We’re trying to be even-handed hear at Crikey so here is a piece from a Canadian editorial (circa 1973) which provides a glowing defence of America and beneath it is the latest attack on America by hard-left Aussie journos and doco maker John Pilger.
By Gordon Sinclair
Canadian TV commentator
Whenever America gets into global strife, people turn to a famous 1973 editorial by Canadian TV commentator Gordon Sinclaire. Here is it:
“The United States dollar took another pounding on German, French and British exchanges this morning, hitting the lowest point ever known in West Germany. It has declined there by 41% since 1971 and this Canadian thinks it is time to speak up for the Americans as the most generous and possibly the least-appreciated people in all the earth.
Get Crikey FREE to your inbox every weekday morning with the Crikey Worm.
Germany, Japan and, to a lesser extent, Britain and Italy were lifted out of the debris of war by the Americans who poured in billions of dollars and forgave other billions in debts.
None of these countries is today paying even the interest on its remaining debts to the United States. When France was in danger of collapsing in 1956, it was the Americans who propped it up, and their reward was to be insulted and swindled on the streets of Paris. I was there. I saw it.
When earthquakes hit distant cities, it is the United States that hurries in to help. This spring, 59 American communities were flattened by tornadoes. Nobody helped. The Marshall Plan and the Truman Policy pumped billions of dollars into discouraged countries. Now newspapers in those countries are writing about the decadent, warmongering Americans.
I’d like to see just one of those countries that is gloating over the erosion of the United States dollar build its own airplane. Does any other country in the world have a plane to equal the Boeing Jumbo Jet, the Lockheed Tri-Star, or the Douglas DC10?
If so, why don’t they fly them? Why do all the International lines except Russia fly American Planes? Why does no other land on earth even consider putting a man or woman on the moon? You talk about Japanese technocracy, and you get radios. You talk about German technocracy, and you get automobiles. You talk about American technocracy, and you find men on the moon – not once, but several times – and safely home again.
You talk about scandals, and the Americans put theirs right in the store window for everybody to look at. Even their draft-dodgers are not pursued and hounded. They are here on our streets, and most of them, unless they are breaking Canadian laws, are getting American dollars from ma and pa at home to spend here.
When the railways of France, Germany and India were breaking down through age, it was the Americans who rebuilt them. When the Pennsylvania Railroad and the New York Central went broke, nobody loaned them an old caboose. Both are still broke.
I can name you 5000 times when the Americans raced to the help of other people in trouble. Can you name me even one time when someone else raced to the Americans in trouble? I don’t think there was outside help even during the San Francisco earthquake.
Our neighbors have faced it alone, and I’m one Canadian who is damned tired of hearing them get kicked around. They will come out of this thing with their flag high. And when they do, they are entitled to thumb their nose at the lands that are gloating over their present troubles. I hope Canada is not one of those.”
Stand proud, America! Wear it proudly!! This is one of the best editorials that I have ever read regarding the United States. It is nice that one man realizes it. I only wish that the rest of the world would realize it. We are always blamed for everything, and never even get a thank you for the things we do.
I would hope that each of you would send this to as many people as you can and emphasize that they should send it to as many of their friends until this letter is sent to every person on the web. I am just a single American that has read this, TRIBUTE TO THE UNITED STATES
Litany of American misdeeds in the Middle East
By John Pilger
Left wing Australian journo and doco maker
If the attacks on America have their source in the Islamic world, who can be surprised? Two days earlier, eight people were killed in southern Iraq when British and American planes bombed civilian areas. Not a word appeared in the mainstream media. An estimated 200,000 Iraqis, according to the Health Education Trust, died during and in the immediate aftermath of the slaughter known as the Gulf war. This was never news that touched public consciousness in the west. At least a million civilians, half of them children, have since died in Iraq as a result of a medieval embargo imposed by the United States and Britain. In Pakistan and Afghanistan, the mujahedin, which gave birth to the fanatical Taliban, was largely the creation of the Central Intelligence Agency; the terrorist training camps where Osama Bin Laden, “America’s most wanted man”, allegedly planned his attacks, were built with American money and backing. In Palestine, the enduring illegal occupation by Israel would have collapsed long ago were it not for American backing.
