Monday, August 13, 2007

An Open Letter to Canadians

Dear Canadians:

I like you. I really do. I can't easily prove this, of course, so I hope you'll take me at my word when I say that I actually, honestly, sincerely like you and your country. In my mind, I see America and Canada as brothers, so when I say what I say, please know it's out of love and respect.

But seriously: shut the fuck up about American politics, okay? Please. You're trying my patience.

Look, I get the fact that our Conservative Republican Texan President rubs you the wrong way. I understand that American Foreign Policy essentially pisses in your poutine. I realize that as gross generalizations go, you are far more liberal and left-of-center than we, and that's why you're frequently so appalled at our actions.

But you've got to stop bitching about American politics. It's not a healthy mindset. I mean, you care more about our politics than we do, and there's precious little you can do to change our government. You can shake your fists and stamp your little feet and it will do bugger-all in the grand scheme of things.

You want to change our government? Immigrate, become an American citizen, and vote in elections. Then you can bitch all you want, and you might actually change something.

As it stands now, though? You're like the bitter ex-boyfriend who can't let go of being angry at his ex for breaking up with him years ago. You obsess about us, write screeds and diatribes and blogs about us, and it's really quite sad because, overall, we barely know you exist. Look, I'm not proud to admit my ignorance, but I will to make this point:
  • I know that Felipe Calderón is the President of Mexico, a nation which doesn't share our language.
  • I know that Gordon Brown is the Prime Minister of England, a nation which not only doesn't share a border with America but is also on the other side of the Atlantic.
  • But Canada and America share a common language, a common border, and most (though not all) of a common culture, yet I still don't know who your Prime Minister is without Googling him.
In fact, I can only name two Canadian PMs at all: Trudeau and Diefenbaker, and I only know of the latter because of Due South (an excellent show which I enjoyed because it managed to poke fun at both American and Canadian stereotypes while at the same time celebrating our common bond of shared heritage).

So please, for your own mental and emotional health, let it go. Or dial it down a notch, at least. I mean, I couldn't stand Chirac, but I can count on my fingers the number of times I gave him enough thought to warrant even a slightly annoyed mood, much less a high dudgeon or good old-fashioned spleen venting. And when he lost the election to Sarkozy, I didn't throw a party; I merely nodded my head, smiled, and said, "Oh, good, I can like France again," and that's all the thought I gave it, because that's all it deserved. Much like psycho unstable exes, who are also better ignored than fretted over.

So please, Canada, I am imploring you: let it go. Let us go. We aren't going to change to suit you, much like you refuse to change on our account. Find a hobby, watch a hockey game, get drunk on your awesome Canadian beer; but if you keep obsessing about American politics, you're just going to end up on the White House lawn at three A.M., playing Peter Gabriel at top volume and begging us to take you back.

And no one wants that.

Erin Palette


  1. Heh...I love it!

    The article, I mean.

  2. Wow...just wow.

    How about you take your own advice and let it go.

    I don't care for American politics, but it seems like you are taking more offense to this then the people who are complaining in the first place.

    Oh and it is offensive. Grow up.

  3. I don't even have to finish reading this, its horrid. I'm sorry but as a canadian every choice your stupid goverment makes effects everyone some how and in some way.

  4. *snicker*


    Oh anonymous commenters, thank you for helping me to make my point.

  5. Perhaps as one of the world's superpowers, America affects more people than your average nation, but the truth is that there's not much anyone can do about it outside the country and that isn't a foreign policy diplomat from one of our allies.

    So I'll side with Pal here. Either the pissy foreigners urge their government to talk to ours, or... shut up and pay attention to your own country?

  6. Oh I'm sorry. Did you want a name to go with the first Anony post?

    Maybe Hex Girl will help.

    Pal you are pathetic if you think for one second that what your government does doesn't have an effect on those around you.

    I know plenty about my own government and generally ignore what yours is doing until what they do causes issues elsewhere.

  7. Seph's last paragraph is the best summary. You can complain all you want but stop doing it and do it the RIGHT way; by telling YOUR government what's wrong and what THEY can do about it.

    Or just shut up, yes.

  8. I like all the nasty comments from the Canadians that completely missed the point. (sorry ladies, you know i love ya).

    the point of the article isnt "Canadians are wrong" the point is "give it a rest, you're not helping any, and we know"

    a good point was made, if you dont like our government (trust us, we dont either) become a citizen and vote, just like the rest of us.

    the article says (paraphrase) "Yes, our president is a retard, we know, theres no need to remind us".

    Yes immigration takes long and costs alot (unless you come up from the south, they get a free pass for some reason), but thats the rules and that's how it goes.

