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Robert Fulford: Canada's anti-American reflex

Posted: July 18, 2009, 11:02 AM by NP Editor

Robert Fulford, Full Comment

 

One day, Brian made a mistake at work, not a big mistake but a mistake. An onlooking colleague turned to another colleague and remarked that Brian was a “typical dumb-ass American.” Another colleague asked him, “Is that the way you do it where you come from?”

 

This was one of many incidents that made Brian wonder what he had let himself in for by marrying a Canadian and immigrating to Canada. The most personally hurtful incident was his daughter’s report that her high-school history teacher had denounced Americans. “She found it crushing,” Brian says. “She felt out of place.” He wanted to talk to the principal about it but she begged him not to, arguing that he would only make things worse.

 

It was pretty clear from the beginning that this country wasn’t eager to welcome him. “My first night in Canada, I was asked to back my vehicle into the driveway so the neighbours did not see the American license plate. I’m serious!”

 

He came here in 2006 and has lived in three small Ontario cities, all west of Toronto. He found them uniformly anti-American. He now takes it for granted that about half the people he meets will, if the opportunity arises, say something that indicates they don’t like Americans.

 

He wrote to me after coming across a long-ago column of mine about anti-Americanism. “For three years,” Brian wrote, “I have had countless and relentless encounters and bad jokes about my nationality, and notice it is especially significant in Jr. High and High school teachers, as my kids were shocked to discover.” Michael Moore’s poisonous documentaries about America appear to be favourites of some Ontario schoolteachers. In one town, a history teacher showed Brian’s daughter’s class Bowling for Columbine, commenting that it showed true insight into America. At another, in a media teacher’s class, she found herself viewing both Bowling for Columbine and Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11. The teacher elicited from students views such as “Every American loves violence” and “Americans are always starting wars to invade countries.”

 

All this came as a shock to Brian. He had lived for 40 years in the American Midwest and can’t remember ever hearing a discouraging word about Canada.

 

It didn’t shock me. Nothing Brian told me seemed strange. It was more or less what I’ve been hearing all my life from fellow Canadians.

 

It’s a major concern of a sociologist specializing in ideology, Paul Hollander, a Hungarian-American, formerly at the University of Massachusetts, now at Harvard. He’s produced three books on anti-Americanism, the latest called The Only Super Power: Reflections on Strength, Weakness, and Anti-Americanism (Lexington Books). He classifies anti-Americanism with racism, sexism, anti-Semitism and homophobia.

 

He says it appears all over the world among those who believe traditional ways of life are being disturbed by secular, individualistic views. He thinks it’s a mistake to blame anti-Americanism mainly on American policies, since millions of people from everywhere on earth seek admission “to this much vilified country.” But being desirable can itself provoke anger. (A few years ago, Hollander titled one of his articles The Politics of Envy.) In the 1990s, an acquaintance told me in sorrow that his son was moving to the U.S. for a fabulously well-paid job. He seemed to think it sinful that the Americans were so successful that they were able to offer such jobs. As Hollander says, anti-Americanism is not a rational phenomenon.

 

Considered internationally, Canadian anti-Americanism has special qualities. It gathers strength from our proximity to the United States, as well as the similarities of the two countries. We think, mistakenly, that we know all about the Americans — more than we want to know, perhaps. The openness of Canada has become a source of national pride.

 

Multiculturalism has been installed as a kind of Canadian religion. But the covenant that now throws an umbrella of protection over most cultures doesn’t stretch far enough to embrace Americans. People who would kill themselves before saying a word against an Egyptian or a Chinese will reflexively (often eagerly) laugh at Americans.

 

Perhaps we imagine they are already too successful. Perhaps they don’t qualify as authentic immigrants, since they are already half-Canadian in the same way we are half-American. Perhaps they should organize, demand official recognition from Ottawa. Perhaps ordinary tolerance and decency requires a government mandate.

 

National Post

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http://network.nationalpost.com/np/blogs/fullcomment/archive/2009/07/18/robert-fulford-canada-s-anti-american-reflex.aspx

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It's not specific to Canadians; most countries I have traveled to have some form of anti-Americanism.

