November 14, 2002
Dear Sir or Madam:
Does anyone pay any attention to anything Pat Buchanan says? If you don't know who I'm talking about, you're not alone. I think he's some sort of American political figure but as far as I know he has never been elected to any public office.
In a democracy, Machiavellian statesmen are not supposed to exist, but apparently they do. He is some sort of Rasputinesque ultra-right winger whose estimation of himself is 'godly' and of his people, 'holy'. But does anyone take him seriously? Does his opinion matter? Does anyone who does matter actually listen to him?
I have to ask these questions because he was recently quoted refering to Canada as 'Soviet Canuckistan'. I heard this on the CBC, that's the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. (OK I was stuck in snowstorm traffic and turned on the radio to pass the time.) I'm sure I heard a reporter say 'American Pat Buchanan has referred to Canada as 'Soviet Canuckistan'.'
As your Ambassdor to h2g2 from the aforementioned Soviet Canuckistan I must take exception to his remarks. I have tried to overlook the fact that he is a flawed human being who fails miserably as a person. I am trying to hold back my anger toward this small-minded cereal- kuller by reminding myself that he is not an elected representative of his people. I would not want my outrage at his ill-considered and inflammatory remarks to spoil my general love for Americans or infect my specific feelings toward several US citizens of my online acquaintance.
The scary part is, he was reacting to official diplomatic inquiries from my country concerning Canadian citizens who have been detained, searched, fingerprinted, arrested, charged and even held in American jails at the discretion of the US Border Patrol or US Customs. Now, for merely questioning the US about its treatment of our citizens, we have been likened to some third world pariah.
Once billed as the 'longest unarmed border in the world' the 49th parallel and its variations runs 4000 miles from sea to shining sea peacefully separating Canada from the United States of Americorp. The line runs arbitrarily thru small towns, down village main streets, thru people's gardens and, in a few rare and celebrated cases, right thru their homes. These situations occur in several places where the US borders New Brunswick and Quebec and to a much lesser extent in the west where settlement occured after the border was established.
In many of the ancient little farming towns of Quebecois heritage that straddle the border, the US Customs booth was often only manned on the weekends in case of stray tourists. In others, the guards were on duty only a few hours a day and they would leave behind an 'honour system' sign-in sheet hanging from a nail on the post that marks the border. It was supposed to be signed by anyone crossing the line to get gas and smokes on the US side or milk and bread on the Canadian side. It was a casual, rural and peaceful way of life. But not anymore.
Now people are being arrested for visiting their next door neighbours. Several have been told they cannot harvest their US gardens behind their Canadian homes. One life-long New Brunswick bordertown resident is in a Massachuests prison for buying gas and not signing the sheet. It was these cases and the horrendous and humiliating treatment most Canadian citizens are getting at American Airports that prompted my government to make diplomatic inquiries.
My government has also issued 'travel advisories' to our citizens warning them to expect a cavity search, fingerprinting and long delays if flying south this winter. Even though they have Canadian citizenship and carry a Canadian Passport, those of visible minorities or 'racially distinct' features and anyone who might have been born in one of seventeen potentially dangerous countries or have a name not easily pronounced by an English-speaking tongue, are advised to avoid American Customs inspection altogether and stay 'at home'.
Or go elsewhere. I certainly will. Thankfully, Air Canada is still permitted to fly over continental US airspace on its way to better places like Mexico, Granada, Trinidad, Jamaica and (dare I say it ) ...Cuba!
Hoping you will take these thoughts into consideration,
I remain your most loyal and least dutiful savant,
Infinite Improbability Drive
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