Wednesday, September 16, 2009

News Flash for Canadians: We are now mature because we don't hate America as much as we used to

During my web surfing today I came across an article entitled "Canada Grows Up: Canada's Anti-American Hatefest in Ottawa is Finally Over" by Jonathan Kay ( Its one of the more obnoxious pieces I've read in a while and I've got a few minutes so I decided to include it in my blog.

The basic idea of the article I don't have a problem with. Clearly Canadians (and pretty much everyone else in the world) like America more now than they did a couple years ago. Equally clearly this is mostly tied to the change in government in the United States (which the author attempts to downplay), though as the author correctly notes there are also other factors at work.

Equally clearly though is the fact that this article was written with a rather smug American reading audience in mind. The underlying assumption the author brings to this change in Canadian attitudes is that "not liking America" equals "immature" and "liking America" equals "mature".

The author begins in the first paragraph by noting that "[i]n 2003, Canada rejected American entreaties to join in the invasion of Iraq, and the Canadian press bristled with shrill attacks on the neocon agenda" as a sort of "exhibit A" of Canada's previous immaturity.

Subsequent events we are to assume have shown how immature Canada's attitudes on the resoundingly successful Iraq war and "neocon agenda" really were. Thank god we are beyond that infantile stage now and will be better prepared to participate in such lucrative opportunities the US offers as they present themselves in the future.

The author tells us that Canada's anti-Americanism is fundamentally based on "envy and fear". No doubt there are elements of both of these in Canadian attitudes towards the US, but but this characterization conveniently allows him to overlook the fact that Canadian policies which ran counter to US wishes were often based on rational choices that benefited Canada. The decision not to participate in the Iraq war is perhaps the best example of this. Whatever emotions Canadians were feeling at the time, the decision was a rational one that allowed the country to avoid participating in one of the biggest policy failures in recent world history. To imply that this decision was driven by Canadian immaturity is simply ludicrous.

My point isn't that Canada has been "mature" all along. Like any country, sometimes we act rationally and sometimes we don't. Rather my point is that classifying a country as "mature" or "immature" based solely on how hostile or friendly its public and government are to the United States is absolutely idiotic.

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