Recently, there have been a number of articles regarding a strong anti-American sentiment on the part of Canadians. While I don't doubt that there is such a problem (particularly considering how Canadians like to define themselves as "anti-American" in the sense that we are anything but
American), I do take exception to the following article. In The Ugly Anti-American
, David Bruser (a Canadian) poses as an American in Toronto. His article begins with several stereotypes of Americans before going into detail of his conversations with a handful of strangers (both Canadian and American), and then concludes that Canadians (at least in the Toronto area) are strongly anti-American.
I find Bruser's methods to be quite interesting. Rather than acting how a normal American tourist in Toronto would act and simply observing people's reactions to that, Bruser approaches people on the street by first introducing himself as American and then observing that he has come across some "anti-Americanism" in Toronto. He, thereby, sets the stage for the conversation that is to follow and skews the results of his experiment. As such, the article reads more as a study in the concept of "if you search for something you will find it" than anything else. Perhaps the interviewees were not reacting so much to the fact that Bruser was American (or anything else for that matter), as they were to the fact that he was coming up to them and introducing himself as *fill in the blank* and following that up with his observations of anti-*fill in the blank*-ism. Could it be that his method of approaching people paramounted to a perceived criticism which set people on edge immediately?
Bruser's interviews with the Americans that he met in Toronto serve to further discredit his findings. Four of the six Cardinal fans that he interviewed said that they loved Toronto while two said that the city was "inhospitable", which does not necessarily mean that they found it to be anti-American. Another account, that of the Houston couple in the souvenir store, pokes fun more at Canadians than at Americans. The couple were turned off when they saw a t-shirt in the store that read, "What's the definition of a Canadian? An unarmed American with healthcare." Clearly a poke at both the Canadian identity and how Canadians choose to identify themselves. The just of the joke, of course, is that Canadians and Americans are not all that different.
Bruser ends his article in the same vein that he began - stereotypes of Americans - and all of them are by his own hand. First, he declares that "If ever there was an American in Toronto, [Ed] Peck was it." What exactly does this quintessential American in Canada look like, you ask? Why Bruser tells us that he is "moustachioed, athletic build, a tall cowboy hat fit snugly on his head. And unfailingly polite, with a firm handshake to send you off ". I find it interesting that Mr. Peck, who enjoyed his time in Canada, is then immortalized in print by Bruser's stereotyping and smart ass remark, "Y'all come back, hear?".
Could it be that this story was just one giant self-fulfilling prophecy?