Monday, May 14, 2012


"Like maple syrup, Canada's evil oozes over the United States."
-CBS news anchor, Canadian Bacon

There's a thought experiment I've been trying to puzzle out in my head recently involving indigenous peoples and invasion. England, for example, was invaded about 50 times over the last thousand years, from Romans to Vikings and beyond, and each time they adapted and eventually became a more or less coherent culture. But some nations have been invaded and have ever since then been fighting against the invaders and striving for independence or at least to get rid of the invaders, for centuries, even.

People living in the palestinian settlements despise Israel and want it destroyed, even though Israel offers them greater living conditions and liberty than every other nation in the region. Irish hated the British so much they were murdering innocent people just to get them to leave. Some American Indians to this day want the white man off what was once land they occupied. On and on it goes around the world, people holding ancient grudges and demanding change.

I try to think about what my attitude would be like if a positive force invaded the United States or took it over somehow. Like, say, if Canada invaded the United States and took over. Canada has its problems (its far too socialist) but generally speaking its a friendly, good nation and a benevolent force on earth. Would it really be so awful? Sure I'd have a problem with the politics, but I have a problem with the politics in Oregon right now. The government would be effectively foreign, but our federal government is practically foreign to most Americans today anyway.

I try to imagine if I was living in a dictatorship or a backward, stone age culture like Native Americans, and more advanced people or liberators showed up. Would I really resent them, or would I see it as an opportunity? If I was living in a hide hut eating cooked dog with a chipped stone knife, would I think tables, houses, silverware, and medicine was all that terrible? Or would I just focus on the destruction of my culture and traditions, feeling humiliated and frustrated that these new people have so much nice stuff I can't even understand?

Its difficult to really understand without experiencing it, but I think grudges and hurt pride explain a lot more than any real sense of liberty or violation. You are necessarily the loser if you're invaded, which means you were weaker, that you were defeated. That's going to breed a lot of resentment. The land you occupy might be no less your own property but it would probably feel as if it wasn't your land because some other government alien to your experiences is now in charge. If anything mean or bad happened to you in the process, its likely people focus on that instead of the benefits they receive. Yes, now I can drive a car and eat at Arby's but that soldier shot my brother.

It just seems to me that palestinians in particular are so upset not necessarily because the Israelis are so evil and horrible to them, but mostly because they feel weak and pathetic and failed. Its hurt pride and frustration more than any rational problem they fight against.

Incidentally, the film Canadian Bacon is a little hackneyed and forced, but there's a lot of incredibly brilliant satire and humor in it, showing how people can turn against each other, but mostly how Canadians and Americans perceive each other. It was written and directed by Michael Moore. Now, Moore is basically a far left radical hack himself, but if he'd stick to this kind of thing instead of his fake documentary crap, I'd like him a lot more. This, at least, is intelligent and has something smart to say rather than just "people who disagree with me are stupid and evil."

Sure, he took the "Americans are violent morons" thing a bit too far, but there are stupid violent people in America, and you don't expect a satire to be strictly honest or even handed. And Canadians aren't as polite and dumb as they are shown in the movie either, but at least its a more positive slander. Its just surprising to find Moore at the helm of this because its not as heavy handed propaganda as he usually engages in. And at least in fiction he doesn't have to lie outrageously and portray it as truth.


Eric said...

There is another facet to this, in that the invading culture often treats the defeated culture pretty badly even if they try to assimilate.

A big part of the reason the Plains Tribes fought so long and so hard against the US Government was because they saw how the tribes from the Southern US were treated after adopting European dress, trade, and religious customs.

If you don't trust that an invading culture has your best interests in mind, why would you care whether their culture is superior to yours or not?

Christopher R Taylor said...

Yeah I probably should have emphasized the brutality and horror that invaders and invadees do to each other more when I talked about resentment.