Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The ugly American

The other day I was talking to a friend who made a disparaging remark about Americans.

Right away, I reminded her that I had grown up in New Jersey. I'm kind of a hybrid in that I was born in Canada but I left at the age of five. Because my parents are Canadian, we returned to visit every year but basically, I grew up as a Yank. I went to grad school in Toronto and have lived in Ottawa for the last 17 years, so I'd like to believe that I'm a North American and that I don't have quite as many prejudices as someone from either Canada or the United States.

It's funny. Here we are in the age of extreme political correctness. Most people would never make a negative comment about blacks, women, or gays in public. But the same people would think nothing whatsoever about bashing Americans.

I told my friend that it was pretty hard to generalize about Americans given the fact that there are 291 million of them! Moreover, since when does the government represent the people? Just because someone agrees with George Bush's policies -- and that would certainly count me out! -- doesn't make them anti-American. The people and their political leaders are two completely different things.

Only slightly more than 25% of the people actually put a President in office. That's because only 50 - 55% of the registered voters even bother to show up at the polls. Is that apathetic? Not necessarily. When the next Canadian election rolls around, I'm not going. If you're given a choice between one idiot and another idiot, that's not much of choice.

In my novel, D'Amour Road, the woman who goes missing is American. Her best friend's husband is biased against Americans. This character isn't meant to be a stereotype or to represent all Canadians. He's just one guy who believes that George Bush, aggressive American foreign policies, and tacky Hawaiian shorts reflect the American populace. He's wrong! There's also that crazy woman who claimed to find a finger in her Wendy's chili bowl :-)

Sigrid Macdonald

No comments: