Sunday, April 26, 2009

'Centre of the world' needs scapegoat

US Customs uses border 'hits' to blame Canada
Canadian officials vexed as Americans continue to repeat lie connecting 9/11 hijackers to Canada

Mitch Potter, Toronto Star: According to figures confirmed by the US Customs and Border Patrol, travellers arriving from Canada registered 500 'hits' on the government's integrated terror watch list for the year ending last October. That compares to 150 hits on the US-Mexico border for the same period...

But the breakdown of those '500 hits' shows the vast majority of the individuals in question are either US citizens or US landed immigrants... And the overwhelming majority were air travellers... connecting flyers with few or no links to Canada...

One US security source said: 'Yeah, that is about dead-on... Nobody should take that number as any kind of proof that Canada is wildly more dangerous for us. That just isn't the case.'

But that is precisely how such numbers are used... Michael Chertoff was heavily criticized in a similar flap last year for spinning statistics to generate apprehension about the US-Canada border.

Chertoff announce[d] the end of an 'honour system' under which Americans and Canadians have for decades entered each other's country simply by showing a driver's license. Among the reasons, he said, was the discovery of 1,517 false claims of US citizenship at land crossings in one three-month period. The Washington Post... found 
99 per cent of the false claims were made at the Mexican border.

James Laxer: The myth... is hardy and resistant to all efforts to expunge it... I think we're missing the bigger picture here. I've concluded that the myth will never die. Our grandchildren will still be refuting it decades from now.

The legend of the terrorists materializing out of the snowy north, shadowy figures en route to attack New York and Washington, conveys a fundamental truth about what America is and is not and who is and is not American. A civilization that sees itself as the centre of the world has to draw diamond-hard lines to set itself apart from the rest of creation.

The Romans did that... From their City on the Hill, Americans look out at the lands beyond in the same sort of way, branding peoples and continents as having this or that characteristic in a world that is taking an agonizingly long time to become civilized in the way that the people at the centre believe it should.

Canada and Canadians occupy a tiny portion of the American imagination... Attempting to inform Americans about their northern neighbour is to inflict a low-level form of torture on them. With the best intentions in the world, the American mind cannot fathom thinking about Canadians for more than a few seconds. Pressuring an American to consider Canada is a form of sensory deprivation, a violation of the Geneva Conventions. No human being should attempt it.
Image source here