Whipsawed by WikiLeaks: Canadian self-doubt and smugness - Macleans.ca

Whipsawed by WikiLeaks: Canadian self-doubt and smugness

Why are Canadians sneered at from both angles?

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Can we settle on the putdown of preference when it comes to right-wingers expressing their disdain for Canada?

They often resort to either of two seemingly contradictory, but equally condescending, lines about Canadians: we are insufferable in our sense of moral superiority, or we exhibit an equally tiresome inferiority complex.

Now, I’m willing to take my lumps, but do they have to come from both directions at once? Can’t you decide if my national ego is obnoxiously over-developed or pathetically under-developed?

I come to this question after being whipsawed by WikiLeaks.

First, we read of former CSIS Director Jim Judd telling his American friends about the likelihood of Canadians indulging their “speciality” for “moral outrage” over seeing video of a weeping Omar Khadr at Guantanamo.

Next, we learn that the U.S. embassy in Ottawa judged our Canadians psyche so enfeebled by “an almost inherent inferiority complex” that the mere mention of the U.S. during the 2008 election was too much for us.

Can both be true? Come to think of it, seen a certain way, maybe so.

Maybe it is possible to both experience moral outrage over a teenager being cruelly treated during a lengthy imprisonment with no recourse to anything the resembles due process and harbour feelings of unease about the practical implications of living beside a military, economic and political power ten times as populous as your own country.

So I withdraw my initial objection. For those who care to, please feel free to continue sneering at Canada from both angles. I think we can live with it.