Carolyn Parrish is a Member of the Parliament of Canada. Last year, she called Americans "bastards." On Wednesday, she called them "idiots."
Ms. Parrish offered her recent slur while commenting on a missile-defense treaty. In the words of the National Post, she believes that "participating in missile defense [with the US] would make Canada a terrorist target."
May I take this opportunity to apologize to American friends and readers? I am guessing the typical reaction is, first, "What?" and, then, "Whatever." And indeed Ms. Parrish deserves the dismissal we reserve all for kooks and cranks. The trouble is that there are millions of like minded kooks and cranks in my fair country.
Anti-Americanism is rampant. Many Canadians now make free with the most derogatory comments about their southern neighbors. They are pleased to call Americans stupid, aggressive, and vulgar. They are quick to say that Bush is a moron. (And here I have to bite my tongue to keep from saying, "well, he may not be Stephen Hawking but he is almost certainly smarter than you.") Want an easy laugh at a gathering of Canadians? Say something anti-American. No sooner have you spoken than the room is awash in self congratulation. American bashing is now a Canadian pastime, as passionately pursued as road hockey and Tim Horton do-nuts.
Indeed, I have not heard prejudice as unabashed as this since I spent a summer in the south of France and listened to locals let fly with anti-Semitic sentiments. (I do not mean to compare anti-Americanism to anti-Semitism, but merely the unapologetic ease with which both sentiments are, in this case, offered.) Canadians pride themselves on being open minded and cosmopolitan. But here they are stupid, aggressive, and vulgar.
This is a classic "clique effect," according to which the members of a comparison set who are judged and found wanting have two choices: to accept the judgment or to cultivate values that release them from the comparison. This is a kind of "you cant judge me, I march to a different drummer" strategy.
In some ways, this is apt. Canada is a country trembling on the verge of Second World status. Its health care system is crumbling. Its economy is underpowered. Its education system, merely ordinary. Its contribution to global culture, modest. But lets take the most immediate case in point, the Olympics. So far, Canada has a score of 9 in the medal race. The Netherlands, with a population of 16 million (Canada has 25 m.) is well ahead with 21. (Naturally, everyone is thrilled we continue to outpace Estonia which has 3 medal points.)
Really, there is no comparison. The US leads in scientific accomplishment (see Nobel lists and patents awards), athletics (see Olympic wins), education (see Ph.D.s produced), business innovation, technological innovation, and cultural innovation. Oh, Canada. Poor Canada. Your neighbor outstrips you on every dimension.
But I have never heard a Canadian admit to admiration or even acknowledgement of this difference. Instead, the strategy is to claim moral superiority. Canadians are better, they suppose, because they have better social programs, pay more taxes, and do not go to war. Why is that, I wonder? The reason that Canada does not go to war is because it lives within the protection of the US. This is the reason it has an Armed Force that would be hard pressed, if transplanted to Eastern Europe, to defend itself from an attack by Estonia.
And this brings us to the question of terrorism and Ms. Parrishs conviction that a missile defense treaty with the US would expose Canada to an attack. It is hard to know whether this is naiveté or cowardice. But it certainly smacks of ingratitude. To accept American protection and then, in the American hour of urgency, to refuse to do what little we can, is wrong.
It compounds the error made by former Prime Minister Chrétien when he refused to send Canadian troops to Iraq. Chrétien claimed that there was insufficient evidence of weapons of mass destruction. What in Gods name prompted him to think this was the point? Plainly and simply, our neighbour needed us to close ranks, show solidarity, and present a single face to the dithering world community. If friendship was not enough, surely the opportunity to repay the "protection" debt should have been. If you can’t act from honor, you might at least think about acting out of reciprocity.
Ms. Parrish calls Americans "bastards" and "idiots" because she would otherwise be obliged to accept a pressing reality: that Canada is no longer the "sleeping giant" but a continental embarrassment, the little brother who turns out to be slow at learning, bad at sports, incapable of protecting himself, inclined to incoherent outbursts, and, in spite of this, insufferably smug, self important, and ungrateful. Ms. Parrish, please, for the love of God, just shut up.
Curry, Bill. 2004. Liberal Insults U.S. Again. National Post. August 26, 2004.