TRIBUTE TO THE UNITED STATES

This, from a Canadian newspaper, is worth sharing.

America: The Good Neighbor.

Widespread but only partial news coverage was given recently to a remarkable editorial broadcast from Toronto by Gordon Sinclair, a Canadian television commentator. What follows is the full text of his trenchant remarks as printed in the Congressional Record:

"This Canadian thinks it is time to speak up for the Americans as the most generous and possibly the least appreciated people on all the earth. Germany, Japan and, to a lesser extent, Britain and Italy were lifted out of the debris of war by the Americans who poured in billions of dollars and forgave other billions in debts. None of these countries is today paying even the interest on its remaining debts to the United States.

When France was in danger of collapsing in 1956, it was the Americans who propped it up, and their reward was to be insulted and swindled on the streets of Paris. I was there. I saw it.

When earthquakes hit distant cities, it is the United States that hurries in to help. This spring, 59 American communities were flattened by tornadoes. Nobody helped.

The Marshall Plan and the Truman Policy pumped billions of dollars into discouraged countries. Now newspapers in those countries are writing about the decadent, warmongering Americans.

I'd like to see just one of those countries that is gloating over the erosion of the United States dollar build its own airplane. Does any other country in the world have a plane to equal the Boeing Jumbo Jet, the Lockheed Tri-Star, or the Douglas DC10? If so, why don't they fly them? Why do all the International lines except Russia fly American Planes?

Why does no other land on earth even consider putting a man or woman on the moon? You talk about Japanese technocracy, and you get radios. You talk about German technocracy, and you get automobiles. You talk about American technocracy, and you find men on the moon - not once, but several times - and safely home again. You talk about scandals, and the Americans put theirs right in the store window for everybody to look at. Even their draft-dodgers are not pursued and hounded. They are here on our streets, and most of them, unless they are breaking Canadian laws, are getting American dollars from ma and pa at home to spend here.

When the railways of France, Germany and India were breaking down through age, it was the Americans who rebuilt them. When the Pennsylvania Railroad and the New York Central went broke, nobody loaned them an old caboose. Both are still broke.

I can name you 5000 times when the Americans raced to the help of other people in trouble. Can you name me even one time when someone else raced to the Americans in trouble? I don't think there was outside help even during the San Francisco earthquake.

Our neighbors have faced it alone, and I'm one Canadian who is damned tired of hearing them get kicked around. They will come out of this thing with their flag high. And when they do, they are entitled to thumb their nose at the lands that are gloating over their present troubles. I hope Canada is not one of those."

Stand proud, America!
Wear it proudly!!


Alright boyz and gurls, start the debate - hemos.

Goddamnit, Pingouin, you are scholar and a gentlemen. Excellent work.

Actually, this came from one of Gordon Sinclair's daily radio commentaries on CFRB in Toronto, a gig he held pretty much unto his death - he was "the Walter Cronkite of Canada", but his was primarily a radio career. I think it got a lot of positive phone calls from listeners, and op-ed-ed (I'm guessing in The Globe and Mail, but I should look it up). Byron MacGregor, the news director at Windsor Top 40 flamethrower CKLW, was so taken by it, that he read it on the air. Then someone at Detroit's Westbound Records (across the river from Windsor, and the home of Funkadelic and The Ohio Players) liked it, and released a 45 (called "The Americans") with MacGregor intoning the words, and with "America the Beautiful" playing in the background. It became a big hit record; MacGregor even made an appearance on The Midnight Special, a late-night rock-music program, performing it. Around this time, Avco Records released a similar 45, with Sinclair himself on "lead vocals".

The original commentary was on June 5, 1973, during his 11:50 AM time slot. (IIRC, he also had a straight-news 10 AM slot). In 1973, a lot of things were going wrong in the United States. Sinclair's words were, obviously, a swipe at growing anti-American-ism around the world, in the face of the US' botched Vietnam War (and peace) policy, and the rise of the "non-aligned" nations of the Third World to a position of power, at least at the United Nations (aside from the Security Council, where the US has a veto).

