Anti-Americanism in Canada

 
It is difficult to think of another group in Canada in the particular and peculiar situation of Americans
—  J.M. Bumsted

 
“U.S. persons” in Canada face difficulties that are encountered nowhere else on earth — at least not to the same degree, due to numbers and history and geographic location. A lengthy academic encyclopedia article touches on many strands of the complex web that ensnares American-Canadians. Brief excerpts from most of the ten sections are provided in the appendix below. The existence of that article in that collection was a landmark — a recognition that Americans are in fact one of Canada’s peoples! (By the way, nobody ever refers to an American-Canadian in the routine multicultural obeisances, do they?)

No Isaac Brock discussion thus far has touched on, much less dealt with, the key factor of anti-Americanism in Canada. (Most pertinent in the encyclopedia article is the section treating intergroup relations.) There are multiple reasons for the existence and persistence of anti-Americanism in Canada. (1) It doesn’t seem polite to contest it and we fear not belonging. (2) Many of us are Americans who disidentify with the United States and see Canada as our safe haven and better option, and it is hard for such a self-conflicted class to perceive and to disagree with the anti-Americanism that it itself must face. (3) Passage of time and a desire to get along blunt personal recollections of anti-American experience. (4) The Harper Canada is not the Canada of Trudeau or even of Chrétien. (4) We assume that we can take care of ourselves, which may evidence arrogance. (5) Proximities in language and culture can be much harder to deal with than distances, because distance is apparent to all, and gets factored into exchanges and understandings. (6) Powerful disincentives to the formation of “American” interest groups of any kind permeate the Canadian social context. (7) Would discrimination against an American — an invisible and in some ways privileged minority — ever be given standing by a Canadian human rights tribunal?

Nowhere else on earth would a supposedly sovereign nation feel as threatened by physical adjacency and internal quantity of U.S. persons. There is a reason that Canadian Brockers are standing in the forefront of the present situation. There is a second reason, other than the beady eye of Uncle Sam, that almost all Canadian Brockers choose to remain half-ostrich anonymous.

Canadian media coverage of the plight of U.S. persons — and its glaring lacks — inevitably reflects a deep and largely tacit anti-Americanism. Couple that with the overriding desire of a Harper government for rapprochement with the United States. Factor in a U.S. government that could care less about its extraterritorial citizens, except as defenseless revenue sources.

Brockers will forevermore have a hard row to hoe — especially in Canada, where cabinet minister Flaherty now confirms that we are left to be second-class citizens. Lobby the Canadian government as you will, but do so with full understanding of the undeserved silent stigma that your origins or associations have inevitably encumbered you with.

 
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Below are brief relevant extracts taken from:
J.M. Bumsted, “Americans”
Encyclopedia of Canada’s Peoples
http://www.multiculturalcanada.ca/Encyclopedia/A-Z/a19

 
Origins

Canadians have frequently defined themselves in terms of the perceived differences between their values and American ones. Thus American culture is often regarded by Canadians as chauvinistic, inward-looking, boastful, aggressive, and violent — whereas Canadians are somehow “nicer.”

 
Arrival and Settlement

Virulent anti-Americanism was characteristic mainly of Upper Canada. … [Freed blacks and fugitive slaves] also suffered from the same anti-Americanism that characterized attitudes towards white settlers, with considerable fears expressed that they would exhibit disloyalty to Canada in times of crisis with the United States. … In the cities, Americans have integrated into the overall population, and there are no “American districts.”

 
Economic Life

Americans in Canada have always enjoyed a relatively high socio-economic status, the product of their levels of education, skills, and wealth.

 
Family and Kinship

Americans have also been less likely than members of almost any other national group to marry within it, thus further undermining the already limited nature of their cultural distinctiveness.

 
Culture and Community Life

Although there are some geographical, social, and occupational patterns for the American-born in Canada, their most common characteristic is to blend as much as possible into the host society.

 
Politics

Historically, Americans have on the whole been less active in Canadian politics than their numbers might indicate, at least partly because of anti-Americanism on the part of Canadians.

 
Intergroup Relations

Americans in Canada have experienced some degree of hostility, ranging from subtle suspicion to outright prejudice. Some of the hostility has come from British newcomers who found American cultural values in newly settled districts different from their own, while more has come from native-born Canadians whose suspicion of the territorial and imperial pretensions of the United States has extended to its citizens. In many cases cultural and political suspicion have been inextricably mixed and combined with senses of Canadian dependency and insecurity relative to the United States. Unlike most immigrants to Canada, who are allowed to become fully committed Canadian citizens upon naturalization, the American immigrant is often unable to escape a residual Canadian belief that his or her naturalization somehow cannot ever overcome American origins.

