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August 20, 2002


I've been asked my more than one person to respond to the Open Letter to America, which is currently burning up the internet so fast, you'd think it was written by rtm.

I am reminded of a time in my own life when I got a letter from someone I really cared about, telling me what I refused to tell myself: I was an asshole.

Set the wayback machine circa 1988 or 1989. I am on top of the world. I travel in limos and fly first class to events where hundreds and sometimes thousands of people scream for me. Everywhere I look, I see my face staring back at me from Teen Cheese and Non-Threatening Boys magazines. I am getting more fan mail than anyone else at Paramount.

I am also desperately unhappy.


In the summer of 1988 or 89, I had this huge crush on a girl from school. She was really beautiful, sexy, and fun to be with.

We dated a few times, hung out a lot, and I was really falling for her. Then one day she stopped returning my calls, and coming over.

I was crushed. I didn't understand what had happened.

Then one morning I got a letter from her. In it, she told me, as delicately as possible, that she just couldn't be around me any more. I was arrogant, rude, ungrateful for what I had, and I treated her like property. I was demanding, overbearing, unwilling to listen to or respect other people's opinions. I was a dick, an ass, a jerk. She described to me a person I wouldn't ever want to sit next to on a bench, much less be.

I was stunned. I took the letter to my best friend Darin, and showed it to him, looking for comfort. He'd help me feel better about this frigid bitch, I thought.

When he was done reading it, he asked me what I thought. I declared, with righteous indignation, that she "didn't know what the fuck she was talking about", and that she could "fuck off, because it was bullshit."

Darin looked at me, and he said, gently, "Wil, you should read it again, because she's right."

I looked at him, he looked back at me. This was not the reaction I was expecting.

"What?" I asked, wondering if maybe I'd brought the wrong letter.

"[Her name] wrote you this letter because she cares about you, and she doesn't like what you've become. Frankly, none of your friends do. So you can read it again, and take it to heart, or you can blow it off, and continue to alienate yourself from everyone who cares about you, including me."

I really respected Darin. He was (is) the most tolerant, patient, loyal, honest person I knew (know). His words, added to those I held in my now-quaking hands were a Rosetta stone. Everything I didn't like about myself but was unwilling to address was all on those 3 sheets of hand-written 8x10 spiral-bound notebook paper, translated by my best friend into language I could understand.

A door was opened in that moment, and I had a choice to make: walk through and face myself, or ignore it and walk past.

I walked through, and on that day I began the process of re-evaluating my life, my priorities, and most importantly my attitude. It was scary, it was uncertain, it was vital. It was a long process, taking nearly 6 years, but it started that day.

People ask me all the time why I haven't ended up dead or drug-addicted, or in trouble in the law. The answer is still written on those sheets of paper, long-lost but not forgotten.

To this day I carry more than a little bit of guilt for the way I treated her. I've been able to apologize to everyone else who I've wronged in my life, but never to her. Maybe she'll read this and hear me say "Thank you, and I'm sorry."

So, back to the Open Letter. Do I agree with all of it? No. I think some of it is wildly off-base, and I think the message would be listened to by more people who need to hear it if it wasn't so inflammatory.

On the other hand, I think that America has an opportunity to walk through an open door, and take a long hard look at ourselves. The simple fact is, America, most of the world really doesn't like us. We're arrogant, irresponsible, and unaccountable. We loudly an constantly remind the world that we are a Superpower...well, with great power comes great responsibility, right?

The great thing about America is that We The People have a voice, and the louder that voice, the more insistent that voice, the harder it is to silence.

Let's raise our voice, and walk through this open door. It's scary. It is uncertain, but it is vital that we do. It will be a long process, but we can do it.

I'll take the first step, with this Thought for Today:

"If you succeed through violence at the expense of other's rights and welfare, you have not solved the problem, but only created the seeds for another."

Posted by wil at August 20, 2002 03:30 PM
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Gawl dang, Wil Wheaton. I can't believe how intelligent (and eloquent) you really are. Your Open Letter is really right on - and the way you draw the parallel to your own received-in-the-nick-of-time letter is really insightful.

Keep fighting the good fight.


Posted by: Mark at August 20, 2002 03:57 PM

Its become ever important to me to realise that sometimes your best friends are the people who tell you what you don't want to hear. Thats happened to me a lot over the last few months and I hope that I too will be able to listen to it and learn. Thanks
as ever,

Posted by: shaun at August 20, 2002 03:59 PM

And as they say "d'oh", I read your parallel assuming that you had been asked to comment on a previous post of yours from earlier this year. Sorry for the confusion, but the fact remains you seem to be more in touch with this world than most of the rest of its inhabitants. Many thanks.


Posted by: Mark at August 20, 2002 04:03 PM


I don't agree with the open letter. I do agree with Wil. I think the letter is wildly offbase, and ridiculous.


Posted by: James at August 20, 2002 04:11 PM

Yeah man, totally agree more than I care to extrapolate here. You know, its really weird that you might actually read this. You are a celebrity among celebrities, and I don't wonder why you didn't end up dead or a junkie. Though if I were cruel I might just say possibly because you aren't that good an actor ;)

Posted by: Rob at August 20, 2002 04:12 PM

Some insightful thoughts on the Open Letter, Wil.

My whole spin on the general reaction to this little manifesto is that there are people who were genuinely dismayed, and a bit resentful to have been lumped into a general category. Howeer, I also know that there are a lot of really obnoxious, pompous, ethnocentric people out there, and that the media is not helping.

Perhaps if Mr. McDougall had rephrased his accusations at "those people in America who..." instead of every single person who happens to have been born here, his letter may not have had the same effect... especially because "those people" to whom he was referring would probably react with indifference, anyway.

Still, it gives one reason to pause and assess one's demeanor and behavior. I certainly hope that no one sees me as the author of that letter apparently thinks he has, and I will do my best to never give them a reason to.

Posted by: kendoka at August 20, 2002 04:13 PM

You know what I find most interesting here?

The fact that I posted about it and sort of remained as ambivalent as possible and watched people take sides and attack this and/or that as right and/or wrong, but no one really sat back on their laurels and said, "Hey, maybe someone's on to something here."

I'm not really surprised; it's almost equal to saying that Springsteen's new album is driven by a disaster to help revitalize his career.

You might as well think that you'd crucified Christ as to even suggest such a dastardly thing--when the end result is that is something that could have happened--regardless as to the type of character the man has...it just could happen.

Anywho, when people start to understand that someone else's reality is actual their perception of things, maybe then they're work to change perceptions instead of being so damned defensive.

Kudos, Wil, as always.

Posted by: Roughy at August 20, 2002 04:24 PM

I have perhaps a unique viewpoint on the open letter to America.

I've lived in Canada most of my life, however, I am a US citizen. This last fact I have kept to myself recently, as those around me have growing animosity towards our southern neighbor.

The letter's core thesis is bang on, however the ideas are presented in a very inflammatory way encouraging some to not take it seriously.

Canadians (in general) and probably most of the world, view Americans (collectively, not each American) as bullies. You are the big bullies on the playground - you take what you want, you push who you want, and if someone questions you, then all of a sudden you are all innocent?

Don't take this personally. I know most Americans are decent people - remember I am one. But the foreign policy of the US is so aggressive and self serving that no other country can stand you. Most countries play ball because they fear the US more than they hate it.

I read recently in the news - we must remove Saddam Hussein before he threatens us. Remember when we tried to appease Hitler? Well is Saddam Hitler, or maybe Bush is. How can you justify war because there might be some future threat? This is a license for world wide genocide and as a Canadian I am scared to death of Bush's policy. Am I next on Bush's list?

Posted by: Rhett at August 20, 2002 04:35 PM

Having read the letter I have to say that I must discount the style of rhetoric as showboating, while affirming, that as a Canadian, I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment.

John McGregor

Posted by: John McGregor at August 20, 2002 04:41 PM

Thank you for adding your voice to those americans who also realize that its time the US stops and asks itself why do some people hate them so much. The entire world owes a lot to the USA, and to see such a nation let itself be dismissed as a bunch of loud-mouthed, dollar-toting morons wouldn't be right either.

Posted by: Alexander Torres at August 20, 2002 04:52 PM


I can hardly express my feelings about that entry.
At first, I´m still astonished about you presenting very personal issues from the past in an openly way to emphasize things that are moving you today.
And it works. This is one of the most sensible and sensitive opinions I´ve read so far. Others may or may not agree to what you write and think, but point is you did strength your opinion with very powerfull content.
Keep on with your way of moving in the world.
Perhaps you can move others.


Posted by: Buck at August 20, 2002 05:04 PM

I think what you said is very true.

Posted by: Brittany at August 20, 2002 05:05 PM

Well said.

Posted by: spudnuts at August 20, 2002 05:05 PM

Hmmmmmm. It is strange to for me to say this, but I guess in recent years, I've developed a different point of view.

Years ago I would have stepped up to the plate and said, "You said it boy. America sucks!" However, in recent years, I've changed. I found the "open letter" distasteful. Reeking of terrible bigotry, it seemed to place blame for all the problems of the world on one group. That group just happens to be Americans.

I am an American, and most of the people I know are not that arrogant, loud, or obnoxious, as the letter suggests. I do not consider America a sick or evil nation. In fact, now that I think of it, I don't even know a single murderer personally, certainly conflicting with the notion that we are a nation of mostly murders. I am not fat. I do not eat hamburgers very often. I do not agree with everything the president says or does, but I do respect that he has some very tough decisions to make -- decisions concerning life and death, and ones that I'm glad that I don't have to make. Quite frankly, I live in a nation where I can disagree with what our leaders say, and I'm quite happy about that. I am quite thankful to be born American and to have the opportunities I've had.

Stepping off the soapbox.

- HunahpuMonkey

Posted by: HunahpuMonkey at August 20, 2002 05:13 PM

Though there are lots of specific things I dont agree with in that Open Letter, and understand that it lumps all Americans in together a bit unfairly, I have to agree with the 'vibe'. Friends of America, who aren't ungrateful for it's past sacrifices and commitments, dont like what it's doing now or turning into. The culture (particularly the litigious one, and the jingoistic nationalism) is beginning to stink. As a (flawed) democracy, your leaders reflect and represent you all. But this message wont ever get through to the top, so what are you going to do about it? Vote Nader?

Wil, your linking to your personal history is beautiful and wonderfully honest.

Posted by: wilful at August 20, 2002 05:19 PM

You wrote a Damn Good article Wil.

Posted by: Mark Wadsworth at August 20, 2002 05:28 PM

Well put dude.

Posted by: Nick C at August 20, 2002 05:38 PM

It is the inflamatory nature of the letter that makes it so repugnant. It is so full of gerneralizations with no support. Wil, your argument is cogent and not stated to inflame passion but open dialogue. Your attitude is very, very much appriciated. Thank you.

Posted by: zer0 at August 20, 2002 05:40 PM

Very well done.

Posted by: angry penguin at August 20, 2002 05:42 PM

I'm often ashamed to be an American, but I lack the cojones to leave. It's cushy here.

But that open letter... man. It'd be nice to have a change come from it.

But it's an affront on pride, and many people don't take those kindly. Like Wil's pal pointed out, there are several ways to take a letter like that, and one of them is with outrage, ignoring the points made within and continuing along the present course.

Change is scary. Pity we're such a bloated country. If there's any luck out there, younger generations will pick up the ball and run with it.

Posted by: KJB at August 20, 2002 05:43 PM

Like other have said the letter is a bit over the top. but it has a lot of true points. things do need to change. but sadly most of the country are ignorant morons who aspire to drive giant SUVs or gas guzzling sports cars. food industries have gotten so large and mechanized that food be it meat or vegtable is highly processed and filled with altered genes or hormones. the list of things go on. If peopel cared american could be a better place with elected officals who aren't in some corporations back pocket. many things coud be changed but they won't how small is the community in that nation that CARES. not many. if every person did even a small thing be it adopt a child instead of add naother to the already over populated planet, drive a fuel efficent car.(everyone shouldo this) but any how a very small portion of the US population give a care and not many more are able to over come thier coimplete ignorance of anything outside thier little world.

Posted by: Pikachu at August 20, 2002 05:45 PM

As a Canadian, I also completely agree with the sentiment of the open letter. The statement "an affliction of mass denial that brings shivers up the spines of millions outside your borders" sums up my own feelings well.

But I also realize the letter uses unfair stereotypes and inflammatory language that lump all Americans into a single negative image. That kind of portrayal is only designed to raise your hackles. You very rightly would feel defensive.

I know many Americans, and individually you are great. Truly. Your country has so much to offer, and so much is wonderful about it and the people in it.

But the problem is entirely that as a nation (collectively, not individually), your policies, actions and attitudes all too often frighten me and many others in the world. So please do not take our fear and anger personally. We can only hope that statements like these, and intelligent rational debate, will eventually lead you to change your nation for the better.

Posted by: mandy at August 20, 2002 05:49 PM

Trolls must not be fed
But from thoughful rejoinder
The US can learn

Posted by: Thurog at August 20, 2002 05:52 PM

I spend alot of time on the internet and speak to people from all over the world. The other day I spoke to a chinese person who informed me that China blames the US for it's political climate (or something to that effect). I know the US is no angel but it seems to me alot of people like to blame "us" for far more than what we actually perpetrate. People may fear "us" more but there's also a bigger target on our ass.

Posted by: AMStrange at August 20, 2002 06:00 PM

Wil, you really should investigate the buddhist religions. You seem to be making personal discoveries that fall right in line with some of those philosophies.

Peace, Fetus.

Posted by: sfotw at August 20, 2002 06:07 PM

Wow, that open letter is one big troll. Not that I think the US is perfect, far from it, but the intent of the letter is clearly more about provoking a response than actually expressing a deeply felt point of view.

One of the main things that can be criticized about it is that most Western countries are vulnerable to the same criticisms of the US, although not always to the same degree. Does Canada not also consume oil? Does the UK not also send its troops overseas (and is the UK not often even more aggressive and jingoistic than the US)?

This letter will only serve to polarize its readers into either the "right on, the US is totally evil" or the "screw you Canada you ungrateful bastards" camps.

Posted by: Sanity at August 20, 2002 06:13 PM

Excellent post, Wil.

HunahpuMonkey, the second half of your last graf is certainly true -- we are not a group of thugs personally. However, our leaders certainly are thugs, as are all world leaders, or at least the ones who can act like thugs.

Because America has the most power, it can act like the biggest thug. It isn't us; it is the nature of the system. Our leaders ally themselves with someone like Ariel Sharon (or Saddam Hussein twenty years ago, see today's MSNBC) not because they want to see the Palestinians and Israelis suffer, but because they benefit. Our problem is we do not call them on this.

When our country -- our country, I'm an American and I would not have it any other way, except warmer in the Midwest in the winter -- has 50% of the world's resources and 4% of the world's population, it is, well, whiny to say we are the victims of bigotry. It is like Bill Gates complaining that everyone picks on Microsoft. We suffer all the way to the bank.

We are fortunate. We need to make sure everyone in the world shares in our good fortune, because it is a good life here. It should be this good everywhere.

Posted by: Rasputin at August 20, 2002 06:14 PM

Wil, I read your story first before reading the Open Letter. At first I thought the Open Letter was wildly melodramatic and I therefore almost stopped reading it. I kept going back to it though and frankly, the author is right. You're quote at the end is dead on.

This nonsense America is engaged in needs to stop and it's the citizens of this country that need to put a stop to it. While no country on the planet can please everyone is it really necessary for us to actively displease the entire planet? There is a bill that will come due at some point and I can gaurantee that if we stay on our current path we won't much like it.


Posted by: Kman at August 20, 2002 06:31 PM

This is indeed a door that can be either opened and walked through or closed and pissed on. The US is seen so much as a bully/monopolizing/trying to take over the world with our culture and economy -- the government needs to reevaluate how the message and the actions we do are being sent our and perceived.... we cannot afford to lose the next generation to hatred and fear nor can we afford to alienate our allies.

As always Wil, an insightful look... thank you SIR!

Posted by: ***THE BEEJ*** at August 20, 2002 06:40 PM

i get mad at the things our government does sometimes...i get mad at the reasons our government does what it does sometimes...sometimes it seems the only voices that are heard are the loudest, whiniest and richest...when the quiet voices of reason and wisdom are going unheard by the powers that be...but i can't give up on the USA...because i know most of the time the truth does come through...like it always has...it may take longer than i like...but sometimes the waiting for justice makes it all the more precious when it comes...am i proud to be an american...YES...do i believe we still have a long way to go before we can really be the society we have the potential to be...YES...we still have alot to learn...about ourselves...and about the other people who share this planet with us...and like everything else we humans learn...too often this wisdom is born from pain.

Posted by: d. burr at August 20, 2002 06:52 PM


I can't say that the open letter does not have it's points. A lot of America no longer cares about anything. We are a nation to consumed with are daily grind of going to work, going to school, paying bills, and grabbing a bite of fast food in between that we hardly take time to notice anything political, or even outside our own family circle until it smacks us right in the face, and when it does we get angry, why? If we are to lazy to care before why care now? That is why I agree with you. We should take a step foreward through that now open door and take a long look at ourselves, and reavaluate our

Well said Wil.

Well until your next post......


Posted by: Matt at August 20, 2002 06:55 PM

The "Open Letter To America" is merely a badly written parody of Gordon Sinclair's famous 1973 commentary.

Posted by: Fred Fowler at August 20, 2002 07:06 PM

"The rest of the world hates us." Thing is, and I'm saying this from the perspective of a world traveller, the rest of the world are idiots.

This guy seems to have his problems, but for some reason he wasn't killed for speaking his mind. What a horrible country we are.

Posted by: GORDON at August 20, 2002 07:24 PM


Thank you for perspective, and asking the right questions. I have found that the people who are the greatest teachers, aren't the ones telling you how it is... Great teachers ask the right questions to help you reach your conclusion.

We are all children of the Great Spirit, we all belong to Mother Earth. Our planet is in great trouble and if we keep carrying old grudges and do not work together, we will all die.
- Chief Seattle

Posted by: Vince at August 20, 2002 07:24 PM

I know it is difficult to accept but at least 99.9% of Mr McDougall's letter is true. For example, Bin Laden is labelled a terrorist and monster, yet former Israeli Defence Minister and now Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, is not. (When you say a prayer for the victims of 9/11, also say a prayer for the victims of Sabra & Shatila -- September 2002 is the 20th anniversary of that horrific massacre and Sharon is as much responsible for the deaths of those 3,000+ men, women and children, as Bin Laden is for the deaths last year.) This is all documented fact and if this is documented fact, maybe all his other accusations are documented fact. Use the power of the Internet and research first, before dismissing anything, or everything, out of hand.

Further more, McDougall *had* to make it inflammatory because it is the only way Americans would bother noticing it. If he had been polite, he would have been ignored. In much the same way a polite Palestinian protestor is ignored but a suicide bomber is noticed. You may abhor the latter's method but at least you noticed the message. The same goes here: abhor the method but *notice* the message. How you react to it, then act on it, will determine if he's got a point, or not.

