Skip to comments.Canucks view U.S. through skewed eyes
Posted on 12/01/2004 5:31:56 AM PST by Clive
A poll done just before U.S. President George Bush's first official visit to Canada yesterday informs us that nearly three-quarters of Canadians view America as our "closest friend."
But the same poll also indicates Canadians in equal number dislike Bush.
There is something wrong when Canadians proclaim friendship for their most important trading partner and traditional ally, then distance themselves from the democratic choice of Americans, with whom their common continental destiny is joined.
The answer lies somewhere in the reality of an America that challenges Canadian self-identity, is unnerving and, hence, many Canadians indulge in caricatures of an America that Bush supposedly represents -- bellicose, simple-minded, uncouth, reactionary.
Following last month's election, with Bush winning his second term and Republicans making gains in the Congress as the majority party, it is time Canadians showed maturity in appreciating the reality of America as it is, rather than seeking comfort from the polemics of self-loathing Americans such as Noam Chomsky, Michael Moore and their followers.
In a recent New York Times column, David Gergen observed, "George W. Bush is emerging as one of the boldest, most audacious presidents in modern history."
Gergen is not an uncritical fan of the president, yet he is an astute observer of his nation's politics as a media person and academic who has also served four U.S. presidents, Republican and Democrat.
Gergen writes that Bush "believes he has a mandate for a revolutionary agenda."
This can be frightening to those who are afraid of altering the status quo in domestic or international politics.
But no American president -- whether a Franklin Roosevelt or a Ronald Reagan -- can lead a revolution without the people's electoral support.
American politics is ultimately the people's business, or its representative majority, and Americans are arguably the most revolutionary of all people in the world.
This fact gets obscured due to the noise and images surrounding the term "revolution," associated with violent uprisings or repression.
But the modern American revolution at home, and by extension abroad, is the unceasing quest for expanding human freedom to constantly reconstruct the world. It defies past norms and skepticism of the faint-hearted everywhere.
A generation ago, Jean-Francois Revel, an uncommon French intellectual, wrote: "The revolution of the 20th century will take place in the United States. It is only here that it can happen."
In his most recent book, Anti-Americanism, Revel discusses once again how much of European antipathy towards America is driven by hostility to Jeffersonian democracy, rather than any rational analysis.
Europe, Revel reminds us, is the cradle of the two great criminal ideologies of the 20th century -- Communism and Nazism -- and it is America that rescued her from both, as it will most likely again from the perils of Islamist fascism.
Canadians' desire to be different from Americans, or be more European, makes us imagine rhetorically a value system more compassionate and more abiding of UN principles than that of Americans.
Americans decided after 9/11 to take their revolutionary principles of freedom and democracy into the heart of Middle Eastern darkness and, accordingly, gave Bush a second mandate.
Victor Davis Hanson, a historian at Stanford University, California states in a recent essay: "We are living in historic times, as all the landmarks of the past half-century are in the midst of passing away ... as the United States is proving to be the most radical engine for world democratic change and liberalization of the age."
Canadians are not required to join Americans in this venture, but at least they need to soberly understand the historic forces at play, rather than indulge in caricatures.
My prediction? This piece will once again fall upon deaf ears in the Great White North.
The Left will dismiss it, the moderates (that means almost every non-Left person from the east of Sudbury) will say "we are not entitled to follow this: this is none of our business!". And the conservatives will like it, but half of them are from Alberta, and the other half are already living in the States.
Canada is drowning in irrelevance. We keep throwing them a line that they refuse to take. Then they whine that we have ignored their plight.
Great article! Yes, Bush is reshaping the course for the next hundred years. Just wondering, if anyone could comment, how do Candadians define themselves, it seems they do so in terms of "anything but that roudy obnoxious bunch south of the border". What is Canadian identity?
Id be willing to bet that three-quarters of Americans dont even think about Canada for decades at the time. Not as friends, not as enemies, not as anything.
I know I think of Canada about as often as I think of Senegal.
In 1776, there were American colonists that had decided to remain loyal with Britain with whatever the costs - Washington's side had 1/3 of the people, the fence-sitters 1/3, and loyalists 1/3. Their side lost, and they moved north after Yorktown to territories still under Britisah control. In a flash, Canada was born with these people constituting half of the inhabitants, the other French that became subjects in 1757.
1776 effectively leaves a greater mark on them than the Mother Country itself. Canada was born with the sense that "See what the breakaway rebel colony does. If he goes South, I go North!"
Carolyn Parrish made me think about Canada a LOT!
But then, I have relatives in Canada, so a lot of my thoughts involved embarrassment.
Its a past time of liberals in Canada to try to define our 'identity' which is such a crock and only exposes their need to be part of a bigger group and to fit in. I'm not raising my daughters to fit any identity defined by the CBC or the Heritage ministry. Lord willing they will be honest, hardworking, decent, caring, respectful individuals. If they want to wave the flag than that is their choice but this notion of defining them by some sort of criteria which usually makes reference to 'not being American' is insulting at best.
An excellent analysis. Your perspective is a blessing.
We definitely should have been directly involved. I hope we will be actively involved going forward. Our cooperation on missile defence will get the ball rolling.
Don't forget the French.
As a Canadian conservative, I would have thought that you would have, by now, become accustomed to getting hit by friendly fire from our US conservative friends.
One side takes bribes from the Iraqi dictator and keeps the Iraqi people in bondage, the other spends it's own money and blood to free the Iraqi people from their bondage. Which side is more compassionate: the "bellicose, simple-minded, uncouth, reactionary" Americans, or the "principled" UN?
Don't forget to count the Canuks who came south and joined up.
"What is the Canadian identity?"
Three summers ago I proudly (and naively) hoisted Old Glory up to fly out our cottage on Lake Erie.
My friend who had the cottage beside me nearly went into coronary arrest. For the remainder of the summer her and her children made nasty remarks about America, my flag, President Bush, blah blah blah. We just smiled and responded with "God bless America and God bless President Bush."
One day we got into a little discussion and I asked her just what Canada stood for. She responded with, are you ready, "tolerance". Ha! Tolerance for everything but an American flag! Or an opinion differing from what we are fed up here.
So, I think what she is saying is, we stand for allowing anybody who wants to come into this country and do anything they want. We never pass judgment on sexual perversions, we don't arrest criminals, we don't deport illegals or even terrorists, we just go along with any politically correct nonsense that is out there. The wishy-washy sitting on the fence, non-commital, don't get involved, don't rock the boat, spineless, pacifist approach.
Personally, I think we are just the jealous younger sibling who will do anything to go against the older, bigger, stronger and smarter sibling. We will make poor decisions and stand on the wrong side just to take a different stance. We cut off our nose to spite our face.
Couple this with the fact that we were brainwashed down the path of European socialism thanks to Pierre Elliot Trudeau. We are steeped in politically correct socialism in every aspect of our society...cradle to grave left-wing politics.
I am amazed there are any conservatives left up here.
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