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Tuesday, February 04, 2003

American Arrogance

You've heard about the CBC reporter who wanted to know if the loss of the shuttle was due to "American arrogance".

Well, I tried to read or listen to that interview on the CBC's site, but couldn't find it. I did find the CBC's forum for this topic. It is, as you might expect, a doozy. I'd say that it doesn't make Canadians look very good, but online forums generally don't make humans look very good.

When I first saw it there were 56 posts; as of now there are 358. They are divided roughly into three categories:

1)Expressions of condolence
2)Various types of finger-pointing (more or less on-topic)
3)Personal flame wars
4)Expressions of disgust at how bad the forum has become

But one stood out, not for its particular vitriol, but for an interesting assertion.

devoid johnson tells us:

As much as I resent the US of A and the way our lives have to revolve around them, even I can show a certain amount of compassion for innocent lives lost.

I put this in just to give him his fair due. He goes on to say that he was annoyed at the continuing coverage, especially for times when there wasn't a lot of new information. I sympathize. He's particularly irritated that the coverage pre-empted his Canadian programs, like hockey games, which is his right, of course. He goes on to say:

An entire Saturday of Canadian programming...set aside to hash over American issues. ...It's like the moment there's something that impacts American we suddenly have to drop everything we're doing and cover it. Like September 11, like Columbia. What about other issues in other countries that are important to them? What about Canadian issues which are important to us? But no... it's the Americans... it's us, us, us, us, us. All the time, they're so self centred (I'm speaking about the government, not the people) that they want the entire universe to revolve around them. Is it any wonder that parts of the world are starting to turn against them? I'm not saying that there was any terrorist involvement, but there are people who hate them enough to have devised a plan....

Wow, what to say about this. Well, firstly, he's a Canadian on a forum for the Canadian Broadcasting Company and he's complaining about how his Canadian programming is interrupted, apparently because American media companies arranged for the Air Force to bomb Canada if they didn't carry 24/7 Columbia coverage. Or, it's just that the Canadian media thought most Canadians would be interested in this story, too. Unable to accept this, he blames it on the US.

It's interesting that he puts the blame on the American government, not the Americans. Bush has been in office only a little over two years. Clinton was in office for the preceding eight years. Did this self-absorption apply to both administrations?

I've seen this kind of crap over and over and over again: a foreigner really fed up with the influence of American culture in his country, but rather than blame his fellow countrymen for their poor taste, or his government for not doing something about it, he blames the US. Apparently, Republicans are continually promising to nuke, say, Paris if a certain amount of Coca-Cola isn't sold there.

I believe this is a large part of where this "American arrogance" crap comes from---frustration at their own culture's weaknesses. Now, you'd think that, if any people would at least recognize that they have everything necessary for a strong culture, it would be Canadians. I mean, they have all that education and health care, so superior to ours, and light years beyond what some impoverished Pakistani or Palestinian might have. And if there are some Canadians who don't recognize this, and prefer to blame the US for their frustration, how much more likely is it that the Pakistanis and Palestinians are doing the same thing? And, I'll point out, with about as much justice.