Are YOU a Nationalist?
Since Nationalism is the center of a lot of cross-border debates, I find it important to introduce this article on Canadian and American Nationalism. While the focus is on relations between Canada and the United States, some of what is mentioned in this literature is relevant beyond Canada and extends to Europe and the rest of the world.
My personal comments will be based upon the text that I have bolded out.
Nationalism unites people of different classes and ideologies. It can create harmony, link our past to our present and give a people a sense of identity. But nationalism is also a tool used by dictators, despots and power-hungry politicians alike. It can create violent and mighty forces as well as divide people from different geographies. It is used to exaggerate differences, foster generalizations and cause discriminatory thinking. These two halves of nationalism can perhaps best be viewed in the context of World War II. Churchill, Roosevelt and King used nationalism to unite their nations against brutal enemies for the preservation of democratic civilization. Hitler, Mussolini and Tojo exploited nationalism to fuel an expansionist voracity the likes of which the world had never seen before. Therefore, we observe from history that nationalism can be a force for self-preservation, heroism and honor, or for vengeance, conquest, enslavement and dishonor.
This is why I am beginning to learn that those people from other countries that are bigoted toward Americans (not critical of US policies, but bigoted – big difference!) are staunch Right-wing nationalists in their own country. Those individuals I had once thought were on the far Left, are on the Right with a few exceptions.
While nationalism is a strong force in both the US and Canada, the expression of it is quite different on people divided by the arbitrary border line. The difference is not due to ideology or culture, but should be understood in historical and psychological terms. In many ways, the imagined differences are more powerful and divisive than any true realities.
One of my major complaints about Sarah Palin was her divisive speech and politics. Whether she was aware of what she was doing or not, she was encouraging a more clear split down the middle to separate America into two Americas: Right America vs Left America.
Americanophobes are equally guilty of dividing the masses as opposed to uniting them. But what else can we expect from xenophobic organizations?
The author then proceeds to explain how Canada was born. Then a psychologist takes the stand:
“If you step back, it’s very hard in objective terms to plot out what are the true differences between Canadians and Americans… Humans have a strong capacity to construct identities for themselves. It’s largely a social process of construction. Some of it is taking small differences and making them seem bigger. A lot of it comes not from the differences, but from feelings of a sense of identity. It’s tough to find things on which to hang an identity for all the English-speaking Canadians. It’s not really a language that makes them distinct. It only makes them distinct from French-speaking Canadians. It makes them more like the U.S. to focus on language. Food doesn’t work very well because, by and large food in Canada is the same as in the United States. What are you left with? Well there’s geography. It’s clear that if you live in Canada as opposed to the U.S., there’s a border between the two. There aren’t a lot of things onto which you can pin a distinctively Canadian culture, other than growing up and learning that you’re Canadian and not American. It’s identity by negation rather than affirmation.“
Americanophobia is mostly about hyperbole. I’m sure you’ve all heard the expression, “You’re making a mountain out of a molehill”, right? Nationalists from other countries take little bits and pieces of their very limited experiences with Americans and create their own exaggerated reality out of it.
Here’s a good example:
They are real and based on years of interaction with thousands of real world Americans, both online and offline. This also includes a number of visits to continental United States, as well as working and living with Americans for more than a decade. It also includes a good friend getting drugged and raped by two American perverts, who were later sneaked back to the US by the American embassy, with no justice whatsoever.
- How many years?
- Thousands of Americans personally? Naw. Nobody with half a brain would fall for that. In my 40 years of being alive, I’ve never met so many people.
- Visits to the US? Being a “captain” in the military, this wasn’t for pleasure, but for business. I wouldn’t consider that to be “seeing” the US.
- Working and living with Americans for more than a decade? That’s very vague. And still, nobody will believe that all or even most of the Americans you met were these evil monsters that you make them out to be.
- Rape is more prevalent in Canada and Australia. In the US, Americans rape Americans every day. Justice is not always absolute – anywhere in the world.
So, what is this guy’s point?
