You’re American If You Think You’re American

One of the advantages of having a ten-year backlog of posts is pulling up stuff from the past and linking it with current web content.  Several years ago when Steven Den Beste was still doing regular blogging, he wrote a post, Non-European Country that discussed some of the differences between Americans and non-Americans and why America really is different from all other nations.  I’ve quoted from it several times, but this is the excerpt for today’s post:

European “nations” are based on ethnicity, language or geography. The American nation is based on an idea, and those who voluntarily came here to join the American experiment were dedicated to that idea. They came from every possible geographic location, speaking every possible language, deriving from every possible ethnicity, but most of them think of themselves as Americans anyway, because that idea is more important than ethnicity or language or geographical origin. That idea was more important to them than the things which tried to bind them to their original nation, and in order to become part of that idea they left their geographical origin. Most of them learned a new language. They mixed with people of a wide variety of ethnicities, and a lot of them cross-married. And yet we consider ourselves one people, because we share that idea. It is the only thing which binds us together, but it binds us as strongly as any nation.

Indeed, it seems to bind us much more strongly than most nations. If I were to move to the UK, and became a citizen there, I would forever be thought of by the British as being “American”. Even if I lived there fifty years, I would never be viewed as British. But Brits who come here and naturalize are thought of as American by those of us who were born here. They embrace that idea, and that’s all that matters. If they do, they’re one of us. And so are the Persians who naturalize, and the Chinese, and the Bengalis, and the Estonians, and the Russians. (I know that because I’ve worked with all of those, all naturalized, and all of them as American as I am.)

You’re French if you’re born in France, of French parents. You’re English if you’re born to English parents (and Welsh if your parents were Welsh). But you’re American if you think you’re American, and are willing to give up what you used to be in order to be one of us. That’s all it takes. But that’s a lot, because “thinking you’re American” requires you to comprehend that idea we all share. But even the French can do it, and a lot of them have.

That is a difference so profound as to render all similarities between Europe and the US unimportant by comparison. But it is a difference that most Europeans are blind to, and it is that difference which causes America’s attitudes and actions to be mystifying to Europeans. It is not just that they don’t understand that idea; most of them don’t even realize it exists, because Europeans have no equivalent, and some who have an inkling of it dismiss it contemptuously.

It is that idea that explains why we think being called “cowboys” is a compliment, even when Europeans think it’s an epithet. It is that idea that explains why we don’t care what Europeans think of us, and why European disapproval of our actions has had no effect on us. It is that idea which explains why, in fact, we’re willing to do what we think is right even if the entire rest of the world disapproves.

It is that idea which convinces us that if by our actions we “lose all our friends in the world” then they weren’t really friends to begin with, and that we’re better off without them.

And it is that difference that continues to mystify and frustrate Europeans, who incorrectly assume that America is a European country, and who try to explain our behavior on that basis. And because our behavior is inexplicable for a European nation, they conclude that it is the result of foolishness and immaturity and lack of sophistication.

They come to those conclusions because that’s the only way one can explain how a European country could act the way America has acted. What they miss is that America is not European, not at its deepest levels. It derives from European roots, and the majority of us are derived genetically from European stock, but it is utterly unlike Europe in the ways which matter most.

I get occasional emails from the website with interesting questions answered by the membership. Today’s included this question:  What facts about the United States do foreigners not believe until they come to America? The answers are fascinating, because as much as other cultures do not grok Americans, the reverse is equally (if not more) true. I will only excerpt one answer that I found particularly insightful, but I do recommend you read the whole thread, comments and all:

Convenience is rather pleasant.

Everything one knows about American convenience culture: 24 hour shops, fast food, “have a nice day” etc. appears tawdry and degraded when you only know it exported elsewhere in the world. At best it looks sad and desperate to be copying the US, and at worst, like a bad case of cultural imperialism as US companies come in and try to impose their models on your society.

But actually *in* the US, there’s something rather charming about it. A McDonalds in a mall in Beijing or Brasilia is a horror. But go to one for breakfast in Los Angeles and it all kind of works: the design and appearance, the food, the behaviour of the staff. Not a wooden formula but a living culture.