    Good article, i'm sorry it hit a little too close to home for some canadians tho.

  9. (I'm longwinded I know)
    Ah so interesting. I've been an American for quite some time, well my entire life actually. I know little about Canada, sorry all you Canadians out there. What I do know is that Americans tend to be arrogant egomaniacal jerks. We say we have the best country in the world, but in so many categorize we suck; education and healthcare being the two big offenders in my opinion.

    On top of this we have the nerve to tell other countries how to exercise their freedom of speech. In this particular diatribe an American is telling Canadians to shut up and mind their own business, more or less. Mean while we have a president who decides to ignore the UN and start his own war ... another decision that can be debated ad nauseam as to whether or not it was correct, but what can’t be debated is that the decision affected the entire world. It would seem that if America is so willing to tinker with the balance of the world, the world should be able to speak its opinion about these actions.

    Oddly enough the "bitching” from any person anywhere heard by an American could make that American think about how his country is affecting someone else outside of the USA, god forbid, and then take that information and possibly vote in a way to change the actions of the country he lives in. In that case the voice from another country would have changed politics in the US.

    So I say speak out about what you don’t like. Educate yourself on what you are speaking about so you can make an educated comment and maybe what you say will be heard and taken into consideration and thus cause change elsewhere. Apparently that is not what we Americans want to hear. We want all the other countries in the world to genuflect at the mere mention of our name. That isn’t going to happen and is part of what got us where we are in the first place.

  10. It's done in the hope that if we speak long enough, loud enough and often enough, Americans will start voting for people who don't help create these sort of problems.

    The US retains the power to cause changes on a global scale, for good or ill, so we have an opinion on what your leaders do because it's relevant to us. I live in London, on the other side of the Atlantic from you, and the actions of your government have brought a lot of problems to a head here, problems that could have been solved slowly and less violently by taking other approaches.

    There was a time when I distinguished between Americans and their governments, but the day I spent contacting the members of my family and assuring them I was wasn't on one of the trains or the bus that were bombed in 2005 put an end to that. Never mind the doubling of fuel prices since I've come to London and the ripple effects from that.

    The rest of the western world watches half of your presidential candidates having a debate on TV on how much torture to use against captured enemies - not whether or not you should do it, but to what extent. Your political system produces these people, elevates them to candidate positions and then people vote for them. There isn't much good having our governments talk to people like that, who have demonstrated they'll just do what they want anyway. We can only hope to speak to you, voters, and ask you to please vote for someone else.

    I've never received anything but anger in return from Americans when I've asked this, but I'm going to keep asking it anyway: please try not to vote for people like those in your current administration. When they do harm, they harm far and wide, and these ones seem very good at that.


    PS: I couldn't live in America. Forget the health care system, I'd lose my mind from seeing the latest Lindsey Lohan on the news 24/7.

  11. Lass,

    I find your rant offensive. Under the guise of sparkly words, you are telling me to mind my own business.

    Well, since you are our neighbor and we our yours, I will not.

    I have my right to voice myself the way you do.

    I find it odd that since you live so far south in the USA, you would even have an opinion of us, but I digress.

    You have lost a reader and a fan due to your poorly written, thoughtless feelings on how people can express themselves.

    I thought you much better and much different.

    I was wrong about you. You are the same as many Americans I have met. Condecending and derogatory.

    I hope one day you refine your thoughts before you put them out in public view.

  12. so all i've gotten from the comments was "Your country sucks, your government sucks, your attitudes suck,and we're going to tell you any chance we get"

    How does that help?

    Perhaps people should stop their america hating and take a look at how fucked up their OWN countries are. Because if you havent noticed (since you're all so busy worrying about the US) but your respective countries have plenty of your own problems that could benefit from all the energy expended hating and criticizing the US.

    in case you all havent noticed, our president has an approval rating of like 33% which means that only 33% of the people aprove of him. do you have different math in your countries? is 33% alot where you come from? maybe 33% is bigger in metric? no, that means that very few people approve of what mr GWB is doing/has done. we dont need a reminder to vote for someone else. because 1: he cant be president again. 2: we have to wait for an election to actually vote for someone.

    i think you all should look up your favorite words to describe americans, like arrogant, self centered, condecending, and perhaps while you're at it look up the old saying "thats the pot calling the kettle back".

    you dont think it's arrogant to impose your views on americans? isnt that the very thing you're bitching about us doing? isnt saying "your policy effects me, so i';m going to bitch at any american i get a chance to". how is that not self centered? how is that not you trying to force your views on america?

    quit the jealous hypocracy and maybe fix your own shit before trying to fix ours. Thats most of the world's problem anyway, everyone's too busy worrying about what everyone else is doing instead of worrying about their own problems.