There is A LOT that Canadians should be proud of. There really isn’t a reason in modern times to identify themselves with negativity. Rather, the focus should be on the positives.
Pamala Sutton, a Canadian Expatriate living in the states tried to challenge her fellow Canadians in asking them if they could focus on a POSITIVE Canadian identity rather than the tired cliché “I AM CANADIAN because I’m not American” ho hum. It’s quite a challenge for some Canucks, you know?
Back to the original article:
There are of course many differences between Canadians and USAmericans, but there are few, if any, national differences that one can point to beyond the psychology of understanding that you are Canadian or USAmerican. As noted Canadian journalist and author, David Frum has pointed out:
“What we have here is one large, English-speaking North American culture with a number of components, of which Ontario is one, Western Canada is another. It’s true that you can get in a car at Anchorage and drive diagonally southeast until you hit Miami and speak the same language, use the same credit card, pump gas the same way. I think you’d be struck much more by the similarities than the differences. And the places where you would notice dissimilarities would not match the border.”
And more importantly…
While Canadian nationalism can often be described in these reactive terms, as largely an identity based on non-Americanism, the reverse is not true in the United States. As Canadian poet Margaret Atwood once said, this leaves Canadians looking through a one-way mirror into the United States, with USAmericans largely blind to on goings behind that mirror. USAmericans are far less likely to compare and contrast themselves and their country to Canada and Canadians. If they do, they are even less likely to look at Canada with contempt and righteous indignation. USAmericans largely look towards Canada with friendly feelings, and see Canadians as cousins or even as brothers and sisters, which of course was literally the case before the American Revolution.
This is what irks me the most about Americanophobia! The same can be said about Europeans as well. Both Europeans and Canadians are favored by the majority of Americans. Our media is generally good to them as well (with the exception of France on occasion). It’s really the case of “We’re nice to you, but you’re not nice to us”.
Try to imagine making this more personal. Think about being nice to someone because you like them just to have them be mean to you and all the people you know on top of it.
Since this second-class citizenship is undesirable, and since Canada could never match the United States in measurable terms due to relative size of populations, many Canadians often describe themselves as more civilized, peaceful and kind. Canadian historian George Woodcock notes it in this manner, “Canadians make up for their physical weakness by assuming an air of moral superiority towards the Americans, not unlike that which Scots assumed towards the English”. One example of Canadians acting out this idea is the strong Canadian belief that Canada is a nation of peacekeepers. According to the UN, Canada ranks 38th in UN peacekeeping, with 233 peacekeepers abroad working in UN peacekeeping missions as of Dec 2003, supplying less than 1% of international peacekeepers. Ghana commits about ten times the number of peacekeepers, at 2,306 while only having 60% of Canada’s population. Many will then go on to contrast their imagined leading role in international peacekeeping against the world policing of the United States. Even though Canadian soldiers have stood side-by-side with USAmericans in nearly every military action (UN-mandated or not) the US has taken. The only two notable exceptions being the Vietnam War and the recent Iraqi conflict, both of which were highly debated in both countries.
I really wish, not just Canadians, but everyone to stop telling Americans that they’re “peacekeepers”. People have really bastardized what that word means!
I would also like to point out that contrary to popular belief, Canada *DID* invade Iraq with the US. It’s amazing how many foreigners don’t know this.