Americana travels badly but is surprising comfortable in its native environment.

Canada’s Long-Gun Registry is Doomed

Canada’s Long-Gun Registry is Doomed

Doomed, I tell you!:

Why I changed my mind about the long-gun registry

Patricia Dawn Robertson
Wakaw, Sask. — From Thursday’s Globe and Mail Published on Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2009 4:44PM EST Last updated on Friday, Nov. 13, 2009 1:57AM EST

I’m not a hunter. I also don’t own a gun. Yet, after five years of residing in the country, I’ve radically shifted my position on gun control from pro to con.

Before you start humming the eerie banjo strains from Deliverance, hear me out. Not every rural resident is a gun-toting, liberal-baiting, paramilitary commando.

Nor are rural Canadians stand-ins for the laconic cast of Fargo. I’m a feminist, a progressive and an organic gardener, yet I support the Conservative bill to pull long guns from the national registry.

After many years of fighting to have long guns exempted, lobbyists are finally seeing some movement from Ottawa. Conservative backbencher Candice Hoeppner, the Annie Oakley of Portage la Prairie, introduced her controversial private member’s bill last week to end the long-gun registry. Its passage is a victory for rural Canadians. But why can’t they convince their dogmatic city neighbours that it’s a fair compromise?

In December of 1989, as the Montreal massacre unfolded, I was enrolled in women’s studies at York University. Like many Canadians, I wanted my government to do something.

Which is typical. As Congressman Adam Putnam put it, governments only do two things well: nothing, and overreact. The urge to “DO SOMETHING!” is overwhelming, when doing nothing is usually the appropriate response.

When the registry was introduced in 1995, I supported it. But, as an urban resident, I only saw the issue from that perspective.

And the population concentrated in urban areas – ignorant of wider perspectives – are almost uniformly Leftist. It’s a “captive audience” effect, I suppose.

The Prime Minister must make good on his promise to scrap the registry. The Liberal approach has proved to be an overzealous and ineffective strategy for fighting urban crime. Allan Rock’s bill was predominantly targeted at reassuring his urban base that city streets and campuses would be safe again. When the registry was first introduced, vocal opponents were dismissed as gun nuts, while the Liberals took the moral high ground in a misguided bid to reduce urban crime and violence against women.

I’m not the only feminist who identifies with the Annie Oakley demographic. I wrote a feature about gun control for the Western Standard in 2004, and my subjects, educated female hunters, loathed the registry. This bloated $2-billion policy proved to be a knee-jerk response to a deeper social problem – why wasn’t all of this money allocated to stem the flow of illegal handguns across the Canada-U.S. border?

This complex issue is at the heart of the urban-rural split in Canada. I’m living proof that it’s possible to be a New Yorker reader and a long-gun registry debunker.

What changed my mind about such a hot-button issue? Living side by side with Prairie farmers has been an invaluable lesson in tolerance. While urbanites fear the sound of gunshots on their streets, the sound of gunfire is as commonplace in the country as the roar of Cherry Bomb headers on an F-150.

Rural long-gun owners are responsible, respectable citizens, not criminals who need to be tracked and tagged. They use guns for pest control on their farms. They hunt deer and elk to fill the freezer just as urbanites stock up at Costco. For farmers, it’s a much harsher, frontier way of life.

And this is why it is crucial for the gun-owner demographic to not decline to the point where they have no voice in the political process, which has happened in the UK. “Normalization” of gun ownership is a requirement to maintaining that voice. People must see gun owners as “responsible, respectabl citizens, not criminals who need to be tracked and tagged,” and for that to happen they must be SEEN. When less than one-half of one percent of a population legally owns a firearm, that can’t happen.

Camo-clad hunters aren’t holding up 7-Elevens. These wealthy American sportsmen are the mainstay of Saskatchewan’s tourism economy.

The Daily Show mocks Sarah Palin for her hunting expeditions, but she’s right in step with the rural lifestyle. Self-sufficiency is the key to survival: Chop wood, carry water, grow your own food, hunt for protein, shingle a roof. In the country, a gun is another tool, like a reciprocating saw – not a weapon. Next, paranoid urbanites will demand that farmers “register” their eight-pound chopping mauls.

