Allan has posted several postings, here, here, and here, about the infamous Open Letter to America from a Canadian, as has Steve and Stavros. However, it was Allan’s postings that touched a nerve.
Allan states With friends like America, who needs enemies, and in a later posting, based on comments he’s getting, he writes:
McDougall’s letter was surely written in a fit of pique, but it is obviouly the culmination of a lot of frustration, and that’s what all these responders have not cottoned on to.
We’re tired of America’s jackboot. We don’t want Macdonald’s cluttering up our landscape, or having trade wars based on political manouevring in the corridors of Washington, or your bloody government refusing to sign up for the Kyoto protocol, or declaring war to ensure oil supplies, or forcing citizens from the ‘Axis of Evil’ to be photographed and fingerprinted on arrival in the USA [but not Saudi Arabians — even though at least 15 of their citizens were involved in 911].
We’re tired of your corrupt entrenched politics, your energy-guzzling way of life, and your culture of the inane.
Comments are welcome, but please try and accept that you are not perfect. We’re a little tired of your hypocrisy and cant.
What’s difficult for me about Allan’s postings is that I am an American. After reading these, I have to ask the question: Allan, do you include all Americans in your litany?
Do you include me?
Is this an unfair question? Oh, yes it is, very much. But to me, it’s no more unfair than a statement such as:
You have become a nation of monsters, America. Hypocrites. Murderers. Fools.
When I originally talked about this open letter, my complaint about it was that the author is grouping all Americans into one category, and then tarring us with the same brush. I felt the letter was a rant, but more than that, I felt it was myopic. It’s as if the author sees only that which he wants to see in the US, which is that the government is corrupt, arrogant, and evil, and that the people are complacently allowing this. That we are fools, and not doing anything to stop the evil.
Allan sees a frustration in the letter– that the person who wrote it is angry because the US isn’t living up to its promise; the US is indulging in the worst forms of hypocrisy; is murdering innocent people with our increasingly aggressive stance in the Middle East and blind support for Israel; and is ignoring issues of environmental importance for the corporate bottom line. To go with this, the people of American have sold out for hamburgers and comfort and security.
But the people mentioned in this letter includes me. I am an American. Does everything I have done to fight for that which I believe in count for naught because I haven’t immediately effected a change? If this letter represents frustration, then what of my frustration with not being heard by the author of this letter? And what of my frustration when others are not heard by this author?
Many people have spoken out against an invasion of Iraq, such as the House Majority Leader Dick Armey, Henry Kissinger, and several others, including myself. Many people have spoken out against many of this country’s actions in regards to the so-called ‘War on Terror’, again including myself. Many have spoken out for Palestinians, or perhaps a better statement would be that have spoken out for peace in the Middle East and the necessity of working with both the Israelis and the Palestinians to achieve a lasting peace. Yes, including myself.
Many of us have defied Bush and his plan fordrilling for oil in ANWR, and work to bring accountability for the environment to our government. Hell, most of us didn’t even vote for Bush–he did not receive the popular vote in the last election.
Am I getting too personal in this reaction to the letter? To the suport for this letter? Damn right I take it personally. When the writer groups all Americans into all encompassing statements such as “You Americans”, I have to take it personally.
I am aware of the problems in my country. I face these daily. I am aware that we have a president who is, to me, out of control. I am aware of how increasingly dangerous it will become to speak out against the President and his actions. I am aware of the abuses of the constitution by both Bush and Ashcroft. I am aware that our current administration is ignoring the environment at a time when pollution is killing hundreds, thousands, and possibly even millions. I am aware of all of this. And I watch the news every night and am appalled at how little real news is covered compared to what I read in the weblogs and international publications.
I, and many like myself, do what we can to make others aware of information that they’re not getting in the mainstream press. I, and many others, introduce topics such as the invasion of Iraq to hopefully reach those who are undecided, perhaps even open up the discussion with those who are firmly behind the concept of an invasion. Outside of this weblog, I write letters to members of congress, I contribute what I can, I get involved when I can, and I’m careful with my vote. I make my vote count.
I do what I can. And I work very hard at making a difference. All of which goes for naught when middle America reads a foolish letter such as this Open Letter to America, which only focuses on the negative of this country, categorizes us and dismisses us–contributing to my country’s growing sense of isolation and alienation from the rest of the world.
Allan, you say this letter writer is frustrated because of America’s actions. Then consider my frustration when letters such as this negate all of that which so many of us have been trying to accomplish, in our weblogs and in our lives outside the Net. From this point on when I talk about the invasion of Iraq and our poor Middle East strategy and Ashcroft’s actions and Bush’s disregard of the environment, I not only have to fight against these issues, I have to fight against the anger this letter has generated.
I’ve been called a terrorist sympathizer for supporting the Palestinians and for disagreeing with our policy in the Middle East. I’ve been bashed for supporting the environment and for disagreeing with a war in Iraq, and for disliking the president. Now I feel as if I’m being bashed because my efforts aren’t generating a fast enough result. Well, fuck that.
You Americans. When someone says You Americans, that’s me they’re talking about. Might consider than next time you non-Americans indiscriminately use that phrase.
One thing though–I don’t hate Canadians because of this letter. Unlike the author of the letter, I don’t lump all people into one group for condemnation because of the actions of a few, or one.