Far from being the terrorists of the world, the Islamic peoples have been its victims – that is, the victims of American fundamentalism, whose power, in all its forms, military, strategic and economic, is the greatest source of terrorism on earth. This fact is largely censored from the western media. That Tony Blair, whose government sells lethal weapons to Israel and has sprayed Iraq and Yugoslavia with cluster bombs and depleted uranium and was the greatest arms supplier to the genocidists in Indonesia, can be taken seriously when he now speaks about the “shame” of the “new evil of mass terrorism” says much about the censorship of our collective sense of how the world is managed. One of Blair’s favourite words – fatuous – comes to mind. Alas, it is no comfort to the families of the thousands of ordinary Americans who have died so terribly that the perpetrators of their suffering may be the product of western policies.
I was writing about Palestine and censorship when the attacks in America took place. A friend, a distinguished American photojournalist, told me how he had stood up at a debate on media censorship in New York the other day and asked why Israel’s oppression of an Arab nation, a construct of American power, was not recognised in American political life and the media. He was called an anti-Semite. It is not quite as bad in this country. The censorship is more subtle: the collaborative silence of the Jewish establishment, together with the BBC’s promotion of moral equivalence between oppressor and oppressed while adhering essentially to Israel’s and CNN’s news agenda. The Times, says its former Middle East correspondent Sam Kiley, routinely censored his reports in Israel’s favour.
It is left to a courageous few to tell the truth. Among them are two Israeli dissidents: the poet and novelist Yitzhak Laor and the journalist Amira Hass. With the recent death of the indomitable peace campaigner Israel Shahak, they represent an endangered species in their own country. In the current issue of New Left Review, Laor exposes the liberal Zionists “whose voices are heard over and over again”. The notion that there is real difference between the Israeli Labour Party and Likud has been their constant refrain and central to coverage of Israel in Europe and America, often presented in the foreign media as “the contrast between peace and war”.
There was no choice between Ehud Barak and Ariel Sharon. Barak’s peace proposal, as Laor points out, was “the lying sales-talk of all those who marketed a shopping list for the Palestinians that offered them ’90 per cent’ of the West Bank: that is, 90 per cent of what would be left of it after Israel kept its expansion around Jerusalem, its military roads and bases, its settlements . . . What is unthinkable is to envisage them as citizens of their own country, capable of travelling from place to place within it without countless roadblocks (which Barak’s map granted them for ever).”
Barak’s “peace” was given a lot of fanfare in Britain. The Guardian published an effusive article by the Israeli novelist Amos Oz, who is often misrepresented as a dissenter. Oz anointed Barak with “Ben-Gurion’s courage”: a name that every Palestinian has cause to revile. “Barak didn’t release one Palestinian prisoner during the 18 months of his premiership,” writes Laor. “He didn’t dismantle one settlement. On the contrary, during his short career the greatest expansion of the settlements occurred.”
Laor quotes the philosopher Menachem Brinker, another “reasonable” voice of the Zionist left. “Israel cannot under any circumstances,” wrote Brinker, “accept the Palestinian demand regarding its legal and moral responsibility for the departure of the Palestinian refugees. What the Palestinians are demanding is a matter for historians, not for politicians. . . a question for Benny Morris [the Israeli historian].” Laor describes this as an example of “the racism of Zionist intellectuals”. So the refugee camps, he writes despairingly, “are not a political issue. They are material for [Jewish]scholarship . . . There is no Palestinian voice even in examining the ‘historical question’.”
Amira Hass writes a column in the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz. In 1993, she went to live in Gaza. Her subsequent book Drinking the Sea at Gaza (Hamish Hamilton, London) is brilliant, evocative truth-telling that, at last, makes one proud to be a journalist. I urge New Statesman readers to buy this book. Hass describes the everyday suffering of an occupied people with facts she has witnessed and felt: the terrorism and destruction of families, the casual vandalism by the army, the capricious and vicious policies, such as “closure”, imprisoning a whole society at a stroke, and the heartache and anger of those who must live within a few smiles of the ruins of their homes, unable even to touch the ground, let alone go home.
