitution Day is a day to celebrate one of humanities greatest documents: the United States Constitution. In honor of the Constitution, the Department of History and Political Science hosted a federally-mandated Constitution Day celebration. I’m sure you”re thinking “Oh, that’s nice.” Go ahead, re-read that sentence again, especially the part about the federally-mandated Constitution Day celebration. You read that correctly. Constitution Day comes with a federal mandate that any institution of higher learning that receives federal funding must set aside time on Constitution Day in order to discuss the Constitution. Now, I have nothing against discussing the Constitution, but it seems a little counter-intuitive to force institutions of higher learning, the bastions of free thought, into celebrating the Constitution.

I’m sure a lot of you don’t remember growing up celebrating Constitution Day. That’s because it wasn’t a holiday until 2004 when a Democrat senator slid the creation of the holiday and the federal mandated celebrations into the omnibus spending bill. I’m sure most of you are familiar with the now infamous University of Florida taser incident. You know, the one that made the quote “Don’t tase me bro!” world- famous. Well, did you know that incident happened at a federally mandated Constitution Day celebration? If federally mandating institutions of higher learning into celebrating and discussing the Constitution wasn’t bad enough, it was only made worse by silencing someone’s free speech at the point of a taser. I’m not a history scholar but it seems to me that this is the very thing we fought for during the Revolutionary War.

I do have to give kudos to the political science department and history department for putting together a stellar discussion that ended up being standing room only. And the amazing thing was that this was at 3:30 p.m. on a Friday afternoon.

One of my professors recently said in class that the university experience is more than just attending classes (I thought, I know it’s also about O’Hare’s, Cubby’s, Skinners, Ray’s Corner and Jim’s Tap). He said that involves attending events and speakers to broaden your horizon. I couldn’t agree more. I didn’t write this column just to tell you what I did last week. It’s to let you all know that some really cool things happen on campus every week (I mean, come on, it’s not every week that a top diplomat from Canada visits Brookings). And, even if extra credit isn’t offered, it’s important to take advantage of these opportunities.

Tony Reiss is a non-traditional student majoring in economics. Contact Tony at [email protected].