Okay. Anyone who knows me, has listened to me rant, or has read my screeds over the years knows my fiery opinions on this particular matter. I apologize ahead of time for repeating myself or cannibalizing old lines, but I’m not above ripping myself off, especially in light of dopey articles such as this:
The above piece gives potential American travelers so-called practical advice on how to convincingly pretend to be a Canadian when they go abroad in order to avoid that terrible specter of anti-Americanism that supposedly pervades every nook and cranny of the globe. Evidently just pinning the Maple Leaf to the backpack doesn’t cut it anymore: You gotta get down Canadian “body language,” whatever the fuck that is. I realize that it’s a slightly tongue-in-cheek piece penned for Canada Day a couple of months back, but I found it thirty shades of retarded. Despite this, it brings up some salient points.
Let’s get one thing clear: I love Canada and Canadians. The only real exception to this occurs here in Korea during Canada Day, when most all north-of-the-border expats paint their faces red and white and spaz out in a frenzied, boozy, nationalistic gangbang. So, aside from the previous jab (I had to get ONE in), I will do my best to NOT take this opportunity to crap on my Canuckistani brethren. It’s a huge, lovely country and the people are generally decent and good and less likely to succumb to the idiotic nonsense so widespread throughout the States. There is a convincing argument to be made that Canadians, on the whole, are a lot more reasonable than us.
This object of my bile here is clear: Americans who pretend to be Canadians while travelling, most often by stitching the Canadian flag onto the backpack as some sort of supposed anti-Yankee kryptonite. What a load of balls.
Now I get it, I do. Despite the fact that I involuntarily bristle and grind my teeth every time I see it, I GET why Canadians display the flag. After all, I certainly wouldn’t want to be constantly mistaken for another nationality, especially as one as polarizing as that of the USA. And Canadians know us better than anyone–both our good points and our faults. Some people say that the US is Canada’s big brother? Yeah, we’re like the douchey jock big brother who gets drunk, comes home, and tries to start fights with Canada’s sensitive high school friends.
USA: “Hey! What are you looking at, fag? Yeah, I’m talking to you. I bet you suck cocks, faggot!!!”
USA mimes sucking a dick, then suddenly feigns a punch. Canada’s skinny little emo friend shudders in fear.
“That’s what I thought, faggot!”
Canada’s other friend (chubby, bespectacled, whispering): “Is that asshole really your brother?”
Canada: (turning away in horror) “No man, I’ve never seen him before in my life.”
The Mexicans have an old saying: Poor Mexico. So far from God, so close to the USA.
Somehow, closer to God as they may be, I think Canada can relate.
But Americans pinning on the Maple Leaf–really? Does this happen? It surely must, since we hear the reports. The practice was first adopted during the Vietnam War, when antipathy toward Uncle Sam ran hot and high. It’s continued ever since then, though I’m told it’s mainly employed by young, first-time backpackers going to Europe to “find themselves” while dropping MDMA, running up daddy’s credit card, and getting bored out by guys named Gerdt and Rene.
I’ve only run across this phenomenon once in Asia, when I went hiking with a doe-eyed American who was visiting Busan. It was toward the end of the jaunt and I was just beginning to like the guy, when the garish red Maple Leaf flag caught my eye.
“Dude. I thought you were from Ohio.”
“Oh, I am. I just don’t want to have to deal with any anti-Americanism.”
I immediately stabbed him in the neck with my metal hiking pole. Or I immediately THOUGHT about stabbing him in the neck with my metal hiking pole… and then kicking him off the side of the mountain.
I’ve traveled to over 20 countries in my adult life and a good chunk of these explorations happened during the internationally despised reign of George W. Bush. I’ve done speed with sketchy Europeans and gotten drunk on palm wine with napalm victims in Cambodia and once took part in a full-blown political street riot here in South Korea: not ONCE have I really experienced nasty, in-my-face, overt anti-Americanism. Sure, I was once mocked by a dreadlocked attitudinal Aussie; I was snubbed by an incredibly rude Belgian couple and subject to death glares by packs of scowling, pig-eyed Russians, but… I’d like to think that all of these folks hated me because of the content of my character, not because of the color of my passport. That’s not to say that plenty of people don’t hate Americans on principle–they DO. However, most of them have the common decency to hate us behind our back.
And while a Maple Leaf on the backpack just may equate to slightly less rude service from that Parisian waiter, the last I checked it didn’t translate into a Get-Out-of-the-Cave-Free Card with Al Qaeda or the Taliban. Americans, Canadian, Italian, French… it doesn’t matter from which crusading, Western infidel country you are coming from: Your head is getting sliced the fuck off.
Passport? A flake off his ballbag, he does not give.
Here’s the deal, my fellow Americans: If you are too cowardly, too thin-skinned, or too intellectually unequipped to put up with a little potential (and in some cases justified) flack when you travel, then stay the fuck home. Whether you feel the need to fake being Canadian out of conservative ignorance or liberal guilt, just do us all a favor and stay the fuck home.
Because if I catch you I promise you a torrent of abuse. And I just may stab you in the neck with my hiking pole.