 
Group Maintenance and Ethnic Commitment

It is difficult to think of another group in Canada in the particular and peculiar situation of Americans.

 
Culture and Community Life

The Americans are thus an ethnic group without an easily definable identity. They do not establish distinctive organizations or associations.
 

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41 thoughts on “Anti-Americanism in Canada

  1. Interesting. I wouldn’t have imagined it could be tough for Americans in Canada, where the language and culture is similar.

    If you really want to experience anti-americanism in its brute form, try living in France. Switzerland is better, but it’s getting harder for us.

    I know this thread is about anti-americanism in Canada. Don’t mean to interrupt 🙂

  2. Thanks for this – this is something that I have been thinking about for a while. Although U.S. citizenship is “second class citizenship the world over”

    http://renounceuscitizenship.wordpress.com/2012/04/03/u-s-citizenship-is-second-class-citizenship-the-world-over-for-u-s-citizens-living-outside-the-u-s/

    the “Anti-Americanism” issue is a separate one.

    It is clear to me that most of the people on this board have lived in Canada for most of their adult lives and in the case of some, most of their lives period.

    I will share some of my thoughts on the Anti-Americanism in Canada which confirm many of the thoughts expressed in this post.

    Anti-Americanism is:

    – huge and pervasive. It is part of the Canadian DNA. That said, it is directed against Americans as a group, and NOT at individual Americans (or at least adult individual Americans). The children of American families who move to Canada probably should receive some counseling on this point

    – it is fueled by the tremendous ignorance, about anything that is not American, that American Expats bring (at least initially) to Canada (and to the other countries that they go). U.S. citizens do often carry the “American Exceptionalism” nonsense with them;

    – shocking to U.S. citizens when they arrive in Canada. They don’t understand it because they are used to being a member of a majority and they are discovering what it is like to be a minority;

    – deeply, deeply hurtful and painful. It actually has the effect of making U.S. citizens in Canada, as a defensive reflex (we must protect ourselves) default to a kind of mindless American Patriotism;

    – a total shock to the system because the truth is that most U.S. citizens who move to Canada (depending on age and life experience) arrive with the “Homelander View” of the U.S., which as we can see idiotic;

    – based on a kind of economic envy. The truth is that many Americans who come to Canada arrive in relatively high paid and privileged economic positions (professors, etc.)

    There used to be a number of “citizenship requirements” for certain jobs and professions. I believe that these were motivated largely by a Canadian desire to keep U.S. citizens out ot those professions. Another example of this would be the unwritten protocol in the CFL to restrict the number of U.S. citizens.

    Either Anti-Americanism in Canada has gotten better or I have aged and don’t feel it as much. But, as USXCanada implies it was a terrible problem during the Trudeau years.

    One day I want to write all of this hope, but i can tell you that my life would have taken a very different course (not necessarily better or worse but different) if I had not been a U.S. citizen living outside the U.S.

    I am really looking forward to other comments on Anti-Americanism both in Canada and I suspect the world over.

    The truth is most of us began our lives outside the U.S., with the “Homelander Mentality”.

    USXCanada – do you really think the Government of Canada is going to cut dual Canada/U.S. citizens loose?

    One final thought: If I may boldly say, I really feel that a big problem that all of us are facing is that the realization that people are right about America. Our own persecution has shown illuminated the horrible things that America has and continues to do to the rest of the world. So we are in a situation where we are now living with:

    – the terrible practical consequences of the IRS Jihad;
    – another visible and public round of Anti-Americanism
    – the realization that the rest of the world was right about the U.S. and that we were the dupes
    – the real possibility of being left with huge emotional wounds

    And finally, I would venture to say that:

    The most vocal group of Anti-Americans in the world is now, U.S. citizens living abroad. This will be very costly to the United States. Imagine a situation where the rest of the world already hates the U.S. and U.S. expats are running around agreeing with them. Incredible!

    Enough on this.

  3. It’s funny here in the UK about half the time people ask me where in Canada I come from because of my New England accent. In the ears of some of the British I sound Canadian probably because Eastern New England has retained its own regional accent.

    For me travelling the Mid West, the South, Texas, or the West Coast I always sometimes feel like a “foreigner” from an accent point of view because New Englanders get mocked when we open our mouths.

    If I told someone I was Canadian in the UK they would believe me no problem.

  4. @John, It is more likely that Canadians become upset when they are confused as a Americans, whereas Americans tend to be less worried about being called Canadian. So many in UK learn to ask if a person is Canadian first. There was a joke when I was in England, that went like this:

    An British citizen went on a six month tour of Canada and the United States. Upon his return, his friends began to inquire, “So, what is the difference between Canadians and Americans?” The Brit answered, “To my observation, none at all. But don’t tell a Canadian that.”

