America: First in disaster relief, emergency food supplies, medical help,

Will the Real Uncle Sam, Please Stand Up?

By —— Bio and Archives--November 21, 2007

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I wish someone could explain to me just what is happening in America?

Sitting here north of the 49th parallel, in my mind’s eye I look south over the mostly invisible border to the United States with a sense of unease and at times foreboding.


When I read of firefighters on the way to save American property and possibly lives being stopped at the border, wasting crucial minutes, in order to make sure everyone on board is eligible to enter, I cringe. Or when an ambulance is stopped on its way to take a patient to a U.S. hospital for life-saving surgery and is held up for the same reason, something no longer makes sense.

And why do we take some masochistic delight in celebrating the rise of the Canadian loonie over the U.S. greenback? Do Canadians enjoy idle factories and meager unemployment cheques?

What has become of common sense? What has become of our long history of co-operation, friendship, trust? I know relations have been strained, not only now, but also in the past. Perhaps Thomas Paine’s 18th book, Common Sense, should be made required reading by 21st century citizens.

Today, I attribute much of the tension, growing mistrust and outright dislike of everything American to the fear-mongering and nation-bashing being generated by the mainstream media in both countries. Here in Canada, I see the media taking every opportunity, and then some, to paint the U.S. as the world’s most heinous bully, exploiter and war monger.

Personally I don’t see it that way. Which country in the world is always first with disaster relief, emergency food supplies, medical help, assistance with education and the list goes on. Is it Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia? No. It’s always the U.S.

In spite of what Americans might hear from our media and theirs, our politicians and theirs, our enemies and theirs, the majority of Canadians continue to cherish the ties of blood, history and geography that binds us so closely together.

As a Canadian, my roots are anchored deep in U.S soil. Sometime back in the 1850s my paternal great-grandparents sought refuge across the border from a pitiless depression that was tearing at the soul of Québec. They crossed into the State of New York then made their way west settling to work in the iron mines of Northern Michigan.

There, my grandmother was born in 1877, before the family was once again uprooted and traveled north into Ontario in the 1890s. To this day, I have family spread across the Border States. They live in Ohio, Illinois, New York and Maine. I can also trace them south into Connecticut, New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

If I dig back far enough, I can follow their footsteps into the bayou country of Louisiana. The Houles, Houdes, Rouxs and others. All blood relatives to me. All Americans.

As a kid growing up in the mosquito infested bushland of Northern Ontario, the U.S.A. was never really far away, at least in mind if not geographically. Just about everyone I grew up with wanted to go the States for one reason or another. And some did go there to live and work.

We admired the States. Our fathers, uncles and cousins drove American cars like Chevies and Fords and Chryslers. We kids rode American bikes and we read American comic books. Captain America, Superman, Little Lulu. Just about every kid in Canada had some or all of them stashed away in their bedrooms.

To us the States could be counted on in wartime. Every kid knew who the marines were. We could always expect the most exciting western movies with cowboys and Indians, the Lone Ranger, Roy Rogers and Hopalong Cassidy.

It also brought us Elvis, Buddy Holly and greasy hairdos. And who wasn’t a Rebel Without a Cause in the 50s? But it also introduced us to concepts of freedom and justice and civil society in the 60s, even if some of it later proved to be somewhat skewed. But then, what do kids know about such things?

In the not too distant past, I traveled extensively in the States. Crossing the border from Canada was like entering the home of a favourite aunt without the formality of first knocking on the door and being made welcome.

In the aftermath of 9/11, however, something has changed and it is difficult to pinpoint what exactly that might be. Perhaps a weariness is seeping into the American psyche. Could it be Americans have had enough of being demonized and taken for granted?

Or is it possible an entire nation, like an individual, takes only so much abuse before picking up their marbles and going home?

I can’t imagine a world without the Americans being there to help the oppressed, the dispossessed and the weak. I can’t imagine who would stand up to the terrorists, the tyrants and the religion-driven fanatics. From what wellspring would flow hope?

It always seemed to me that the States knew exactly where it wanted to go, what it wanted to be and had the wherewithal to get there. Today, I am not so certain.

As I observe the country being maligned by friends and foe alike, I sense the States has reached a crossroads that has left it paralyzed and confused. Serious questions involving its broken borders, its role in Iraq, the war on terrorism and the potential for limits on freedom go unanswered and unresolved. This marks an ominous turn of events in a fractured world.

While it struggles to deal with problems not necessarily of its own making, critics, internal and external, seem to take delight in predicting the country’s demise or defeat. I would like to hear from these same critics who they think would be left to pick up the pieces? If the United States needed rescuing, who would do it? Who would come to its aid?

Perhaps it is these questions that need to be answered before sense can be made of any new direction or goal or strategy the Americans must ponder in coming months and years.

Yet, Americans should be aware of one thing. Do not believe everything you read or hear about Canada and Canadians in your mainstream media, or in ours for that matter. Most Canadians cherish the relationship we have with the U.S.

We might not always agree with what you do or say, but that does not mean we are not good friends.


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Bill McIntyre -- Bio and Archives | Comments

Bill now devotes his time to his media/communications consulting firm while fighting for time to pursue freelance writing assignments, promote television projects and create the odd movie script.

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