I have often been accused by my friends and family of being anti-American. That I have a deep-seated hatred of our neighbours to the south. And I will admit, there have been times that I have said or done things that may give that impression. At the risk of alienating any readers that hail from the Red White and Blue, I have laughed at “ignorant American” jokes. I’ve uttered “Bloody Americans” when something that the nation through sport, politics or culture, has offended my sensibilities. I’ve rolled my eyes at the “USA! USA! Chants. (not in that I find cheering for your nations team offensive or irritating, but that it’s paraded out from everything from the olympics, to dog shows.) I snort in disgust every time I hear an American politician talking about the US being the greatest nation in the world. (I don’t believe any nation deserves such a title.)
What I really attribute all of that to though, is the rivalry that two nations close in both proximity and culture will have for each other. We endure the “do y’all live in igloos?” jokes, it’s only fair that they endure our semi-snide assertions that Americans don’t know what goes on outside of their own states. We put up with being “Americas hat”, they can live down being called a bit arrogant, loud and obnoxious.
Because in all cases, it’s an untrue generalization. Some Canadians actually do live in igloos. And we are north of America, kind of hat like and all. (We prefer toque.) And much like that is generalized, you can find arrogant, obnoxious Americans who don’t know the first thing about anything outside of America.
This morning though, my “Bloody Americans” sense was tingling. On reading the news that the Senate voted against gun control, I had but little choice to sigh in disgust. It seems completely idiotic to me that in the light of all the bloodshed and misery that has befallen America in the form of firearms, that this is even a debate. When children are dying from flying bullets, society MUST change. It’s the only civilized direction that can be taken. I can’t tell you how good it feels to walk around in our cities, late at night, and not fear that someone wills shoot me because they think I’m a threat.
Now this is not a rant about gun control per se. I have no interest in wading in to that argument, because the sides of the argument are so firmly entrenched in their paradigms that you’d sooner move Everest a few miles from where it stands, than change their minds. All of the statistics can be fudged, or made to seem like it supports either side with little effort, and little result. Nor am I against ownership of Guns, Canadians own a great many firearms.
What raises my ire is that there is a certain segment of the population that does not value life outside of their own. That feel that their rights trump any responsibilities they have to their fellow man, and that can mean either domestically, or internationally. This is true of each nation, Canada bears the shame of having boorish, self-centred bigots that couldn’t care less if anyone else suffers or dies. But it seems to me that it is a very large segment of the American population that feels this way. (estimated at about 49%, given the last election numbers.)
As I started with talking about gun control, I’ll continue on that vein first. The opponents of gun control want you to believe that it strips them of their rights to regulate weapons available for the public. That if it happens, they will be unable to defend themselves, their families, their possessions. They even want you to believe that gun ownership PREVENTS deaths, instead of causes them. (Which, if I may offer my less than humble opinion, is like saying more rain causes less puddles.)
But the real issue here, is that they are afraid. Everyone is the bogey man, every one is a criminal looking to come and plunder, and kill and destroy. Put aside the nonsense false bravado you hear from those advocates of concealed carry. The average gun owner can NOT stop crime by drawing their weapons. If anything, it only increases the chance of people being shot, to either horrific injury or death. So many anecdotal stories get forwarded of good-hearted gun wielding citizens coming to the rescue with their handgun, but the truth is it’s few and far between, and in almost most cases the one who starts shooting is the citizen, not the criminal. I was disgusted by the mindless prattle of some of these gun enthusiasts who said that if they were there at Sandy Hook, or in the movie theater, that the only person to die would be the shooter, they would calmly draw, fire, and it would be over. This is of course obtuse nonsense. They live in fear of their countrymen, and believe that their life is more valuable than others. that their possessions are worth the blood of a petty thief.
They point to the second amendment and prattle on about their rights, worshiping the founding fathers as if they are infallible Gods, that it wasn’t a product of their time and culture when it was written. That it cannot be reviewed for modern times, by sensible people with sensible ideals. They don’t mind using mindless bigotry and racism to make their points, and even believe their own nonsense.
And things do happen that can cause fear. The bombing of the Boston Marathon is tragic, and horrifying, and I sincerely hope they catch and crucify those who were responsible. The truth is though, gun ownership wouldn’t stop such an event. The record of citizens bearing arms stopping either mass shootings, or bombings, currently stands at zero.
It’s these same like-minded people who have no concern about the level of death and misery that wars have caused in the middle east. When the Twin Towers were attacked, it marked one of the most heinous crimes against innocent civilians in modern times. 3000 dead, and for what? Nothing more than Jingoistic hatred. But for these people, the deaths of many times more Afghani and Iraqi innocents, is as meaningless to them as a foreign language. I find myself wondering what ratio of value a civilian from the Middle East is, compared to the life of an American citizen. Since in Iraq alone, it’s been estimated that upwards of 100 thousand innocents have died, you wonder if over 20-1 is an equitable trade-off. Which doesn’t even include the Afghani men, women and children who had no part in either the terrorism, or the war. How is a child laying dead in the streets of Kabul from an American bullet, compare to a child of the same age buried beneath the rubble of a collapsed skyscraper?
It’s these same like-minded people who sneer at universal health care, believing that nobody should get a handout, that the deadbeats should just take care of themselves. They preach about the horrors of socialism while so many leave disease untreated because they cannot afford it.
So it’s Anti-Duhmericanism that I can be accused of. The simple-minded bluster and prejudice of dangerously unenlightened people. It is to them that I direct my disdain, and dare I say it hope. Hope that they will join those in their communities, states, nations and neighbours, to find a better way. One where fear does not rule, paranoia is not prevalent, hatred is set aside.
And if you’ll allow me to skip the apology to those who read this and are deeply offended, I have no doubt that they wouldn’t be interested in what I have to say in the first place.