  5. I have a lot of thoughts on this issue but I will make a few of them for now. I do not think that the current government is handling the issue any less well than the Trudeau and Chretien governments. In fact some of the most recent “sellouts” to the US on this issue occurred during the time that Chretien was Prime Minister and Bill Clinton was US President(When the original expatriation tax law and Reed amendment was passed). The Conservatives have never really negotiated a tax treaty modification with the US during their time in office(other than some of early to mid 1990s changes were started during Brian Mulroney’s time). The actual current tax treaty itself is now a thirty year old document dating back to Pierre Trudeau’s time.(I happen to think that keeping the original 1942 agreement may have been better than the “new” 1980 agreement Trudeau signed).

    Perhaps the biggest sellout was that of Mackenzie King back in 1942 agreeing to the original double taxation treaty savings clause(as in all US tax treaties) included. However notwithstanding the fact I don’t like King for other reasons I don’t think it is all fair to expect people back in 1942 to predict the current circumstances.

    The other thing I’ll mention is for most of the twentieth century there was a pretty substantial outmigration of the best and brightest Canadians to the US(This trend stalled during Vietnam). This was due to a lot of complex reasons the branch plant economy, lower taxes in the US, more universities in the US etc. This reached its apogee in the late 1990s tech boom only to start shifting quite suddenly in other direction over the last ten years. This shift is very real but I don’t think is being picked up in public consciousness yet.

  6. I happen to be re-reading Will Ferguson’s book “Why I Hate Canadians”. It’s actually a clear-eyed critique of his native land but also a funny back-handed declaration of love for Canada. He likens the Canadian attitude toward Americans to the junior high school girl talking about a particular boy: “I Hate him! I really, REALLY hate him. Did I mention how much I hate him? …. Why won’t he ask me out?”
    In my experience there is nothing that Canadians get so passionate about than the deficiencies of America. I didn’t say it first but I recognized a long time ago that Canadians tend to define themselves by who they are not: not Americans, not British, and not French. I happen to think Canada does have an awesome identity, but I’m not telling anybody. Canada has to figure that out for herself.
    All my life here in Canada (more than 40 years), I have deliberately censored and down-played my thoughts and feelings about both countries. Although many Canadians have no hesitation saying whatever they feel about America and Americans, I don’t want to offend people. It feels like insulting one’s host. So despite having lived my entire adult life here and coming from solid Canadian stock, I still feel like a guest, as if I don’t quite belong. And that is pretty much due to the virulent anti-Americanism I have encountered here. I don’t feel completely welcome, so I haven’t been able to fully integrate.
    Maybe you really can’t outgrow the place where you grew up.

  7. Ontario (and by extension much of English Canada) defined itself originally in contrast to the United States. The defining Canadian national moments of the 19th century (the War of 1812, the Baldwin/Lafontaine reforms, the flood of British-born settlers into Upper Canada in the 1840s, the Rideau Canal, Confederation, the CPR, the National Policy, a militia under Dominion control, the RNWMP) all, one way or another, were attempts to avoid being absorbed into the United States.*

    Sometimes this happened in intelligent ways, sometimes not. Often not.

    Until quite recently the U.S. was obviously much richer and more glamorous than Canada (a generation or two ago, people would go from Toronto to Buffalo for some excitement) but that’s not true any more, to the same extent. But it led to an inferiority complex that could express itself in stupid ways.

    (* This is a regional point of view, which likes to think of itself as more national than it is. The Maritimes traditionally had strong north-south links. Newfoundland’s admission to the Union as a state was a viable project in 1949, and could easily have happened. Quebec has never been all that concerned about being absorbed into the United States. Prairie culture crosses the border. And so on.)

    (BTW: Many people on this board would enjoy this book: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/arts/books/imaginary-line-life-on-an-unfinished-border-by-jacques-poitras/article2237020/)

  8. There may be another type of hybrid identity for those with significant experiences and family ties in more than one country – whether it be the Canada/US combination, or another. Can you be a ‘Can/Am’, or an ‘Am/Can? When speaking with Canadians who have never been outside Canada (or a specific province), or speaking with Americans who have never been away from their city or state – there can be evidence of very limited understandings or interest in life anywhere else. I think it is possible (but more difficult) to have a hybrid identity – with various portions more salient in relation to the situation, the issue, and the others in the conversation. Perhaps when you experience more than one country or culture, it is much more difficult to forever hew to just one point of view. I know that my family’s experiences and stories have a powerful effect on my worldview – whether I seek to confirm them or to challenge them through my own observations.