 

However, I think associating it to racism is inaccurate; racism is rooted in ignorance and the fear of the unknown. The anti-Americanism I have seen is more a case of seeing the U.S. foreign policies and attitude and most countries feeling like "... there we go again..." about the U.S.

 

Not because the non-U.S. countries are ignorant, but rather because they have seen the same "WTF?" policies from the U.S. so many times.

 

Sure, old empires (such as France and Russia) are jealous, like all old empires clinging to old self-images.

 

That being said, it is true that most non-U.S. people do not realize that, as the sole superpower (yet), the U.S. could be much, much worse...

Not quite sure that if today China was in a position of power such as the U.S. is, whether we would like it at all... (hopefully and as I foresee, as it gains power and to sustain its growth, China will have to rid itself of the last remnant of communism)

 

 

P.S. It was also made much, much worse by the whole Dubya and Project for the New Century newcon crap of the previous administration.

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Well, you are right when you say part of the anti-american feeling derives not from racism but mainly from the american foreign policies. It is my case. I will also add to this anti-american feeling of mine the american cultural invasion as well as it's way of life, often slowly killing local culture and local liftstyles.

 

To have american movies and music dominating everything else, american chain restaurants, stores and hotels all over the place, american language, american suburban and undividualistic way of life, american sports, american showbizz etc etc...

 

Well, at one point enough is enough and it is only normal that one develops such feelings towards someone that seems to ignore you completely. Maybe way back then it was an army invading a country therefor it was normal that most people of that invaded country had anti feelings towards the invaders. Today, it may not be an army but rather something much more subtle which penetrates deeper and makes much more damage on a long term basis.

 

But there is a difference beetwen being anti-american and being a racist. In my case it never turns against an individual, it's against the big machine.

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Well, you are right when you say part of the anti-american feeling derives not from racism but mainly from the american foreign policies. It is my case. I will also add to this anti-american feeling of mine the american cultural invasion as well as it's way of life, often slowly killing local culture and local liftstyles.

 

To have american movies and music dominating everything else, american chain restaurants, stores and hotels all over the place, american language, american suburban and undividualistic way of life, american sports, american showbizz etc etc...

 

Well, at one point enough is enough and it is only normal that one develops such feelings towards someone that seems to ignore you completely. Maybe way back then it was an army invading a country therefor it was normal that most people of that invaded country had anti feelings towards the invaders. Today, it may not be an army but rather something much more subtle which penetrates deeper and makes much more damage on a long term basis.

 

But there is a difference beetwen being anti-american and being a racist. In my case it never turns against an individual, it's against the big machine.

 

I couldn't agree more Steve, but I'd like to add that I find it particularly hypocritical when these sentiments are expressed in the ROC.

 

I've had this discussion many times in Ontario, Alberta, BC and I've always had people say things like "I love Canada, I hate the States", yet when I've asked that same person what their top 10 TV shows, movies, books, bands etc. are, guess what country 90% of their favourites emanate from? Then they invite me to their Super Bowl party, grab a Starbucks, pick up a case of Budweiser, stop at Wal Mart, Blockbuster, and order a pizza from Dominos just in time to watch the NCAA game between Duke and Gonzaga, all while explaining how much the U.S. "sucks" and how lucky they are to be so "different" from them!

 

Part of the reason that I moved to Québec was to get away from that nonsense. Sure we have a lot of the same crap here but there is much less of it, and it is counterbalanced by our own TV shows, cinema, music, literature, food, stores etc.

 

I have nothing against the U.S. or Americans and I love many of their movies, shows, authors but I refuse to shop in their big box stores, eat in their crappy chain restos or fast food joints, buy any of their garbage mass produced beer etc. Why would I when I can support local businesses and restos that are usually much better quality? And Québec beer rocks!

 

It's not Americans that I hate, it's the creeping monoculture that's taking over most of the continent that I hate. Hopefully Québec will continue to resist.

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I couldn't agree more Steve, but I'd like to add that I find it particularly hypocritical when these sentiments are expressed in the ROC.