  13. I couldn't agree more.

  14. "What I do know is that Americans tend to be arrogant egomaniacal jerks. "

    It's no different to make that statement than to say "Blacks are crimeprone and unhygenic".

    It's just as moronic and ridiculous, and I get sick of that kind of bullshit from so many people from other countries, especially when that person turns out to be some nitwit convenience store clerk.

    Guess what, genuinely smart and educated people tend not to have idiotic bigotry ingarained into their personality the way you do.

    I dislike George Bush a lot and so do most Americans right now, but please. Enough bitching and whining about Americans as a whole.

  15. I am confused! I could swear that Palette here did not insult Canada, could barely be construed to have insulted some of its citizens, and yet I see people taking it as a personal offense.

    I thought Americans were the overly-patriotic ones?

  16. My neighbors, they have these kids. They have no respect for any of the homeowners in the neighborhood and run rampant across everyones' property. I once caught one of the little scamps in my yard chasing a stray cat with a stick. The parents refuse to discipline these brats, and I don't have any real authority to punish them, but that doesn't mean I have to keep my mouth shut when I run over their toys when I mow my lawn.

    My neighbors are America, on at least two or three levels that are germane to this running debate.

    I'm not offended, PalPal, because I'm not Canadian and I love telling people to shut up, but I don't know that I can buy the argument on this one.

  17. I'm a bit confused here I guess as I don't see what people are getting offended about.
    Yes Bush is an [insert your negative descriptive comment here]. I doubt you'd find many, American or otherwise, who would disagree.
    Only thing I really got out of this post was Erin asking Canadians to chill out a bit on their comments.
    Bush is screwing over Americans a heck of a lot more than he's screwing over just about any one of another nationality.
    Patriot Act. Executive Decisions. Presidential Pardons. IMO he's made and continuing to make the Executive Branch of the US gov't a totally mockery of what it's supposed to be. While at the same time pretty much ruining any positive foreign relations we may have had.
    So I'm sorry, I'm going to have to side with her on this one and just ask everyone to just chill a bit, weather Canadian or otherwise (shrug)

    my 0.02

  18. Man, it so doesn't pay to be sick and in bed all day. You miss some good stuff!

    I like the debate here, and am sorry if any Canadians were offended because they feel singled out, but really now, come on! Like others here have said much more elequently then I would be able to, Bush is gone and done for. His approval rating is a joke. Such a joke in fact, that it's highly unlikely that ANYONE from his party will have a shot in the next election. (As it should be)

    That being said, listening to folks from other countries bitch and moan, and blame ALL the worlds problems on US politicians, just makes some folks here in the states close ranks. Then they may elect someone who they otherwise would not have. (And Blind patriotism is NOT uniquely American.)

    EVERY country has their problems. Canada, Mexico, Swaziland, every country without exception. To throw stones when living in a glass house is not wise. We have certainly elected some shady folks to public office, and even to the public office of president from time to time. We know we aren't perfect, which is way the highest office in the land is up for review every 4 years. Give us a bit of a chance here folks, and we will correct this particular mistake shortly.

    For all our faults, and we have no more then you, our neighbors to the North, we as a rule are trying to do whats best for all. Do our good intentions always work out the way we had envisioned? Certainly not. Historically, we have caused no more world problems then any other "super power" of it's time however, and it's my opinion in fact that we have probably caused fewer then most. It's just that "our time" has been more recent, so our failures are easier to remember. At the same time, our generosity as a people has been unmatched. More world aid comes from the US, then from any other country. Please remember that when you lump us all under the heading of "Arrogant, egomaniacal, and none to bright Americans".

  19. wow.. what to say, there is so much that could be responded to, and some that probably shouldn't be. However, I will keep it brief. I agree with Palette. I also think that maybe if the other countries would spend as much time worrying and trying to change things in their country as they do thinking and complaining about what the Americans are doing, things would be better there.

    On another note, the UN is mostly worthless. Bush tried those means and all that happened was things were delayed and held up so that Iraq had time to move all their WMD's to some other country that probably isn't friendly to the US.

  20. Jeff, to continue the analogy:

    Maybe you can't make the parents discipline their children. But you can put up a fence around your yard, to keep them from coming in and put up a "No Trespassing" sign. If the kids come into your yard again, you can call the police.

    These are constructive and productive actions. Writing daily blogs about "OMG my neighbor's kids suck" and complaining about it to anyone who will listen is not. Doing so for years and years is almost assuredly a sign of unhealthy obsession.