    As a ‘hybrid’, it is possible to feel each aspect of identity more keenly when it is in highest contrast to your surroundings.

    This I think is a very positive thing – and an asset that is being thrown away by alienating expats. It is not an empty claim that expats are an asset that is wasted when alienated. What kind of ‘ambassadors’ will we be now – based on our experiences?

    Self-identity can change shape somewhat over time – but our personal experiences and family stories inform that to a great degree. Currently, the balance of those experiences in relation to the US are for many of us so negative that it will never recover. That insures that although we may have good memories of certain aspects of our heritage, it will not ever outweigh the actual and arbitrary and unjust nature of the current (and forseeable future) relationship with the US. This is something that will forever colour our conversations with all those around us – family, friends, acquaintances, government officials, as well as our future political actions. Our non-US families have now had their impressions of an imperialist power without limits, confirmed as they experience this alongside us – and the effects of this cannot be discounted. It confirms what they already thought, or suspected. It is erroneous to believe that somehow our financial and psychological wellbeing is separate from that of our non-US family units. This situation is hurting many many non-US people – a family is an economic unit. A tax or penalty on one, is a penalty on all.

    There is a reason why advertisers seek to influence people through tactics like word of mouth advertisements, product placement, etc. It is precisely because there is a powerful effect when people share ideas, values, and disseminate them through informal channels. Whether those of us here choose, (or are forced) to keep or renounce our US ties, and though we may ‘complain but comply’, there is no way to completely externally co-erce our actual beliefs and the dissemination of those beliefs to our social spheres. The nature of those representations to our non-US elected officials, family and friends are now forever altered – and not in the best interests of the US. They are now firsthand witnesses.

  9. @badger: very thoughtful and well put. I do not have children. Had I borne children in Canada I would have wanted them to have US citizenship and would have instructed them on the “benefits” of US citizenship for the Canadian-born. Yet they would make up their own minds about their loyalties and their sense of place, different from mine most likely.
    I know many many Canadians who are happily naturalized and integrated into US society now. They will not truly know the downside of that move unless they decide to move back to Canada some day.

    When I travel to the US I frequently meet Americans who tell me they’d love to move to Canada, where the financial system got through the crash in better shape, and where the health care system is accessible to all. They think of Canada as some idyllic place where people act sensibly. When I tell them about what we expats are going through, they look bewildered, and faintly disappointed. It’s hard to realize there is truly no escape. And Chucky Cheese and his buddies have just made it worse with the Expat law.

  10. @foxy, I read Will Ferguson’s “How to be a Canadian”, hilarious.
    One representation I would like to dispel about Canadians is the belief that we are polite. We aren’t polite, we are passive aggressive. Just get us out of earshot (or on a blog) and we’ll say how we really feel.
    @badger, about the insular American, I once had a friend visit from the LA area. We were watching local news and she said she really liked how the news here talked about the rest of the world.

  11. @FoxyLadyHawk. This has been an eye opener for me. I had no idea that Americans or former Americans living in Canada felt this way. It may be because I was a small child when I came to Canada, but I feel absolutely, thoroughly Canadian and do not identify with the US whatsoever. I’ve also thought about the anti-americanism thing quite a bit over the last months, since a few of us had a discussion on one of the threads about it.
    I agree that there is a certain degree of anti-Americanism where I live. But I believe there are two types, quite distinct. The first is the idea of the US as a country, and a massive government. That anti-americanism includes thinking that the US is a warmongering, spendthrift bully that sees Canada as another state that they can boss around, which generates a fair amount of resentment. I have numerous times heard people discuss and arguing about this without ever going to the level of applying it to individual people.
    Different, I think, is the anti-Americanism that is directed at the individuals or groups of individuals. In the area where I live, this comes from the particularly insular American tourists who visit here and proclaim loudly and arrogantly how much better the US is than Canada and who treat Canadians with rudeness and condenscension. Of course, it is certainly not every American tourist who does this. But, it is always the loud and obnoxious ones that are talked about and remembered.
    I have not personally seen this anti-Americanism attitude applied to Americans who have made their lives here, to be honest. I have never certainly experienced it, and neither has anyone in my family.
    There are some good reasons that there is anti-American sentiment in Canada. If Australia tried to do what the US does to Canada, or if the Australian tourists acted like a good portion of the American tourists, then there would be anti-Australian sentiments.Personally, I have never heard any criticism of the Australian government or the Australian tourist conduct. I cannot same the same for the US.
    To reduce or remove anti-americanism in Canada, the United States government would have to stop their extraterritorial overreach, stop bullying other countries, stop the spending spree. The American tourists would have to act as if they are just another citizen on our planet, equal, but not superior, to any other.
    I’m not saying I agree with being anti-anything, in fact, I am fighting very very hard not to be anti-American (anti-US gov’t is a different story). And the people who know about this situation are also, I believe, differentiating between American individuals and the US gov’t.
    However, don’t we all have to take responsibility for our own actions? Whether individual or country?
    For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.,or—– You reap what you sow,or —- karma’s a *itch.

