Canadian tenor Remigio Pereira altered the lyrics of “O Canada” to include “all lives matter” while singing with his group at the Major League Baseball All-Star Game in San Diego’s Petco Park on Tuesday night, July 12, 2016, echoing a phrase used by Ben Carson, Ray Lewis, and Janet Jackson. Vancouver-based The Tenors, reacting to backlash from Black Lives Matter supporters, issued a statement apologizing for Pereira’s faux pas, and said that he would not be performing “until further notice”.
As The Tenors sang Canada’s national anthem before the start of the all-star game, Pereira re-phrased “With glowing hearts we see thee rise, the True North strong and free” to “We’re all brothers and sisters, all lives matter to the great.” Canadian tenor Pereira also held up a sign he pulled from inside his jacket that read, “All Lives Matter.”
According to CBC News, the rest of the quartet appeared thrown off-guard but picked up what followed next in French and continued singing. The Canadian tenor’s companions released a statement on their website and on social media after the incident, calling it a “shameful act.” They described Pereira as a “lone wolf” out to “serve his own political views.”
Consisting of Clifton Murray, Fraser Walters, Victor Micallef, and renegade Canadian tenor Pereira, the Juno-awarded quartet is known for its operatic take on pop music and has gone onstage with the likes of Justin Bieber, Neil Young, and Paul McCartney. The group opened the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver and serenaded Queen Elizabeth during her Diamond Jubilee celebrations at Windsor Castle in 2013.
To explain his move, the renegade Canadian tenor issued a message to fans in a post late Tuesday night. His stated intent was to unify people.
“I’ve been so moved lately by the tragic loss of life. I hoped for a positive statement that would bring us ALL together.”
“All Lives Matter” has become a controversial term because it’s seen as running counter to the Black Lives Matter movement against racism and police brutality toward the black community. Though viewed by those like Canadian tenor Pereira as a more inclusive title for the Black Lives Matter movement, the phrase is interpreted by others as minimizing racism against blacks.
At CNN’s Democratic debate on October 13, 2015, candidates were asked if “black lives matter” or if “all lives matter,” and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton unanimously picked “black lives matter.” On Fox’s The Kelly File the next day, Dr. Ben Carson said the responses were typical of the political correctness that dominates the country.
“Of course all lives matter, and ‘all lives’ includes black lives. We have to stop submitting to those who want to divide us up into all these special interest groups.”
According to the Washington Times, former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis has this advice for everyone entangled in the issue.
“Remove the word ‘Black’ and say ‘Lives Matter’. Stop sending mothers back home empty. You can never replace a mother’s child. If we want Black Lives Matter, let’s make it matter to us. That’s the new call.”
He also released an April Facebook video that would be viewed more than 2.8 million times. In the clip, he stood by sentiments the Canadian tenor would express in his own way. Lewis made special mention of black-on-black crime.
“I know black lives matter, because I’m a black man, but man, stop killing each other. Man, we got to put these guns down in Chicago. Baltimore, Miami, man it ain’t that hard. You got to be OK with earning a living. It ain’t supposed to be easy. If we don’t change what we’re doing not only will our kids not have a future, but we might find ourselves extinct.”
By including “all lives matter” in a tweet on July 7, Janet Jackson raised hackles among the same Black Lives Matter advocates now pouncing on the Canadian tenor. One fan tweeted back, “lux @tayykh @JanetJackson why you hashtagged all lives matter tho. Janet Jackson’s tweet went like this.”
According to ET Online, during the public outcry from the shooting deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile at the hands of police, Prince Jackson took to Twitter to speak out against the incidents, while also criticizing the Black Lives Matter movement. The late Michael Jackson’s son held the same view expressed by Canadian tenor Pereira.
“Prince Jackson ✔ @princemjjjaxon – 2 Muslim boys were brutally beaten because of their religion. I stand by my statement all lives matter. The media tells the stories it wants… I understand that you want to focus on #blacklivesmatter but why only focus on one life that matters when all do?”
According to Breitbart News, the prominent black founder of the Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny, Reverend Jesse Lee Peterson, says that he considers Black Lives Matter to be a hate group and that it is “no different than the KKK.” He stated his opinion way before the Canadian tenor would sing his.
“It’s a hate group, they’re no different than the skinheads or the KKK. They are people who have never been taught to love. From the beginning of their lives they were taught to hate, blame and become victims. They’re just spending a lifetime blaming white Americans, blaming slavery for their lack of good parents in the homes and their lack of love. If Black Lives Matter was a white radical group, doing exactly what these black people are doing, they would be shut down. America would not allow that to happen.”
National Post has on record a tweet two months ago by one of BLM Toronto’s co-founders, addressing the same group targeting the Canadian tenor. Yusra Khogali invoked Allah on unequivocal terms.
“Plz Allah give me the strength not to cuss/kill these men and white folks out here today.”
Dallas Police Chief David Brown spoke to reporters on July 8, after five police officers were killed and seven injured by 25-year-old Micah Johnson, a black army reservist who served in Afghanistan. Calling for people to come together as the Canadian tenor would through song, the black police chief had this to say.
“The suspect said he was upset about Black Lives Matter. He said he was upset about the recent shootings, he was upset at white people. The suspect said he wanted to kill white people, especially white officers.”
Two opposing points of view are becoming more convoluted with their justifications. Above the fray, the lone Canadian tenor continues to sing his message online.
[Photo by Mike Moore/Getty Images]