Saturday, February 12, 2005

Broken Musings

I bumped into a lawyer downtown today who spoke really good English. He stopped me on the street and starting talking to me about foreign policy. Since that never happens in Korea, I listened. First of all he thanked my country for supporting America's attempts to bring North Korea to the negotiating table. "Why, you're welcome." Then he launched into a diatribe on human rights and how much Bush is doing to help out the cause. "Excuse me?" He eventually went on to talk about how much Bush has done for women's rights, I nearly choked, "Oh, you must mean the women he liberated from the Taliban that he helped put into power. Or are you referring to his progressive ideas on abortion and a woman's right to choose?" It turns out that he was invited to America by the Clinton administration in 1993 to work as an environmental lawyer. He still remembers snippets from Bush's inauguration speech and considers America and Canada partners in "ridding the world of human rights abuses." He wants America to "de-throne" Kim Jong Il and is very happy that Canada is so supportive of US foreign policy. "Supportive? We support foreign aid and the US's attempts to hold talks and if necessary, UN sanctioned military tactics, but we do not support a profit-driven attack on already suffering countries, the removal of personal rights and freedoms within it's own borders and their disregard for privacy, fairness and the separation of church and state."

All of the things between quotation marks were thought, not said. What was said was "Yes. I agree." "Oh, really" and "Hmmm." I didn't want to argue with him because he seemed so excited to be speaking English and because I am a guest in his country. I allowed him to think that all of Canada agrees with every move the Bush administration thinks.

This made me think. Was I being polite? Congenial? In my typically Canadian response, had I crossed the line from "nice" to plain old "pussy"? What's the best thing to do in those types of situations and as a country, does Canada pride itself too much on being liked and not enough on being honest?

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