  12. Some Canadians seem to be on an eternal, infernal quest for their “Canadian identity” — part of that quest involves the mandatory anti-Americanism I guess. CBC is a standing joke in our household whenever it makes yet another attempt to snare and attach the elusive attribute called the “Canadian identity” to most of us who really don’t spend all that much time thinking about it. It’s like Peter Pan trying to attach a moth eaten shadow to his feet with used duct tape. We just can’t seem to find our identity and when we think we’ve got it we can’t seem to make it stick. Maybe when all the identity was doled out most of it went to Americans. Maybe that makes some Canadians just a tad envious and maybe others just want the next hockey game to start. Perhaps what it boils down to is that being Canadian is thinking we’re not American but actually we’re closer than we care to admit.

    As for myself (and this is not just because I am married to an American) when I think of Americans I think of our friends and family in the USA and there is only fondness there. However, I’m as critical of the American gov’t as I am of our own. I don’t think people on either side of the border should be tarnished by the sins of those they elect when they believed they would get what they thought they were voting for and inevitably they don’t get it. It’s Lucy holding the football for Charlie Brown over and over again. And that’s just my toonies worth because we soon will have no cents at all here.

  13. @Em, re;”However, I’m as critical of the American gov’t as I am of our own.”
    I think it makes it easier to see that the emperor has no clothes – because you see where all countries have the same potential for abuses – and how different choices led to different results. It gives you something to guard against – which is why I caution fellow Canadians not to rest easy – similar impulses exist, ideas are shared, and often countries borrow from their neighbours – the good ideas as well as the bad.

  14. @ badger
    Exactly why I try to watch the political scene in the USA as closely as possible because what happens there often comes here.

  15. I have been in Canada since 1969 and it is interesting for me, personally, that the number of others I know in Canada from the US (except for, now, Isaac Brockers) is very, very low. In my little world, it just hasn’t been a topic of conversation.

    I haven’t experienced or it has all gone over my head any personal singling out because I was from the US but I certainly didn’t advertise the fact of where I was from, consciously or subconsciously. It just didn’t seem important, other than to maybe off-handedly mention that I was going to visit family in the States. I am sure that in my many working years as an admin assistant at a major oil and gas company I worked with more than a few from the US on a day-to-day basis.

    I know I am more comfortable with the multiculturalism within my workplace and in Calgary and Canada than what I feel with some of my former school mates and family in the US, as much as I love them. Because of the example set by my dad, especially, in not allowing any race talk and my experience of growing up as, I guess, a minority in a mostly Italian, Polish, black neighbourhood in upper New York State and my teen years in a more liberal-thinking state, Western Washington, I always felt more comfortable with the person than the attachment of anything possibly cliquey involved with that person. I do recognize that I don’t often tune into the real world.

    Perhaps the intensity I experience with all of this, is my former oblivion.

  16. I know from talking from people from northern Montana Calgary was always considered the “big city” at least from the late 1960s onwards(after the first oil boom). Having said people from Northern Montana make up a very small portion of the US population and their have been some pretty virulent anti Canadian politicians from Montana notwithstanding. My sense is though their is still quite a bit of superiority directed towards Canada or perhaps ignorance of from Americans living in California and the Boston-Washington corridor.

    Anti Americanism in Canada towards the individual I have not found any particular pattern towards. As more Canadians “return” from the US given the current economic circumstances it will be interesting to see how this plays out. To give an example of this I have heard over the years a lot of random criticism in the Canadian blogosphere over the years of Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney who went to Harvard and Oxford and worked at Goldman Sachs before returning to Canada. However, I have heard FAR more criticism of Carney from commentators such as Professor Simon Johnson of MIT and Henry Blodget of Clusterstock in the United States who don’t like Goldman Sachs and don’t believe the US Goverment should give Carney the traditional respect and deferrence accorded a Governor of the Bank of Canada by the US government. In their minds Carney is a “thug” notwithstanding the fact he was legitimately and legally appointed to his position by a democraticaly elected government. I think many in the Boston DC corridor for all their “progressiveness” don’t really believe in national boundaries and feel it is their god given right to but into other countries business as they see fit. Some of this is the academic mindset of the area. Academics are generally accorded the freedom to comment on whatever hell they feel like thus the fact that Simon Johnson and Elizabeth Warren are not Canadian citizens is in their mind and that of the administration of Harvard and MIT no obstacle to them commenting on Canadian Banking practices(I have no problem with Harvard or MIT profs doing research on banking in Canada however, Warren and Johnson are going into political advocacy of which to be fair their is a long tradition of at Harvard not so much at MIT).