How eloquently she describes the big Israeli lie: “Inherited and manipulated fear, the perception of oneself as the perennial victim, and the primordial Jewish dread of the gentile are projected on to the other people who live in the same country. In this light, all Palestinian behaviour is explained in terms of past Jewish experience, and Islamic religious texts and manifestations are interpreted accordingly, as the expression of fanatics only.”
As she points out, Hamas, representing the kind of fanaticism that may have caused the carnage in America, did not exist until Israel’s outright rejection of a Palestinian state. She devotes a page to a map of Palestinian communities destroyed by the Zionists, given Israeli names and occupants. To study it sends a chill; it could be Poland or Sudetenland 62 years ago. Hass does not spare Yasser Arafat and his acceptance of the fakery of the American-designed Oslo Accords: his failure to stop Jewish settlements, to negotiate the release of Palestinian prisoners and ease the Palestinians’ chronic economic reliance on their colonial oppressor, while ensuring freedom of movement and business opportunities for his own elite. “By creating such divisions and dependency, Israel has ensured Palestinian complicity with separation, an extremely sophisticated method of restraint reminiscent of apartheid.”
Amira Hass’s mother, Hannah, was marched from a cattle train to Bergen-Belsen on a summer’s day in 1944. “She saw these German women looking at the prisoners, just looking.” Her daughter regards “looking from the side” as despicable. Those Europeans and Americans who have looked at the suffering of the Palestinians “from the side” and have accepted the equality of oppressor and oppressed while allowing the lessons of the Holocaust to serve only the oppressor, should heed her words, now that the daily horror has come home.
Truth about Gordon Sinclair
Now, if you’ve got this far, this is the history of the Gordon Sinclair broadcast which acutally happened in 1973:
On June 5, 1973, Gordon Sinclair sat up in bed in Toronto and turned on his TV set. The United States had just pulled out of the Vietnamese War which had ended in a stalemate – a war fought daily on TV, over the radio and in the press. The aftermath of that war resulted in a world-wide sell-off of American investments, prices tumbled, the United States economy was in trouble. The war had also divided the American people, and at home and abroad it seemed everyone was lambasting the United States.
He turned on his radio, twisted the dial and turned it off. He picked up the morning paper. In print, he saw in headlines what he had found on TV and radio – the Americans were taking a verbal beating from nations around the world. Disgusted with what he saw and heard, he was outraged!
At 10:30, on his arrival at CFRB to prepare his two pre-noon broadcasts, he strode into his office and “dashed-off” two pages in 20 minutes for LET’S BE PERSONAL at 11:45 am, and then turned to writing his 11:50 newscast that was to follow. At 12:01 pm, the script for LET’S BE PERSONAL was dropped on the desk of his secretary who scanned the pages for a suitable heading and then wrote “Americans”” across the top and filed it away. The phones were already ringing.
Gordon Sinclair could not have written a book that could have had a greater impact in the world than his two-page script for THE AMERICANS. A book should have been written on the events that followed. But, no one at CFRB, including Sinclair himself, could have envisioned the reaction of the people of the United States – from presidents – state governors – Congress – the Senate – all media including TV, radio, newspapers, magazines – and from the “ordinary” American on the street. Nor could have the Canadian government – stunned by the response to what has come to be regarded as one of Canada’s greatest public relations feats in the history of our relations with the United States of America.
But, how did Sinclair’s tribute to Americans reach them? It had been swept across the United States at the speed of a prairie fire by American radio stations – first, a station in Buffalo called and asked to be fed a tape copy of the broadcast with permission to use – both freely given. Nearby American stations obtained copies from Buffalo or called direct. By the time it reached the Washington, DC area, a station had superimposed Sinc’s broadcast over an instrumental version of BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATER, and was repeating it at fixed times several times a day.