She even gets in a pro-Sarah shot! I’m shocked!

Common sense dictates that tracking hunters and farmers is not the answer. Why not target rejected engineering students, angry loners, frustrated WCB claimants or military personnel with post-traumatic stress disorder?

Because that would be profiling!

My own private citizen’s bill would propose a BlackBerry registry for urban nano-nerds who drive and text. They’re far more dangerous than that gun-toting Elmer Fudd of the Back Forty.

And she concludes with a shot at the Fudds! (Though I doubt she’s familiary with the term from a gunnie’s perspective.

When self-professed Leftist Feminists (but I repeat myself) oppose the registry, it’s toast, sooner or later.

It’s Not Just John Stossel

It’s Not Just John Stossel

PJTV’s Steven Crowder does some undercover investigation of Canada’s much-vaunted (by Democrats) socialized health care system. And, being on the web, his report can be ten times longer than ABC would allow. The results should enlighten you:

If you’re a human being in Canada and you want a blood test, you’d better have your own physician, because the walk-in clinics won’t do it, and the hospital emergency rooms won’t do it, you have to have a personal doctor for such tests as cholesterol or a PSA (prostate cancer screening). If you don’t have a doctor? You get to wait 2-3 years, as Stossel illustrated.

Yes, Exactly

From the Toronto Star“A look beyond the handgun ban”:

David Kennedy, an anthropologist at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice at the City University of New York, is the godfather of this approach. In 1996, when he was a professor at Harvard, Kennedy launched the Boston Gun Project, the first intervention of its kind. It reduced gun crime in the city by 60 per cent. Since then, it has blossomed to a number of cities across the U.nited States.

Kennedy views bans, like the one Miller is pushing for, as a symptom of the problem, not a cure. “For people desperately searching for a solution, it seems like it makes sense,” says Kennedy. “What they don’t understand is that there are better tools that don’t require law to implement, and are practically cookbook and off-the-shelf.”

Chicago’s Project Safe Neighbourhoods is close to Kennedy’s prescription (he helped advise on the project); Cincinnati’s Initiative to Reduce Violence is its full manifestation. In Cincinnati, gun-related homicides spiked in 2006 to 89, more than double the annual average, since 1991, of 43.

Kennedy’s research team unpacked what he calls typical trends: They identified 69 distinct street groups, comprising about 1,000 people. Of the 89 homicides, these 1,000 people – less than half a per cent of the city’s population – were connected to more than 75 per cent of them.

Identifying the problem makes the solution relatively simple, Kennedy says. “If we change the behaviour of these people, we solve the problem.”

(Emphasis mine.) Precisely what I’ve been saying since I started this blog. In America, and I assume pretty much worldwide, the vast majority of violent crime is committed by a tiny percentage of the population, almost all of whom have prior criminal records. As I have noted here in the past, American homicide rates are heavily skewed by the fact that young, black, urban males – who make up less than 13% of America’s population – commit and are the victims of well over half the homicides America suffers each year. And on top of that, the young, black, urban males that actually commit the murders are a tiny fraction of that 13%.

But the political response to this is “gun control”?

As SayUncle says, “Gun control is what you do instead of something.”

But the philosophy says the number of guns is the problem, not the behavior of a tiny, identifiable group of people, and since the philosophy cannot be wrong, the consistent failure of the “solution” – gun control – cannot be because the wrong path is being pursued. No, no! The failure must be due to improper implementation! The only response must be to do it again, only HARDER!.

(h/t: Say Uncle)

UPDATE and correction: Chris Byrne in comments notes:

Actually, blacks as a whole are about 14% of the population.

Young, male, urban blacks, are about 3% of the population.

Of those, 24% have a felony criminal record.

It’s not about race, it’s just demographics.

He’s right, and I knew that. According to the CDC’s data:

2005 – Total population 296,507,061
Black males 10-34 years old 7,763,680, or 2.62% of the population.