So the next time a proud fellow citizen tells you that Canada didn’t join the Iraq War, remind them of Mark Twain’s famous quip: “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”
To continue with the article…
Many other Canadians have attached themselves to the belief that Canada is “a kinder and gentler nation” (ironically a phrase taken from President George H. W. Bush). Yet, when put to the test in terms of philanthropy “Americans give over two-and-a-half times more of their income to charity than do Canadians”, according to a Fraser Institute of Dec 2003 report. The average value of charitable donations in the United States is $3,494 US; the average value of donations in Canada is $998 CDN ($760 US). An argument could be made that this difference is largely due to higher levels of disposable incomes in the US coupled with a less demanding tax burden. However, little can be shown to prove that in contrast to the United States, Canada is a nation consisting of kinder gentler individuals. Finally, United Nations ratings in Human Development have often been used in the past as a basis for Canadians to point out their superiority. Since the most recent report ranks Canada one spot below the United States, this sort of talk has subsided into sullen silence. However, it was not that long ago that many argued loudly that this mere collection of three basic indicators: Life Expectancy, Literacy/Enrollment and PPP, determined which was the greatest nation on earth. The same individuals who trumpet this sort of thing usually ignore reports done by other institutions that put Canada beneath the United States. Of course, this is not a phenomenon unique to Canada. Comparisons such as these, which match up countries often, help fuel nationalism everywhere.
Helping fuel nationalism: I’ve read through many, many blogs of all sorts and rantings from those all over the world. Is it not very telling that if you venture into an Americanophobic blog that you will, without a doubt, find “research” that compares…
- The Swiss to Americans
- The Brits to Americans
- The Canadians to Americans
- The French to Americans
What is this? It’s called Nationalism.
—>Will we ever find the Swiss being compared to Equadorians?
—>Will we ever find the Brits being compared to Canadians?
—>Will we ever find Canadians being compared to New Zealanders?
—>Will we ever find the French being compared to the Japanese?
All foreign research is [Country A] vs [America].
That speaks volumes right there. This probably also explains why many Americans attribute this juvenile behavior to jealousy and/or short man syndrome.
In any event, why the need to compare and contrast cultures, anyway? I can understand comparing the health benefits of dark chocolate vs milk chocolate, but comparing cultures in quasi-formal “studies”? How is this useful other then intending to hurt the feelings of others?
Some Canadian nationalists will point to differences in medical care, gun control, capital punishment, drug laws and more recently gay marriages. But these differences are in governance, not culture. British Columbia and Alberta have made moves to offer privatized medical care, but this makes them no less Canadian. California and Oregon have tried moving towards more universal healthcare programs, but they do not become less USAmerican by doing so.
JFK once said, “Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer.”
One could say the same about America and Canada when change is trying to take place. Just replace the words “Republican” and “Democratic” with “American” and “Canadian”.
Another argument offered by those who believe that imaginary lines draw real differences, is that Canada is more left wing than the United States. Although a large number of liberals reside in northern North America, describing Canada in ideological terms offers at best a momentary snapshot of an evanescent state of affairs. Just as in the United States, Canada has experienced several shifts from left to right and back again over the course of its political history. Indeed, Canadian politicians in the late 1800s touted Canada’s lower taxes in contrast to the tax-and-spend USAmericans.
People need to use caution when they brag because it will come and bite them on the arse later on. Remember when the Aussies denounced yanks for being fat, right? Well, guess who’s the fattest nation on earth now? Remember when Right-wing Euronationalists denounced Americans for being the world’s worst tourists? Well, guess who’s the worst tourists now? Remember when the Canadians touted to be the best in sports? Well, guess who kicked arse in the Olympics and does so consistently every time?
Anyway, yes, the US goes through political stages between Right, Left, and in between throughout history just as any other nation out there. Does not anyone remember Margaret Thatcher? How did Obama get elected by a supposed “right-wing dominant country” such as America?
Nearly all the lavish social programs in Canada, that some say define Canada today, were first created by the United States. Still, it is hard to dispute that today there are small differences between the attitudes of average Canadians and USAmericans.
All the major differences we find between Canada and the United States are regional. For example, the people of Arkansas when compared with the people of British Columbia are vastly different (in North American terms). They speak with a different accent; they have slightly different customs, cuisines and cultures. In short, if you put the average British Columbian in the middle of Arkansas, everyone would know that he/she wasn’t from there. But put that B.C.er in Washington State and it would difficult for a native Washingtonian to know he/she wasn’t a Washingtonian. One might argue Seattle and Vancouver are virtually identical, especially when compared to Little Rock. The same could be said when comparing Manitoba and Minnesota to Newfoundland, Ontario and Michigan to Wyoming, the Maritime Provinces and New England states to the Yukon, etc. Overall, the differences between the United States and Canada are best seen regionally, not nationally. We do not have thousands of years of differing histories; we do not have generations upon generations brought up to believe completely different societal values; and we do not speak different tongues or exist within confined communities unable to travel outside our own borders.