    The thing people in the DC-Boston corridor should realise especially those in Massachusetts and New England is that the “rest” of the United States really doesn’t like “them”. In fact Canadians are far more friendly to the people of the Bay State than the rest of America. However if the likes of Elizabeth Warren and Simon Johnson don’t stop butting into Canada’s business Canadians aren’t going to have a lot of love left for the Bay State either.

  17. Canadian nationalism tends to be dorky rather than sinister, which is something, but it can also be inconceviably, irrecoverably, unbelievably boring.

  18. Isn’t it odd how we can be so boring while still living right next door to the Overexcited States of America?

    Has the relationship remained relatively friendly due to the fact that opposites attract? Or maybe our boring nature sends the message that we’re no threat to anyone and should be left alone.

  19. @outraged: I have spent most of my life in Canada around academics, who tend to be condescending and often hostile toward the US, and so I think I’ve encountered more anti-Americanism than many other expats. I’m tired of sayng Americans aren;t all like that, so I just keep quiet.
    I have to say how happy I have been to find this forum, where I have been much more comfortable expressing my opinions and knowing they will be accepted with civility, and challenged with civility, and many thoughts expressed here have made me stop and think about things I always believed. So thanks for telling me how you feel too.

  20. @ Joe Smith
    I just can’t help it. The thought of American cities going dark makes me think that someday from outer space, Canada will look like a dazzling tiara atop a black head when the sun is on the far side of our day. (Of course I’m assuming we’ve got enough hydropower and hydrocarbons to keep the lights on here.) 😉

  21. Bernard Chazelle, Professor at Princeton, born in France
    Author of a short essay: Anti-Americanism: A Clinical Study
    http://www.cs.princeton.edu/~chazelle/politics/antiam.html

    A good read. Extract below.

    “In popular US anthropology, humans come in two varieties: the lucky folks who are American and the unfortunate ones who wish they were. Sticklers for logic will point to a third category: foreigners with no aspiration to join in the American dream. These wretched souls bear the cardinal sin of anti-Americanism, which is to deny the Homo Americanus his self-perception as the unique final destination of human civilization. (Francophobia is the opprobrium leveled at the chief sinner.) This nation’s tortuous relationship with the Other (ie, the 6 billion people trapped in foreign lands) goes back to the roots of the American experience. To the immigrant newly arrived on Ellis Island, who, looking back upon the ocean, thought of the ones left behind, the Isle of Hope was just as often the Isle of Tears. Touched by residual survivor’s guilt, Americans easily see in the Other reminders of their own good luck—that most fragile of blessings. The same fragility is evident in the phrase American dream. For, from a dream, must one not eventually awake? “

  22. I didn’t experience any anti-Americanism in my albeit limited experiences in France (Paris, and Lille on our way to Amsterdam) we were 3 twenty-three year old American’s with a French girl, and a Dutch guy who had done exchange semesters to our high school. We only really met and hung around with people our age but they all really liked American things, we didn’t really talk politics.

    As for Canadian, I have from time to time browsed CBC.ca and read incredibly anti-American statements in the comments just ridiculousness, so now if I’m looking at a Canadian story I look at CTV.ca which is a little better.

  23. @steve, those who experience the most problem are those who insist on speaking English. If you were with a French girl, even if you couldn’t speak French, then you would be ok. I’ve always found service with a smile. Then, I only visit France after having learnt French.

  24. There is a certain what I call “golly-gee-whizness” that both Canadians and Americans have. Sort of a lack of cynicism. Canadians seem to have it to a greater degree than Americans, especially lately, as Americans are afraid of their own shadows. It always seems to me that Canadians on the whole tend to have a sunnier disposition anyway (the ones I know, at least.)

    There is a lot less cynicism in the New World than there is on this side of the pond.

    I am always asked first, though, whether I am Canadian, because the asker is usually trying not to cause offence. (But then Kiwis get upset in the same way if you ask them if they are Australian.)

    I often (in humour) borrow Scott Thompson’s line as the Queen addressing Canada: “If it wasn’t for me and the French, you’d be Americans.” Which is what this whole conversation is reminding me of.

