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DSYSB since '01
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Registered: 01/25/01
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Interesting view from an American in Canada
    #1426264 - 04/03/03 01:02 PM (21 years, 17 days ago)



Colin Mochrie on 22 Minutes
FOR THE RECORD, I don't believe you all hate me for a bastard.

As a recent American immigrant to Canada, I should be entitled to feel a little sensitive about Liberal MP Carolyn Parrish cursing my countrymen, then adding "I hate those bastards." I would certainly reserve the right to be bothered by the cheers she earned when she refused to apologize for those remarks on CTV's Open Mike with Mike Bullard.

Being from America, I'm used to hearing politicians try to make hay from intemperate bluster. We've had Pat Buchanan run for president three times, remember. So it's easy enough to shrug off Parrish's comments as a bit of backbench rabble-rousing.

Besides, nothing I've experienced in the 15 months I've been in Canada would make me believe that such a statement was sincerely meant or deeply felt. Not only has no one given me a hard time for being from the States, but the few anti-American rants I've heard have been directed more at the institution than the actual people. (And for what it's worth, every American friend I've shown Colin Mochrie's recent "A Canadian apologizes" bit to has found it hysterically funny.)

While on the subject, I should also add that, unlike Paul Cellucci, Ari Fleischer or the various windbags who populate American talk radio, I am not deeply disappointed in Canada for failing to join the U.S.-led coalition invading Iraq. Quite the contrary. But I'm slightly ashamed to see my government issuing threats of retribution against its closest neighbour, simply because the Canadian government chooses to respect principles of international law. Certainly, it's true that the U.S. would leap to Canada's defence were it ever threatened. But come on, when was the last time you guys were invaded -- the War of 1812? (Oh, wait, that was us. Never mind.)

Given that news reports are full of data showing broad support in the U.S. for this war, my position probably seems a little atypical. After all, 70 per cent of Americans supported the U.S. invasion of Iraq, according to a poll released during the first week of the war. But what the poll should have added is that in this post-9/11 world, we Americans are deathly afraid of seeming unpatriotic. Moreover, as other polls have pointed out, over 40 per cent of us believe Saddam Hussein was responsible for the attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center. So of course we tell pollsters that we support the war effort -- even if we don't.

To be honest, I don't know any Americans who are actively for the war. Most look at it the same way they do bad weather: they accept that it's coming, and are resigned to being unable to do anything about it. If they saw what the Canadian press has been showing -- dead and bloodied Iraqi civilians, terrified American POWs, angry European and Arab protestors -- they'd likely be appalled.

But they don't see much of that stuff. News reports in the States, whether from the rah-rah patriots at Fox News or the seemingly objective staff of the New York Times, have been disturbingly partisan in their coverage, protecting Americans from some of the harsher truths about this war. The difference between what gets reported in Canada and what gets served to the States is sometimes frightening. That Americans are misinformed is hardly news (40 per cent of us believe Saddam attacked the WTC, remember), but being an American in Canada makes that situation painfully apparent. What also becomes obvious over time is that people in the States are surprisingly fearful and paranoid -- totally convinced that the terrorist threat is imminent and omnipresent.

I lived in New York during September 2001. I stood on 4th Street in Brooklyn and stared, uncomprehendingly, at the cloud of reddish-brown dust that suddenly replaced the twin towers in the skyline. I remember what it was like to have my office evacuated because of a bomb threat in Times Square, to see co-workers burst into tears because they were so stressed and afraid. Like everyone else, I spent weeks on edge, waiting for the other shoe to drop.

It didn't. Despite vividly imagined fears of terrorist attacks on Times Square or the Brooklyn Bridge, New York didn't become the new Jerusalem, full of armed troops and exploding jihadists. Even so, it's hard for Americans to shake that fear, to convince ourselves that there aren't fanatical plotters just around the corner, ready to strike.

Fear of terrorism is no justification for war, of course, but it is a powerful tool for manipulating public opinion, something the Bush administration knows only too well. Likewise, having former allies revealed as enemies when they won't get with the program is a good way to shore up support at home. What red-blooded American wants to seem like those damn cowardly Frogs?

It's curious that Canada is being tarred by the same brush, whereas Germany -- which not only has declined to join the war effort but built the bunker Saddam is likely hiding in -- is not. But Americans have always liked the Germans, world wars aside, and disliked the French. Besides, it's easier to take the "French" out of fries than to come up with a substitute for the "Hamburg" in hamburger.

Fortunately, Canadians are too polite to react like Americans to the bullying tactics of the Bush administration. Believe me, were the shoe on the other foot, I don't think American politicians would stop at the word "bastard."

"Life has never been weird enough for my liking"

Edited by Rono (04/03/03 01:04 PM)

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Ganja Goddess

Registered: 02/12/99
Posts: 1,617
Re: Interesting view from an American in Canada [Re: Rono]
    #1427138 - 04/03/03 07:57 PM (21 years, 17 days ago)

Great article. I agree with the guy. Here in real life Im seeing most people completely opposed to this war. Online however, the hate mongers seem to have a field day.

But then again, Im in a pretty liberal state.. maybe this time the wave will not break as it did in the days of HST, but travel across the nation.


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Anti-Theist OVERLORD
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Registered: 08/12/98
Posts: 10,017
Loc: Iceland
Re: Interesting view from an American in Canada [Re: Rono]
    #1427245 - 04/03/03 08:59 PM (21 years, 17 days ago)

Very good article. I don't think the US will be that mad at Canada for its reluctance over Iraq.. We still support the US with troops in Afghanistan and morally Canadians support a quick end and low loss of life for the US troops.

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