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June 22, 2003 Mail

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I do send out some odd email, and receive equally odd email in return.  Here I will print some of it, with, now and then, my responses.   Before I post anyone's writing, I will ask your permission to post your comments and whether I should use your name or not, or use an alias you wish to use.
Received recently --
Sarah Wall, from Ontario, addresses the Bush administration and explains what it is like to have to explain you're not actually "American" but rather Canadian when traveling abroad.  The Canadians do share the northern part of America with us, as do the folks in Mexico.  We're all "Americans."

Last week in my commentary - June 8, 2003 Opinion - I reviewed how two Canadian writers, Jean-Benoît Nadeau and Julie Barlow, saw the differences between French culture and US culture as contributing to the situation where the French saw our government's actions regarding Iraq as foolishly thoughtless and needlessly belligerent - rash might be too tame a word - while most here in the United States saw the French position as morally reprehensible.  I guess the difference came down to a disagreement on the value of actual thoughtfulness, and on the value of thinking and speaking clearly. 

In the commentary I also pointed out a new animosity toward Canada developing "down here" because of Canada's not participating in the United States' invasion of Iraq, the overthrow of its government, and the subsequent occupation of that country.  I do believe I characterized the majority of opinion "down here" this way - Canada did an awful thing in not joining us, but Canada is essentially an irrelevant country of pleasant eccentrics.

I received this from Sarah Wall in Ontario - Sarnia, I believe.

"Harmless eccentricities and ignorance" aside...does anyone on earth have the right to disagree with the U.S. government?

"You're either with us, or you're with the terrorists..."  Is it really that simple Mr. Bush?

I disagree with your facade of a war on terrorism to gain control over vast quantities of a natural resource that your country continues to squander on a daily basis, even though there are many other environmentally friendly sources of energy out there. I'm not a tree-hugger or a terrorist but I find U.S. foreign policy dispicable, guided by greedy, power-hungry capitalists.

I am proud of the stance taken by the French government over the war in Iraq.  Canada's stance was not quite as clear because we did not really participate in the bombing of innocent, already starving children, yet we did have ships patrolling the gulf.

As an Irish-Canadian having traveled through Europe I have felt the backlash of what it is like to be treated like an American traveler.  I have been yelled at, glared at, kicked out of a restaurant and all because someone heard my Canadian accent and mistook it for an American one... all apologies were offered of course after people realized that I was Canadian - no, this was not in France!

Ignorance is everywhere and I feel sorry for the American public who will ultimately take the brunt at home and abroad for their government's aggressive actions.  Canada may be "amusing and irrelevant" to the U.S. but I would rather be cast into this category than seen as an aggressor who has little regard for everything non-American.

It's all about world power and domination... who's next on your hit list, Mr. Bush?

To which I replied with this.

Yep, when I make fun of "Americans" patting the harmless little Canadians on the head, I am reminded of the underlying conservative Republican assumption down here that underlies this all - that everyone, everywhere, really, deep down, wants to be a US-type American.  Most curious.  As if all the world's citizens were little children who someday, if they're lucky, will grow up and admire the strong guys, led by this stern, unforgiving and a little dense father, the Bush. 

If Canadians were like these guys - the conservative Republicans who have the helm down here now - they would be out to transform the world and put a Tim Horton franchise on every corner in every third-world country, and force people to watch endless curling events.  And every single one of my pleasant Canadian friends would ask the same question.  Why do that?  What's the point?

There is national pride, and then too there is pure foolishness.

If America (the US) wants everyone in the world to be like us, and knows deep down they all really want to be like us, why don't the Canadians feel the same way.  Have they no pride?

Well, yes, they do.  They just seem to feel it's okay to let other folks be what they want to be.  And now they're well on their way to legalizing the use of marijuana, and legitimizing gay marriages.  Neither would happen "down here."  We seem to be a nation of busybodies who believe in conformity to "the truth" as we see it.  Sigh.

Should you wish to contact Sarah, her link is here.

You might want to check out The Writers' Collective, or maybe even join - I don't think you have to live in Sarnia or Moosejaw or Mississauga or any place like that: http://groups.msn.com/TheWritersCollective/