9/11 And "Americans"

It took a Canadian to help America appreciate itself.

There are all sorts of things I could write about on the 10th anniversary of the September 11th attacks: where I was when it happened, what has happened to America since then, are we winning the "War on Terror", and so on.  But I don't think people really care where I was, and the rest has been talked about almost from September 11, 2001 itself.

I would like to reflect on some thoughts in a newspaper column nearly 40 years ago, that was NOT written by an American, and could not have foreseen what is going on today.  It still is very forward-thinking as to what Americans think about themselves, and why this nation's detractors (including those who masterminded the attacks of 9/11) don't "get it" when it comes to why the United States of America is still the greatest nation in the world.

First, the column itself:


It was written in the Toronto Star...that's right, a Canadian newspaper...by a columnist named Gordon Sinclair, in 1973.  It says...and it's still true today...that it's our country which almost always responds before anyone else to other nations in crisis. And the fiscal problems Sinclair refers to in 1973 America are minor compared to the debt situation the nation is in now.  And the "scandals in the store window" comment is an apparent reference to the then-growing Watergate scandal. (Today, we put every "scandal"...major or minor...in our "store window".)

The column got enough attention in the summer of 1973 that Sinclair was persuaded to put a narrative of it on a record, which was a modest hit that summer. But another version, this time recorded by Canadian radio newsman Byron McGregor, became an even bigger hit the following winter.  The latter version was played again on radio stations throughout the country ten years ago, after September 11.

I don't know if Mr. Sinclair got any royalties from the records (he died in the early 1980's).  He should, however, get the grateful appreciation of a nation whose citizens don't often see in themselves what he saw in them.



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