Posted by: Evil Jimi at August 20, 2002 07:36 PM

As usual, well said Wil.

I am a Canadian and I do not agree with this letter. Not because the points made are not true (many are) but because they imply a malicious intent which I do not believe is there.

As a nation, Americans are arrogant ... but then again, as a nation, you've earned that right. Your biggest mistake is that you assume that the rest of the world wishes they were American. Trust me, the majority of people in every first world country are proud of their nations and would not become American for anything.

But back to the open letter (more accurately described as a rant). It is just infamatory ramblings that are not based on any facts. It presents no evidence ... nothing to argue against. It is not worth the effort.

Posted by: Dave at August 20, 2002 07:49 PM

Well, I can't say I like american policy, or even most of the mentality down there (being Canadian and all) but I do find the letter over the top. Something so very rigid and paranoid like this does not help anything, although it is interesting to see that americans tend to take it seriously for good or bad. High drama always has an impact. Just look at Jerry Springers ratings.

Posted by: Sharp at August 20, 2002 07:54 PM

When the American government looks out for what is in the best interest of it's people, the other countries hate us for it.

When the American government takes care of other countries, the other countries hate us for it.

Could it be jealousy? I think so.

However, I do appreciate the personal story that you wrote, Will. That took guts. :)

Posted by: Angelwwolf at August 20, 2002 08:10 PM


If more people would phrase their arguments the way you did, the world would be a better place. America isn't perfect, but I would rather live here than anywhere else. The writer of that hate-filled manifesto forgets one thing: the world is an anarchical society, and sometimes nations have to do the unpopular thing to protect others. Does anyone here argue that Afghanistan is worse off now than it was on September 10, 2001? If someone can say yes to that, I would like to hear it.
Like it or not, George Bush IS the president of the United States, and given the exhaustive recount done by both the Washington Post and the Miami Herald, he won Florida. But I digress.
Yes, Bush is too pro-business for my taste, and the political system in this country needs massive campaign finance reform, but for the most part, the right things get done for the right reasons.

But I am not responding to you, I am responding to that letter. Like I said above, you phrased your arguments cogently. However, isn't it possible that in this anarchical world system, some people hate us because we have a mostly open, tolerant society? And isn't it possible that some nations are inherently anti-status quo? Who should stop those people?

And when it comes to Israel and Sharon: remember, Israel is a Democracy, the Palestinian authority (leb by the Billionaire Arafat-what is his job again and how did he make is money? By robing his people?) is not. Palestine never was a country, it was a region of the British Empire. And, by the way, most Palestinians live peacefully and successfully in their native country, Jordan.

Just calling it like I see it.

Thanks, Wil

Posted by: Trevor Pyle at August 20, 2002 08:17 PM

A very honest and interesting story from your limousine days. It seems your girlfriend or critic opened your eyes and you agreed with the criticism, then set about making changes. I don't think McDougal is such a worthy and objective critic. According to him, the FBI and intel. agencies arranged JFK's assassination, likely arranged 9/11 to justify totalitarian laws, and might arrange for a nuke in one of our cities if 9/11 doesn't enable our "shadow gov't" to achieve all it's totalitarian, freedom ending objectives. I can think of a few conspiracy theories he didn't mention, but that doesn't mean he wouldn't agree with them.
We all have things we think should change in our country. Often, they're the opposite of each other. But, McDougal hardly seems like an eye-opener, or door opener we need. You seem to agree with that. He told us a lot more about himself than about America, IMO. Don't you think we should take a good look at the motives of our critics? Should European, or other nations, have a veto over our policy decisions? They seem to want one. Just because someone or a nation disagrees with us, or doesn't like us, doesn't mean their opinions are better than ours.
If we succeed through violence and bring greater freedom to people who had few rights, and whose welfare was generally poor, we've sown the seeds for a better future. Freedoms and rights are normally suppressed through violence, and change seldom comes in those cases except through those who can bring greater power and remove those who suppress freedoms. That will never happen without the loss of some innocent lives. The alternative is for the suppressed to live that way indefinitely, with little hope of better days during their lives.
There were few specifics in your fine post, or in the replies so far. But, it always comes down to specifics, things to do or refrain from doing. What if only 20% - 30% of Americans agree with doing nothing in some of the current situations our country must contend with? They other 70% or so might not be the fat fools McDougal seems to consider them (us). Who are the fools?

Interesting post, Wil. Maybe more specific issues later.

Posted by: William at August 20, 2002 08:30 PM

Roughy wrote:
"...when people start to understand that someone else's reality is actual their perception of things, maybe then they're work to change perceptions instead of being so damned defensive."
-Very well said.

Rhett wrote:
"The letter's core thesis is bang on, however the ideas are presented in a very inflammatory way encouraging some to not take it seriously."

-I think that's the idea I was trying to get across in my original reponse to Roughy's McDougall post at Unrealistic Expectations. I haven't written like that in a long time, and it felt good.

Wow, Wil, you're good. That post deserves applause and a standing ovation. Your writing once again amazes and impresses me. Kudos for walking through that door and for having the intelligence recognize similar doors.

You seem to be at a really good place in your life right now. Remember that, especially when you have bad days. You're living the "American Dream" with intelligence, eloquence and courage.

Posted by: delphine at August 20, 2002 08:34 PM

As a Canadian, I do agree with the core meaning of the infamous Open Letter, but I cannot stand how it was written.

We're supposed to be polite, dammit. This guy's giving us a bad name. ;)

Seriously, Wil, I admire what you've said in this post. I don't dislike Americans, I don't even dislike the United States on the whole, but if more people thought the way you do in this post, I might actually *like* the US instead of seeing it the way I do now... A neighbour that I'm (sometimes) embarassed by.

Posted by: Julie at August 20, 2002 08:35 PM

What's wrong with you people? Why is it at all important that the rest of the world likes us? We are NOT the cause of all the hatred and stupidity that goes on in the world. That letter has only one grain of truth in it:

"Does this bother you? Not in the least."

Should it bother us what idiots and morons say? It shouldn't. Yes America is a super power, the only one left. And we support half of the rest of the world with our money. The Canadians and EUnicks, don't.

Posted by: Dave Worley at August 20, 2002 08:39 PM

I don't like the way the letter said some of the things. It was kinda harsh I think. However, many of the base points in the letter I have thought myself. The real reason I have not said those opinions aloud to too many people is because I'm chicken. The cover reason is because I made a choice to live in society and in order to do that I have to keep my mouth shut on a couple issues. If I didn't want to live in society, if I didn't want to go to school or ever have a job, if i wanted to live in a padded room or get "dissapeared", then I could let loose everything I suspect about our collective (US and Canada) governments.

Posted by: Samantha Lee at August 20, 2002 08:47 PM

As a New Yorker I'm certainly well aware that there are no shortage of people out there who hate America. Some people can lay it out in rational rhetoric, others spew out hate filled purple prose like this manifesto.

There's nothing particularly original about it. Give the average bigot 5 pages to spew about the people he hates and he will produce something very much like it, whether it's against Blacks, Jews, Gays, Latinos or whoever.

What is mildly interesting is the acceptance it's enjoying from self-hating Americans. It's as if a black man picked up a newsletter from the KKK, nodded his head and said, "Well it's a bit extreme, but they have some good points." And of course self-hating people like that who will agree with their enemies's views of them, in part because they've internalized those prejudices, do exist in every community. Unfortunately it also seems that they've become a vocal minority in the United States.

That's why I laughed when I read the letter. After all it's so obviously a man working out his prejudices, seething with hatred and spewing out incoherent and rambling attacks combined with every America-bashing cliche imaginable. I stopped laughing when I read the responses from some Americans praising it. The letter itself is meaningless, the fact that there are some people out there who hate their country enough to respond to this rambling bigotry with anything but derision and contempt suggests some rather sad things about them.

Posted by: O. Deus at August 20, 2002 08:54 PM

I laugh at you all. At the person who wrote the Open Letter, those who support it, and those against. Most of you don't know what you are talking about. I'm one of them, but hear me out.

The problem with government and politcs these days is two-fold.
First, the world is huge. There are billions of people. Everyone has their own agenda. This results in politics that are almost undecipherably complicated. Millions of decisions are made, policies created, bent, and broken, for who knows how many different corporate, public, or personal reasons, and somehow we think slapping words like 'evil' or 'good' on the actions sum them up accurately. What a joke. Governments trying to save human life will associate with murderers. Governments will help you now so they can take your money later. Governments will support free speech, and then the next day not support free speech. Believing a government has 'wants', or that it 'likes' something is as useful as personifying a rock. It is INCREDIBLY hard to understand. It's like trying to predict the weather or stocks - you can do it sometimes, but there is no perfect model.

The second problem is that no government I know of is open enough. How many of you can honestly say you have made political choices based on first-hand information, or even second-hand? Where is the massive Internet depository of all political decisions and their history, and the tools to effectively parse that information? If you are looking for a way to solve the world's problems, the creation of a massive political information dissemination organization is a MUST. Until that happens most of your opinions mean jack.

I refuse to comment on our current situation because I KNOW I am not receiving decent information.

Let's start a relevant discussion: where do you go for your information? How would you rate it? What could be better? If people actually deign to respond to this maybe we can compile a useful set of links.

Posted by: Peter Verrey at August 20, 2002 08:58 PM

Mr. McDougall’s letter is a total pile of crap and the Americans who claim to be ashamed of this great nation make me sick! If our way of life, our nation, the very people of the U.S.A. are so bad, then why do so many people from all over the globe want to live here? I suspect that China, Iraq, Libya, Iran and most other nations don’t have people risking their lives daily to go there. Yes I’m waving the flag, because I believe in what it stands. And even with the troubles we have here in the U.S. it’s still the best damn nation on earth.

Oh yeah...I found nothing inspiring, prophetic or astute in Wil’s response. Some of you people are easily impressed.


Posted by: Ruger at August 20, 2002 09:01 PM

Bravo Wil!!!

Posted by: Brock at August 20, 2002 09:35 PM

I just wanted to say it is so interesting to read your posts everyday. You really put alot of time, effort and thought into your messages. I find that whether you are an actor or not, you are a very interesting person and I will continue to check in with you!

Take Care,


Posted by: Arrina at August 20, 2002 09:53 PM

I read the open letter and I have to agree with most of what is written in it. Not being an American gives you a different view and as Wil said, when you are outside looking in you can see things wrong with America that people living there can't or won't accept are true. So I have to ask myself, why is America the only country objecting to its soldiers being held accountable to the World Court for war crimes? Why when I travel in Europe and Asia do I see American tourists displaying Canadian flags or pins so nobody will think they are Americans? Why did the U.S. attack Afghanistan? I think I can answer that one myself. Oil. I believe the real target should have been Saudi Arabia but the U.S. knows that it would be impossible to attack them without losing their oil supply. So they have picked Iraq as their next target and once they have invaded and secured the oil fields who knows, maybe then the American government's view on Saudi Arabia will change. But I digress, maybe more Americans should take that letter and show it to some non American friends and get their honest opinion, no matter how much the truth will hurt.

Posted by: Colin Shepherd at August 20, 2002 09:56 PM

I guess it’s my turn to step up to the mic …

Hello, my name is Danielle and I. Am. Canadian …

There seems to be a good mix of commentary from both Americans and non-Americans alike. The reponses range from whole-hearted agreement to whole-hearted disagreement to the open letter. Now here’s what I have to say, if you care to hear it.

Was the open letter on the money? Yes.
Was it over the top and inflammatory? Yes.
Will it do any good? Only if you see the spirit in which it was written. If you dismiss it as some upstart Canadian spewing stereotypical descriptions of Americans, you have not found the spirit. If you read it, and digest it, and see that an honest and close friend who cares about you has tried to start an "intervention" similar to a standard 12-step program, then maybe you’re getting closer. Instead of sitting by, and watching our neighbour destroy what it has worked for over 200 years to achieve, he has confronted your demons in the hope that you will recognize it in yourself and take the next step.

I have had the fortune to meet many Americans on a personal level. I’ve travelled to many of your states, I’ve stayed in the homes of my friends that I have met through the internet, and I have found that Americans are not that different than anyone else I know.

However, when a stereotypical non-American conceives of a stereotypical American, they see only particular archetypes: The fat cat politician in Washington, the fat cat Wall Street broker in NYC, the fat cat movie producer in Hollywood, and the cousin-marrying, sheet-wearing red necks of the southern states. And they see the fat cat tourist in Europe with their Amex cards, Aloha shirts, Bermuda shorts, and a maple leaf sticker on their luggage (as they try to pass themselves off as Canadians). Does that describe an American? No, not all of them, maybe only a handful. Do people conceive of the single mother in an urban jungle trying to make ends meet? No. Do they see man living on the streets because he’s had to sell all his possessions to pay for his dying wife’s medical bills? No. Do they see the farmer trying to balance weather, insect control, bills, and grain prices? No. Do they see the real, individual American? They see only what they want to see. Or, more so, what the media wants them to see.

Each American is an individual. An individual not that different from myself. Do I eat hamburgers? Yes. Am I overweight? Hell, yeah! Do I use oil and gas and other non-renewable resources? Yes. Does that make me an American? No .. that makes me, me.

Are people in other nations envious of Americans and want to move there? Some, yes, but most don’t.
Would I want to be an American? No (sorry). It’s not that I wouldn’t want to live in your country, it’s just that home is home and home is where the heart is. I love Canada and can’t imagine living anywhere else.

As for the Canadian and American relationship. We are joined at the hip, literally. We share similar histories, and we share ethnic backgrounds. You assimilate into your culture. We accept cultural diversity. We are cousins and best friends. And sometimes we have to sit you down, and help you learn some really tough lessons. Why? Because you need to step through that door.

Posted by: Dani at August 20, 2002 10:02 PM

" I was arrogant, rude, ungrateful for what I had, and I treated her like property. "

Well, in comparing your own sordid teenage angst tale to the present problems faced by the nation and the world, I think it is safe to say, not much has changed.


Posted by: Lupo at August 20, 2002 10:05 PM

To comment on this would only be echoing what some people wrote better already.....> Rhett, Delphine Dave, and Mandy. I am from the US and now a landed immagrant in Canada. I love both countrys. Living here I worry horribly for the US. I don't want another 9/11
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black,
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages heance:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
~Robert Frost

Posted by: Artisticspirit at August 20, 2002 10:05 PM

Wil, I am reading your post with my best friend. And Iam inspired by two things; the way you put things into words,and your honesty, no matter how much it may seem to embarrass you. There are very few people that I know that could write a post like that so eloquently. Thank you for your inspiration.

Posted by: Caroline at August 20, 2002 10:09 PM


Thank you for your story. I think that was far more helpful than the open letter. I do believe that Americans have lost their sense of accountability and responsibility. It seems they would rather deny themselves freedom than have to think for themselves. I just hope there are more people like you who have relatively far-reaching influence that can help America become what it once was and the better America it could possibly be. It nice to hear from someone who values what it truly means to be American... thanks again.


Posted by: KJMB at August 20, 2002 10:10 PM

Well, i really dunno what i want to say at the moment other than HEEEEEE HE HEEEEEEEEE and WTF why would you post that!? I really have NO idea whay but then again I am SOOOOOOO NOT you, thank God! No sry that ws rude just kidding. BUT FOR REAL, you are the HOTTEST guy i have ever seen!!!!Well, beisdes River Phoenix but well... he died (as you know) and well... you got bumped to #1.

Posted by: Justine at August 20, 2002 10:16 PM

Oh, and by the way Caroline said that she was readng this with her best frined well.... GUESS WHAT..... that is SOOOOOOOO me!

Posted by: Justine at August 20, 2002 10:18 PM

In regards to Justine's comment, the urn is SO not a good look for you.

Posted by: Caroline at August 20, 2002 10:20 PM

Carolina and Justine please go to the soapbox for any non-topic conversations.....Just so we can keep to the topic.

Posted by: Artisticspirit at August 20, 2002 10:28 PM

Mr. Verrey:

You make a very good point regarding the origin of information. I agree with a lot of what you say.

One of the problems, however, lies in the fact that nothing can ever be recorded dispassionately and accurately. No matter who reports an action, it is tainted by that person's viewpoint, their interpretation of events, even their choice of wording.

As far as I can see it, the only pure truth lies in something like math, and even then it can be iffy.

Despite this, I still see quite a bit of truth, at least from a certain point of view, in that Open Letter. I may not be recieving The Truth, but from what I understand, it makes quite a bit of sense.

Posted by: KJB at August 20, 2002 10:35 PM

One more voice about the open letter:

There are many Americans who are not that. They are routinely shoved aside, stepped on, bashed, smashed, and even killed by those who are.

And now we get to be bashed internationally for the sins of our bashers.

I'm a woman. Bush and his cadre are rapidly eroding my rights to a safe abortion.

I'm a queer. Thanks to Bush and his buddies shoving the political inertia in the wrong direction, there is a near-100% chance that I WILL NEVER BE ALLOWED TO MARRY IN MY LIFETIME. Our Attorney General is someone who plainly thinks that Matthew Shepard and Billy Jack Gaither brought it on themselves.

And now some piss-ass Canadian fuckwit is slamming ME -- make no mistake, that letter isn't talking about "the American way of life," it's talking about EACH AND EVERY INDIVIDUAL AMERICAN -- for the sins of a powerful group of hateful bubbas who would just as soon as me dead. A powerful group of hateful bubbas, I might add, WHO WERE NEVER LAWFULLY ELECTED ANYHOW. We did not even choose those pricks, remember?

Thanks. Just thanks a whole fucking lot. American doesn't want my kind. No one else does. I and every other feminist and dyke and fag have been relegated to the status of stateless floater. (Yes, I'm a goddamned queer, and I GET TO USE THOSE WORDS. YOU DON'T. TOO FUCKING BAD.)

International critics would do well to remember that Bush and the rest of his cronies, along with the cracker-bubbas who put him in power, may be dangerous to the world, but THEY ARE MORE DANGEROUS TO US, BECAUSE WE ARE A LOT CLOSER TO THEM. He may anger that Canadian shitwad, but he's fucking me and my kind over about a dozen times worse.

Not only do I get to watch my rights as a feminist dyke ripped from me, but I get to be identified with them by someone whose window on my nation is 25 inches across and comes with an off switch. Not only are the bashers in charge, but I'm getting blamed for their sins.

The writer of that letter can fuck off and die.

Posted by: Janis Cortese at August 20, 2002 10:41 PM

Yeah--you're really right. America is just one giant pizza factory. We love pepperoni, but know that most of the world doesn't, so we put it on every single pizza just to piss people off. And then we give them free pizza.

YEAH RIGHT!!! Like they want our stinkin' pepperoni!

So this should go as a lesson--forget giving other people free pizza. They can stone-fire their own dough and put whatever they want on it. Or hell, let them decide if they want to eat baby octopus or stuffed fig leaves or what have you. I mean, isn't it obvious that even starving people would rather starve than get a free pizza--with PEPPERONI on it??!! From us???!!!