  21. OK, so I spend about 15-20% of my time in Canada (Vancouver, specifically), which gives me a hands-on knowledge, at least, of the whole Can-Am connection. Pal, you're fairly right on the money, and I've largely said to my Canadian girlfriend what you said in print. But the bitter-ex analogy is a bit off. I'd say the relationship of Canada to the U.S. is the relationship of a younger brother to his older brother. The Canucks, as much as they might like to grouse about our militarism and such, know that they hold a fairly privileged position of being upstairs from us. It's the safety of knowing your big brother is there if a new bully saunters into the neighborhood. However, because they often feel like they're in our shadow as a world power, they feel that brotherly kind of resentment.

    Sometimes you'll hear Canadians talking about how little U.S. citizens know about their country (or insert Europe, South America, whatever), and what I think they don't realize is that it's the natural state of things. Think of it this way: I know about Brad Pitt, right? I can tell you about his wife, his kids, his job, etc. But can Brad Pitt tell you anything about Troy Hickman? Chances are pretty slim. Does that make me somehow a lesser being than Der Pittster? Hardly.

    If you really want to see what the relationship is like between our two countries, watch Canadian TV. What you'll see are TONS of jabs at the U.S. and TONS of self-referential comments about how this is CANADA. Then compare that to U.S. television, which doesn't constantly remind you what country you're in, and very rarely even mentions the Great White North.

    Personally, I love it up here, though I think if I were going to live here, I'd much rather be in Canada's version of "flyover country," out on the prairies, which I have found to be much more like the U.S. in general.

    I read an article in a Vancouver paper a while back where they had polled Canadians and U.S citizens, and they found that Canadians on the whole are a much more monolithic bunch than we are. They don't tend to have nearly the kind of split down the middle on socio-political issues that has, in all honesty, caused the very real culture war in the U.S.

    And frankly, I think more's the pity. One of the things I dig about the states is that push and pull of viewpoints.

    Spending most of my Canuck time in Vancouver, however, which is certainly analogous to the U.S. west coast, I find an almost total lack of diversity of opinion (which, in my opinion, is the only REAL diversity).

    When I read the editorial section of the Vancouver Sun, for instance, I generally find four types of letters: left-leaning, very-left-leaning, just-to-the-left-of-Abbie-Hoffman-left-leaning, and Something-from-the-Planet-Zoon.

    Or, I'm reminded of the first time I walked into a Chapters bookstore up here. I saw a big display of like fifty books on what an A-hole George Bush is, and then a single book with one dissenting opinion hidden in the back of the stack.

    I literally never run into anyone up here with even a slightly closer-to-the-center opinion unless we drive four or five hours into the interior, and even then it hardly becomes Conservative Central.

    As I said, though, it's a great country overall. I just think I'm wayyyy too far west to see anything even slightly like my more middle-of-the-road Hoosier home.

  22. America is the last economic and military superpower (until the new boys on the block catch up) and is pursuing an active foreign policy.

    The rest of the world has a right to voice an opinion.

    That the american people regret the choice of government they made doesn't detract from the fact that the choice they did make is a major factor in the lives of the rest of the world.

    Maybe if the rest of us get to say what we don't like then next time round some of the american electorate may have listened, considered and agreed. Or not, it is a free country after all.

  23. Orac,
    We get that, and I fully agree with you if there is even something to debate. In this case though, we aren't blind, we're shortly going to correct this mistake, so just pipe down a bit until there is something new to complain about. (Not you personally, but all those still shouting at the top of their lungs anyway.)

    Does anyone else notice the irony of this whole debate? I mean, Bush owes his being elected in the first place, to a bunch of foreign nationals, whose "words" of protest and criticism included flying airplanes into buildings. Not remotely the same thing as some blowhard bloggers, but not completely unrelated either.

  24. Way late, here, but I just had to add one thing:

    Either Mr. Hickman's comment is magnificently sly piss-taking, in which case wow! That was beautiful, that is definitely going to leave a mark...

    Or, holy cats, somebody get that man a Hawaiian shirt and a camera, because that is some seriously unobservant shit right there. Astonishing. So astonishing that it is, in fact, very difficult to believe a word of it.

    Just wanted to throw that in, since there's some claim of "hands-on knowledge" being made here. As to that, I was born and raised in Vancouver, and I don't recognize anything about the place Mr. Hickman describes. Maybe he's thinking of Vancouver, WA?

    Or maybe he's just being devilish.

    Regardless: here's your grain of salt. In fact, you better take two.


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