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Apology to Canada From Your Southern Neighbor
Secession first he would put down
Wholly and forever,
And afterwards from Britain’s crown
He Canada would sever.
Yankee Doodle, keep it up,
Yankee Doodle dandy.
Mind the music and the step
and with the girls be handy!
I don’t speak for the United States or harbor any affection for nationalism. I’d break this country into several manageable pieces if I could. But I think someone owes you an apology, Canada — and, much as our political leaders are accused of making apologies (as if that were a bad thing) I don’t expect any of them to get it remotely right any time soon. So, here goes.
As a Virginian, let me begin by apologizing for the fact that, six-years after the British landing at Jamestown, with the settlers struggling to survive and hardly managing to get their own local genocide underway, these new Virginians hired mercenaries to attack Acadia and drive the French out of what they considered their continent (even if they failed). I’m sorry, also, that this idea never went away, that the Virginia-based U.S. military still thinks as the Jamestown settlers thought, centuries of cultural progress having passed it by.
I’m sorry that the colonies that would become the United States decided to take over Canada in 1690 (and failed, again). I’m sorry that they got the British to help them in 1711 (and failed, yet again). I’m sorry that General Braddock and Colonel Washington tried again in 1755 (and still failed). I’m sorry for the ethnic cleansing perpetrated and the driving out of the Acadians and the Native Americans.
I’m sorry for the British and U.S. attacks of 1758 that took away your fort, renamed it Pittsburgh, and eventually built a giant stadium across the river dedicated to the glorification of ketchup. It wasn’t your land any more than it was U.S. land, but I’m sorry for the aggression against you by the future-U.S. and by Britain. I’m sorry that in 1760 you were conquered by Britain. I’m more sorry for everything that came next.
I’m sorry that George Washington sent troops led by Benedict Arnold to attack Canada yet again in 1775, and that — unlike his future desertion — this action by Arnold was considered righteous and admirable. I’m sorry that these imbeciles talked of liberation and expected to be welcomed with gratitude. I’m sorry their descendants have suffered from the same delusions with regard to every new country invaded for centuries. I’m sorry that the 13 colonies sought to impose the status of “14th colony” on you by force. I’m sorry that an early draft of the U.S. Constitution provided for the inclusion of Canada, despite Canada’s lack of interest in being included.
I’m sorry that Benjamin Franklin asked the British to hand you over during negotiations for the Treaty of Paris in 1783. I’m sorry that Britain, in fact, handed a large chunk of you over: Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio, Indiana. If it makes you feel any better, 60 years later Mexico would catch it even worse. I’m sorry to the Native American residents of the land handed over from Canada to the United States, as if land were ownable, and as if that land were uninhabited.
I’m sorry for the Louisiana Purchase. I’m sorry for the War of 1812, and for the idiots who’ve been celebrating its bicentennial. I’m sorry that Thomas Jefferson, whose house I see out my window, declared that you would be conquered purely by marching in and being welcomed. I’m sorry that when Tecumseh tricked a U.S. general into believing he had many more troops than he had, the U.S. “intelligence” “community” was effectively born. I’m sorry that, at the end of the war, the British agreed to betray you again, handing over territory. I’m sorry that the drive to annex more never vanished. I’m sorry that the U.S. got Oregon and Washington by the same means — negotiating with Britain, not you.
I’m sorry that, by the 1840s, with the take-over of half of Mexico underway, the strategy for the take-over of Canada began to focus more on the imposition of “free” trade agreements. I’m sorry for the Reciprocity Treaty of 1854. I’m sorry for the U.S. bribery of your politicians that put it through.
I’m sorry for the U.S. support for an Irish attack on you in 1866. I’m sorry for the 1867 U.S. purchase of Alaska from Russia, which was aimed at reducing you and weakening you. I’m sorry that the U.S. Congress condemned your formation as a nation. I’m sorry that the drive to annex you continued. I’m sorry for the trade agreement of 1935, and the ever-growing push for “freer” trade agreements ever since, right up through the FTA, NAFTA, and the TPP. I’m sorry that despite its greater wealth, the United States keeps dragging your social standards downward.
I’m sorry for all the assaults on your nation by the U.S. military, U.S. industry, U.S. labor unions, and the CIA. I’m sorry that your military has been made a subsidiary of the U.S. military. I’m sorry for so much U.S. interference in your elections. I’m grateful for the refuge you’ve offered deserting U.S. soldiers. I’m sorry that when your prime minister ever so slightly questioned U.S. genocide in Vietnam, President Lyndon Johnson picked him up by the neck, screaming “You pissed on my rug,” and that your prime minister then wrote to Johnson thanking him for speaking so frankly. I’m sorry you’ve progressed from there to greater subservience.
I applaud you for pushing through the land mine ban despite U.S. interference.
I know you always had your own major problems. I know the United States has given you good as well as bad. But you resisted destructive domination mightily for many years. Other nations curious about the U.S. and its spreading array of military bases should ask its nearest neighbors for references. Your successful resistance, for so long, is an example to the world, and to your current self. You overcame internal divisions to unite and survive. Perhaps the rest of the world can follow suit.
David Swanson is author of War is a Lie. He lives in Virginia.