This Magazine Staff
A very interesting review in last weekend’s Washington Post. The book is a collection of excerpts from the history texts of various countries, focusing on what other countries teach their kids about the USA.
As one might expect, the authors focus on passages that are critical of America. In particular, Canadian textbooks appear to give cause for concern:
According to Canadian texts (six are cited), the United States planned to conquer and annex Canada during the Revolution, the War of 1812, the Civil War and at various points in between. During the Cold War, the United States repeatedly bullied Canada into supporting its aggressive military policies. Canadian officials hoped that NATO would evolve into a North Atlantic community that would act as a counterweight to U.S. influence in Canada, but in vain: Canadian governments had to toe the U.S. line or suffer humiliation. During the Cuban Missile Crisis, Prime Minister John G. Diefenbaker, concerned that Kennedy’s belligerence might lead to a nuclear war, waited three days before announcing that Canadian forces had gone on the alert. In the next election, the Americans used their influence to topple the truculent prime minister.
In few countries are the texts so consistently critical of the United States as they are in Canada, but in a couple of cases the rhetoric is alarming.
I find this fascinating. I do not see how any of this can be considered “criticism”. Apart from the fact that it is all true, it is also extremely relevant to Canadians’ understanding of the continental dynamic that has existed for over 200 years. In fact, going by the excerpts discussed in the review, I am surprised at how mild the US bashing seems to be.
When I consider the history I was taught in school, I am struck by how provincial it was. Not only did we hardly discuss the US, but we hardly discussed anything except Nouvelle France. (That’s what you got from Trudeauvian immersion programmes in Ottawa in the 70s). We were simply never taught about the rest of the country — it was like it didn’t exist.
I’m curious to know what ThisBlog readers (all three of you!) think about this. Any recollections of an oddly skewed history text?