The best thing is that even we seem to hate our own pizza, but none of us really know much about making it or cooking it. But hell, as long as we can trade our pizza for anything we want with all the other world leaders that we've made addicted to pepperoni by the "ultra secret spice" we put in it, all us citizens can fill our bellies with whatever we want. So we just talk about it a lot, and hate it a lot.

Don't you wish the pizza would just stop coming one day? I mean, that would be such a relief. I, personally, would really like to go hungry. And, to boot, the rest of the world would love it too. So we would have lots of people who would smell the pepperoni on us and hate it, but love the fact that we're going hungry. Cause they hate the pizza, and never want to eat any. Ever. None of them. And neither do I. I'm going to stop eating today to save the world.

Posted by: Andy at August 20, 2002 10:44 PM

Its so beautiful reading all of you children, listening to you stick your tongues up Wil's ass telling him how wonderful he is. Wil's agenda is to get you to read crap like the 'open letter'. Kurtz was right. Slaughter them all, pig after pig, cow after cow. Drop the bomb. Even on the Canadians.

Posted by: scott at August 20, 2002 10:47 PM

I'll sum everything up in one word. Amen.


Posted by: James Robinson-Parran at August 20, 2002 11:01 PM

64 comments, 90% of them mature and thoughtful, regardless of if you agree or not.

At least people are talking.

The other 10% of you, and you (and we) know who you are. Shame on you. Your childish name-calling and blanket generalizations serve no purpose, other than to validate the author's opinion.

But at least people are talking.

Posted by: wil at August 20, 2002 11:19 PM

Very well said!!! I read it and it made me think. You're right!! Keep up the good wisdom. I'll try to pass these quotes on to others. You're not so bad!! Anymore, that is. j/k!! Luv ya lots!! *cough*HOTTIE*cough*!! :-D ~~*Gooniegirl*~~

Posted by: Gooniegirl at August 20, 2002 11:39 PM

Gooniegirl, can I ask you not to put the borders around your posts? They mess with the comments window.

Either way, have a nice day :)

Posted by: KJB at August 21, 2002 12:30 AM

Rather obvious point some people who don't like the letter seem to forget, is that it's OK to love your country, and even think it's the best in the world, yet still understand that it's got serious flaws. Some of the responses are along the lines of "well we're the best, therefore we're perfect, therefore no one's got a right to criticise us"

Me, I'm pretty proud of my country, but I'm not such an idiot as to think it's not in need of serious improvement. There's a difference between patriotism and blind, unthinking jingoism.

Oh, just in response to one particular post, Ms Jani Cortese, get that effing enormous chip off your shoulder, baby. I'm sure you enjoyed your rant, and are convinced that the world hates you, particularly that writer (and now probably me), but you can't see that virtually every single person who wrote positively in some way about the letter distanced themselves from the tone of the letter, and was able to distinguish between 'America the corporate state, with a compliant populace', and individuals with individual issues about their governemtn. We could all make that distinction, why couldn't you.

(another) Wil

Posted by: wilful at August 21, 2002 12:37 AM


I agree with you, in almost any aspect of our life, there is no 'Pure' truth that we can find.
I merely believe that we should strive to place ourselves as close to the source as possible.
I dislike the Open Letter (and most opinion pieces for that matter) because it puts us so far from the source that it takes us into fantasy, the realm of satire and Star Trek. Star Trek is great, and it has changed my view of the world, but I don't expect to see any transporters anytime soon, right?

It is easy to see patterns where there are none. Like finding the '666' all over the place in the bible base on syllable counting, or John Nash from "A Beautiful Mind" who thought he could see the secret spy messages in our newspapers.

Plausibly, with the information I have, I can come up with a firm belief that America is an international self-serving bully that rules by fear.

Plausibly, with the information I have, I can come up with a firm belief that America is the noblest country in the world, protecting us all from a nuclear apocalypse.

They may not be The Truth, but from what I understand, both of them make quite a bit of sense. They make for great stories. I could easily write a book about each of them.

Even though they are contradictory.

That is scary. It means I don't have nearly enough information to make a real decision. Even scarier, there are many other political situations (Israel vs. Palestine) that fall under the same plausibility problem.

Don't believe the Open Letter just because it sounds right.

It's no good if this is just a popularity contest.

I wouldn't be saying this if I didn't believe there was a real solution, and it has nothing to do with finding the 'truth', it has to do with applying specific solutions to specific problems. Don't worry about whether America is 'evil' or not. Just find out what specific reasons they had to say, bomb a place that was filled with innocent people.

Posted by: Peter Verrey at August 21, 2002 12:45 AM

Wow, Wil.

Posted by: NickW at August 21, 2002 01:03 AM

I would have to say that some points in that open letter is rather direct. Most of the world deems the US as bullies. I, as an Asian, living in a country that is fighting the balance of power between secular moderates and idiotic radicals, know that American people in general are not idiots, eat too much burgers, drive gas guzzling SUV (get a Honda!)

But the US government's policy (or should I say Bush's) has made everyone despise Americans. My best friend is a Yank (hell, Republican even) but we get along well after 15 years.

Figure this out. Bin Laden was aided by the US to fight against the Soviets in Afghanistan, Mad Ass Sadam helped by Bush senior when he was in the CIA, most of the arms and weapons in 80% of the conflicts are American... the list goes on.

As an Indonesian, I am aware of the many critisms a citizen takes when their government does something wrong (Timor, Aceh, West Papua, corruption, bombings, religous strife, etc... the list goes on). But I believe Indonesians are not going to let another dictator take over after 32 years of abject totalitarianism in the name of "preserving the security and sactity of the state".

I won't go to the US anymore although I love California (lived in Irvine). To get a visa means 8 hours of lines, 2 hours for interviews, and a 1-3 month wait while they check your background. I'd rather go to Canada.

Think of all the talent the US is missing out by putting up roadblocks. All the genuiene people who just want to start afresh.

With people like Ashcroft and Bush, I'd rather stay in my war ridden land and rid it out or go to Canada, where the government there has more sense.

What ever happened to peace on earth?

Posted by: Saladin at August 21, 2002 01:11 AM

Someone once gave me three advices:

(1) be objective;
(2) learn from your mistakes;
(3) and never, ever stop learning.

I found these three advices seemingly appropriate
when reading a letter like that "open letter to
America"...The letter may be overtly inflammatory
or incorrect. But if we(*) decide not to learn from
its content or we merely throw back flamebaits to
the listeners of the other world, what will we become?

My point here, which totally agrees with Wil's, is
that it doesn't *really* matter whether the letter
is right or wrong completely. What really matters
is what we are going to learn from it; and most
importantly what we are *really* going to do about


(*)I'm not an American (nor do I wish to become one
at this point of my life). But I've been educated and
living in the U.S. for the last 12 years, which I
think would allow me to speak about the U.S. from the
one of foreign residents' in America sort of stand
point. Shamefully I understand this country better
than I do my own...

Posted by: Bish at August 21, 2002 02:08 AM

Open Letter to One & All;

I have read the “Open Letter to America”
And here are my thoughts;

I once read the definition of Nationalism;
the thought / belief that ones own country if far superior to any other country simply because the individual was born of that country.
You can replace the word “America” with just about any other country and in most parts, it would fit..
(like “Canada” should talk about their “crimes”)
“America” God allowed it to be through his desire for a place where people would have the freedom to worship… or “freedom of religion” thus allowing a safe haven for his word to heard and learned from.
Only a few hundred years ago, people were put to death for this “idea”
In Palms one can read that; “Vengeance is mine” says the Lord God Jehovah, I shall repay.”
now what I learned from that is;
all that was and is currently; evil, a crime, a injustice or just “BAD” will be taken care of
in his (Gods) due time and in his way..
“WE” have nothing to do with taking any justice away from him. “WE” have no rights to it at all…
Do you really think God has taken sides in anything that mankind has done..
And yes, Wil is correct, those with a greater “responsibility” will have to answer for there crimes..
Time is soon coming to an end, people, the bible reflects this time to that of Noah..
Who told of the end by flood… people laughed… until the rains came, the Arks door was shut
And the people, or world (of that time) or “system” died.
Mr. McDougall writes: “The vast majority of you are spiritually, emotionally and intellectually dead.”
And for the most part, this is true…
If you want to really learn anything, the next time any Jehovah’s Witness comes knocking
on your door.. take the time and listen… if you’re really “upset” and worried about what you
seen happening around the world.. just listen.. and ask any questions you may have..
Ok, yes they have been wrong on a few things, but at least they still are looking for the answers
or what one might call the “meat” of the issue…

If you have no worries, and are happy with the “milk” or basic knowledge that everyone
Holds to without question, just say, “No thanks” and they will go on there way.
But, the door (or opportunity) is closing…
Are you sure? Are you?

The day will be here when.. for the most part, life will be like that seen on “Star Trek”
A day when true freedom and justice will exist. A day when one can truly
“Live Long and Prosper”

with my best regards,

Posted by: wade art at August 21, 2002 02:08 AM

I am an American, but living in Sweden it is actually dangerous for me to wear anything with an American symbol on it, because of their strong distaste for my home country. Its scary at times, but it makes me want to show more Americans that things aren't exactly perfect.

Posted by: Solita at August 21, 2002 02:55 AM

Perhaps there is a new proverb we need to make up.

"A friend who warns you that you are an arsehole is a friend indeed"

Posted by: Neil Cameron (Australia) at August 21, 2002 03:00 AM

I'm Irish.
Not that 3rd generation pseudo hibernian oddity of which there are so many around the world. They are so amusing to us.
Americans do get some BAD press over here. The sanction against Europe because we won’t buy hormone-laden beef is one issue, the rape of Alaska is another. U-turns on international agreements, 200,000 kids in Iraq dead because of no basic medicine, (freely available before the embargo), blah blah blah....

The list goes on.

The Americans I’ve met here have mainly been tourists, no time to talk, just pose while I take a picture of them in front of Blarney castle, or Molly Malone’s statue on Grafton St.

Occasionally I meet a travelling student, Lecturer, or someone working here, and I get to see something that gives me hope. Americans can be objective.

I had an “argument” with a gentleman from Texas in Dohney’s and Nesbitt’s bar in Dublin one evening. The couple had been travelling through and came in to have a pint. I was reading the paper at the bar. We got chatting, politics came up after half an hour, (NEVER TALK RELIGION OR POLITICS IN AN IRISH PUB), an hour later we had finished the most informative and enjoyable “differences of opinion” I’ve had in a long time and started talking about the future, families etc.
We left the pub together, the last people at the bar. I got a taxi and went home happy. I'd made a friend I'd remember.
We knew we’d never see each other again, but I also know I’ll have similar conversations in the future, with other Americans.

Hope to "argue" with more of you, and make more friends.


Posted by: Dev at August 21, 2002 03:09 AM

Nice to see there are americans who got the message.

Posted by: arne at August 21, 2002 04:38 AM

when looking for a solution to the worlds great problems the first place one should look is in the mirror.

Posted by: d. burr at August 21, 2002 04:43 AM

Wil! You are right about how the world look at America. Find the door and take a run for it. Join the world outside.

Posted by: Robert D Sweden at August 21, 2002 04:45 AM

in reference to the post from dev of ireland...when participating in an argument about politics or religion with a 3rd generation pseudo hibernian irish person...you still need to come to the argument with a dictionary...and an encyclopedia...at least you do if its an argument with someone in our family...some things don't change.

Posted by: d. burr at August 21, 2002 05:02 AM

"This is all documented fact and if this is documented fact, maybe all his other accusations are documented fact."
--Evil Jimi

It is also documented fact that in the 1930s there was a plan to split Israel between Jews and Arabs (with Jews getting 1/3) and the Arabs rejected it. This happened again in the 1940s. In the 1970s Israel offered Gaza to Egypt, but Egypt didn't want Gaza. Jordan has expressed zero interest in the West Bank, even though both countries originally had this land. The PLO charter *STILL* contains the clause that their primary goal is to drive ALL OF ISRAEL into the sea. This clause has not been removed. Two years ago Israel offered Arafat a very reasonable peace deal, which he rejected...and there's nothing completely wrong with rejection, but Arafat OFFERED NOTHING in return. The way peace negotiations generally work is when something is rejected, a counter-offer is proposed. But not proposing a counter-offer suggests, at least to me, that there is one side in this dispute with no real interest in peace. But it should come as no surprise, since the PLO charter has always stated they have no interest in peace. (Unless you define peace the same way Hitler did)

This doesn't excuse all actions done by Israel. But to suggest that the Palestinians are innocents is extremely misleading. A good first-move might be for them to change the PLO charter. A second move might be to finally make a counter-offer to Israel.

I agree with Wil that there is a lot of thought-provoking material in the Open Letter, but that its inflammatory nature will mean that it is listened to by fewer people.

Posted by: John at August 21, 2002 05:31 AM

Everybody who keeps bashing Wil's wife just needs to chill and leave him be. Fat girls need love too! I think it's great that a used-up fatty with a kid was able to land a *somewhat* normal guy like Wil. If playing "find the hole" in a tub of lard every night makes Wil happy, then who are you to judge?

Posted by: FatChicksRule at August 21, 2002 05:34 AM

Oil, Oil, it's all about Oil.

Just wait until Hydrogen Power Cells become the main source of energy, then it will be;

Water, Water, it's all about Water. The middle east will be forgotten.

The US will stick a big straw in the Great Lakes and - suck-a-slurp - gone!

But what do I know. Carry on people. We only need four billion more of us on Earth to suck it completely dry.

I'm going to go hug a tree now.

Water, Water, it's all about water.

Posted by: Nyarl at August 21, 2002 05:38 AM

81 comments, 90% of them from people who have absolutely no idea what America is about, and blame all the ills of the globe on the one country most third world shitholes wish to call home.

But hey, at least people are talking.

The other 10% of you, and you (and we) know who you are. Good for you. At least you don't visit this site to kiss the ass of some washed-up kid actor and serve his anti-America agenda. But keep those breast cancer donations coming!

And hey, at least people are talking.

Posted by: scott at August 21, 2002 05:39 AM

Man I read that letter when it was posted on fark. . and it's still funny. Don't find whats so offensive

Posted by: Chelsey at August 21, 2002 05:52 AM

Mr. Wheaton, . SIR .... you have grown up nicely.

LOTS of people NEVER realize what you did.

WE are thankful she wrote you that letter..and I
would bet ANNE is too.

Well done.

Posted by: bluecat/redblanket at August 21, 2002 05:53 AM

Ummm, dude? What's the deal with the bowling shirts? It's not like I'm obsessed with your wardrobe or anything. Just curious.

Posted by: Ken at August 21, 2002 06:55 AM

People may agree or not agree with the Open Letter. However, since the roots of these anti-American feelings lie mainly in facts happened a lot of time before 9/11, everyone should wonder wheter there is something wrong in the American behaviour towards the rest of the world.

Set the wayback machine in the 70s, does anyone remember a Randy Newman's song entitled "Political science" ?
As you can see, Mr. Newman was already quite aware of this problem...

Here an excerpt from the song:

"No one likes us
I don't no why.
We may not be perfect
but heaven knows we try.
But all around even our old friends put us down.
Let's drop the big one and see what happens.

We give them money
But are they grateful?
No they're spiteful
and they're hateful.
They don't respect us so let's surprise them;
We'll drop the big one and pulverize them......"

Posted by: Luca at August 21, 2002 07:16 AM

Geez. I'm so glad I tuned into postNG Wil - I had no idea you were as conscientious, eloquent and open as you are. Bravo, my man. I've been through a very similar awakening myself in recent years and understand the sentiment completely.

Posted by: Bill Reid at August 21, 2002 07:20 AM

A very thoughtful response, Wil. I'm glad some one cared about you enough to tell you the truth. You might have woken up to the truth of how others saw you and how your actions effected them, but I'm afraid the U.S. won't heed anyone's words.

Posted by: Jenn at August 21, 2002 07:21 AM

Well, all this discussion made me actually go back and read the Open Letter. The first time I saw it, I made note of the tone of the letter and skipped on past it. After reading it, I think it was obviously written to anger Americans rather than to make them sit down and think about how they are perceived in the world, etc. If the shrillness is removed, do I think there are some valid criticisms in it? Yes. Had I already thought that these things were wrong? Yes. Do I think there are some totally crackpot criticisms in it? Yes. Am I offended that the author totally skipped over a rant on Area 51? Absolutely! (Well, not really, but some of that conspiracy stuff...)
Mostly, I think the letter would have been vastly more effective if it had been written in a calmer, more well-considered manner.

Although many people in the world think of America as a bully, always imposing our will on others, (and I can see why they feel that way), they should consider that being the last "superpower" puts us in a really difficult position. Whenever anything goes wrong anywhere in the world, people yell for us. If we get involved, some people aren't going to be happy. If we don't get involved, some people aren't going to be happy. There doesn't seem to be any real solution - we just have to do what we think is the best thing to do. Sometimes we'll be right, and sometimes we'll be wrong.

P.S. I didn't vote for George W. or his "shadow government", but I don't believe the terrorist attacks on the WTC were government-sanctioned. Geez...

Posted by: Eli at August 21, 2002 07:24 AM

I have to wonder what was so "anti-american" about you. You stated that you don't agree with everything that the open letter said. Reading your past entries you strike me as an intelligent, creative, and patriotic person. You don't agree with a policy before thinking about it. Similarly, you don't condemn without donating reason and thought to the matter in advance. I respect that. I might not agree with you on everything, but I respect you nonetheless! (-:

I enjoyed the counterpoint between the letter from your friend and the letter to America. You are a very good writer, Wil. Have you ever considered pulling a Steve Martin and writing features for major magazines?

Posted by: TiggerBone at August 21, 2002 07:32 AM

It's people like Wil that really make me want to get on with my life, to continue my education. I know I have the potential, I just have to get started. This book's to you, Wil. Thanks.

Posted by: Ben at August 21, 2002 07:34 AM

OK, this "letter" really, as shown at the end, addresses violence--or, perhaps more accurately, American foreign policy, particularly military strategy. The key points Wil makes are: 1) We are "arrogant, irresponsible and unaccountable," and 2) for these reasons, "most of the world really doesn't like us." Lastly, it is suggested that this situation can be remedied by walking through some ambiguous door, and taking "a long, hard look at ourselves."

I'm sorry, but this argument is based on so many broad generalizations that it is very difficult to discuss. If certain policies were isolated, these posts would have a lot more direction, I think. Nevertheless, I'll give my response an honest shot.

As it is, the conundrum of "being American" has permeated the psyche of us US nationals, and this "letter" and the majority of responses prove it. For some reason, many Americans are ashamed of their own national identity or overapologetic to those who would stigmatize them. You know what? There are also people in the world who absolutely love pizza and others that absolutely hate it. Does that mean either side is right? Not necessarily.

What is further disconcerting is the fact that along with this eager willingness to accept fault, blame and guilt comes a tendency to project all this on the government, the military-industrial complex or something we as individuals don't form a direct part of. The proposed solution to the "problem stated" is one that seems woefully external to all Americans--"it's the government's fault and they need to turn things around and take a good look at the world." What will we as citizens do? Answer: play video games, or insert "x" self-driven activity here. (Note: especially in Canada and Europe, citizens lead much the same lives.)

