Today marks the 40th anniverary of the hostage taking at the American Embassy in Tehran. It got me to thinking about the day the hostages were released: I was in high school, and I think I was in some sort of choir practice because I seem to remember it was after regular school hours and an announcement came over the PA that the American hostages were on their way home. We cheered! The whole group of us kids cheered, as did our teachers.
I wonder what the reaction would be now, in a typical Canadian high school, to the same news. I don’t think there would be the same feeling of solidarity with the United States. It’s very sad, but anti-Americanism (which existed then but was nothing like what it is now) has absolutely permeated every aspect of Canadian life (note especially media and education). The narcissism of small differences takes centre stage.
It’s certainly true that back then Canada had helped save a group of American hostages, through the courage of Ken Taylor. So perhaps that is why we kids felt connected – but I think it was more. Regarding the U.S. with contempt has become our default position – always assuming that somehow they “deserve” it when bad things befall them, always assuming that we are superior and safe from the same threats. I had hoped that his attitude had reached peak stupidity after 9-11, but I suspect it is currently worse. One could argue that Donald Trump hasn’t helped, but I think the contempt runs deeper. It is bread and butter to us.
Oh, I know there are exceptions (I am one of them), but they are just that. It makes me tremendously sad that this sophomoric world view has become so deeply entrenched.