Tuesday, August 23, 2005


I was listening to the usual criticism of the United States the other day--and trying not to get too aggravated (my, what a horrible nation we must be to be the object of such criticism)--when I remembered an incident from my youth.

Back in the early 1970's, I lived in Syracuse, NY. A couple kids I hung out with who lived down the street had a cousin visiting them for a week. Their cousin was a couple years older than I was and was from Canada. This kid seemed to do nothing the whole time he was there but criticize the US. We're war mongers, our economy was f'ed up, we had an energy crisis. Even our highways sucked compared to Canadian highways--which were apparently paved in gold, to listen to this jackass bray.

This kid really pissed me off, but I had a tough time countering his arguments. He was older and confident in his "facts", which I later learned were standard leftwing bullshit talking points. I had never even been to Canada, so I was in no position to judge whether it was a better country that the US. I only knew what I had always been taught by my family: the US is a great country and I am fortunate to have been born here.

A few weeks later, I was out of town visiting my cousin when I related the whole story of the braying jackass to my aunt and uncle. They could see that it was still bothering me. My uncle told me he had something he wanted me to hear. He foraged around through his record collection until he found a .45 (anyone remember vinyl records?) he wanted me to listen to. The record was of a broadcast done by Gordon Sinclair, a Canadian broadcaster. It was titled The Americans:
The United States dollar took another pounding on German, French, and British exchanges this morning, hitting the lowest point ever known in West Germany. It has declined there by 41% since 1971, and this Canadian thinks it is time to speak up for the Americans as the most generous, and possibly the least-appreciated, people in all the earth.

As long as sixty years ago, when I first started to read newspapers, I read of floods on the Yellow River and the Yangtse. Well who rushed in with men and money to help? The Americans did, that's who.

They have helped control floods on the Nile, the Amazon, the Ganges, and the Niger. Today, the rich bottom land of the Mississippi is under water and no foreign land has sent a dollar to help. Germany, Japan, and, to a lesser extent, Britain and Italy, were lifted out of the debris of war by the Americans who poured in billions of dollars and forgave other billions in debts. None of those countries is today paying even the interest on its remaining debts to the United States.

When the franc was in danger of collapsing in 1956, it was the Americans who propped it up, and their reward was to be insulted and swindled on the streets of Paris. And I was there -- I saw that. When distant cities are hit by earthquake, it is the United States that hurries into help, Managua, Nicaragua, is one of the most recent examples.

So far this spring, fifty-nine American communities have been flattened by tornadoes. Nobody has helped.

The Marshall Plan, the Truman Policy, all pumped billions upon billions of dollars into discouraged countries. And now, newspapers in those countries are writing about the decadent, war-mongering Americans.

Now, I'd like to see one of those countries that is gloating over the erosion of the United States dollar build its own airplanes.

Come on now, you, let's hear it! Does any other country in the world have a plane to equal the Boeing Jumbo Jet, the Lockheed Tristar, or the Douglas 10? If so, why don't they fly them? Why do all international lines except Russia fly American planes? Why does no other land on earth even consider putting a man or a women on the moon?

You talk about Japanese technocracy and you get radios. You talk about German technocracy and you get automobiles. You talk about American technocracy and you find men on the moon, not once, but several times, and, safely home again. You talk about scandals and the Americans put theirs right in the store window for everyone to look at. Even the draft dodgers are not pursued and hounded. They're right here on our streets in Toronto. Most of them, unless they're breaking Canadian laws, are getting American dollars from Ma and Pa at home to spend up here.

When the Americans get out of this bind -- as they will -- who could blame them if they said "the hell with the rest of the world." Let somebody else buy the Israel bonds. Let somebody else build or repair foreign dams, or design foreign buildings that won't shake apart in earthquakes." When the railways of France, and Germany, and India were breaking down through age, it was the Americans who rebuilt them. When the Pennsylvania Railroad and the New York Central went broke, nobody loaned them an old caboose. Both of 'em are still broke.

I can name to you 5,000 times when the Americans raced to the help of other people in trouble. Can you name to me even one time when someone else raced to the Americans in trouble? I don't think there was outside help even during the San Francisco earthquake.

Our neighbors have faced it alone, and I am one Canadian who is damned tired of hearing them kicked around. They'll come out of this thing with their flag high. And when they do, they're entitled to thumb their noses at the lands that are gloating over their present troubles. I hope Canada is not one of these. But there are many smug, self-righteous Canadians.

And finally, the American Red Cross was told at its 48th Annual meeting in New Orleans this morning that it was broke.

This year's disasters -- with the year less than half-over -- has taken it all. And nobody, but nobody, has helped.

It's a sad state of affairs that there are many US citizens today who don't appreciate their own country the way Gordon Sinclair did.

You can hear Sinclair's original broadcast and read the text here. The story behind the piece can be found here.

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