Two main points to follow this:

a) In spite of the criticisms of many, there are plenty of things the US has done and continues to do that benefit the world. The initiative America has taken in revolutionizing much of the world's research, technology, and building infrastructure in other countries is astounding. Now, much unhappiness many exude comes from American importation of technology through multinationals. At first, in these cases, the distribution of profit IS skewed--almost all nationals are employed in labor rather than management. Obviously, this system is evolving continuously, and cases of the real world have proven that industry and technology can be gradually absorbed and taken over by what started as mere "host" countries to it. And what is the alternative? Pumping free money into the public or private sector of other countries has proven to play into the hands of the grossly corrupt and not benefit the middle (if existent) and lower classes.

Speaking to US military policy--we have the biggest guns in the world. Where do we go from here? If we throw them in a heap and burn them all, we no longer have any means to cause justice by coercion when necessary (Those scoffing at this opinion, violence IS a legitimate means of achieving justice; consider this: you are walking down the sidewalk when someone steals your purse or wallet off your body. You yell after the culprit and begin chase, but to no avail. Your hollering attracts the attention of several policemen across the street and down a couple of blocks. They tackle the robber, in full sprint still, after yelling at him to stop, wrestle him to the ground where he is still struggling, take your wallet or purse back and return it to you. Voila. Notice that the police did not shoot the thief in the head--killing is not the only means of violence, and the presence of weapons merely creates an imminent threat.) So, with the knowledge of this comparative advantage we must determine when to use it. This is a very difficult thing, and I won't try to lay out any solution. I will, however, re-address the tendency we have to criticize, this time concerning American military action. A friend of mine once blathered for months about what a stupid injustice taking lots of guns over to Afghanistan was, and that no one deserved to lose their lives over the actions of a few. She then rejoiced when Afghani women in Kabul were able to exercise more equal rights and not be absolutely bound by traditional rules of conduct (not so coincidentally occurring with the entering of troops into the capital and the ousting of the Taliban). Was this merely a trick of journalism to pretend these things happened at the same time, or a cultural injustice to believe that men and women both as human beings are entitled to have the same rights and freedoms? Perhaps. But I think this example illustrates how we all like to have our cake and eat it too, and it's never a military cake. Wouldn't it be nice....but the US is not Costa Rica.

b) OK, sure, the US government has made mistakes (who in the world hasn't?). Can or should we, as US citizens, absolve ourselves from this situation? I don't think so. Although there are a lot of ignorant armchair loudmouths and back-seat drivers in this country, there are also a lot of activists who know that our political system allows for a myriad of inputs. Change is possible. The voice of the people, if loud enough, does have an effect on public policy (for those who don't agree, think REAL hard about the definition of public policy. Then ask yourselves: have you ever written or made an appointment to visit your Congressman?)

The point here is: talking about things is a great way to evaluate our own thoughts and opinions and disseminate knowledge on many subjects. But this is just the first step. APPLYING this knowledge is the important part. So if you really believe that such injustice is happening, do something about it. It's obvious there are enough bandwagon-jumpers who visit this website to get something going if you all wanted to, if you all chose to inform yourselves completely and correctly on the issues you truly want to address. However, from the starting point of this "letter," there is a hell of a lot of specification and clarification to be done.

So more power to you. But think twice about a) what the US does for the world (and the consequences of the hypothetical absence of these activities) and b) your own, very serious role to play in this "problem." Just don't be one of those people who makes an internet post or forwards a "save the starving children" e-mail, but never lets their activism past the computer screen.

Posted by: Andy at August 21, 2002 08:11 AM


You're right. The letter certainly has brought out the best and most rational in many of the posters here. However, along with the good come the bad and the ugly.

Folks, there's a difference between honest disagreement and name-calling jingoism. Figure out what it is. Do it *before* you let someone whose sense of outrage got the better of his or her rational thought processes waste space in your brain. Zero in on their main ideas, not the garbage in which they dress their ideas. If that's not possible, then consider whether or not the person is worth tangling with in the first place.

There is no relation between talking politics and dissing someone's wife (as FatChicksRule has done -- she apparently doesn't know the difference between boorishness and expressing pride in her body attributes).

Honest people should be able to disagree without resorting to sandbox tactics.

And, for what it's worth, I found the Open Letter thought-provoking, but misguided in its attempt to rationalize hate. No doubt there are some ideas expressed in it that are uncomfortably close to the truth. But, they don't justify the writer's faulty action in lumping a whole nation of people under a label that is neither accurate nor kind. I feel sorry for him, not angry at him. I don't like it when our so-called president lumps a whole group of people (Islamics) under an "axis of evil" title, nor do I think it's any more justified when a Mullah does it ("Great Satan America"). Those kinds of statements are made simply in order to gain power for the person who utters them -- be they mullah, president, or ranting letter-writer.

Posted by: thespacewriter at August 21, 2002 08:24 AM

Thanks for sharing your experience, Wil. I do not generally comment, but I see the analogy perfectly and agree in part. As an American, I see our own foibles and follies; however I feel the letter is too extreme. But, I have enjoyed checking out everyone else's opinions. Oh and, hey, don't stop the analogies! Thanks again. I really do enjoy what you have to say, not as an actor, not as a teeny idol, not as a comedian, but as another parent and PERSON. Total package. This is my first visit to the site after an extremely busy summer, but I was not disappointed in the least. Same life stories, same thoughts on the world around us. Thanks Wil. J.

Posted by: JennieNotJenny at August 21, 2002 08:35 AM

I definitly dont agree with that open America letter at all!

Posted by: Maureen at August 21, 2002 08:46 AM

For the flip side:


Written by a Brit, living in the USA.

Posted by: RunNeoRun at August 21, 2002 08:54 AM

Here's an idea. Let's withdraw all our forces from the Middle East, Europe, and the Pacific (saving trillions of dollars), erect giant fences around our borders, and sit on our hands while Islamists continue to rape and murder women, gays, Jews, and anyone else who doesn't worship Allah (maybe they'll spare the appeasers in Europe for the time being). Let's continue to allow millions of Christians to be slaughtered in Sudan (the count is two million in the last seven years) and allow the Chinese to go undetered as they continue to threaten the freedom-loving people of Taiwan. Yeah, let's yank those arrogant, brutish, and bullying soldiers of our risked their pointless lives to rescue millions in Afghanistan from starvation, disease, and tyranny. And hey, screw the Israelis, those racist bastards who actually have over one million Arab citizens worshipping as they please (where else is a Jew or a Christian allowed to worship freely in the Middle East). We should just cut off all financial support immediately and let those brave suicide murderers continue to blow up those greedy Jews and their sinful Pizza Huts. It's just a "cycle of violence" anyhow and both are equally to blame. Yeah, really good post, Wil. Right on. How very thoughtful.

Posted by: Mullah Mohammed Goldstein at August 21, 2002 08:56 AM

an additional comment from a canadian,

what disturbed me about the letter was the writers assurance that the problem lay entirely with america. Canadians eat too much fast food, drive too many SUVs, and participate in many of the same follies as the americans. The writer is correct, but maybe he should be addressing a similar letter to all of us.

As for the political comments, I sincerely believe that that's the result of the united states government, not the average american. Your awareness of issues and courage to speak up to your government can change the world though - no citizens of any other nation have that power.

Posted by: trish at August 21, 2002 08:56 AM

Everybody who keeps bashing Wil's wife just needs to chill and leave him be. Fat girls need love too! I think it's great that a used-up fatty with a kid was able to land a *somewhat* normal guy like Wil. If playing "find the hole" in a tub of lard every night makes Wil happy, then who are you to judge?

Posted by: FatChicksRule at August 21, 2002 08:56 AM

Do we need to re-evaluate some of the things that we're doing as a nation, unquestionably. Our unthinking arrogance on the world stage is not only morally reprehensible but strategicly flawed. But was the Open Letter to America some sort of friendly intervention from our Molson drinking neighbors to the north, no I don't think it was. Friends tell you when you're fucking up and need re-evaluate your life course. Bigots, bullies and a-holes point out all your flaws and shortcomings and then use them to sneeringly beat you over the head with (all the while ignoring their own transgressions and imprefections...when exactly did Canada attain moral purity? Was that before or after they decided to seemingly tie their entire national idenity to -not- being the USA?). The open letter to me, seemd more akin to that fat bitch tuba player in HS marching band who liked to pick at me to see how rilled I'd get than it did to a friend who told me I needed to stop being quite so sarcastic if I wanted more of a social life.
Honestly, it looked like a typical parti-factual green party screed dressed up with an "I'm fron Cananda, eh. So that makes this more legit" logo. Are there kernals of truth there, yes, but was it really meant to do more than sneer, belittle, and pump up the author's ego at the expense of others? Others he's never met and knows nothing at all about, beyond his own nasty sterotypes (Bring that noise to me dickweed, I've spent most of my adult life working for progressive causes and trying to help the little guy getting ground under by the mutli-national, extra-national mega-corps. What have you done beyond penning rambling, self-congratulatory screeds and thumping a 5 gallon pickle bucket at the USA-Sux street fair?). I sincerely doubt it.

Our flaws, our transgressions, are real and they have more impact because we're bigger. But I would venture to suggest that pattens of consumption in the great white north are not dramaticly different from our own. Does any one seriously suggest that people in Cananda don't drive cars and SUVs, use energy produced in coal fired power plants (and sell the excess down south), eat fast food and meat raised in feedlots and massive hog confinements, watch bad tv, enjoy cheap and plentiful prescrition drugs (paid in part by the premiums passed on to us in the USA by the drug companies) and grow GM grain drenched in RoundUp and Lorsban (and then dump that grain on the cheap while keeping trade barriers up to US grain)?
Fine, hold us accountable, but hold yourselves accountable as well. It's damn convienient having the US around to point to and snigger at, keeps you from having to put your own house in order.

And just one other thing, I suspect strongly that this will provoke howls of indignation, since questioning the saitned Ralph in some circles is verboten, but this smug canadian bastard lost any ounce of credibility he might have had with me by lauding the Ralph as some sort of moral and politcal pargaon. The Ralph is a hypocrite of the lowest stripe, He wouldn't let his own people, who he worked like dogs and treated worse, organize a union to protect their interests and fired those who led the effort. I'm a 3rd generation union member, my family has suffered during strikes and I know what it is to lose a job and eat nothing but store-brand saurkraut for 2 months because of pissing off the bosses. And while a scab is bad and a boss is worse, nothing is worse than that sort of grinning boss who pats a brother on the shoulder while stabbing another in the back.
Progressive causes can do far far better than that cowardly union-buster.

Posted by: Stripedog at August 21, 2002 09:07 AM

Of course some other countries have legitimate grievances against the US government and their policies, but many people here disagree with Bush and a majority didn't vote for him. I don't think people should spew that kind of hatred against all Americans because of politics.. certainly most of us don't want to harm anyone. Also I doubt the writer of that open letter believed everything he was saying, as if every problem in the world was caused by the US. Some poor uneducated people in poor countries don't know any better, but I can't believe an educated Canadian really thinks we staged Sept 11 or are responsible for Argentina's corruption.

Posted by: mike at August 21, 2002 09:14 AM

"The simple fact is, America, most of the world really doesn't like us. We're arrogant, irresponsible, and unaccountable. We loudly an constantly remind the world that we are a Superpower..."

I agree with this. I am Canadian, and before I even meet any Americans...I already knew this to be true. I had learnt this from family friends, aquintances...and the jokes about Americans that were passed around etc.

It doesn't even matter that some of the Americans I met were not like this at all...it just seems to be a widely accepted fact that the majority of Americans, or the US as a whole is arrogant and loud about how great they are.

I couldn't read through the whole 'Letter to America'. I keep thinking, that I would be a hypocrite to read that and nod my own head, when Canada has its own corruption.

America, being famous for their own faults, becomes a scapegoat to others who are probably blind to their own countries faults. Maybe its the mentality: Well look at the US...we're not as bad as them!

Maybe you just make the rest of the world look good. =) (That was meant as a joke...from an odd sense of humor.)


Posted by: Jennifer at August 21, 2002 09:25 AM

it's takes a leap of faith to make a new friend of an old enemy...any jumpers here?

Posted by: d. burr at August 21, 2002 09:51 AM

I mostly agree with Wil's response. I also think that the Open Letter would be a lot more effective if the raving paranoia were edited out. There are some attempts to make good points, but the writer also tends to oversimplify complicated problems. The Israeli/Palestinian issue is very complicated. It's not just a matter of "these are the good guys, and these are the bad guys".

So it's hard to really respond to each point in the Open Letter, since it's mostly the same paranoid conspiracy theories that we've all heard before. I guess my response would be "Reality check! Think before you speak!"

If the whole point of the letter is that the United States needs to fix some problems, this could have been stated in about 1 paragraph. To that, I would respond "damned right!". We can fix a big one in 2004. The arrogance in foreign policy has been more obvious in the current administration. It might help if we elected an executive that actually respected international law.

Posted by: ^PumpkinKing^ at August 21, 2002 09:51 AM

If only everyone had a friend who could show them their door. Or more people could see it for themselves.

Earth would be a happier, healthier place.

Posted by: RevXaos at August 21, 2002 09:59 AM

This Open Letter may do one good thing, at least. Beyond the knee-jerkers and the rabidly arrogant, will be those who realize that at the base of it all is a call for America, as a country, to take a long, hard look at itself, and at how it acts towards other countries and peoples.
America may not like what it sees, but It needs to see it.
The power and infuence that America weilds is so great that it must be used responsibly, and to do that America needs to be objective. It needs to see that all that glitters is not necessarily gold...and America glitters very brightly.
The arrogance that other countries see does exist, as does the greed and the sabre-rattling, the weapons stockpiles, and the hypocrisy. The first step in dealing with a problem is admitting it exists. If all the good things that America does and can do every day, are overshadowed by all the corruption and petty arrogance that everyone sees, then all that good doesnt seem quite as worthwhile. So people bitch and complain, some go further, with terrible results.
No one, no-where, is perfect. It an unpleasant truth, but its better to admit that and then move on, than to insist that you are perfect.

Posted by: fluffy at August 21, 2002 10:19 AM

Wil: Isn't it time to up your Walk-a-thon target a bit so that we have a positive target to aim for, instead of saying "Unca Willie wants us to reduce to $10,000" ;-)

Posted by: Atul Chitnis at August 21, 2002 10:23 AM

This would have been a really good letter, with some good points if it hadn't started off..."from a Canadian". Instead, it's just funny. I guess the stereotype of "stupid Canadians" always trumps that of "selfish Americans"

Posted by: osukris at August 21, 2002 10:47 AM

Oh yes please wilful, please responsd to MY post, I just can't live without your opinion.

And no, I'm not going to keep my voice down EVER. EVER. Got it? Bush IS working to destroy my rights, and because some smirking, spoiled little cretin like you who has always had his civil rights guaranteed finds it amusing doesn't register with me in the slightest.

Would you go up to an Afghan woman and bitch in her face about the Taleban, calling her a bloodthirsty terrorist? No? I suspect that Canadian prick would have no problems sauntering up to an American fag or dyke and spitting in their face over George W., though.

Oh, I'm sorry -- America is a fairly well-off nation with a lot of power, so that makes it okay.

And all those self-hating liberals here at home (don't forget, I wouldn't vote Republican if you put a Contitutionally-protected gun to my head) who get off on being the Center of Attention yet again seem to agree.

In the old days, Americans used to reveal their arrogance by taking credit for everything. Nowdays, they reveal it by taking the blame for everything.

Posted by: Janis Cortese at August 21, 2002 10:50 AM

**THIS POSTER COMES FROM, which resolves to a .mil address. Aren't you glad and proud that someone who should be defending our country is posting this type of drivel?**
Everybody who keeps bashing Wil's wife just needs to chill and leave him be. Fat girls need love too! I think it's great that a used-up fatty with a kid was able to land a *somewhat* normal guy like Wil. If playing "find the hole" in a tub of lard every night makes Wil happy, then who are you to judge?

Posted by: FatChicksRule at August 21, 2002 10:54 AM

You know, I agree with the letter to an extent. I am American born and raised, and have always loved this country. But, I want to emphasize, it is the country, not the government. The country is full of beauty that is unique to this land, and worthy of awe. But, the problem is, the country is being led by a bunch of moronic simpletons who think with their wallets and ambitions and not for the greater good.
One thing: I am so sick of Canadians complaining about how bad America is and how much crime there is here, etc. ad nauseum. Yes, we have problems, and everyone here knows we do. But, it is pretty odd that the only time we here anything from the Canadians is when they are on one of their America bashing kicks. It is boring, repetitive, and shows a lack of self security and esteem with Canada itself. You have lower crime, a national health system, and so forth. But, you don't have to contend with the world looking to you every single time there is a crisis to assist them, and you don't have to worry about a huge influx of immigrants from around the world flooding through your borders. You also don't have to worry about anyone ever invading you militarily or otherwise because you have Big Brother down here to bail you out.
This also goes to the rest of the world. I am sick of the constant criticism. I agree that the American government is being unfair in backing the Israelis at all costs, without really listening to both sides. I agree that the American government is using 9/11 as a springboard to create and enforce gestapo control tactics on it's citizens. I agree that their are many many hypocritical stances the American government has taken over the past year especially. But, that can not negate the fact that this country sends aid, and protection when needed, is home to many people from around the world, and is looked to as a general success. Considering the fact that America is as prosperous as it is, and is one of the youngest countries in the world - only 226 years old! Compare that to the the ages of European countries, and then compare relative prosperity.
I am no blind sheep flag waver that agrees with the government no matter what it does. I get nauseated when I hear people on tv and in person spout nationalistic views to support their various prejudices. But, I also realize that this country is not the only one in the world with flaws.
The Open Letter to America, is probably written by some Canadian who is pissed off because they're jealous of the US. The actual content within the letter shows they are not exactly a Mensa member. I am not trying to be insulting, but the pettiness of that letter shows itself to be nothing more than a rant.
That person needs to get their priorities in order and a serious perspective analysis.
Take from this post what you will.

Posted by: LG at August 21, 2002 11:07 AM

How dare you try to propagate your anti-American sentiment! What could you hope to accomplish by this? What do you mean that the American government overtime has done anything to add to the problems of the world? How can you sit in your cozy house -located in the United States of America- and criticize this great nation! If you and all those suck-ups above hate this country so much, why don't you just leave? Oh, yeah, because you know how great you have it here in comparrison with all those other so-called nations out there. All of you people do a good job of telling the rest of us what is wrong but you never can see what is good & you have yet to come up with a solution to all these so-called problems.
Guess what, the US makes mistakes sometimes! So what! We are the world's police! Can you imagine how much worse the world would be without us? All we are trying to do is fix what other countries like England screwed up during their years of colonial conquest. And everyone of you people should be grateful to us. There are only 2 foreign policy theories we should really be considering. Ignoring all you jelous idiots or just nuke all of you into submission.
Obviously none of you are capable of thinking for yourselves. Wil makes a weak parallel between his personal life and the current state of major world powers and you start falling all over him! How completely arrogant of Wil to even attempt such a thing! Like the two situations are even remotely related!
I don't know if I am more aggravated by US citizens and their self-hating, liberal rhetoric or by you freaking foreigners who know so little about us yet go bitching about what we do instead of paying attention to your own damn governments. If your own governments weren't so messed up, we, the United States, wouldn't even have to consider getting involved in this crap and doing whatever we deem necessary to fix it. And so what if we work it so things go to our advantage. If we are the ones out there risking our soldiers everyday then why shouldn't we?
You people. This is what happens when you take the Bible out of schools and mothers out of the house. Kids grow up with out structure & discipline. They turn into whiny, sniveling, self-absorbed, insecure liberal fools who spout off fancy words and talk about things that are over their heads in a pathetic attempt to make believe they are intelligent. You people make me sick! Wake up!