 

I've had this discussion many times in Ontario, Alberta, BC and I've always had people say things like "I love Canada, I hate the States", yet when I've asked that same person what their top 10 TV shows, movies, books, bands etc. are, guess what country 90% of their favourites emanate from? Then they invite me to their Super Bowl party, grab a Starbucks, pick up a case of Budweiser, stop at Wal Mart, Blockbuster, and order a pizza from Dominos just in time to watch the NCAA game between Duke and Gonzaga, all while explaining how much the U.S. "sucks" and how lucky they are to be so "different" from them!

 

Part of the reason that I moved to Québec was to get away from that nonsense. Sure we have a lot of the same crap here but there is much less of it, and it is counterbalanced by our own TV shows, cinema, music, literature, food, stores etc.

 

I have nothing against the U.S. or Americans and I love many of their movies, shows, authors but I refuse to shop in their big box stores, eat in their crappy chain restos or fast food joints, buy any of their garbage mass produced beer etc. Why would I when I can support local businesses and restos that are usually much better quality? And Québec beer rocks!

 

It's not Americans that I hate, it's the creeping monoculture that's taking over most of the continent that I hate. Hopefully Québec will continue to resist.

 

The same here. I agree with you and undersnad fully what you are saying. There is a big difference beetwen being Anti US foreign policies, anti-Mcdonald, anti-Walmart, anti-savage capitalism etc, and being anti-american.

 

Unfortunately too often when one expresses his critism over some american corporate companies or way of life then he is pointed as being an anti-american.

 

But also, the one reason why the US gets much more criticised here and around the world is simply because it is the US that have it"s feet all over the place. It's not Greece, it's not Tibet and it's not Chili.

 

As far as how canadians are reacting towards the US i wouldn't be able to answer that because i don't know enough canadian outside of Quebec althought i remember when in Vancouver one person that i was discussing with didn't like it when i was referring to the americans as...americans !!! She wanted me to refer to them as United Statians because she didnt like them to completely absorb the ''name'' americans.

 

By curiosity, where did you move from ?

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How silly.

 

Most Canadians appreciate the U.S.A. I feel bad for this guy for having an unlucky experience and running into anti-Americans, but his experience doesn't set the norm.

 

Likewise, many Americans dislike Canada, but it isn't the norm.

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I personnaly think that the United States is a fascinating country. They are capable of the best and the worst at a much larger scale then any other country in the world

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How silly.

 

Most Canadians appreciate the U.S.A. I feel bad for this guy for having an unlucky experience and running into anti-Americans, but his experience doesn't set the norm.

 

Likewise, many Americans dislike Canada, but it isn't the norm.

 

Maybe it's worst in the Toronto area since they want so badly to draw a line between them and the americans. We often hear that Toronto is a copy of an american city, I guess that it can create a movement of reaction to prove these comments wrong. In Montréal, because of our cultural difference with the rest of the Canada, we just put the americans in the same boat as the rest of Canada and get along with them since our difference with them is more evident (being in a francophone province).

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Maybe it's worst in Ontario since they want so badly draw a line between them and the american. We often hear that Toronto is a copy of an american city, I guess that there's a reaction to prove these comments wrong over there. In Montréal, because of our cultural difference with the rest of the Canada, we just put the americans in the same boat and get along with them since our difference with them is evident (being in a francophone province).

 

You raise a good point. I must say i agree!

 

Though it may be worse in Ontario and somewhat prevalent, i still doubt it's that bad.

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Maybe it's worst in the Toronto area since they want so badly to draw a line between them and the americans. We often hear that Toronto is a copy of an american city, I guess that it can create a movement of reaction to prove these comments wrong. In Montréal, because of our cultural difference with the rest of the Canada, we just put the americans in the same boat as the rest of Canada and get along with them since our difference with them is more evident (being in a francophone province).

 

You're 100% correct. Anti-Americanism (for non-political issues) is much more rampant in Ontario. Quebec and the Maritimes get along well with Americans, most of the West gets along with them as well except for some parts of BC.

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