Wednesday, December 08, 2004

The Ugly Canadian

Drudge has put a hysterical red link to this story from the Washington Times, which profiles an American company that is marketing a "Going Canadian" kit for prospective world travelers. The kit, which contains Canadian luggage tags and a maple leaf t-shirt, is intended for people skittish about anti-US sentiment abroad.

I say "hysterical" because Drudge is trying to give a whiff of scandal to something that is obviously a joke (just read the article, even the right-wing Times doesn't take it seriously).

The issue of Americans masquerading as bland, harmless Canadians while abroad is, as the Times adroitly mentions, a non-story. People have been doing it for decades. Drudge wants to see this as more proof of liberal treachery and anti-patriotism. The Times wants to have it both ways. They mention the fact that the State Department and many reputable travel publications advise Americans not to flaunt their nationality while abroad, but they also go fishing for comments from politicians and academics in an apparent attempt to turn an acorn into a maple tree, if you will.

Here's a nice quote from the Times article: "Some think anti-Americanism — at least in some spots — is being overblown in the press." You think? I wonder who could be responsible for this ...

I spent most of the last year living in Turkey and I never once pretended to be anything but an American. I never had any problems. The fact is, most foreigners like America and Americans. I can't say how many times I heard "America good, Bush bad." Most people aren't stupid enough to confuse a population at large with the decisions of its government. Maybe that's a lesson that more Americans should learn on their own, by actually taking an interest in the rest of the world.

It is a telling irony that the xenophobes are those most convinced that the rest of the world hates them.
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