It’s rare that the US gets good press abroad, and the examples I’m about to give are 32 and 4 years old, respectively. They are classics, however.
Gordon Sinclair was old enough, and independent minded enough, to reject the US bashing of the 70s. This crusty Canadian remembered what a friend the US can be.
I don’t know Cornel Nistorescu’s age, but I do know he too, was old enough. But he knew a different thing than did Sinclair. Nistorescu knew what it was like to live under Soviet oppression. You can hear the hope and the joy from having slipped that yoke.
I’m sure there are more recent examples, but these illustrate a couple of important points.
1- Canadian anti-Americanism is not new, it’s just tiresome.
2- If, to your ear of 2005, the Romanian piece sounds naive, consider that, in 1945, it could have been written by a Canadian about the US. Or by an American about Canada.
Naive or not, it’s poignant hope and halting syntax conveys the sense of what the United States has meant to the world. This is often forgotten by Americans. When that happens, Moore often than not it’s deliberate.
In June, 1973 Gordon Sinclair on Toronto’s CFRB radio station had this to say:
This Canadian thinks it is time to speak up for the Americans as most generous and possibly the least appreciated people on all the earth.
Germany, Japan and, to a lesser extent, Britain and Italy were lifted out of the debris of war by the Americans who poured in billions of dollars and forgave other billions in debts. None of these countries is today paying even the interest on its remaining debts to the United States.
When the franc was in danger of collapsing in 1956, it was the Americans who propped it up, and their reward was to be insulted and swindled on the streets of Paris. I was there. I saw it. When distant cities are hit by earthquakes, it is the United States that hurries in to help. This spring, 59 American communities were flattened by tornadoes. Nobody helped.
The Marshall Plan and the Truman Policy pumped billions of dollars into discouraged countries. Now newspapers in those countries are writing about the decadent, warmongering Americans. I’d like to see just one of those countries that is gloating over the erosion of the United States Dollar build its own airplane. Does any other country in the world have a plane to equal the Boeing Jumbo Jet, the Lockheed Tristar, or the Douglas DC-10? If so, why don’t they fly them? Why do all the International lines except Russia fly American planes?
Why does no other land on earth even consider putting a man or woman on the moon? You talk about Japanese technocracy, and you get radios. You talk about German technocracy, and you get automobiles. You talk about American technocracy, and you find men on the moon — not once, but several times — and safely home again.
You talk about scandals, and the Americans put theirs right in the store window for everybody to look at. Even their draft-dodgers are not pursued and hounded. They are here on our streets, and most of them, unless they are breaking Canadian laws, are getting American dollars from ma and pa at home to spend here.
When the railways of France, Germany and India were breaking down through age, it was the American who rebuilt them. When the Pennsylvania Railroad and the New York Central went broke, nobody loaned them an old caboose. Both are still broke.
I can name you 5,000 times when the Americans raced to the help of other people in trouble. Can you name me even one time when someone else raced to the Americans in trouble? I don’t think there was outside help even during the San Francisco earthquake.
Our neighbors have faced it alone, and I’m one Canadian who is damned tired of hearing them get kicked around. They will come out of this thing with their flag high. And when they do, they are entitled to thumb their nose at the lands that are gloating over their present troubles. I hope Canada is not one of those.
Today we can answer Sinc’s question: “Can you name me even one time when someone else raced to the Americans in trouble?” Yes, Sinc, – Britain, Australia, Italy, Poland, Latvia, Bulgaria, Romania and more.
Our second example, by Cornel Nistorescu, was published in the Romanian newspaper Evenimentul zilei (“The Daily News”) on September 24th, 2001:
Why are Americans so united? They don’t resemble one another even if you paint them! They speak all the languages of the world and form an astonishing mixture of civilizations. Some of them are nearly extinct, others are incompatible with one another, and in matters of religious beliefs, not even God can count how many they are. Still, the American tragedy turned three hundred million people into a hand put on the heart.
Nobody rushed to accuse the White House, the army, the secret services that they are only a bunch of losers. Nobody rushed to empty their bank accounts. Nobody rushed on the streets nearby to gape about. The Americans volunteered to donate blood and to give a helping hand.
After the first moments of panic, they raised the flag on the smoking ruins, putting on T-shirts, caps and ties in the colours of the national flag. They placed flags on buildings and cars as if in every place and on every car a minister or the president was passing. On every occasion they started singing their traditional song: “God Bless America!”.
Silent as a rock, I watched the charity concert broadcast on Saturday once, twice, three times, on different tv channels. There were Clint Eastwood, Willie Nelson, Robert de Niro, Julia Roberts, Cassius Clay, Jack Nicholson, Bruce Springsteen, Silvester Stalone, James Wood, and many others whom no film or producers could ever bring together.
The American’s solidarity spirit turned them into a choir. Actually, choir is not the word. What you could hear was the heavy artillery of the American soul. What neither George W. Bush, nor Bill Clinton, nor Colin Powell could say without facing the risk of stumbling over words and sounds, was being heard in a great and unmistakable way in this charity concert.
I don’t know how it happened that all this obsessive singing of America didn’t sound croaky, nationalist, or ostentatious! It made you green with envy because you weren’t able to sing for your country without running the risk of being considered chauvinist, ridiculous, or suspected of who-knows-what mean interests.
I watched the live broadcast and the rerun of its rerun for hours listening to the story of the guy who went down one hundred floors with a woman in a wheelchair without knowing who she was, or of the Californian hockey player, who fought with the terrorists and prevented the plane from hitting a target that would have killed other hundreds of thousands of people.
How on earth were they able to bow before a fellow human? Imperceptibly, with every word and musical note, the memory of some turned into a modern myth of tragic heroes. And with every phone call, millions and millions of dollars were put in a collection aimed at rewarding not a man or a family, but a spirit which nothing can buy.
What on earth can unite the Americans in such a way? Their land? Their galloping history? Their economic power? Money? I tried for hours to find an answer, humming songs and murmuring phrases which risk of sounding like commonplaces. I thought things over, but I reached only one conclusion.
Only freedom can work such miracles!
It’s too bad the unity lasted for such a short time and that today we can, again, not distinguish Liberal Demorcrats like Kennedy and Durbin from any other protalitarian appeasement artists.
Thanks Sinc. Thanks Cornel.