    As for anti-Americanism, we had quite a lot of it here throughout the noughties, and credit to Obama, his presidency has softened our image a bit, but ironically finds many Brits actively questioning the “special” relationship because of Obama’s anti-Britishness.

    I certainly have more good-natured japes at my accent and turns of phrase lately than ill-natured pi**-takes (trust me, one can tell the difference after a while.) We are like that big dog in the middle of the room wagging its tail, and there is a certain appreciation of it, and trepidation, as well.

    Thought I was going to go dark for a while, but could not resist adding my tuppence worth.

  25. @A Gentleman’s Rapier:

    “The dream of Tory origins/Is full of lies and blanks/But what remains, when it is gone/To show that we’re not Yanks?”

  26. @Everyone

    This will be a subject of “Wall of Shame” post tonight but what makes a certain group of Brits so attracted to the US. One of most annoying things I find is someone with a British accent going on and on about how great America is. Especially those actually living in the US(typically NYC). I often feel it is a class/monarchy issue.

    Hint: I am thinking of Felix Salmon, Martin Bashir, and Simon Johnson. Andy Bell(living in Canada) of BNN news tends to drift into this category of going on about how much better the US is than Canada/UK.

  27. There is something which is both admirable and a bit of a liability about Brits. They are always ready to take someone down a peg if they are getting too big for their britches (to mix metaphors). They do not celebrate success in the way that Americans do, so many smart and talented Brits will end up in the US being celebrated, when, if they had stayed at home, their fellow countrymen would be roasting them to keep their heads from getting too big.

    One can never set oneself apart; it could be why many celebrities end up living in London, as they are generally treated like normal people most of the time (if they are the types that don’t require body guards.)

  28. @ Calgary. “I have been in Canada since 1969 and it is interesting for me, personally, that the number of others I know in Canada from the US (except for, now, Isaac Brockers) is very, very low.”

    That’s my experience, too. You can work with, or be quite well acquainted with, someone for 5 or 10 years before it happens to come out in conversation that they’re from the US and you go, “Really? Me, too.”

    US-born persons do not tend to cluster together in Canada. I think that’s one reason why we were shocked to suddenly learn of the series of US laws affecting us … we don’t live an “ex-pat” lifestyle where people keep each other up to date on developments in the country of birth. (and of course upon relinquishing years ago, one had no logical reason to keep themself apprised of developments in US law).

    Also as you mentioned, I, too, have not felt anti-Americanism directed towards me. I’ve never felt like an “outsider,” it’s a very comfortable country that way. Anyway, by this point, I’ve been here so long that most people don’t know where I’m from (it’s not that relevant to me). And a lot of those that do probably have forgotten (it’s not that relevant to them either).

    I’ve always considered myself an unhyphenated-Canadian as so many of us do. You just disappear into mainstream society here, completely undistiguishable. Therefore, if you have no or minimal ties to the US, it can just fade out of your life pretty quick, as it did in my life. I think that not only US persons in the US, but even many US-born persons living in other countries may be surprised by this.

  29. @Rivka: Agree. I’ve never felt like a foreigner in Canada in over 40 years. When I return to US for a visit, I feel like an alien from another planet. I always feel like I just don’t fit there and am relieved to get back across the border into Canada.

    I often have thought I must have lived in Canada in a past life because I felt so comfortable here from the time I arrived. Maybe my Brock uniform really was mine in another life!

  30. Oops! That should have been @Pacifica, not @Rivka. Sorry. I think all this talk of the IRS has fried my brain.

  31. @A Gentleman’s Rapier, I agree with you about Brits not celebrating success the way Americans do.

    I once represented a division of GE that was based in the UK but the regional manager who hired me to represent them was an American working out of the Boston area.

    The Brits that worked out of the UK were a petty and envious bunch. The American who was an a–h— in every other way did one thing right. He never ever complained about all the money I was making. Every month he had to sign off on my commission checks. I made 3 to 4 times as much as he did even though I reported to him. I was 29, he was almost 60. In America, they celebrate excellence among athletes and great businessmen. It’s a part of their DNA (maybe with the exception of Schumer who could outdo the Brits in a pettiness contest).

    The Brits were constantly nagging me about how much I made and what did they get for it. I said I generate the sales that make it possible for you to collect a salary. If you want more grow some balls and start your own company and live without an income for 2 years like I did.

  32. Interesting comments from all of us transplants.

    Right, badger, “The nature of those representations to our non-US elected officials, family and friends are now forever altered – and not in the best interests of the US. They are now firsthand witnesses.”