Ahem. Sarcasm. Where would we be without it? According to one of my friends, snivelling in a corner somewhere.
Okay, I'm sorry. I'm sure I insulted some people. There are those who disagree w/ what the majority are saying & their arguements are well stated & make some valid points (particularly the one about how sometimes the use of military force just might be necessary). I was just trying to get into the head of a certain group of people who believe this stuff or who are incapable of presenting a dissenting arguement in a reasonable manner. (It's too common among all sorts of people, conservative, liberal, religious, not-religious, so on).

Anyway. I've given it some thought. I admit I get really upset at times when some people (US citizens or those from other countries) make certain complaints about us -our gov't, military or Americans in general. Sometimes it seems all they want to do is rant & bitch. It seems they really don't know what they are talking about. With some US citizens its as if they are just following a popular trend of 'rebelling against the establishment' and pretending to be hippies or political revolutionists/activists. And with some non-US citizens it seems like just plain uninformed bigotry passed down thru the generations.
But then there are other times. There are those with clear minds, people who are intelligent and informed. These people use fact to support theories/opinions. They have complaints that are legitimate. They are pretty reasonable in what they say. They don't want to demonize anyone/thing. They just see a problem and care enough to want to discuss it, get it recognized and try to find a way to fix it permenantly in a way that will hurt no one or at least as few people as possible.
Sometimes its the US that has the problem that needs to be fixed. Sometimes the problems belongs to/is caused by some one else. No nation is guilt free -every nation has participated in some way to at least one major problem in the world. I do not want to argue over who is more guilty. That won't help. All nations need to stop being so damned prideful & indignant. All need to start taking responsibility for themselves (as individuals & as a whole nations/ethnic group). Ok, so some one did soemthing to you that isn't fair & may even be criminal (and the perpetrator may well have been the US). It sucks. The perpetrator should admit their guilt and try to make amends. But if they don't, then don't use that as an excuse to do something you know is wrong. Being a victim is not an excuse for victimizing others. Also, being a superpower who does do plenty of really good things -or at least attempts to- does not excuse a nation from doing other things that are just outright wrong (and while in the short term may bring some benefits to a few but in the long run will become self-destructive).
There are a lot of fantastic things about the USA. My aunt's former neighbor emmigrated from China. One day my aunt aksed her neighbor how she likes America. The neighbor said that while she does miss some things in China, she is quite happy here. She has a little girl and she says if she remained in China, she may not have her little girl (a child I've met & who is adorable).
But there are plenty of bad things, too. The election debacle of 2000. Even if you voted Bush, wanted him to win, feel that he did win fairly in the end & is the legitimate President & think he's doing a fine job now; if you think objectively (and I'm positive you can) then you understand something needs to be done about our electoral process to make sure that mess doesn't happen again. It should be clear who the President is after all eligible votes are counted. There should not be such controversy. A Supreme Court Judge -liberal or conservative- should never have to be the determining factor in appointing a President. That is an internal problem. As far as external problems, well, there is the habit of giving weapons to people we are pretty sure aren't good just to get some money or oil or something else.
Even tho I think the US is the best place in the world to live, I understand that there are lots of others who don't share that thought. And they don't need my approval to think that way! If you live in England and you love it there, good for you. You should. Tho the English gov't/ruling power has done some bad stuff overtime, the British have also done some really good stuff. And much the same can be said about other nations and people who live in them.
I think it is great to love the land one comes from and feel proud of its heritage and its potential to become even greater. But its also great to take off the blinders and see the things that aren't so great and have some desire to try to do something to fix it.
Yes, things have always been screwed up. Some problems are just so big & complicated. Some really don't affect us, at least not now. We could come up with a solution to some problems but others will surface. Not everyone is going to let go of that pride & indignation. Some will still complain no matter what the rest of us do. There will always be a Hitler-wanna-be (in fact, we know he wasn't the 1st monster of his type). But that does not excuse us from trying to make it better, we are not excused from trying to do the right thing. (What is the right thing? Well, I suppose that is debatable but there are a few universals I think we are all aware of.)
The world will never be the utopia some of us idealize. But we can certainly improve the present. It is worth the effort.
That letter is filled with so much hate. That person is as bad as those he complains about. It almost doesn't matter if the letter has any good points. All it will do is piss-off even those Americans who are critical of the US. The purpose seems to be to insult rather than enlighten. Being outside the US, one can see things those of us inside cannot (and we can see things in your homeland that you cannot). Conversely, it is true that there are some things that you are not aware of since you are not here (again, we are unaware of things in your homeland since we are not there -its an intersting & painfully obvious relationship). Some people outside the US have seen things that are bad & they try to point it out not to complain or lay blame for their problems on us but because they care enough to let us know or because our problem is having a serious, hurtfull affect on them, making it their problem, too. Those people, I think, we should listen to -and hopefully they will listen to us when we have something important to tell them.
When some of us Americans say things like "Well, this is not right, we shouldn't do this, lets find a different way," it is not because we are self-hating or anti-American. Quite the opposite. We love America. We believe in the ideals this country was supposedly founded on. We do believe this is the greatest place on Earth. We just want to live up to those ideals -or at least try. We want to keep being this great place.
I don't have much respect for the person who wrote that letter because of the way he presented his "arguement". Yet, I do recognise there are some serious problems with this country that I love & I want them fixed. (As others pointed out above, that means We The People need to get of the 'net & go do something about it.) I hope others who do a lot of complaining about our wrongs also recognise some of the right stuff we do even if how it gets done isn't exactly pretty.
Also, it is both the governement & the individuals who need the fixing. The government does plenty of wrong & they do deserve some blame for some things. But some individual citzens do also, as well as Americans in general. There are some out there that do their best to be good people, help others & so on. But many are content to just rant a bit then go back to their PS2's.
Almost forgot: Why it matters what others think of us-- Because we need them just about as much as they need us. We need their tourism. We need them to buy our stuff. We need their resources. We need to fly over their airspace. Yep, we could bomb the fark out of a whole lot of people. And in a United States vs. The World war we can kick a lot of ass. But we would loose. We can't take on everyone at the same time. That, and its just good spiritually to just care about others as much as yourself.
And finally, Wil, I'm not sucking-up. I'm serious. I like your writing style. I like the effort I see in you to be better today than you were yesterday. You are also a fine actor. So now have I sufficiently complemented you enough to get my Stand By Me poster autographed? I know, I know, go read the FAQ.
Thanx for the TREMENDOUS amount of space to express my POV.

Posted by: jl at August 21, 2002 11:18 AM

Americans I know are all nice people. Maby I know the right americans? However, its when I looking at american TV shows as ricky lake and the propaganda channel CNN im going scared. If it wasnt for the people that I know from your country I would be terrified. Now I can blame TV.

Some of the comments on this post comes from hurt americans and are quite angry sounding and i can kind of understand why but please know this, we at the other side of the ocean do like most of what america stands for but we are scared of what "the wag of the dog" might end up with. Sometimes we se the true patriot almost as scary as an religous mad man. May your young country find an healty balance. I know you are all trying to make the best for the world but try not to overdo it please.

Posted by: Robert at August 21, 2002 11:41 AM

See, here is the thing about being an American:

I was born on a small dairy farm in the Catskill Mountains of New York. In the early 1970's, this was an honest an lucrative business. However, in the early 1980's, milk prices plummetted, and we had no recourse but to close up the dairy, and try to raise heifers or pigs.

My parents divorced and mother then went to work as a Nurse. I grew up and went to college. I came back from college to help as my grandfather was ailing, and my mother could not pay the mortgage and care for him at the same time. After he passed away, I began working as a diesel and small engine mechanic.

I was a good mechanic, but I showed particular skill at the helm of the inventory computer. I started to work winters at a ski slope, where I learned network topology and advanced OS configuration. I then applied and was hired into GE as a software support technician.

I worked hard and later became an travelling application engineer. I was already known as a expert in the product. I came back to Albany, got married, and joined the QA team. I now manage the QA team, and am building a house.

If I were not an American, I'd probably either be a farmer or a mechanic right now. My point is this - having the freedom to choose your destiny is fairly common in the world now - but as for having a destiny that is actually worth pursuing? That's more rare. And where do I see myself going? Right back to that little farm, where I can retire with the knowledge that I was given a chance to prove myself in this country, and I did just that. And I did it without murdering or even stepping on anyone (so far).

Let's look at what REALLY is going on, shall we?

Question 1: When watching a news broadcast, are you more likely to see news of the entrepreneur who has helped his community and environment, or the CEO who stole from 401K plans?

Question 2: When reading the NYTimes, which article appears on the front page - 'US Military saves Rowandan village from Attack' or 'Bush Vows to Crush Saddam'?

Question 3: Which topic gets you more attention at the pub - the one about the dramatic resurgence of spirituality in music, literature and art, or the one about those soulless bastards in the appellate court?

In other words, if this Mr. McDougall had gotten his ass off the couch, he might have gotten some perspective AWAY from the media feed. He might not have showed what an obtuse dolt he is. (Makes his article kinda ironic, no?)

Which brings me to another point - Americans can judge for themselves, despite the fact that the media tries to sell us on the sensational. We know how to think objectively and with perspective (or at least, some of us do). This is a clear example of some jerk browsing the 'Most Popular' page of Yahoo! News and then making his thesis on the rest of the world. I would expect more from a sixth-grader.

Posted by: LeatheJ1 at August 21, 2002 11:56 AM

Listen here, you Americans (like me) who are pissed off and unhappy with the way our government is currently handling international affairs (and for me, everything else as well)...

YOU DO HAVE POWER to make a difference. The only way you can exercise that power RIGHT NOW is to go over to www.house.gov and www.senate.gov and look up who your Senators and Congressperson are, and WRITE THEM LETTERS AND/OR EMAIL (there's a mechanism on the site to do that) and tell them EXACTLY what you think. It's the American way. These people are your representatives in the government, they are supposed to speak for you. Even if you didn't vote for them, they are still your mouthpiece in Washington. And believe it or not, they DO listen when their taxpaying constituents write in and give 'em what for.

My Senators are Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer (as are all Californians), and my Congressman is Harvey Waxman of the 29th District. I write them letters, and I'm not some crotchety old coot - I'm a 36-year old American who gives a crap about democracy and about making sure our leaders stick to the Constitution.

Do you know who your representatives are? No? Well, find out. It's part of your responsibility as a member of the US Government. Yes, you heard me - YOU are a member of the Government, so YOU are partly responsible for what the Government does. Cappiche?

Get out there and express your views where it might just make a difference. And don't forget to vote.

Posted by: Jeff Zugale at August 21, 2002 12:00 PM

I think that most Canadians commenting here are just hoping the US will start looking in the mirror more, and understand how and why they are perceived by the world. (The ultimate hope being it eventually leads to change for the better.)

Do these same Canadians think their own country is perfect? Of course not! Canadians spend *so* much time looking in the mirror noticing and picking at our own numerous faults that we rarely have time to get anything else done. It's practically part of our national identity to be insecure and self-conscious about our country. ;) But our own problems have to be solved in-house. Next time there's a debate on here about Canadian gov't policy, feel free to return the favour and point out our problems.

But all we can do about your side of things is point out perceived problems in your country... we have no control over how you deal with them. Do we think you have direct control over what your government does once it's in power? No. But you do individually have control over your own attitudes. And while the Open Letter is an insulting, inflammatory, paranoid trolling rant and the author is a dick (no one is disputing that), we somewhat hope it will make you take pause to reconsider your own attitude toward the rest of the world.

If you want to arrogantly dismiss it as another crackpot Canadian, and since you don't ever have to listen to those "American wannabes" up north, then who cares about what they think -- that's your choice. It won't surprise us in the least if you do that. It just confirms the "arrogant American who doesn't give a damn about what the world thinks" image we already have of you. But, if it does make you take stock and shift your attitude slightly, then we have some hope to start liking you again.

And personally, I'd be happy to just stop cringing and being scared of you with every new news story on CNN. ;)

Posted by: mandy at August 21, 2002 12:04 PM

Best response yet to that letter:

"I'm from Canada and yet haven't had the good luck to meet Mr. McDougall. Seriously, don't you wish you could meet him? He's fascinating. So very stupid, so ill-informed, so vile, so hate-filled. Truly an uncommonly high concentration of all these characteristics to be found in just one fool. There isn't a conspiracy theory he doesn't believe. Where, or in what, does he live? How does he get by on the pittance that is welfare subsistence? Can he tie his own shoes? Where does he vacation? What colour was the sky in his kindergarten drawings? I would love to learn more about the man. Thanks for this one."

Posted by: Shyalamagoo at August 21, 2002 12:05 PM

Holy crap Wil. That was one of the greatest things I've ever read. If more people (celebrity and non-celebrity alike) were like you and made similar decisions, our world would be far less screwed up than it is now. I guess some people think that they can't stop being a jerk or change their life in a similar manner. That's b.s. Keep it up Wil.

Posted by: BrendoMan at August 21, 2002 12:13 PM

I too am a Canadian
I too have travelled through much of the U.S. and loved every damn minute of it.
I too think that the overwhelming majority of US citizens that I've had the pleasure to meet were wonderful people.
they are however, NOT the people that make policy decisions for your country.
I haven't had the displeasure of meeting them, but i think i can describe them to you...you may have seen them from time to time.
They live in gated, secluded communities.
They drive expensive, gass guzzling cars.
They have more stocks, bonds and securities than you have dirt in your yard.
They have little interest in your welfare, your childrens education, or your human rights.
They care even less about folks in other countries.
To them, it's about dollars and cents.
They run companies that have large holdings in other countries. they pollute and exploit on and INTERNATIONAL scale.
They are not the Americans I've ever met...thank god...
but they DO control your domestic and foriegn policy.

when i travel south, i meet Americans that are friends..excellent, educated, wonderful friends...

but when i look south, through the eyes of the tv, and see what is looming on the horizon.....

i see a juggernaut...a behemoth, rolling towards a smoking ruined future...with madmen at the wheel.

what good will all your democracy and freedom be, when folks like bush take it away from you, without you even realizing it....

a great american patriot once said
"those that would trade freedom for security, deserve neither".

and he was absolutely right.

Posted by: exador at August 21, 2002 12:17 PM

Apologies for the shameless plug.

Co-incidentally, I wrote an essay that is very nearly a complete refutation of this paranoid delusional screed:

(Sally Field Syndrome)

An excerpt:

The United States is the only major nation I know of that doesn't want to be loved, doesn't want to be feared, really doesn't even care about being respected. More than anything else, we seem to want to be liked. It'll probably surprise anyone who is on the outside looking in, but whenever we hear that some country or another doesn't like us, well, it kind of hurts our feelings, and always surprises us.

Posted by: scott at August 21, 2002 12:53 PM

I'm concerned that in the "open Letter to America" the newpaper boldly printed that the letter is from a "Canadian." I see no reason or no indication that his "nationality" had anything to do with what he wrote. By labelling the letter as being from a "Canadian" they have labelled it with a country.

After reading the text, I would tend to believe that the letter was from an Arab sympathizer who is incredibly angry at the fact the US continues to wage its war on terrorism. The fact he is a sympathizer can be construed from the hints of Muslem dogma that litters the letter (against meat, lying to arabs, money is sin, spiritually devoid etc...)

So why label it as "Canadian?" After 9/11 I've seen more American flags flying in Canada then I've ever seen before. Hundreds of Canadians rushed to New York to aid, and I'm sure the financial aid from Canada was just as swift and generous. And yet you label this letter with the term "Canadian" as if it speaks for the nation.

The author of letter is entitled to his opinion, but I really think the title of THAT editorial needs re-wording so that those who read it focus on the content, and don't start stereotyping a whole nation through one zionists eye.

Posted by: A CANADIAN at August 21, 2002 01:25 PM

That's fairly judgemental, I think - you don't speak for all Canadians either, "mr. anonymous".

Not necessarily anyone who is non-US, or is an Arab, or is a Muslim, falls into the category of a ranting moron.

But if you prefer, you can go for a British, non-Arab, non-Muslim who can clearly express his views based on facts, rather than simply arousing all the flag-wavers:

"The New Rulers of the World" by John Pilger

Wil, first-time poster but reg. reader - I find your thoughts both refreshing & introspective; it's always a pleasure to see things from a different perspective! Hope you'll add the above book to your "Read" list.

Posted by: omman at August 21, 2002 01:42 PM

Although I maybe just a 19 year old Brit I still found it easy to find offence in the Open Letter. It's main purpose is obviously is to pick on America, big time but without realising it the guy also talks about every other country in the world too. Countries make mistakes, eat alot, hate their government (or is that just me?) and I think this writer got it totally wrong.
As for the universal view on America, you were right Wil, but we don't always think like that. We holiday there and we love it, so you know, Big up US and all that crap :)

Posted by: Anna at August 21, 2002 01:48 PM

I don't want to rant forever so I'll keep this to a few lines.

1. America is not arrogant.
2. Every country is proud of their heritage and land. America included.
3. We have pride, but we also have the solid civil rights, economic power and freedom, and opportunities to back up our pride. Because we can back it up, we are called arrogant.
4. Simply because someone drives a nicer car than you are is proud of it does not mean they are arrogant - it just means you are jumping to conclusions to justify your own state of being (or car ownership in this case).
5. This supposed arrogance Americans have is nothing more than an ignorant presumption by those who are ready to put down America no matter what it does.

Pretty Simple, huh?

Posted by: Dale S. at August 21, 2002 01:55 PM

Everything has been said. I could not say one single thing that hasn't been said before [by someone more eloquent than me] but, I am annoyed at 'FatChicksRule' banging on about an opinion that is totally not relevent to this post. Stay on topic.

Posted by: Tiana at August 21, 2002 02:06 PM

I'm concerned that in the "open Letter to
America" the newpaper boldly printed that the
letter is from a "Canadian." I see no reason
or no indication that his "nationality" had
anything to do with what he wrote. By
labelling the letter as being from
a "Canadian" they have labelled it with a

After reading the text, I would tend to
believe that the letter was from an Arab
sympathizer who is incredibly angry at the
fact the US continues to wage its war on
terrorism. The fact he is a sympathizer can be
construed from the hints of Muslem dogma that
litters the letter (against meat, lying to
arabs, money is sin, spiritually devoid etc...)