Homicides (all) – 10,438
Black males 10-34 – 5,181,

2.62% of the population, 49.6% of the victims.

One-gun-a-month laws, closing the “gun show loophole,” licensing, registration, “assault weapon” bans, and handgun bans will somehow make this all go away because “the number of guns” in America is the problem.

No it’s not.

Identifying the problem makes the solution relatively simple, Kennedy says. “If we change the behaviour of these people, we solve the problem.”

Yes indeed.

That Wonderful “Free” Canadian Health Care. (Again.)

(Via Zendo Deb.)

Stronach travels to U.S. for cancer treatment

Belinda Stronach, the MP for Newmarket-Aurora and former cabinet minister, travelled outside Canada’s health-care system to California for some of her breast cancer treatment earlier this year.

Really! You don’t say!

Stronach, diagnosed in the spring with a type of breast cancer that required a mastectomy and breast reconstruction, went to California in June at her Toronto doctor’s suggestion, a spokesperson confirmed.

THAT referral I find fascinating.

“Belinda had one of her later-stage operations in California, after referral from her personal physicians in Toronto. Prior to this, Belinda had surgery and treatment in Toronto, and continues to receive follow-up treatment there,” said Greg MacEachern, Stronach’s assistant and spokesperson.

Speed was not the issue, MacEachern said – it was more to do with the type of surgery she and her doctor agreed was best for her, and where it was best performed. The type of cancer Stronach had is called DCIS, ductal carcinoma in situ, one of the more treatable forms.

Why would the story even suggest that speed might be “the issue”? Could it be that there are waiting time issues for cancer surgery in Canada? And you mean she couldn’t get superior treatment in CUBA??

Stronach, who has announced she is leaving politics to return to executive duties at her father’s Magna empire, paid for the procedure.

An option not open, I would imagine, to a lot of Canadians.

So what happens to them?

“As we said back in June when we confirmed the surgery, this is a personal and private matter between Belinda, her family and her physicians. I think you’ll understand that because of respect for Belinda’s privacy, we refrained from offering specific details around her medical treatment,” MacEachern said.

It is unusual for a federal politician to travel outside Canada for private medical treatment, especially given the hallowed status of the Canadian, publicly financed health-care system in the realm of political debate.

Is it actually rare to do it, or is it just rare to admit it?

MacEachern stressed that Stronach’s decision had nothing to do with her confidence – or lack of it – in Canada’s cancer-treatment facilities or public health care.

Which makes me wonder why she didn’t utilize them.

He pointed out that there is a cancer-care facility in Newmarket named after the Stronach family, after Frank Stronach donated $8 million toward its construction in 2004.

Which makes me really wonder why she didn’t utilize them.

“In fact, Belinda thinks very highly of the Canadian health-care system, and uses it when needed for herself and her children, as do all Canadians. As well, her family has clearly demonstrated that support,” MacEachern said.

Well of course! It’s there and it’s “free.” Who wouldn’t use it for sniffles, scrapes and minor emergencies?

This was about a specific health-care procedure, unrelated to any views about the quality of Canadian health care, a decision based on medical advice and a referral from her Toronto physicians, and just one part of several areas of treatment. Belinda has nothing but praise for the community of health-care professionals in Toronto who supported and treated her throughout the last six months.”

Here I call “bullshit!” It was absolutely related to “views about the quality of Canadian health-care.” It was about the ability to get superior quality care in America since she could afford it, because the American medical system allows for innovation, experimentation, and advancements that government-run heathcare systems do not.

MacEachern did not want to answer questions in detail about the type of surgery, what she paid for it or where exactly it was performed in California.

He did say, however, that Stronach underwent the operation in June, roughly around the time she would have had the procedure had she remained in Canada.

How “roughly”? I really want to know. And would it have been the same procedure, or something different?

The Canadian Cancer Society also says it is impossible to determine how many citizens of this country travel each year to the United States for private cancer treatment, since records are only kept if they apply in some way for compensation.

There’s a fascinating tidbit of information I was not aware of.

