Kathy Shaidle: I used to sneer at you
12:05 AM CST on Monday, December 29, 2003
By KATHY SHAIDLE
Being an American trapped in a Canadian's body means always having to say, "You're stupid."
When my hometown of Toronto awakened to the news that Saddam Hussein was in custody, we reflexively switched on CNN in my house. Why? Because Fox News still isn't available up here (although, in the spirit of "multiculturalism," Al-Jazeera's broadcast application proceeds apace).
At our only other option, the state-owned Canadian Broadcasting Corp., commentators repeatedly hoped Saddam Hussein would receive "a fair trial" through "an international tribunal" that "reflected Canadian values" – presumably the same "Canadian values" former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien invoked when refusing to send our troops (such as they are) to Iraq in the first place.
Such smug, pseudo-sophisticated "insights" would be only slightly less offensive if they weren't being paid for by my tax dollars.
I once was one of those smug sneerers at our southern neighbor, the product of a typical Canadian upbringing: my memorizing Trudeaupian doctrine about our superior "cultural mosaic" and the Yanks' inferior "melting pot."
The U.S. Bicentennial made a particularly indelible impression. I was 12 in 1976, the perfect age to be scandalized for life by red, white and blue toilet seats.
And like all Torontonians, I have my share of Stupid American Tourist Stories: loud, super-sized folks wearing what appear to be pajamas, asking if they can walk to Niagara Falls from here.
So, what happened?
Well, I am a recovering liberal, and Sept. 11 is my dry date.
That morning, my leftist life flashed before my eyes. I remembered to my shame all of those "Yankee, go homes" I had chanted as a Reagan-era peacenik. And rolling my eyes at the tacky teddy bear memorials at the Oklahoma City bombing and muttering, "You would think a building never had blown up before."
How sophisticated I was. And how sick.
Wherever I go, conversations like the following are commonplace:
"I hate him."
I have worn out my computer's "delete" button, weary of asking co-workers to refrain from sending me "funny" e-mails about setting George W. Bush on fire.
I have taken to wearing a Stars and Stripes scarf. When asked about it, I explain that I use it to strangle old draft dodgers.
I really want to buy a gun (somehow) just so that I can refuse to register it.
I even have developed a taste for iced tea.
No, I am not entirely friendless. I have "met" new pals online: fellow Canucks equally outraged by the World Trade Center attacks and appalled by the matter-of-fact "they asked for it" attitude that permeates elite Canadian culture.
A few thousand of us attended a pro-U.S. demonstration in April. We gathered at City Hall, where I had demonstrated against the United States on a regular basis all of those years ago.
A dozen very young counter-protesters showed up, too. Those kids chain-smoked, swaggered and even sang "Give Peace a Chance."
The deja vu was dizzying. I pitied the angry, stupid girl I used to be, and I fumed while the arrogant little brats booed a speaker at the podium whose father had died on Sept. 11.
Their hatred of Mr. Bush is palpable. I had hated Ronald Reagan just as much. Then, I had started hearing about parents in the former Soviet Union who named their children "Ronald."
I believe I am on the right side of history now. Just on the wrong side of the border.
Toronto writer Kathy Shaidle hosts RelapsedCatholic.com, a pioneering Web log commenting on religion, politics and popular culture.
Nobody that drinks iced tea can be all bad