Friday, January 19, 2007

Response to Tim Challies -- Why I hate America (and a few reasons I love it)

One of the great Canadian Reformed minds of the blogosophere, Tim Challies, has turned his attention to travelogue with his recent post Things I hate about America (and a few reasons I love it). You must read the full article (even down to the fine print where he says it is tongue in cheek). Honestly there are a few points that he makes that hit home -- but I feel compelled to offer a heartfelt reply, in defense of some of the things that I hold dear:

Grits -- Tim takes on this southern cuisine as food not fit for human consumption. Later he references Waffle House as another of his things that he hates -- and the truth becomes clear. Tim has never had grits. Yes he's had that white pasty stuff that some folks use as mortar in masonry repair jobs -- that's obviously what he had at Waffle house. But he's never had stone ground corn cooked with cream and cheese and served up with a plate of boiled shrimp that were swimming in the creek that morning. Judging grits based off Waffle House would be like judging the cultural output of Canada based on Bob and Doug MacKenzie.

A Lack of Tim Hortons -- Tim seems to consider Tim Hortons as the holy grail of the coffee and donut experience. Fortunately in our country we have many chains, many of them regional, that serve fine coffee and donuts. Yankees seem to have a predeliction for Dunkin Donuts while down south we have Krispy Kreme (and never the twain shall meet). You get fine coffee and great confections at either. Perhaps Tim was just too dazed and confused from his time in....

Ohio -- here's where Tim takes another crack -- this time at my adopted state. He seems to think that Ohio only exists to separate the US and Canada (and house the pro football hall of fame). I personally invite Tim to Cincinnati -- come stay with us for a few days so I can show you all about Ohio's great contributions (at least here in the southern part of the state) -- we have the oldest paid fire department, one of the longest running professional symphonies, the oldest protestant church west of the Allegheney mountains, the largest Oktoberfest celebration outside of Germany, and the most chili parlors per capita of any city in the world. Which leads us to Tim's next problem with America....

Biggest, longest, oldest --- He seems to think that all our communities like to brag about having the most of something.... well.... OK, never mind, I don't have a good rebuttal for that one (see above comment)

Sports -- he chides the Americans for obsessing about sports. Can we say "World Cup?" -- we don't have hooligans inciting riots over sports events here. And what is wrong about whole communities coming out to cheer on youth sports -- like high school football and soccer and basketball. In a sense it is a cleaner, more idealistic approach to the game -- less tainted by big money and outsize egos of professional sports. It speaks to the American spirit that we all have something to be proud of.

Highway lanes and oversize billboards -- OK, you've got us on that one Tim. Though I won't grant you the speed limits. The reason why speed limits are so high in Canada is because there's just a whole lot of tundra up there -- for an American analogy, go visit the plains states.

I am glad to see that Tim acknowledges the culinary virtue of Chick Fil-a, one of my favorite fast food joints going way way back. And he acknowledges that American Patriotism is a good thing -- we stand together as being a part of something, rather than simply defining ourselves as what we're not.

As for Canada, I really have no cracks to make -- beyond the fine cultural exports (where else could we have discovered a Celine Dion or Bryan Adams) and the outstanding athletic accomplishments (who else would have brought Curling to the olympics), it makes for a fine tourist destination for Americans wanting something of a break. Somebody needs to be up there to maintain the place.

Canadians also are some of the friendliest, most easygoing people I've ever met. Quips about patriotism aside, I've found Canadians to be proud of their nation, their culture, and their contributions. And most of us in America are proud of the friendly relationship our nation has with our northern neighbor

And all of that without a single comment using "beauty" or "eh?"