But it was also a pep talk to Americans; Sinclair had listeners in the border regions of New York, so it was literal in that sense, but aimed at Americans in general. The post-Bretton-Woods floating of the dollar allowed it to sink in value against other major currencies. Inflation was beginning to be a problem in general; meat prices spiked a bit, giving rise to meat-extender products like Lipton's Make-A-Better-Burger, and Hamburger Helper, a product which has survived to our modern day, and to families having meatless days or dinners, vegetarians out of economic necessity, rather than choice. The Yom Kippur War and subsequent Arab oil embargo sent gas prices soaring, and there was rationing (you could get gas on odd or even days, and in some places, there was a limit on how much gas you could get, if you were willing to wait in a long line to pump it); though Sinclair's original commentary predates the war and its fallout, the MacGregor and Sinclair 45s came out early in 1974, so you can add the petroleum and Watergate miasmas to the mix of woes besetting the US at the time. Plus, of course, all the ongoing cultural-upheaval fallout of the 60s.

"The Americans" was the most unlikely of hit records, but there were a few others, inspired by its success; Johnny Cash's soliloquy "That Ragged Old Flag" comes to mind - it, too, was a big hit, but not as big as "The Americans".


RealAudio of Sinclair's broadcast:
http://cfrb.com/ram/americans.ram
A 6½-years-later version (1979, a year that was very 1973/4), by Sinclair:
http://cfrb.com/ram/americans79.ram

14th September 2001

I've put in a request to have this writeup moved to "America: The Good Neighbour" now that lawnjart has removed his writeup. It'll need some editing once it gets there.


The article quoted by lawnjart above was written by Gordon Sinclair in 1973, shortly after the USA pulled out of Vietnam at a time when the whole world seemed, to Mr Sinclair, to be anti-American. Ordinarily I would consider it unfair to take his comments out of context, but they are listed here in this node, and all over the internet (Often with extra lines at the end such as "God Bless America!") as though they're still as true today as when they were written. They're not.

Firstly, there's the issues regarding American technological superiority. Today, Airbus makes very successful passenger aircraft. Russia makes the Antonov AN124, the largest cargo plane in the world. The US Marine Corps use a few Harrier jump jets, which are certainly not home grown aircraft.

No-one has ever doubted that the Moon landings were outstanding achievements (except for the odd conspiracy theorist) but how many people believe that the moon would have been touched by man today if it wasn't for the cold war? Why doesn't Mr Sinclair mention that Russia put the first man in space?

The second problem is the idea that the USA alone runs to the rescue of nations in need. The recent devastating Earthquake in Turkey was met by assistance from not only the USA, but also Austria, France, Greece, Israel, Sweden, Switzerland, UK and Germany to name just the ones I found in under five minutes. Similarly, the Gulf war was not left for America to fight alone. British and French soldiers joined their US allies just over a month after the first US troops were deployed.

The final thing that interests me is the notion that the USA never gets anything back from the world. How many times has the USA asked for international assistance and not received it? Does the USA not have airbases stationed all over the world? Has the UK not risked upsetting it's European neighbours by agreeing to host the US Echelon system? Has Turkey not risked upsetting Iraq by allowing such a large US military presence?



Final thoughts:

I'm constantly in awe of the US space program. My grandfather would have been amazed that I can look at satellite photographs of Mars located on US government computers right from my own home PC.
I wouldn't be in my current job if it wasn't for Microsoft
I wouldn't be using this PC if not for Intel
I wouldn't be driving my current car if General Motors didn't inject cash and parts into Vauxhall/Opel
I'd probably have nothing interesting to watch at the cinema if not for America. ;-)

I am not anti-American. I AM anti-"You-owe-us-everything"-ian. "You-owe-us-everything"-ians are all ugly.
And as a citizen of a country which has been pulled out of the mud by America in the past, I say "Thank you, we'd do the same for you if we could."

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