When will people understand that the US is way too diverse to pigeon-hole? We aren’t one or the other. We’re a little bit of everything – despite what the BBC, the CBC and trashy tabloids will brainwash you with.
One such region that does speak a different tongue, and one that some would describe as a nation unto itself, is Quebec. Quebec nationalism is perhaps the biggest irritant to Canadian nationalists, because without Quebec, Canada would be much smaller and much less culturally different from the United States, overall. Quebec is also often used by Canadian nationalists as an example of what makes Canada unique. Although most Canadians outside Quebec know little French, there is a strong tendency for English Canadians to attach themselves to French Quebec as a means of distinguishing themselves from USAmericans. This is directly related to the anti-American sentiments that many have. From time to time Quebec has risen up and attempted to separate from the rest of Canada, but each time the rest of Canada (and in the past Britain) has managed to quell the movements. English Canadians will vehemently argue that Quebec belongs in Canada. Yet, they do so somewhat hypocritically. They rally and cry that the differences between Quebec and English Canada are slight and we ought to be together, yet the differences between Canada and the US are too great, and we ought to be separate. It would appear that based on this view the true defense of the sovereignty of the political entity known as Canada is defined by “the narcissism of small differences” as Sigmund Freud would say.
Let’s once and for all set the record straight, shall we?
ENGLISH CANADA IS NO MORE BILINGUAL THAN THE UNITED STATES! Canadians speak as much French as do Americans speak Spanish as their second language.
Even Euronationalists that brag incessantly about being “multilingual” are full of toad poop!
Some of the positive aspects of Canadian nationalism include ideas such as freedom, democracy, peace, good government and multiculturalism. Of course, the same ideas also define the United States. Canadian multiculturalism is sometimes distinguished from US multiculturalism as being diversity vs. assimilation. This is reinforced in Canadian minds by the USAmerican habit of describing the US as a melting pot. To many USAmericans multiculturalism and melting pot are interchangeable. Certainly, there is quite a bit of assimilation within US culture. People are encouraged to learn English, and often find it most convenient to conform to North American norms. This isn’t really any different from Canada, where the government also awards learning English (and French) and helps people acclimatize themselves to North American lifestyle. A Farsi-speaking Iranian cannot move to Canada, work there and live a normal life without adapting to his surroundings, just as he would have to if he moved to the United States. Both countries welcome diversity.
This entire essay basically spells out Canadian ignorance.
Despite the large overall commonalities of North Americans, when contrasting USAmerican nationalism against Canadian nationalism, few parallels can be found. As mentioned previously, these are largely self-made identities created by the human mind. If one accepts this notion, it would be safe to assume that, for example, a US-born flag-waving US nationalist who has a propensity to embellish the greatness of his native USA, if born in Canada, instead would be a flag-waving triumphalist Canadian nationalist, and vice versa.
People all over the world believe that it is only the Americans that are nationalists. Yet, another example of the ignorance that stems from hate.
Contrary to what Juan McDaniel and his Nationalist Eurosociopath pack of wolves believe, I personally don’t think that America is the best country in the world. I don’t even know if there is a formula to determine such a complexity? But I will say that I am not ashamed or apologetic to give Americans credit where its due. I will be quick to passionately defend my people as well. I am an American patriot. I am grateful to be an American. This is not nationalism – this is patriotism. At the same rate, I will also call out America where she deserves harsh criticism. This is not unpatriotic as some of my fellow Americans would like to believe – either.
There is good and bad everywhere, and what separates a nationalist from a patriot is ignorance outside one’s borders and even within.
Feel free to read more about Nationalism here. I’m willing to bet that most Americanophobes don’t even know what that word means.