The Olympics, Canada and the USA: A study of contradictions

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SOUTH CAROLINA — My mom has been calling her American friends: “You guys are being so nice about Canada, thousands of people are going to emigrate…”

The NBC coverage of the Vancouver Olympics has been very complimentary. Long features with Wayne Gretzky. Hymns to Canadian style and bouquets about the natural world we inhabit. Even Stephen Colbert had a good trip up north. All very nice.

Canadians are unaccustomed to hearing nice things about our country or ourselves.

Earlier this week the New York Times dedicated a portion of their front page to that question we know we’ve all been asking: Why most Canadians play hockey left-handed?

Canadians, by nature, seem eager to please. And aspire to being unflappable. Maybe we’re coming of age a bit with these Olympics — paying less attention to every ‘helpful’ criticism we receive.

In the USA by contrast people seem almost inured from any criticism. The so called Tea Party movement has caught my imagination. Some say that TEA stands for ‘taxed enough already’ but that was probably thrown in after this right-wing protest got going. What really boggles my mind is that these old matrons and local townsfolk who largely have never been political before have a common caption: “I’m afraid of my government.”

How does that work?

I have been in countries where the governments regularly chop off hands and heads. I have lived in places where corruption was part of the ordinary daily life. America is not one of those places.

I love being in the US on short visits. It probably is the greatest country in the world. But it’s confusing as could be.

/df



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