FrontPageMagazine.com | March 7, 2003
Canadian anti-Americanism has always been a perfect reflection of the pathological nature of anti-Americanism as a whole (external - login to view). Indeed, in Canada, where I am a citizen and have grown up most of my life, anti-Americanism has literally defined the national identity and culture of this country – and in the most repulsive and embarrassing ways.
Today, Canadian anti-Americanism is preventing our present Liberal government from giving full-hearted support to the U.S. against Saddam Hussein. The Canadian leadership would rather exhibit its “independence” of the Americans than to confront a brutal dictator who equals Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot in their monstrosity.
This reality explains why Mark Kingwell’s recent column “What distinguishes us from Americans,” in Canada’s national newspaper, the National Post, infuriated me as immensely as it did.
Kingwell defends the reality that much of Canadian identity has been built on Canada defining itself in opposition to the United States. He writes, “I have never understood why this is considered inadequate or feeble. If you were the only dissenter in a room holding a dozen people, standing up and saying `I’m not the same as you’ would be a clear mark of moral courage.”
Suppose this scenario occurs during the Second World War and the other eleven people want to stop Hitler in his tracks and to prevent the Nazification of the world and the mass genocide of Jews. Would exhibiting your “independence” for the sake of fulfilling your little-brother complex be a mark of “moral courage”?
Many Canadian nationalists think so.
The analogy I use above perfectly suits the embarrassing and immoral behaviour of Canadian nationalists throughout the Cold War, especially under the leadership of Pierre Trudeau (external - login to view), when anti-Americanism was seen as being more cutting-edge than confronting and fighting the genocidal Soviet regime.
This psychic illness is founded on Canada’s desperate desire to be “different” than the Americans -- a result of Canada being built on the “counter-revolution.” When the British colonies revolted against their masters in 1776, Canadians became the first anti-Americans. Canada is based on anti-Americanism. Without anti-Americanism -- as one author has quipped -- Canada would cease to exist.
While Kingwell conspicuously avoids the issue of how bearing the mark of “moral courage” translated into many Canadian nationalists engaging in Gulag denial (external - login to view) during the Cold War, the historical record stands firmly in place: the Soviet regime was an expansionist and totalitarian regime that exterminated millions of its own people. (external - login to view) Consequently, as the de-classified documents from the Soviet archives now prove, the Canadian nationalists who demonized the United States, and exonerated the Soviet Union, in the Cold War, for the sake of anti-Americanism, were completely wrong.
Yet no apologies are forthcoming.
But at least we now understand why Canadian “nationalist” writers and historians, such as John Warnock, Donald Creighton, and James Minifie, wrote interpretations and histories about the Cold War that demonized the U.S. and left names such as Joseph Stalin in the footnotes.
As a Russian émigré, I am not humoured by Kingwell’s assault on historical memory; I am not humoured by Gulag denial just as a Jewish person wouldn’t be humoured by Holocaust denial.
While I was engaged in my doctoral studies in history at York University in Toronto, I would confront many of my colleagues about this issue. Why, I asked them, were they reluctant to face the errors of Canadian nationalists vis-à-vis the Cold War? Were they not aware of how the documents from the former Soviet archives were discrediting almost everything Canadian nationalists had said about the Cold War? My colleagues’ favourite response was to shrug their shoulders and to dismiss my arguments as being too “hung up” on “the past.” The Cold War “was over,” they told me, and it was silly to chase down “old ghosts”. My “obsession” with the Soviet archives, they patiently explained to me, was analogous to “necrophilia.” And these were historians.
The only historical necrophilia they supported, it seems, was the variety that found more sins of American foreign policy and capitalism -- not of socialism.
Kingwell thinks it is a badge of “moral courage” to stand up to the Americans. How about during the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962, when Prime Minister John Diefenbaker refused to put Canadian forces on an increased level of alert (Defcon 3) in order to show that he wouldn’t be “pushed around” by President John Kennedy? Since Canada had a bilateral defence alliance with the United States for the defence of the North American continent, Diefenbaker’s inaction left an enormous gap in continental defence.
There is nothing “moral” about Canadian anti-Americanism. And nothing logical either. I have always found it humorous how Canadians look down at Americans for loving themselves “too much”, but how they simultaneously swell with a distorted form of patriotic pride at being unlike and better than Americans. Canadian nationalists also always pride themselves on their politically-correct tolerance and "multi-culturalism" while engaging in anti-Americanism -- a disposition, as sociologist Paul Hollander has demonstrated, that is directly related with racism, sexism, and anti-Semitism.
In Canada, of course, it has always been legitimate to be a bigot, as long as it involves hating Americans.
Kingwell refers to how little Americans know about us. He explains that “American ignorance is a staple of our richly ironic strain of humour.” Really? I never found anything slightly “rich” in this humour at all. Growing up in Canada, I was always greatly entertained by the endless and smug complaining about how "stupid" Americans are because of their ignorance about Canada. Let’s be serious: why would Americans in Los Angeles and New York City need to know anything about Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, or about anything else Canadian?
Kingwell ends his essay by saying that Canadians sometimes wish the U.S. “had a little more of what makes us great.” Uh, sorry, but a little bit more of what exactly? Perhaps, instead, it would be wiser for us to focus on giving up on clinging to the ingredients of our “moral courage”, which includes the joke of bilingualism – English Canada’s last pretence of possessing any unique characteristics whatsoever. Let’s admit it, without bilingualism, English Canadians would no longer be able to say, "We’re not like those Americans," without someone else rejoining: "Oh? And how is that?" And there will be no answer, because there will be nothing to say.
If we just manage to get over our little brother complex, then maybe we will also one day no longer have to victimize ourselves with those torturous and emotionally-excruciating conversations about Margaret Atwood and Pierre Berton, in which so many Canadians attempt to show their un-American stripes by discussing novels that no human being outside of Canada has ever heard of, nor would ever read under sane circumstances. And we would also be liberated from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, an entity that it takes masochism to tune into, and that wouldn’t survive five minutes if its life depended on the tastes and desires of Canadians themselves.
Indeed, if we purged ourselves of Kingwell’s mark of "moral courage", Canada’s celebration of mediocrity and, more importantly, its exoneration of evil regimes and mass murderers around the world, would finally come to its long-awaited conclusion.
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