Congressmen and Senators heard it. It was read several times into the Congressional Record. Assuming that it was on a phono (33 1/3 rpm), Americans started a search for a copy. CFRB was contacted. To satisfy the demand, CFRB started to make arrangements with AVCO, an American record company, to manufacture and distribute it as a “single”.
As they were finalizing a contract that would see all royalties which would normally be due Gordon Sinclair be paid (at his request) to the American Red Cross, word was received that an unauthorized record, using Sinclair’s script but read by another broadcaster, was already flooding the US market.
(Subsequently, on learning that this broadcaster had agreed to turn over his royalties to the Red Cross, no legal action was taken).
Sinclair’s recording of his own work (to which Avco had added a stirring rendition of THE BATTLE HYMN OF THE REPUBLIC) did finally reach record stores, and sold hundreds of thousands of copies, but the potential numbers were depressed by the sale of the infringing record. Other record producers and performers (including Tex Ritter) obtained legal permission to make their own versions. In Ritter’s case, because of the first-person style of the script, Tex preceded his performance with a proper credit to Sinclair as the author. The American Red Cross received millions of dollars in royalties, and Gordon Sinclair was present at a special ceremony acknowledging his donation.
Advertisers using print media contacted CFRB for permission to publish the text in a non-commercial manner; industrial plants asked for the right to print the script in leaflet form to handout to their employees.
Gordon Sinclair received invitations to attend and be honoured at many functions in the United States which, by number and due to family health problems at the time, he had to decline. However, CFRB newscaster Charles Doering, was flown to Washington to give a public reading of THE AMERICANS to the 28th National Convention of the United States Air Force Association, held September 18, 1974 at the Sheraton Park Hotel. His presentation was performed with the on-stage backing of the U.S. Air Force Concert Band, joined by the 100-voice Singing Sergeants in a special arrangement of The Battle Hymn of the Republic.
8 years after the first broadcast of THE AMERICANS, U.S. President Ronald Reagan made his first official visit to Canada. At the welcoming ceremonies on Parliament Hill, the new President praised “the Canadian journalist who wrote that (tribute)” to the United States when it needed a friend.
Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau had Sinclair flown to Ottawa to be his guest at the reception that evening.
Sinc had a long and pleasant conversation with Mr. Reagan. The President told him that he had a copy of the record of THE AMERICANS at his California ranch home when he was governor of the state, and played it from time to time when things looked gloomy.
On the evening of May 15th, 1984, following a regular day’s broadcasting, Gordon Sinclair suffered a heart attack. He died on May 17th. As the word of his illness spread throughout the United States, calls inquiring about his condition had been received from as far away as Texas. The editorial in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune of May 28th was typical of the reaction of the United States news media – A GOOD FRIEND PASSES ON.
U.S. President Ronald Reagan: “I know I speak for all Americans in saying the radio editorial Gordon wrote in 1973 praising the accomplishments of the United States was a wonderful inspiration. It was not only critics abroad who forgot this nation’s many great achievements, but even critics here at home. Gordon Sinclair reminded us to take pride in our nation’s fundamental values.”
Former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau: “Gordon Sinclair’s death ends one of the longest and most remarkable careers in Canadian Journalism. His wit, irreverence, bluntness and off-beat views have been part of the media landscape for so long that many Canadians had come to believe he would always be there.”
Following a private family service, two thousand people from all walks of life filled Nathan Phillips Square in front of Toronto’s City Hall for a public service of remembrance organized by Mayor Art Eggleton. Dignitaries joining him on the platform were Ontario Lieutenant-Governor, John Black Aird; the Premier of Ontario, William Davis; and Metro Chairman Paul Godfrey. Tens of thousands more joined them through CFRB’s live broadcast of the service which began symbolically at 11:45 – the regular time of Sinc’s daily broadcast of LET’S BE PERSONAL.
As Ontario Premier William Davis said of him “The name GORDON SINCLAIR could become the classic definition of a full life.”