    @Pacifica and Blaze and outraged,

    I’m so glad we feel that way — comfortable in our skin and our country, Canada.

    American: You Canadians say “eh” a lot, huh?
    Canadian: You Americans say “huh” a lot, eh?

  33. I agree with Blaze, visiting the ‘States’ last summer felt quite strange. After living in Canada for nearly 40 years, that was my first visit in 10 years. I felt like an alien.

    I would also like to clarify something else, I have never been an ‘American/Canadian’ or an ‘American’ living in Canada. I’ve always been a Canadian who just happen to have dual US citizenship.

    As for the Anti-American sentiment, I now join in where I think it’s warranted. But there is no need to be mean spirited. Also, I know that there’s huge difference between the ‘average’ American and those folks in Washington DC.

    My official anti-American stance is that we should refine our own oil and make ‘them’ pay full price for gas and diesel. There is no reason that we as Canadians should be selling our resources below world prices for ‘American’ national security.

    Canada is first for me and I make no apology for that. I apologize if that sounded American, doh!

  34. @ itacaf
    “My official anti-American stance is that we should refine our own oil and make ‘them’ pay full price for gas and diesel. There is no reason that we as Canadians should be selling our resources below world prices for ‘American’ national security.”
    I agree but we’d have to renegotiate NAFTA first because by that treaty Canada has to export oil and gas to the USA even if we are experiencing shortages. Perhaps we should hire the Mexican negotiators because Mexico managed to get an exemption on that.
    http://www.canadians.org/publications/CP/2005/spring/NAFTA.html

  35. This large and multi-faceted topic of anti-Americanism has inspired expansive and informative comment so far. Many of the perceptions resonate. Let me toss in a few further thoughts.

    Persons established and of considerable tenure rarely experience any direct effects, in part because of having done a very good job of learning to “hide.”

    Report of any persistent enclave or deliberate U.S. circle of acquaintance would be surprising.

    The hinterlands of Canada tend to resent the metropolis, in particular the power nexus of Upper Canada. It is within that singular metropolis that ressentiment mostly directs its lively energies southward — and onto hapless handy immigrants.

    Many years ago I concluded that the essential character of Canada has been determined by an uncreative class that has lived quite well by skimming a decent margin from the extraction and export of mere natural resources, and cares to do little else. Up to a point, so do we all, in fact. Consider the ratio of population to land base. Only geographic isolation and climate has sustained this peculiar situation. The intermediate outlook is parlous, considering the lack of isolation along the southern border.

    What the government of Canada in the end does with the uniquely troublesome 2% to 3% of its population (U.S. persons) will have far less to do with fairness and human rights than with tradeoffs and the interests of the elites who will seek at any costs to maintain the position described in the preceding paragraph. The primary counterbalance is prospect of economic damage incurred from direct asset extraction, coupled with resulting dependence of the affected class on increased government support. Do the math. I wish I could feel more sanguine.

  36. My husband told me when I moved here that it was “not much different from the US” but it felt very different to me. The healthcare system seemed very foreign (mind you I was a public employee in the States and had great insurance) and Alberta, aside from Edmonton and Calgary, is very small town, and I was born and raised in Iowa, so for me to say that is ironic.

    The truth is that Americans have a stereotype view of Canada and Canadians have an equally stereotypical view of the States. Most of it stems from a lack of first hand information and the misinformation fed to the public by their media and politicians.

    I am forever correcting the misinformation my daughter learns about “life in America” from her teachers at school. She is such a Canadian now that she will argue with me about it until I remind her that I am an American and yes, I do know better than Mr. S about life down there.

    Being American never comes up though when it does, I usually hear, “Oh, I thought you had an accent.” Which I do. I twang like most folks in southern Iowa (way to close to Missouri to escape a drawl) though not as much as I used to. Unlike my daughter, I haven’t picked up the curious vowel sounds that many, but not all, Canadians employ.

    Is there anti-Americanism though? Canadians feel morally superior on many subjects and rightfully so especially when it comes to some aspects (but not all) of the health care system, Charter Rights and a valuing of the individual and personal freedom that I really don’t think many Americans really feel or understand. They are also don’t pay lip service to “freedom of religion” like Americans do. Canadians are vehement about religion being a personal thing and not a matter for the political arena.

    I haven’t been farther east than Manitoba though so I can’t speak for how things are in the eastern provinces. I only really know western Canada. There is some condescension towards the stereotype of America and Americans but you don’t see people looking down on people from the States on a personal level. They take people as they are and judge on merit rather than birthplace, but I will say that people from other places who aren’t actively assimilating aren’t viewed well, which is something Canadians have very much in common with Americans.

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