So why label it as "Canadian?" After 9/11 I've
seen more American flags flying in Canada then
I've ever seen before. Hundreds of Canadians
rushed to New York to aid, and I'm sure the
financial aid from Canada was just as swift
and generous. And yet you label this letter
with the term "Canadian" as if it speaks for
the nation.

-Posted by A CANADIAN

Right on, man!

Posted by: RingLeader at August 21, 2002 02:29 PM

A note on projecting blame:

It seems to be popular to speak of the US government as if they were all bloodsucking, money-hungry leeches. Actually, they are quite human like you and me. Their campaigns rely on money, and the system of politics relies on mutual favors and compromise. This is all pretty simple stuff. I don't think it makes you a fool, nor does it make you inhuman to do these things.

If any reasonable criticism runs toward the US government, it is that they overstep their bounds and try to set extraterritorial standards for other people and nations of the world, as well as international organizations. However, someone must take on this role of leadership, and they cannot expect to be free of criticism if the plans they propose do not work out. Again, this does not make them inhuman.

For those that claim that the US is overly centered on solely benefitting itself by means of extraterritorial policy, it is disputable, but unlikely. In setting standards and being a leader, it is natural to rely on your own resources. For some specific examples of issues related to this, you can look up at my post earlier this morning.

So, again, don't be a finger-pointer. Chances are that most other human beings are quite similar to you, whether they drive a Jaguar or a Datsun pickup.

Posted by: Andy at August 21, 2002 03:01 PM

As far as the car-ownership example goes. For many of those of us who live outside the United States, it looks a lot like this.
America is the Guy who owns a huge, shiny car. It has lots of features, is a kickass colour, and it handles really well, and Mr America is clearly very proud of it, even though it also guzzles fuel like a starving godzilla and pollutes like a B-movie Power Plant.
Mr America loves his car. He wants you to love it too, and happily listens and nods when you comment on its lustre and road handling, and its cd player, but gets pissed off when you mention its flaws.
Mr America wants you to have a car just like his. He cannot concieve of why anyone would want a car that was more economical for mileage or is less polluting. His car is CLEARLY better, because it just is, and you should have one too. If you don't, you are obviously A) Whiney, B)Communist C) Spineless, Gutless Turds D) Brain Dead.
Because Mr Americas car is better, he wants you to help him ensure that everyone in the world has one just like it, but he doesnt want to admit that it might not be the best choice.
Of course, if you point this out, Mr America gets upset. After all, he only wants you to like his car...

I have been called all of the names I list above, simply for stating the case that America may not be as wonderful as It thinks it is. I keep saying this point again and again - You (america) will never be able to get past the negative perceptions that other countries have of you unless you stop bulling your way through the world stage, and realize your faults, and MOVE TO SORT THEM OUT. You cant deal with a problem if you dont admit that it exists. Stop raising the telescope to your blind eye. Those ships ARE out there (metaphorically speaking, as is the ships representing the many problems that exist with America and its policies towards everyone else), and they won't go away unless the reasons for their existence are dealt with.

Posted by: fluffy at August 21, 2002 03:33 PM

While I do agree with some of the sentiments of the letter I have one question to ask the writer and all others who place the blame of the world's problems on the U.S.- "What government isn't corrupt in some way?" I'm sure that Canada has it's problems too that have nothing to do with the U.S. Yes we have our problems and our government makes bad decisions but so does every other government and country.

Posted by: jamie at August 21, 2002 03:48 PM


You are so surprising. I would have thought you the opposite. Not caring how you treated others.

So many people in the limelight get all wrapped up in themselves, and you are right, it kills them. Literally sometimes.

You surely gained a lot of peoples respect with this entry. Including mine.

Posted by: Paul at August 21, 2002 04:05 PM

Why does Wil even pretend to be subversive?

This is a guy that lives the typical American life to the tee: Blonde wife and kids(american ideal of beauty), Leased Volkwagen(american spending habits of debt for the sake of the newest, shiniest thing), works for a video game TV Channel(pushing cheap, unchallenging entertainment on children who are growing fatter and dumber because of it), and still talking like he is somehow not part of the machine(which just cheapens the message for those of us who live it, instead of just preaching it.)

I focus not only on being critical of the standards in the world, but living it out in my everyday life. I focus on being self-reliant, practicing what I preach (homeschooling, conservation), and at the same time not being a loud, self-righteous boob.

Wil is talking a good(well,metiocre) game but it is obvious he is more interested in being opinionated and outspoken than actually living a useful, subversive life.

Stop wasting our time, Wil.

Posted by: Drew Marcos at August 21, 2002 06:04 PM

Uhm, that letter to America was written by a 15-year-old canadian "anarchist", right? I hope it was not written by anyone above the age of 18, because, well, ::laugh:: that would be pretty sad.

Time for another burger. Buy me one today Wil, and I'll be happy to pay you back on Tuesday.

Posted by: LFO at August 21, 2002 06:12 PM

it blows me away that you can look at yourself and see yourself for who you really are. you must have grown so much from that point in your life, because from what i've seen through your journal entries, and the hot, raw anger/sadness that is evident when you "speak" of river pheonix and how he wasn't helped, you are a totally different person. you are insightful and warm and someone that anyone should feel blessed to know (not that i do know you). you are very wise, wil wheaton. and truely remarkable.

Posted by: alden at August 21, 2002 06:59 PM

I'm a 17-year-old white, female american; I watch BBC World News whenever I can and read European and Australian newspapers on-line just as often as I read our local and national papers and newsmags. I would say I understand and am more aware of the opinions of the world than most others I've met (especially of my age), and yet whenever I try to even offer my opinon of anything to anyone, I am shot down as either a youthful idealist who doesn't understand the way the world works, or annoying, and one man has even told me to "shut the hell up, you kids think you're doing something different from what we tried in the 60s and failed at, get your own revolutionary ideas!" I've cried with embarrassment watching "Jaywalking" on Leno ("Paul Revere was that guy who warned the South that the Northerners were invading"), and I've thrown shoes at the TV when BBC Liquid News mocks American awards shows when obviously they have nothing better to do than get involved in the society of other countries. It pisses me off that individual Americans feel free to rag on Canada while managing to do the exact same thing they're complaining against, but it also pisses me off that some French people tear down Americans yet feel free to ignore the fact that they have an official skinhead political party. So, generally, I am the epitome of the conflicted, overcome-with-information-and-don't-know-what-to-do-with-it teenager who nevertheless finds extreme fault in a system so screwed up as to keep the electoral college (which I think was awful from the start, why the hell should it matter where people live...ok I'll save this for another time). Ah, what the hell, I'm just pissed I can't vote for another 6 months. My whole point, which I've strayed entirely from, is that the world is never going to *begin* to get along if people keep dragging along centuries-old baggage, be it religious, political, regional, whathaveyou. And to read all of the aforementioned/linked essays and to read every single one of the arguments posted up there hope dwindles for me even more. To read only a few reasonable, morally and ethically sound posts, makes me wonder why I even bother when the rest of my years will be spent arguing with lazy idiots who can't compromise for the common good and can't even grasp the notion of intolerance for intolerance only.

Posted by: ashley at August 21, 2002 07:43 PM

I wonder if the sentiments that we're hearing in the US today are similar sentiments that were heard prior to the French Revolution 200 years ago.

The elite rich vs the poor workers.

Is Madame Guillotine waiting in the shadows again?

It is the true essence of a democracy. Do you hear the people sing? Singing the song of angry men? It is the music of a people who will not be slaves again. When the beating of your heart echoes the beating of the drums, there is a life about to start when tomorrow comes!

Posted by: Dani at August 21, 2002 08:52 PM

On Being Disliked - It’s an America thing. From the VICTOR DAVIS HANSON

A number of advisory groups are now working to improve the image of the United States abroad, in particular to "get the word out" to the Arab world that America is not really the Great Satan of censored Middle Eastern media. These are important tasks and all Americans should hope that our best and brightest can be enlisted in the effort in "global communications" to provide balanced reporting about the United States. Yet I do not think in the end even the most comprehensive and best-intended media campaign will have much effect in making such peoples fond of us - at least publicly.

The problem is not that we are imperialistic, ruthless, murderous, and oppressive toward allies and neutrals, but, in fact, mostly the opposite. We welcome rather than suppress criticism. Despite our enormous military advantages we do listen to and, as disinterested brokers, try to mediate a variety of complaints - Indians versus Pakistanis, Greeks against Turks, Spanish and Moroccans. Foreign critics realize that their grumbles are heard and so often publish in American journals and newspapers.

Our recent interventions abroad are rarely to gain territory or lucre, but rather, as we saw from Panama to the Gulf, to put down dictators who are robbing and killing their own people and threatening neighbors to the extent that the entire stability of a region is threatened. It is hard to see how the much criticized operations in Grenada, Haiti, Somalia, or Kosovo gained the United States much profit or valuable territory.

Coupled with these high-profile and often caricatured efforts to mediate, adjudicate, and intervene are the unique position of the American economy and the ubiquitous culture of the United States. Both are as preponderant on the world scene as are our military forces. You see today small children high-fiving each other in rural Greek villages and University of Texas sweatshirts in the Amazon basin. Crass TV reruns of Gilligan's Island and Love Boat, bad 1970s movies, near-pornographic fashion magazines, and the Internet - all of that and more smother indigenous culture worldwide. And this domination is not accomplished by some sinister corporate conspiracy. But much worse, it is a natural result of the very egalitarian and democratic logic of American popular culture - an insidious addiction that is designed to appeal to the widest popular audience without prerequisite education, training, or knowledge.

Our own elites whine that we have dumbed everything down to the lowest common denominator Maybe, but the world's billions have responded by voting with their feet, pocketbook, and remote control for almost everything American. It is precisely this media and consumer tidal wave, when coupled with the omnipotence of the American military, that has an ambivalent effect on most in the world - one that plays out on the personal level absurdly as a mixture of desire for all things American and yet shame for that very craving.

Martina Navratilova slurs her adopted America by suggesting it is not unlike former Communist Eastern Europe. Yet she apparently has no desire to return to even her freed country over a decade after it was liberated - largely through a half-century of dogged American opposition to murderous Communism.

Thousands of Palestinians are desperately trying to immigrate to the United States, and finding it difficult since their usual route of transit - the hated Tel Aviv airport - is now closed to them. Such would-be refugees may voice overwhelming support for Saddam Hussein, celebrate the news of September 11, and in polls attest their dislike of America. Yet, given the chance, thousands would gladly move to the country they profess to despise. And why not? Where else would they have freedom to say what they please, pursue their dreams of economic security - and protest that their newly adopted country is both amoral and shortsighted in its Middle Eastern policy.

The current Journal of Palestine Studies has a splashy ad for a new sympathetic history of Hamas - an official terrorist organization according to our own State Department. Before we get too worked up over this and its other nonsense, we should remember that the entire journal is published only through the auspices of the state-subsidized University of California Press. Critics may praise our enemies and rail against our government - but they still don't turn down help from our state-funded universities. Again Palestinians profess Arab solidarity and voice anti-Americanism; yet they are not emigrating to Kuwait which once ethnically cleansed 300,000 of them after the Gulf War, but instead seeking to open businesses in the Bronx.

I recently perused the catalogue of a University of California, Santa Barbara campus and discovered 62 classes in Chicano Studies with titles like "Methodology of the Oppressed"; "Racism in American History"; "Popular Barrio Culture"; "Chicano Spanish"; "Chicana Feminisms"; "Body, Culture, and Power" and so on. Thematic in these classes is that America is a rather hateful place that has made life horrific for Hispanic emigrants. But I also live in a state where millions of undocumented aliens from Mexico reside, and millions more want in - despite the purported sins so amply documented by tenured professors. A few of our elites say America is a rather bad place; millions of poor abroad disagree and apparently instead think Mexico is.

A Greek member of parliament from the socialist and often strident-anti-American PASOK party recently retired. The news accounts noted that she was a former Harvard professor. Such a contradiction between the life one actually lives and professes is not an anomaly when we realize that the first family of Greek anti-Americanism, the Papandreous, have a long and close relationship with the United States - one manifested over generations by them working, living, teaching, and going to school in America.

But then apparently Mr. Musharraf's own son also likes us. Until September 11, Mr. Musharraf had pretty much let Pakistan be overrun be murderous fundamentalists who professed undying hatred for America. One wonders if that included the city of Boston, where the younger Musharraf is employed. Even Saddam Hussein's stepson was found in the United States, and unofficial reports circulated that a few offspring of both the Taliban and the mullahs in Iran were living in America. We, of course, also remember that dozens of close family members of our archenemy Osama bin Laden lived in the northeast. Their renegade brother pledged to kill every American on sight; did his threats apply only to passport holders or random resident strollers in Boston like his own kin?

Anti-Americanism is as deeply psychologically as it is politically motivated. Many observers of the phenomenon have commented that such hostility, especially in Europe, arises out of envy and jealousy. Of course it does, but the animus is still deeper and all the more virulent because it is a war of the heart versus the head.

Professed hatred toward America for millions too often cloaks an inner desire for the very culture of freedom, material security, and comfort of the United States - like Saudis smirking over bin Laden as they push their carts in faux-American supermarkets among Pepsis and Sugar Smacks. In that regard, it all reminds me of tenured academics, who send their kids to private schools, vacation in Europe, and live in tasteful tree-lined suburbs - and then in the lounge damn the very institutions that have provided their universities with such bountiful capital to make their lives so comfortable. They are perennially unhappy because what they castigate has given them everything they treasure, and they are either too weak - or too human - to confess it.

What can we do to rectify this illogical dislike of the United States? If the history of the Athenian, Roman, and British empires - all of them far more aggressive, imperialistic, and uncompromising than us - offer guidance, not that much. If we can believe Thucydides, Tacitus, and Churchill, earlier powers accepted human nature for what it was - mercurial, emotional, contradictory, self-centered, and deeply paradoxical - then shrugged, and went on with their business.

Rather than creating new programs to teach others about America, I would prefer that our government instruct Americans about the exceptional history of America, reinaugurate civic education in the schools, explain that racism, sexism, and prejudice are endemic in the human species - but under the American system of government can be identified, discussed, and then ameliorated. If we could instill in our citizens a tragic rather than therapeutic sense of the world, they would understand that utopia is not possible on this earth, but that the Constitution and institutions of the United States are man's best hope for eradicating the evil and ignorance that plague us all. If we could do all that, then Americans might project a sense of self-confidence in their history and values that would admonish others that we are proud of rather than ashamed of being different - and that we care far more about the principles for which we fight than the applause of the day from the fickle, insecure, and mixed-up.

So yes, we must remind the Arabs that we saved Muslims from Afghanistan and Kosovo to Somalia and Kuwait. Yes, we must reiterate that we are at odds with dictatorial Mr. Arafat and Mr. Hussein, not with the Palestinian and Iraqi peoples, that we want democracies for them, not their land or money. And yes, we should explain to the world why U.N. resolutions do not represent collective wisdom, but often the reinforced biases and private agendas of dozens of autocratic, theocratic, and tribal regimes who vote only in New York, never at home. And if we are more imaginative still we can point out that the American fleet keeps the peace cheaply for others in the Pacific andMediterranean, that American companies and universities provide the world with life-saving medicine, medical treatments, and critical technology. And so on.

But ultimately we must expect that the anger of many millions will remain, because the pathology lies unresolved and deep within them, not us.

Posted by: Chandies at August 21, 2002 09:21 PM

I found this a while back as on a bbs as a rebuttal to a typical America Sucks post. I like the general tone of the post.

"Fell Free to bash America. I feel that the majoity of Americans are secure enough in how our county is progressing that it won't bother us too much. The USA is not a perfect country, most people know this. We coddle criminals, the sick and weak are pulled into the center of the herd to be nurtured and cared for. Our justice system is wonderfully slow and about the only thing we can get our politicians to agree on is that they must raise our taxes, and raise thier salaries.

But, if you have the drive to succeed, you will. if your desire is only to make money and be comfortable, you will. Want to be one of out politicians? you may run. Want to be an unemployed street person? That is ok to.

You think you are being oppressed? Stand on a street corner in Red China and spout off how bad China is. THen try hte same in the USA. In China, you will vanish, never to be seen again. In the USA, well in Texas you will get your butt kicked pretty badly, but go to our lovely eastern states and you will not only get a nice audience, folks will probably buy you coffee and a danish.

Don't like paying taxes? Fine, don't pay them. THe biggest thing folk seem to miss about the USA is that for everything we want or require, we CHOOSE to do it or not do it. We are forced into nothing. If you CHOOSE to break the law, oiu will be punished. If you CHOOSE not to pay your taxes, your shooting the dice on the one =).

I have bee nto many countries. Saw a person publicly caned in Singapare, was chared an extra 20 dollars in Egypt so the guy would make the camel kneel so I sould get off of it ( was actually a good scam on that one.), watched the Japanese police turn the fire hoses on a group of peaceful demonstrator, and punched in the mouth in Australia for no reason I can quite grasp to this day (but the lady did buy me drinks the rest of the night).

If you are an American that despises the the USA, you are within your rights to do so and who am I to arue with you opinion. If you are a non-american who deopises the USA, then I will apologize for whatever it was our military did to you in the past, but them bombs are big and can't be right on target with all of them."

know this open letter to america sounds alot like a spoiled milk post.

I have one thing to say to the author Mr. McDougall. If Canada has all the answers to Americas problems please let the USA know. After all according to him we are to stuipd to figure them out for our selfs. So please Mr McDougall show us the answers and lets make the world a better place to live

Posted by: Matthew at August 21, 2002 10:11 PM

We were considered a third rate country until World War One. We became a superpower after World War Two. We became the superpower after the Cold War. Now the other countries can't understand how a country that is barely over 200 years old can gain power so quickly. Its just that our system gives us a way of weeding out the have nots. This gives us a powerful group that has the ability to out swindle, out negotiate, out backstab, and beat its competition. This is why we are disliked, because we have found the best ways to do bad things. We have found the best ways to do good, but people outside of our country tend to be negative.

Posted by: Beau at August 21, 2002 11:37 PM

Hello from Germany

First I whant to say: great blog Wil.
I read the 'open letter'and this blog coming from Daypop and am very astonished. This blog and the many comments on it show that in many ways the open letter is wrong (what i think was the hope of the letters author and every other non american reading it).

But still, your administration acts in a way that makes all the world very wary about the USA. And while watching the US Media, the lack of critc your government receives makes me nervous to.

I cant speak for every german or to every american, but what I would like to see more often is the selfreflection and thoughtfullnesss that your little blog shows.

Whenever I talk to americans, and dare to criticize the way your government and the US international organisations like CIA or NSA behave in other countries, the only response I usually get is a defensive position. Usually I am called an antiamerican, what makes any true discussion impossible.

What I really whant to say is, that I really believe that the US people have a deep honesty and an understanding of what is right or wrong. And if only enough people in the USA would see what their Government is doing in their name all around the world they would be shocked (and understand why people might hate them).
Just get some informations about Kongo and what happend there the last 25 years.

