Thu, Apr
3
2003

The Moment I Realized I'd Left Reality and Was Now a Resident of Cloudcookooland

Thu, Apr 3, 2003

Geraldo.jpg

...when I stopped for lunch at a local Harveys and the televisions were showing Fox News. Rather than focusing on the war, they were talking about the controversy surrounding field reporter Geraldo Rivera (remember him?) and whether or not he was actually booted out of Iraq for accidentally giving away the position of U.S. soldiers (he claims he's staying).

The caption for the story: Where's Geraldo?

Also with Fox News, the Toronto Star has an article about an Ottawa columnist and a conversation he had with a Fox News journalist. The story was on Canada's supposed anti-American attitudes and would the columnist like to comment? The columnist replied that it wasn't a matter of Canada being anti-American, but a matter of Canada being an independent country. To which the journalist replied, "Hmm... I'll have to get back to you." A few minutes later, the journalist called back. "Sorry, you're too moderate; we have to go with Jack Layton"

I don't know what's worse: seeing Fox News' manipulation of the story, or seeing Jack Layton possibly fall straight into Fox News' trap...


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I've encountered an interesting Google search: When the first Americans came to Canada, what did they give to the Canadians? Actually, a fair number of my hits to date have been on the terms "anti-American", "anti-American Canadians" and"anti-Canadians". A little disturbing, that.

In answer to the question, the first Americans to come to Canada were United Empire Loyalist refugees fleeing American persecution following Britain's defeat in the American revolution. From 1783 to about 1789, hundreds of families arrived in New Brunswick and what is now southern and eastern Ontario and were granted 200 acres of free land. Then, from 1789 to 1796, hundreds of "Late Loyalists" came across the border, claiming that they too were persecuted. Yes, really, they were. Their country wouldn't give them 200 acres of free land, so they had to come to Canada for that privilege.

The British colony of Upper Canada, the foundation of today's Ontario, was formed in 1793 as a result of the influx of these Americans. So, what did the first Americans give to Canada when they came here? Basically our country. Though, in the early days we didn't look back with gratitude. Bitter memories of the American Revolution simmered on both sides of the border, and the War of 1812 didn't help. However, over time economic and political interests shifted. The United States talked about conquering Canada as late as 1865. They were a British/Canadian ally as early as 1896. They were indispensable partners on the continent by 1939, when Canada delayed its entry into the Second World War by one week, so that Franklin Roosevelt could legally trade with us, and sell us a large amount of military equipment.

We are separate countries, and we sometimes like to tweak each other's noses. A Canadian party could win election on an anti-American platform as late as 1958, and plenty such anti-American-sounding sentiment swirled around as late as the Free Trade election of 1988. The Americans have given their own in return ("Blame Canada", anyone?), but our ties to each other have grown so close, and most Canadians, and many Americans know each other too personally that I think most understand that our image of either country is at odds with the reality. And, for the most part, individual Canadians and Americans shouldn't be held liable for the actions and missteps of their own governments.

I think many Canadians were a little miffed that Major League Baseball had ordered that God Bless America be played during the seventh-inning stretch at all major league ballparks, including the ballparks of Montreal and Toronto. Ignoring the fact that patriotic songs are not many Canadian's cup of tea (the nearest Canadian equivalent is the Maple Leaf Forever, and that gets little airplay in English Canada and none whatsoever in Quebec), Toronto and Montreal aren't American cities, so their inclusion makes even less sense.

However, an opportunity for another televised example of Canadians' supposed latent anti-Americanism to appear on Fox News was happily passed by, as Blue Jays fans remained classy and cheered the patriotic American song.

This reminds me of the 1992 World Series (between Toronto and Atlanta, I think), when a U.S marine unit marched onto the field with the Canadian flag accidentally hoisted upside down. Sales of U.S. flags in Toronto went up sharply the day before the next game, and sports reporters were cringing over what they expected to come next.

But, nope, there were almost no instance of U.S. flags being hoisted upside down in the next game. There was some good natured ribbing (a poster of a Canadian flag with the words "this end up", for one), but nothing that would send Fox News' nostrils afire. Certainly, it's a nice counter to such incidents as the Montreal Canadiens' fans booing the American national anthem, and Detroit Pistons fans booing the Canadian national anthem the year before.

It just illustrates that, despite minor spats and disagreements, Canadians and Americans are in tune with each other. They are mature enough to know that, although we sometimes see things differently, we're still friends and family.


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