Similarly, the U.S. Cancer Society says it is impossible to calculate, even roughly, how much Stronach paid for her treatment in California, since costs vary so much from state to state and even within cities.

The costs vary here because of the law of supply and demand. Those with far better procedures and reputations have far higher demands, and can (and do) charge more. Those who can afford it, pay it. Those who cannot must choose other options. This is “unfair.” But it beats, IMHO being told you will go to this doctor, you will have this procedure, your appointment is six months in the future, and you have no other option available to you – which is what most socialized medicine systems eventually devolve into once they discover that attempting to centrally control health care (or pretty much anything) is a failing game.

Health care is not a “right.” If you doubt that, then explain why Britain’s Tory party wants to deny health care to people who live “unhealthy lifestyles”? It would appear that their recommendations are already being implemented.

Boy, it’s a Good Thing Nobody had a GUN!

Here’s another sad tale of “When seconds count, the police are only minutes away!” And it’s another case illustrating that restraining orders are tissue paper. Our neighbor to the North had a mass killing of its own last week. Pretty much everything that could go wrong, did go wrong in this case.

First, the murderer was released from jail after attempting to severely injure or kill his wife, who was seeking a divorce. According to this story, Peter Kyun Joon Lee “deliberately drove his Land Rover into a pole on July 31, leaving his wife with a broken arm and other injuries.” As usual, the Justice legal system ground slowly on:

A judge released Lee on bail, with expectations that he would return to court to enter a plea on Sept. 12. In the interim, the judge ordered Lee not to return to his home, contact his wife or possess knives.

He didn’t, apparently, conform to any of the above.

Instead, sometime in the early-morning hours of September 5, Mr. Lee did, in fact, return home and confronted his wife, his son, and her parents. With a knife. Lee’s wife, Yong Sun Park, called 911 at approximately 3AM that morning, screaming for help. Help didn’t get there in time.

According to this story:

Greater Victoria’s 911 system suffered a failure the day of the murder-suicide in Oak Bay and rerouted a call from a screaming woman inside the home to the wrong dispatch centre.

A 911 call in any of the capital region’s 13 municipalities is supposed to be routed to the nearest emergency dispatch centre based on a database of numbers and addresses held by Telus.

However, a “database failure” hit the service on Monday and Tuesday, Telus spokesman Shawn Hall confirmed.

That meant a 911 call, made Tuesday from inside a house where five bodies were later found, was misdirected to Victoria before being transferred to Saanich, which handles Oak Bay’s calls.

“It may well have caused a delay,” said Hall. “The kind of delay would be in the magnitude of seconds or minutes. I don’t know if there was a delay.”

Honestly, at the point where she called I don’t think it would have mattered if the police had shown up in three minutes or five, but this does illustrate the futility of dialing 911 if someone really wants you dead. But the sad part is the response of the police arriving at the scene. According to this story:

Officers discovered two people dead as they entered the home.

Police then backed out of the house, called the emergency response team and evacuated six surrounding homes as a safety precaution.

It was only hours later that police searched the home and discovered three other bodies.

The first two bodies found were the parents of Yong Sun Park. If Ms. Park or her son were still alive at that time, it’s possible that emergency aid could have saved them. Or, perhaps it was simply too late by the time the police arrived. We’ll never know. The police backed out of the house when they smelled what they believed was propane, thinking that the perpetrator had barricaded himself in the home and booby-trapped it. However, they waited until 8AM to go into the house, after blowing the windows out to ventilate it.

So, who’s at fault here? Is it the justice legal system? Well, no. As I’ve demonstrated previously, the .gov cannot be responsible for any particular citizen’s safety. Is it the fault of the dispatcher? Well, there was a glitch to be sure, but I don’t think it would have gotten the police there in time. Is it the fault of the police who didn’t go in after finding the first two bodies? No, they did what they were trained to do. Getting blown up by a nut isn’t part of their job description.

No, apparently Canada’s military is at fault. (RTWT) Yes, apparently the Toronto Star, the National Post, the Vancouver Sun and the Seattle Times (not to mention the Associated Press) all jumped to the conclusion that Peter Lee had shot all of his victims because he had military training. (And that, of course, meant he was mentally unbalanced and knew how to use a gun. But I repeat myself.)