Right now, in spite of everything your president might be telling you, the USA stands against every single action that is taken to tackle the Problems of the future. After all we all need the USA very much to make the World a better Place and it would be impossible against them.

Bye and thanks for reading

Posted by: Martin at August 22, 2002 05:11 AM

Warlords of the sofas! remember: Everyone wants the same thing, can we everyone have it? One day , i hope so.

Peace, love, happiness to all.

Posted by: kc at August 22, 2002 05:14 AM

Great job Wil. Someone told me that somewhere along the line white americans substituted psychoanalysis for political dialogue... and substituted moral assessment (I'm good, not bad - who are you to call me bad) instead of attention the real world of effects from action. The political isn't about bush and co, it's about who has the power. Stories like yours make me think of my own experiences where I've been forced to realise that I was blindly wielding power. The truth of your story is that this isn't about who's right or wrong, it's about what we do and what happens because of it. those on the receiving end are the ones who know, and they know in ways that we can never know.

The United States is the richest country in the world. It can never know how ethically it wields its power. Only others can know that - and they argue about it, but the general consensus is kind of alarming:(

Posted by: db at August 22, 2002 05:33 AM

Ouch. The Open Letter to America makes me feel defensive. This is not the way to start a morning...

Your day's writing is great. I wish more people had the wisdom to look within them and have the ability to change for the better. It's a hard and sometimes scary thing to do, but you did years before most people even notice it in themselves. I hope she reads your posting and can graceful accept your apology. I know if I were her, I would have already.

Posted by: Liz at August 22, 2002 06:48 AM

shrug It's a paradox. The only way of saying these things that's loud enough to get the Somnolent Majority's attention almost guarantees that they won't accept the message. If one says it politely, they won't hear; if one says it honestly, they won't listen.

America's government is the Dudley Dursley of the world, and the American people are the Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia who react to reports of its bullying weaker nations with "He's a boisterous little boy, but he wouldn't hurt a fly!" But they forget that we supposedly live in a democracy (okay, Wanderer, a democratically elected republic), and thus our leaders are supposed to be responsible to us, and we responsible for them.

So we can either accept the blame for putting the kind of leaders in office who do these things, or accept that those leaders are only front-men for the actual rulers of this nation. Neither is palatable to most people; hence the ostrich-like reactions I've seen several of up-window.

I wish I had an answer. Or maybe I wish I had the question.

Posted by: Tuxedo Slack at August 22, 2002 07:16 AM

Lots of these comments are very interesting. Chandies, thanks especially for your insight.

However, again, I am alarmed at the oversimplification of the stated problem. In fact, were amending government policy and flawlessly asserting world leadership as straightforward as changing a personal behavior, I don't think there would be so many question marks. I worked in Washington DC for some time and nearly every elected official that I collaborated with was truly dedicated to pursuing the public good, working many 16-hour days when Congress was in session.

So I still am very skeptical about using poor analogies. After all, I taught myself to tie my shoes and ride a bike, why can't our government figure out when to use military intervention and when to refrain? (yeeeeahhhhh...)

Posted by: Andy at August 22, 2002 07:28 AM


I can understand why you accepted criticism from someone you knew and trusted. It takes a lot of maturity to listen to that kind of advice and to make the changes in your life that are necessary. Thanks for the post.

But, unfortunately, the author of the Open letter is not someone we know and trust, nor is he offering helpful criticism. He is offering abuse. I’ve heard rants like that all the time, usually in the hot subways of New York city. They say the same things he does. (Who knows, maybe one of them is McDougall). Often they pause in the middle of their rants to hiss at random passersby and to shake a coffee cup, asking for change. I usually feel sorry for them and I put a dollar in their cup. It never occurred to me to actually publish their stuff. I didn’t realize how popular their rants could be. Why, McDougall is almost as popular around the world as Eminem!

There really is no accounting for taste.

Posted by: mary at August 22, 2002 07:45 AM

okay...I just felt that I had to comment on a part fo that Wil;

"The great thing about America is that We The People have a voice, and the louder that voice, the more insistent that voice, the harder it is to silence.

Let's raise our voice, and walk through this open door. It's scary. It is uncertain, but it is vital that we do. It will be a long process, but we can do it."

Excuse me? The people in America have a voice? Even if the citizens in the U.S. were able to come together without killing each other because of ethnic differences, your politicians wouldn't listen.

They don't want to listen.

The U.S. government is no longer FOR the people, but rather INSPITE of the people.

I'm trying to work out if that's a good or a bad thing though. I'm not really sure that it's an idea to have a governemtn listen to a nation, most of which don't know where thier nation's capital is let alone the capitals of other countries.

Posted by: Rusty at August 22, 2002 08:45 AM

What a great story, I allmost can not believe it is true.
Then you must have changed a lot since then because you seem pretty cool to me........

Take care

Kasper from Denmark

Posted by: Kasper at August 22, 2002 10:52 AM

While I do agree with what your quote says at the end, Wil, I don't agree with the open letter anyone saying that the crux of it is true. I have family that served and is server in the US armed forces. I have family that puts their lives on the line everyday for your right to criticize this nation. Other nations don't like us interfering in their "fights," then why do they run to us first when they get shoved by another country? We never asked to be the planet's police department. We were pulled into the role during all the wars of the past century.

My thought is, if you are an American, and you can go as far as to say that you are at times ashamed to say you are American, maybe you are in the wrong country. I don't agree with everything my country's government does, but that does not make me ashamed to stand up and say I am an American. I would rather die a martyr than to renounce my citizenship to this great nation!

Let's also ponder the thought that if every other country hates us so much, why do so many of their people flock to this country both legally and illegally to live????

Posted by: SAH at August 22, 2002 11:01 AM

Wow, we actually beat a pro to the punch! see what im talkin about:

http://www.deadjournal.com/users/wonbizlo/day/2002/08/17 ...>its entry number 2 for that day, scroll down.

but we really dig the parallel that you drew, Wil, because it is a flawless one. No one can really argue that this is exactly how America looks to others. If only we (i use 'we' loosly) would admit it, we could really be a superpower because we would be at least respectable then.

But still, its fun to think that Won Bizlo and the Secret Scarf Society beat Wil Wheaton and Tom Tomorrow to that story...dont ya think? maybe the organisation is going somewhere. If ya wanna check out our shit, it can really get your revolutionary blood moving:


keep writin, foolio.

Funk Noka Norton

Posted by: Funk Noka Norton at August 22, 2002 11:23 AM

The McDougall letter, Mr. Wheaton's commentary on it, and the responses to his commentary posted at this site convinced me to write out an idea that had been floating about my brain for the past few months. I decided to post it here first, since it was listening to this discussion which egged me into finally writing it.

I apologize for the length, and please let me know your opinion ([email protected]).

Dave the Bully

Dave and his friends Tom and Sally find a table at La Cucina, renowned for its cheese pizza.

Tom: Oh man, I haven’t been to La Cucina in so long!
Sally: I know! Their cheese pizza is so good…
Tom: Let’s get a large cheese pizza and split it between the three of us.
Sally: Definitely!
Dave: Uhm…I think I’ll just get a burger. Thanks.
(Tom and Sally exchange a worried glance)
Tom: A burger? Why? You don’t want to get a pizza with me and Sally?
Dave: Nah. I don’t really feel like pizza. Thanks, though.
Sally: Why not? Why don’t you want to share a pizza with me and Tom?
Dave: I just don’t want pizza. It doesn’t suit me. It’s not anything to do with you guys, honest.
Tom: Well…uhm…Dave. Me and Sally, we can’t really afford to split a cheese pizza between just the two of us. But, if we each paid for a third of the pizza…
Dave: Oh…I get it! Hmph. Well, thanks guys. (mumbles) In that case I’m DEFINITELY getting a burger.
Sally: Now, Dave. You don’t have to get all sullen. You wouldn’t have to eat your two slices. Why, you’ve got enough to get a burger and split the pizza with us. You could take your slices home with you.
Dave: (somewhat irritated) Fine, Sally. Order your pizza. You can just have my slices, I really don’t give a shit.

(Tom and Sally order a cheese pizza. Dave orders a hamburger. The three friends eat their meals, but the whole time Dave is quite grim faced and distant. Sally and Tom are now discussing Japanese literature while Dave simply peers at his watch and fiddles with his placemat.)

Sally: Dave, you’ve hardly said a word all evening. Is something the matter?
Dave: Hmph. You know, guys. Every time we go out, you guys are trying to get me to do something I don’t want to do AND pay your ways for it. Man, it’s kinda getting on my nerves!!
Tom: Hey, man. Just relax. You don’t have to raise your voice.
Dave: And that’s another thing. Whenever I complain, you guys treat me like I’m some kind of moron, some kind of lunatic about to go on a rampage. And, all the time, you just sit there frowning at me with your concerned, superior little frowns. Like you’re so sane, and I’m the crazy uncle you have to keep quiet out in public.
Sally: Well, Dave. We ARE concerned. We worry about you. Especially since…well…you tell him, Tom.
Tom: Dave, you’ve…well…we’ve noticed that you’ve been drinking lately. Drinking a lot.
Dave: A lot? What ARE you talking about? I have two beers before I go to bed at night. It calms me down and lets me skip breakfast the next morning.
Tom: Drinking alone? Drinking to get drunk? You said it yourself, Dave.
Sally: Think about us, Dave. Think about your friends.
Dave: But…but, this is nuts! You’re acting like I have some kind of alcohol problem! It’s not like drinking two beers at night is going to affect my life!!
Tom: Well, Dave. You’ve been behaving quite irritably lately. Sometimes you’re downright nasty to Sally and me. We…well…we think you might need some help.
Dave: OK. Stop right there. This is in-fucking-credible! Really, this is completely surreal. Didn’t you guys think for a second that maybe I’m acting irritably towards you because you guys are actually truly starting to irritate me, that maybe it’s because you are yourselves being objectively irritating?
Tom: Dave…
Sally: No, Tom. Let him continue.
Dave: You know, all I hear from you guys --- and I mean ALL --- is how you’re worried about me, about how I’m doing stuff that has you worried, about how I’m fucking up, about how I’m treating you rudely. What kind of an effect do you think that’s going to have on a person? You know…it’s to the point now that sometimes…sometimes I do shit just to SPITE you, just to piss you off. And when you do get all pissed off and start complaining to me in those concerned, yet calm and collected little voices of yours, I say to myself “Ha, now I KNOW I’m doing something right”, because whenever I’ve EVER done anything right, it’s only been after fighting you guys over it. Anything good I’ve ever done has been against your suggestions. Like, remember when I got rid of those rats in our backyard?
Sally: Now, Dave. We’ve been over this. That wasn’t necessarily all your doing. Those rats would have probably left with the change in the season. And we would have gotten rid of them much more safely if you hadn’t been laying out poison everywhere. After all, that might be how the Henderson’s dog was killed.
Tom: (mumbles) …I still don’t see what was so important about getting rid of the rats…
Dave: See! See what I mean!!! Ach! Never a word of thanks. Never a kind word of support!!! Why? Tell me, why are you guys even my friends at all?
Sally: Dave!!! How can you…?
Tom: Dave, you know we like you, we care about you. Despite all your faults.
Dave: (mumbles) …”faults”….
Sally: Why, Dave. We grew up together. We went to all the same schools. You’ve known us all your life!
Dave: And all my life it’s been the same shit over and over. When you guys weren’t acting like snobs and ignoring me, making fun of me, acting like I was some kind of backwoods monster, then you were criticizing me, scolding me. And all the time you were asking for my help and advice, like I somehow owed it to you or something. You know…you know…a whole fucking lifetime of that shit really starts to add up!! Despite what you think, I’m not STUPID…I do have a MEMORY!!! I’m starting to doubt that we should even remain friends.
Tom: Dave! Now, now that’s just crazy!
Dave: I don’t mean that I consider you my enemies. I just…sometimes I don’t want ANYTHING to do with you…you or the other people in the neighborhood. Why the fuck do I hang out with you guys anyway? Fuck it, you know? I’m just gonna do my own thing, and if you don’t like it…well, let’s just see all y’all do something about it! You don’t like what I do? Then, MAKE ME stop, goddamnit. I don’t want to listen to your whining and false friendship any longer.
(Dave and Sally exchange very worried looks at one another)
Sally: Dave…Dave please, please listen to me. If not as your friend, then as another human being. You’re sounding…well…quite…
Tom: ---HOSTILE…You’re sounding positively hostile to us Dave. You do realize that?
Dave: Then maybe you should just leave me alone for a while, huh? Let me sort this shit out myself…come on, let’s pay for the fucking food and get out of here.
(Dave, Sally and Tom work out the bill.)
Tom: (nervously) Uh…Dave. It’s your turn to leave the tip.
Dave: Oh? Fine.
(Dave throws a dollar on the table. Tom and Sally look at each other cautiously.)
Sally: Uh…Dave. Don’t you think you should leave…well, a little more?
Dave: What?! What the fuck? It’s a bigger tip than either of you ever leave!!
Tom: True, Dave. It is. But you have more money than us. You can afford to give a bigger tip. At least, you can afford to pay the percent that we pay.
Dave: But if I pay any more, I can’t buy cigarettes later.
Sally: Well…maybe that’s a good thing.
Dave: Fuck it. Fuck you guys. I’m buying myself cigarettes. The waitress is getting the dollar. And if either of you value our friendship, keep out of my face for the next few days, OK? I’ve just about had enough of this.

(Dave leaves the restaurant. Tom and Sally exchange a grim look for a couple of minutes.)

Sally: Sometimes…sometimes I hate that asshole so much I could just scream!!!
Tom: Easy, Sally. He’s going through just what we went through. He’ll snap out of it eventually. Maybe he’s right. Maybe we should just give him some space. Get out of his face for a little while.
Sally: No, Tom. I’m not going to sit back and just let him wreck himself and our house. Whether he believes it or not, he’s making the same mistakes I made at his age, and I’m not going to let those mistakes happen again. You know that Dave is big enough and rich enough that if he were to tread down the path we took…well it would…you know…Christ, I can’t even say it…
Tom: Look. Being nosy and paternalistic is only going to exacerbate matters. You shouldn’t be too shrill with him.
Sally: Tom…don’t you see what’s happening? Doesn’t anyone see? That man has made his choice. There is NOTHING we can do now just by coaxing and worrying. Not a goddamn thing. If we don’t shout, if we don’t scream and pull and yank, he’s going to do something uniquely terrible.
Tom: You really believe that? Don’t you have more faith in your friends?
Sally: I don’t know. My age has turned me cynical. I’m starting to think that in order to prevent a disaster…for Dave and us both…well, we’re going to have to start getting a lot more forceful with him.
Tom: Forceful? You don’t mean, like, starting a fight?

(Sally looks down at her feet for a couple of seconds.)

Sally: Tom…a fight is inevitable. You know that. You can feel it in the way some of the neighbors are talking now. The three of us, we’re going to have one hell of a fight. And it’s going to be horrible. It’s going to be the absolute death of us; the death of all that we’ve made together. You, me and Dave. That’s the situation, and we have to start preparing. Maybe we can convince Dave that if he continues on in this way, that that’s exactly where he’s pushing us towards.
Tom: Come on. I don’t want to hear any more of this. Besides, what you’re talking about, even if it’s inevitable…it’s a long way off. Let’s get our minds off of things, OK?
Sally: OK.

(Sally and Tom leave the restaurant.)

Posted by: Seth at August 22, 2002 12:12 PM

I didn't know you had a blog. Thanks to Tom Tomorrow (www.thismodernworld.com) for turning me on to it.
Actually, I believe the open letter to be fairly right on, as it pertains to 'mainstream America.' It does not, however, take into account the millions of us who are awake, aware, active, and basically dumbstruck at the blindness and/or numbness of the rest of America.
The numbness is understandable, to some degree, as we have been thru alot in the past 80 or so years. The whole history of America is quite tumultuous.
The burning question though is: HOW DO WE DO IT? Do we all move to the west coast and secede? Do we march and rally in the millions? Do we take up arms? Do we hope and pray for reasonable people to vote for and hope they don't sell out or get chewed up and spit out like Cynthia McKinney?
The True Majority of Americans, who strangly seem the most voiceless, have progressive ideals, and believe in what we were told this country was about. All the US govt's actions move unequivically against those ideals. The present administration is only the most obvious and straightforwardly malicious.
So I put the call out to web surfers, bloggers, progressives, and the rest. OPEN DEBATE ON WHAT TO DO!!! We no longer need to wonder if the gov't is fucked. It is. Our nation is in trouble. Only we can save it. WHAT DO WE DO? LET THE SERIOUS DISCUSSION BEGIN! Before the blood flows.

Posted by: Peter at August 22, 2002 12:20 PM

um, yeah, very nice, but unfortunately there is nothing we can do about it. Maybe the Canadian is right. Maybe Wil is right. But right or wrong, what are we going to do? I guess we can vote the offending government people out of power. Well, gee, that sounds good, but won't the supreme court just "elect" the president anyway, regardless of who we choose?

So we can vote. But it won't do much good. What else is there? We can move I guess, but that doesn't really work because we may be assholes, but most of the other people out there are even bigger assholes than us (at least to outsiders). Not to mention that, given the current economic climate of the world, it is next to impossible for foreigners to find work in most countries, so how would we buy groceries?

So we can stop buying gas-guzzling swine mobiles. I am all for that. My car gets very good gas mileage, when I drive it, which is maybe once every other week because I have the luxury of living close to where I work and I can walk, everyday, rain or shine, hot or cold, but most people can't do this. We can also turn off the AC at home and turn off the lights when leaving the room.

We can take up arms against the government. Yeah right. That would last like what, all of ten seconds?

One thing to keep in mind, that alot of people posted is the sentiment that "But I personally am not a fat overbearing asshole, and neither is anybody I know...". Yes, there are alot of assholes out there. But there are quite a few decent folks too. Keep in mind that when you see someone being an asshole, you are only seeing a cross section of their story. They might not really be an asshole, but just having a bad day. Practice tolerance.

I wish the rest of the world would realize that yes, our government sucks, but there is not much that we can do about it, so it does not help things to treat all Americans as if we were all assholes and personally responsible for the world's problems. The government of China purportedly sucks too, but nobody bitches at the chinese people (at least that I am aware of) to change their government.

So my advice on what to do is this:

Americans: Chill out. It is going to get better, but its going to happen slowly. We are coming out of *the* bloodiest, most war torn century that history has ever known. We are probably going to be feeling the effects of it for many centuries to come, but it is going to get better. Be excellent to each other and party on, and teach your children well. Don't expect results to happen in your lifetime, but it will happen.

The rest of the World: Chill out. No one needs your whining right now. We can't help what our government does anymore than you can control what your government does. I know we *say* that we can just vote and it all will go away, but that is just stuff we tell grade schoolers and immigrants. Its not the truth. Even if you could use your vote to exercise some sort of power, the choice of people to vote for consists mainly of assholes, because they are the ones who have the money and the lust for power that it takes to be elected. Be excellent to each other, and party on, and teach your children well. Look to technology such as the internet, providing free information to whoever can access it to provide a true enlightenment.

