“Oh, Canada” turns into “All Lives Matter”
On Tuesday at the annual Major League Baseball All-Star Game, which pits the American League division against its National League rivals, the AL put the hurt on the NL like it usually does, securing home field advantage for their side when the World Series arrives this fall.
There’s an All Star game every year, and the AL usually wins, so that’s hardly news unless you’re big on baseball. But it was the typically non-controversial singing of the national anthems that has people talking a lot 24 hours later. A Canadian vocalist group called The Tenors had the honor of singing “Oh, Canada” at Petco Park in San Diego on Tuesday, and one of its singers, Remigio Pereira, went off book for the occasion.
When Pereira was supposed to sing the line, “With glowing hearts we see thee rise, the True North strong and free,” which are the correct lyrics of the Canadian national anthem, he substituted the words, “We’re all brothers and sisters. All lives matter to the great.” At the same time he held up a sign that read “All Lives Matter” while his fellow vocalists looked briefly puzzled.
By Tuesday night, Pereira had come under fire for his actions. The Tenors have suspended him indefinitely, and issued a statement condemning him for altering their country’s anthem—and probably also at least a little for taking them by surprise in the middle of a massively televised sporting event.
After that went up on The Tenors’ Twitter feed, Pereira posted a few messages of his own in hopes of promoting love and oneness.
The singer’s heart was in the right place, but “All Lives Matter” is a phrase that many Black Lives Matter activists and supporters find reductive and offensive. It’s become a sort of “Can’t we all just get along?” that’s been waved around by detached celebrities and people who use arguments like, “Actually more white people get killed by cops so why don’t we care about them, too?” So, it seems like Pereira didn’t quite think this one through to the end.
Then there’s the fact that he altered his country’s national anthem on live TV, which has more than a few Canadians really pissed off—as evidenced by the letter from his fellow Tenors and the replies to his tweets. And seriously, could you imagine the outrage if, say, Beyoncé inserted something like “the land of black oppression and the home of white oppressors” into the finale of “The Star Spangled Banner”? People got angry enough about her Super Bowl performance because she wore clothes that were a homage to the Black Panthers. Altering those lyrics would likely have resulted in some horrifying white nationalism setting the internet ablaze.
Hopefully, Pereira is taking this time out—now that he’s on extended vacation—to consider the nuances of All Lives Matter in contrast to Black Lives Matter, and that he doesn’t let this deter him from making more meaningful, and more measured, statements about the need for racial equality and stopping police brutality.
Hey, we can dream, right?