American Journalist's Article Compares Canada to Nazi Germany

Martin Luther King Jr. said, “I have decided to stick with love.  Hate is too great a burden to bear.” I need to remember this because I’ve just read the most unbelievable, non-apologetic apology imaginable from a self-titled journalist from Texas, titled “Offending Canada Wasn’t Intentional.” It was written in response to the over 300 comments that lambasted his first vitriolic article, “In These Olympics, Canadians Only Paid Attention to Canada.

Gil Lebreton directly compares Canada to Nazi Germany.  This is so serious a transgression that it needs to be underscored: Gil Lebreton directly compares Canada to Nazi Germany.  “Flags were everywhere. The country's national symbol hung from windows and was worn on nearly everyone's clothing.  Fervent crowds cheered every victory by the host nation.  But enough about the 1936 Berlin Olympics.”

His claim is that the Vancouver Winter Games of 2010 were in opposition to the Olympic spirit of a “family of man” and he was overwhelmed with the “chauvinism of the past two weeks.”

Lebreton carries on with his abhorrent diatribe for two pages, making me more and more nauseous the further I read.  Any small, valid point he may have is lost within the bitter, wide-sweeping generalities he makes and the hate he harbours for Canada. I have a hard time feeling peace in my soul while reading his words of hate and am sorry he so apparently feels the need to tear a people down.  A country that welcomed him and the world with joy and happiness for over two weeks; a city that played gracious host for over 2600 athletes and untold numbers of equally gracious visitors.

One phrase stands out as perhaps the real reason Mr. Lebreton so viciously slurs Canada:  “Had the classic Canadian inferiority complex finally decided to bite back? Or was this a dark consequence of the Own the Podium program?

At the Games' outset, Canada's obsession with finally winning its first gold medal as a host nation was understandable -- “quaint, almost.” Yes, he calls Alex Bilodeau’s Gold Medal “quaint.”

Lebreton is American.  He lives in Texas, the second largest state, in both size and population.  He comes from a country with a patriotic pride that reverberates throughout the world. 

I’ve had the opportunity to live in the Unites States twice for short periods of time.  The first time I was in New Hampshire for two years, and where my first daughter was born.  More recently was for three years in Arizona, where my four children attended school and where my New Hampshire born daughter graduated High School.  We experienced the Gore/Bush “hanging chad” Presidential election, during which Canada campaigned, voted and elected a new Prime Minister - none of which even made it into the newspapers or nightly news.

Talking with other parents on the side of the soccer field, I learned that they were as frustrated as I was at the lack of world news available to Americans via the mainstream news stream, the television and newspapers.  I learned that they were equally as discouraged by their school curriculum that focused on America and American history over and over again, at the expense of anything outside of the great United States of America.  I learned that men like Gil Lebreton are as abhorrent to them as they are to Canadians.

We lived in Arizona through the horror of 9/11 and the ensuing aftermath of fear.  I understood the Americans almost visceral need to fly the stars and stripes in front of every house, in every store window and from every car.  In fact, the American flag was joined in unison and with strong compatriotism by almost every other country in the world, none more so than their neighbours to the north – Canada.

Yet, as time went on and the Bush fervor of the “war against terrorism” grew, the wave of American patriotism began to feel like a tsunami wave threatening to drown any nation that didn’t blindly agree and submit to the American policy.  What little Canadian identity I had was smothering.  The American pendulum of patriotic pride had swung even more strongly in the direction of exclusion - a ‘with us or against us’ fighting stance.

And perhaps that is why Lebreton feels so threatened surrounded by flags that feature a red maple leaf instead of stars and stripes and by a large, welcoming, gregarious crowd of peaceful people singing the Canadian Anthem. Perhaps he is unaware that a good portion of the flag-waving, Oh Canada singing crowd were not, actually, Canadian.  A number of them were fellow visitors cheering for the home team, immigrants hailing from another country or newly minted, proud Canadians. Our Canadian, ‘root for the home team’ nationalism is inclusive.  We wrap our arms around the stranger next to us and invite them to join us, bestowing anyone visiting with honorary Canadian status.  Our inclusive Canadian identity even extends to our hospital emergency rooms that welcome everyone, regardless of the passport in the pocket or even the ability to pay.

Although I hate even to acknowledge this man and provide him with more attention, this type of abhorrent journalism needs to be exposed.  When we shine a light on hate, it loses its power.  And like Booker T. Washington, “I will permit no man to narrow and degrade my soul by making me hate him.”

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