But no! Peter Lee used a knife! And not a particularly large knife, either. He used a 10-cm (approximately 4″) double-edged knife.

Apparently it’s still the fault of the military. This story states:

A Victoria knife expert, who asked to remain anonymous, told CanWest News Service that the four-inch, double-bladed knife was likely military in origin.

Lee had been a Canadian Forces navy reserve member since 1985. He held the rank of master seaman and was a certified dive inspector, trained to detect mines and other explosive devices and disarm them.

“All sailors, regular forces and reserves, all have to bring a knife on board for safety reasons,” said Sub-Lieut. Peggy Kulmala, who handles public affairs for Lee’s Victoria naval reserve detachment, HMCS Malahat. Sailors carry knives in case they fall overboard and have to cut something entangling them, she added.


There are no standard-issue military knives, and Kulmala could not say for certain whether the murder weapon described was Lee’s naval knife.

Would it have made any difference if the murder weapon was a Deba Hocho – an Asian cook’s knife? Or a freaking Ginzu? Would the media then have blamed his training as a restaurant owner? What if he’d beaten them all to death with a hockey stick?

What is with the concentration on the weapon? On the killer’s military training? Is it avoidance of the fact that regular people can kill? That the weapon doesn’t make one a killer? That military training – remember, “violent but protective” vs. “violent and predatory” – does not make people raging killbots?

What have we learned here?

People with violent pasts often work themselves up to murder.

Restraining orders, don’t.

Telling people to disarm doesn’t work.

It doesn’t matter if a killer has a gun or not.

It does matter if his victims don’t.

And, finally, “When seconds count, the police are only minutes away.”

Don’t expect to hear that from the media. Or from gun control groups.

But we already knew that.

The Wonders of Nationalized Health Care

In relation to some discussions in the comments here, I thought this bit of news was quite illuminating:

Canadian has rare identical quads

A Canadian woman has given birth to extremely rare identical quadruplets.

The four girls were born at a US hospital because there was no space available at Canadian neonatal intensive care units.

Karen Jepp and her husband JP, of Calgary, were taken to a Montana hospital where the girls were delivered two months early by Caesarean section.

Autumn, Brooke, Calissa and Dahlia are in good condition at Benefis Hospital in Great Falls, Montana.

(Emphasis mine.)

Yup. Socialized medicine really works good, doesn’t it?

UPDATE via Instapundit, Don Surber comments:

This is not to piss all over Canada. Nice nation. Great people. I’m sure most Canadians like their health system. Just remember, though, that Canada’s backup system is in Montana. Americans spend 15% of their income on health care. That’s why Great Falls has enough neo-natal units to handle quadruple births — and a “universal health” nation doesn’t.

After all, they didn’t fly Mrs. Jepp to Cuba, did they?

Quoth Glenn: “OUCH!”

And, as one of Don’s commenters noted, the Jepp quads are now Americans.

Also, from a link in Don’s piece; Kate at Small Dead Animals relates her story about her mother’s terminal illness treatment in Saskatchewan. Interesting quote:

After waiting 10 days on oxygen in an intensive care ward, where it was more likely that a knowledgable visitor would tend to a distressed patient or dysfunctioning equipment than any of the five nurses charged with holding down chairs, we began to wonder when the lung specialist planned to show up to discuss our mother’s condition.

Anecdotes are not equal to data – until you collect enough of them.

UPDATE: And here’s another, found via Clayton Cramer. According to this 8/17 Calgary Herald piece on the Jepp quadruplets:

Jepp was transported to Benefis hospital in Great Falls last Friday — making her the fifth Alberta woman to be transferred south of the border this year because of neonatal shortages in Calgary.

(My emphasis.)

“Gee, I Never Knew 110VAC was a Caliber.”

Hat tip to Xavier. I haven’t finished watching this yet, but that line had me rolling. A 13 year-old girl explains Canada’s gun registration system. Watch “Katey’s Firearm Facts”