We will get through this, but it is going to take thinking of ourselves as humans first, and americans or chinese or whatever second.

Posted by: J at August 22, 2002 01:06 PM

Fantastic post, Wil.
And yowza, what dialogue (ok and some monologues)!

Posted by: Jessica at August 22, 2002 01:56 PM

I know by now no one is listening or reading due to the insane amount of comments and that nothing really matters BUT....

I have always thought of myself as on top of the game, able to discern the insanity from reality in that when I watch the news I can sort of see the spin and I feel at least aware that what I am seeing may not be true.

In other words I've not been a real activist since I think I know what's going on. This "open letter" actually gets my blood to boil. It actually makes me think I should be doing something instead of talking about it. It might have actually worked.

On another side though I can look at this Canadian or any foreigner who finds this govt. as ill repute, I can say to them "why not do something about it? Overthrow our govt! Go to war with us! Remove our evil dictator!"
You see if we (the world) had not gone to germany to remove the nazis from power the germans would not have done it themselves... They could not see the forest through the trees.

By the way, hello Wil. Glad to see an icon with a conscience and a pulse!

Posted by: bigbrother2084 at August 22, 2002 02:12 PM

Oh - wow! Back in 1989 the school I was going to had a field trip for the Art & Cinema Clubs (the former of which I belonged to) to go to the Paramount Studios for a guided tour. As we were passing by the studio that STNG was filmed at, a door opens and out comes Wil.
I of coarse screamed out "Wesley!", and when Wil turned around and noticed us he had that look of "Oh crap - tourists..." look on his face. He forced a smile, waved and then quickly walked into the makeup trailer and shut the door.
All I could think was, "That's it? Where's the love?" I understand he was in the middle of work but he made our group feel like lepers. I didn't like Wil after that anymore, but now I have to say that I've been turned back around.

Wil Rocks!

Posted by: Jonn at August 22, 2002 02:12 PM

Seemed a bit shrill to me.

Certainly the USA is fucked up. Look at who is running things. Look at the bribery of all of our government.

Console yourselves Canadians. We are going down and we will take you with us.

Posted by: Wombat at August 22, 2002 05:03 PM

Why is it "whining" to express fear, doubt and worry about the actions and attitudes of a powerful and potentially dangerous country like America?
I say "potentially dangerous". Why?
Well, look at it like this. America has more nukes than anyone else, and is the only country to have used them in anger, has a massive military budget and a history of becoming involved in other countries affairs if the outcome could benifit America. This countries Government is waving the sabre of war and pointing the finger at anyone who pisses them off, and trying to justify war against them.
Example: Iraq. Saddam is a brutal dictator, no question. He is responsible for many atrocities. however, we are expected to support a war with Iraq, not because Saddam is a psycho (so is Henry Kissenger), but because he MAY be stockpiling nuclear and chemical weapons. This accusation os coming from a country which HAS stockpiles of nuclear and chemical weapons. No-one has presented evidence of this, instead we are expected to follow blindly. This looks to be a sham, a cover for some other reason for a war. Why has no-one actually proven to us that those weapons exist? To go to war now would be like beating the crap out of a man in the street because he MIGHT have a knife. Damn right I'm worried.

My Government has been assumed to be willing to follow the US in whatever the US wants to do. That arrogance is amazing. It truly is. I would be happy to gut Saddam and spread his giblets over the sands, IF IT WERE FOR THE RIGHT REASONS. Stop lying and trying to smooth over the situation. He won't become more of a monster just because you say he's evil every 3 seconds.


Why do you people act so suprised when other countries speak out against you? If you fuck with a people enough, they will want to fuck you in return.
I'm sick of this divide, to be frank. I personally think that humanity has reached the stage that we can go beyond all this hatred. But until America stops thinking of the world and the peoples of the world as its own personal resource, and remembers that we are all human, no matter our race or colour or creed or nationality, then we will continue to have the current situation. And the cycle of violence will continue.
We cannot obtain true peace by wading through a river of blood.
We cannot solve problems that we do not admit exist.
Every time we justify a death by marginalizing the truth or by saying that "it saved lives in the long run", then we run the risk of becoming less human. For every Hitler or Bin Laden (why are we going after Iraq if we don't have him yet) who has earned damnation (fuck Im gonna laugh at those two when I get that Condo on the Beach beside the Lake of Fire), there are thise who didn't earn retribution.
If you won't see whats wrong, you can walk blindly off the cliff.
Maybe all the people who are "whining" are actually tring to tell America something it needs to hear. Not just for the good of America, but for the world.

Posted by: fluffy at August 22, 2002 05:47 PM

Now there's one seriously fudged Canadian. Can you say, "Too much X-Files?" Thought so. The guy must get all of his news on the TV and think that that is all that goes on here. Not quite. And I hate it when people make the comment of , "America has a terrible crime rate". Honestly, I think we're just better at SEEING the crime and catching the criminals. "If ya sees Engines be careful, if ya don't sees Engines, be more careful".-The crazy guy off of The Rifleman, unless I'm having a memory lapse.

America is far from perfect, but the human race is far from perfect. We never will come close in my opinion to being anywhere near perfect as a race of peoples. And frankly, I can only see dividing us up into nice little groups, like countries, as a way of holding us back.

As a rule though, Americans really don't care what anyone thinks of them. If you hate me, tell me about it, I'll listen, then shrug and walk away. Why? Because you are no better, and I know I'm trying to be better. Meanwhile you waste time that could be spent bettering yourself telling me about myself. I think someone once said something about taking the plank out of your eye before you try to remove the splinter from your brother's. Some famous guy back in the day. (Sarcasm there for the religiously inclined folk)

And sure a lot of our officials are crooked. But the way I see it, if you ain't running for office to make it better, you have little right to publicly complain about it. One saving grace to that might be constantly writing your reps and telling them what you think..which is kind of a good idea.

In the meanwhile I say we ditch the President, and the entire Judicial branch, and just have the whole country vote on individual laws via a intRAnet made specifically for that purpose. But hey, that's this madman's views.

Posted by: Vedin at August 22, 2002 08:41 PM

Well Wil,
I think you hit the nail on the head quite quarely. I tend to find myself divided between wanting to do what I can to improve or perhaps educate America about it's effects on the world, and wanting to escape to someplace with less bullshit. The problem with the second option, and the response that I give to those who don't like my opinions and ask me why I don't leave America is that I would not wish to be subjected to our foreign policy.

Posted by: fnord at August 22, 2002 09:30 PM

I read the letter, and I appreciate your POV Wil. Yours is definately a unique one, and I applaud your honesty.

With regards to the "Open Letter" I'd have to agree that the general gist of the letter is accurate. It's inflamatory and accusatory tone, however, make it's valid points almost moot.

What I'd really like to see is rather than a "YOU SUCK AMERIKA" letter is a letter that outlines where and why we suck, and some suggestions on how to correct those problems. Criticizing is all well and good, and being scared is certainly appropriate, but eventually you have to calm down and back it up with some suggestions or at least intelligent rhetoric, lest a person or ideology starts looking like a missive written by a tempermental 3 year old.

BTW Fluffy? You had stated that with regards to the use of nukes America, "... is the only country to have used them in anger." I suggest you read "Truman" by David McCullough. You may be referring to some other usage of nuclear bombs that I'm not familiar with, though.

Posted by: Jill at August 23, 2002 06:13 AM

I've not been reading this site for several months as I've been dealing with moving cross country, my new job, and other stuff.

Just want to say this was a good note to come back in on. Stories like this remind me of why I started to read wilwheaton.net in the first place (and no, it wasn't because of your fantastic Brooklyn accent in Toy Soldiers).

Posted by: David Grenier at August 23, 2002 07:17 AM

Right on. Thanks for the personal commentary, Wil. And thanks for recommending www.TomPaine.com to your readers -- hope you'll keep checking us out and sending folks our way.

John Moyers

Posted by: jdm at August 23, 2002 07:20 AM

I agree with wil and not the letter.
Your friends are really important so trust the things they say

Posted by: Emily at August 23, 2002 07:26 AM

I find myself going back and forth between indignation and "well, it's true." I have always prided myslef as a strict Reoublican, in the vein of "the government that governs least governs best." It is indeed sad that both major parties are so very similar yet give nothing worthwhile to the country. It is also unfortunate that events have changed the face of the United States in the past 50 years and that it has come to this.

But I wonder, what model is there to follow? I find it interesting that a gentleman from a country such as Canada proposes we march on Washington. What purpose would that serve? If this were to happen to Canada, or perhaps Great Britain, would you recommend the same tactic? What would the government really do? Assuming that the government of the United States does have all this power, would it not just call up the armed forces and chase everyone back home? Or shoudl people martyr themselves until the rules change? Because if I remember correctly, the British populace couldnt muster enough force to stop an invasion of a rogue biker gang much less overthrow the government. And Canada is not very far behind.

Far be it from me to jump on a soapbox and proclaim that free ownership of guns are the solution, but by making a population impotent and unable to defend itself without government intervention - does that not make them completely subservient to the will of the government?

Maybe America will continue to wallow and live as it does. Perhaps a breakdown of family values and lack of personal accountability is forever beyond our reach. But where else do we have to look for inspiration?

We do have to get our act together and stamp down on corruption. No doubt about it. But people also have to believe in themselves and realize that they do not have to be sports stars or millionaires to be happy. That kind of attitude and gluttony is making us what we are.

Enough rambling. More power to you Wil for finding an inner peace. You could have turned into some idiot who constantly wanted to regain his former fame, but you choose to live comfortably in your skin. I do not agree with all your views but I sure as hell admire your values and your ethics.

George F

Posted by: George at August 23, 2002 08:36 AM

alot of people seem to be upset by the way the author uses the blanket of "all americans" to get his/her point across. Just because the author is speaking about Americans (I remind myseld that people on two continents are Americans, not just those from the US) does not mean that every American is like that. If you are not like the Americans the author speaks about, then you don't have to identify with it. But, answer this, aren't the majority of Americans like what the author says they are? How many people read the front section of the newspaper at all before, or after, they read the sports section? Freedom to alot of Americans is being free to be able to watch wheel of fortune at night and being able to drive your suv to mcdonalds and back in time for it to start - everything else is just extra, but we defend our self indulgence fiercely. We say the important thing in life is to be happy, whatever form that happiness takes and no matter who gets hurt in that pursuit, so most people consider their responsibility to end by the time they walk out of their jobs at the end of the day. What I'm trying to say is that if you don't feel that letter was talking about you, don't get upset, realize that there are many, many people in this country who are exactly like that. Maybe what is getting you upset is a sense of guilt for not spending more time dealing with the people who are just the way the author says. Brushing off the sterotype as inaccurate only makes you complicit in the behavior and attitude of the people the letter was really talking about. Did you vote last year? When was the last time you chose not to follow the advice never to get into a conversation about politics? Not having a conversation out of fear that it will get ugly is a capitulation to those whom(?) the letter is talking about. If you don't know anyone like the Americans written about, then you must surround yourself with people who are just like you and only like you, because those people are America. It is our American lifestyle that got us into this mess. It would be excusable if we were unable to know about the rest of the world or unable to help them. Today one will not know what is going on only if one choses not to see. One is unable to help if one is unwilling to risk our creature comforts to share with the rest of the world. If this doesn't describe you, I'd like to know where you are hiding, because I've been all over this country and seen the selfishness that is our habit. Just don't disregard the letter, talk to the people who are like that and lead by example.

hippiecrate in NYC

Posted by: smell the game at August 23, 2002 08:47 AM

One of the comments on this list throws out two adjectives for our nation: 1) sick 2) evil, and likens the two. I agree that the majority of people you'll meet in this country are neither cocky nor obnoxious, but at the heart of our nation is our government. The general populous, yes, is doing just fine.

Other nations and cultures, however, don't view us on a person by person basis. Broad stroke generalizations are made about us based on governmental action and policy. And make no mistake, power hungry leeches that will do anything to inflate their wallets or office size are up on the hill right now making policy most certainly not on the basis of the greater good of many...this is as gently as I can put it.


Posted by: Volp at August 23, 2002 09:35 AM

I'll second what hippiecrate in NYC said above: I believe the "Open Letter to America" is indeed applicable to many Americans. Most Americans only seem to care about how much is going in their mouths or in their wallets. That's it. Anything else...least of which being the self-destructive path that this entire civilization is rushing down headlong, will be violently shoved outside of the realm of consideration. "Who cares what my actions are doing to the world?" they will say: "AS LONG AS I GET MINE! Now where's my next fix going to come from???"

Me, me, me...now, now, now...gotta, gotta, gotta have it. The ethos of brutal egoism that now permeates this culture.

In addition, along with this ethos of brutal egoism seems to be an increasing amount of hatred and violence, which is increasingly manifesting itself in things such as road rage, office rage, etc. [Seen the violent crime rates lately??] Every day I see people driving like friggin' maniacs in their SUVs cutting people off left and right, while American flags are festooned on their antennae or {ironically) "United we Stand" stickers are on their rear bumper. Then you turn on the talk radio and hear nothing but hate-filled souls saying things on the order of pleading for the killing of all the Muslims in the Middle East, nuking the place, turning the whole area into a parking lot, and so on. The people I work with, by and large, have the same attitudes.

It's getting uglier and uglier out there folks. Hell, if this keeps up, I'm moving to Canada!

Posted by: BrianT at August 23, 2002 11:23 AM


I agree with wil and not the letter.
Your friends are really important so trust the things they say


Got news for ya. Canada *is* a friend to America.

We just want you to cut back on the smacktalk and take yourselves down a notch. You're more fun to be around that way.

Anyway, if I was a Merkin Citizen I'd vote 'Wil for President'.

Posted by: stace at August 23, 2002 12:15 PM


I'll read that book once I find the time (I have 3 differan books on the go just now, and tow of them are heavy going) but thanks for the pointer.

I suppose my words "only country to use them in anger" as regards nukes, were poorly chosen and innacurate. Hey, I was a little drunk. What I meant was that as far as I know, America is the only country to have used Nuclear weapons on live human targets in a wartime situation. There have been numerous threats and near-launches, but I think that Hiroshima and Nagisaki were the only actual real cases were nukes where used to deliberatley kill other people.

Its hard to state a single, strong and overriding reason why America scares me. There are many many incidents and reasons that all add up to a picture of a country that I cannot with consience abide with. Considering that I quite like Americans as a people (most of the Americans I have met have been warm and friendly, generally nice people), this is a little hard to stomach. I think that part of the problem is that even the most intelligent people drop in IQ and humanity when you get enough of them in one place and give them something to hate. its a principle that says that a mob is only as intelligent as its most foolish member.
Its proven by all the "lets kill all muslims" attitudes that are in America just now, and its proven by all the "Amelica Suks ass" bitching that never goes further than name calling.

Bill Hicks once said that Life is a choice between fear and love. We can either spend more money on weapons, and on locks for our doors and cower in fear because our governments tell us we should, or we can understand that humanity can go beyond all this petty bickering. I don't know if it would work, but heres my solution. Instead of merely pointing out Americas myriad flaws, the countries of the West should rise up and work WITH America to help America heal itself, for the wounds are deep. That way we might be able to fix all of our problems, and get past our limited, isolated viewpoints and go onto something greater. It could only happen if we work together, and stop jeering from the sidelines, and actually DO SOMETHING POSITIVE.
All this hatred and violence needs to stop, otherwise we will never get out of it, and an ever increasing cycle of death will become our only future.

Posted by: fluffy at August 23, 2002 03:08 PM

Great work. Everybody hates to hear themselves criticized, and it's even more unpleasant when we have to agree with the critic. I really hope America (or at least those responsible) are mature enought to listen to the letter- not as a personal insult, but as a truthful critique.

Posted by: God at August 23, 2002 05:24 PM

This letter, and Wil's response, reminds me of an abusive parent-child relationship. That letter was not fair, nor meant to be. It has little or nothing to do with America; much more to do about the authors feelings of helplessness and inadequacy. Wil sheepishly stated he didn't agree with it. That's too weak. For an abused child to overcome their experience with abuse they must come to realize that the abuse had nothing to do with him.

Americans need to become more reflective, God knows we have created our share of problems, but I think Wil missed the mark by accepting the inflammatory remarks as a starting point. If any thing America is suppose to be about truth, rationality, and fairness....little was to be found in this letter.

Posted by: Dave at August 23, 2002 08:35 PM

The U.S. military budget is larger than the sum
of the military budgets of the next 25 countries
combined. What do you suppose is being done with
it? For ten years the U.S. supported Saddam
Hussein in a war against Iran. We then
manipulated Kuwait into provoking Saddam to
invade, telling Saddam that it wasn't our affair
and wouldn't intervene. This was all a setup to
go to war against Iraq. If you disagree without
learning the facts, then you are just being an
asshole again, as so many Americans are who can't
be bothered to educate themselves about what is
being done in their name and with their tax
dollars, and why. The U.S. is now talking about
preemptive wars, regime change, and the rest, none
of which is or ever has been legimitate behavior
in the international arena, and we wouldn't
tolerate any other nation doing the same; it is
only possible because of that huge U.S. military
budget that we all fund. Americans who approve of
this or don't complain about it are just like the
"good Germans" who did the same with Hitler.
So stop congratulating yourself about how you
have changed and what a wonderful person you
are and all the rest of this self- (and fan)
serving crap; in the grand scheme of things,
you're still an asshole unless blow off this
nonsense about it being "wildly offbase" and
instead use all of your celebrity to speak out
against the things mentioned in the Open Letter,
the things that really matter.

Posted by: Jack at August 23, 2002 09:05 PM


Nice thought for the day -- however, it was (I must admit) 'some' violent acts in our nations' history which placed YOU in a position to have the life you've so richly lead and still are leading today. Perhaps you no longer ride in LIMOS but you have folks mailing you computers for crying out loud!

Indeed, those many brave long before your time and with courage that neither yourself nor myself most likely have today paved out paths for us to walk in freedom through great violent acts and often times at the cost to many others. Again I will state, were it not for those violent acts, where would Sweet Uncle Willy be today? Talk. You do it well. Thank God for those brave men and woman that talking is the only weapon you need today.

Make a difference, Wil. Go out and shake the hand of a VET who had far less choices and freedoms in his youth than you and I had in ours'. Shake his hand and thank him or her for his/her 'acts'. You owe him/her that much.

Then go and take a long look at your family and ask yourself how it is you have such riches and treasures. The answer in part lies within some acts of incredible violence. And that is just fact.

Try a higher road. You still have have a few pages left in your letter to read.

Posted by: DV at August 24, 2002 12:36 AM

A begging question comes to mind after reading the mean, flagellating diatribe hiding what could have been a beautiful and compassionate plea of national intervention: What are we to do about it? My initial one-word advice to all of the citizenry who were touched by the so-called open letter, both reactionary to its negativity yet able to see into its hard truths, is VOTE.

How many of you, who see the dire need of addressing these grievances, have bothered to vote in every state and federal election in which you were eligible to do so? How many are fully informed of the issues, of politicians' records, of the consequences of voting for Candidate A or against Amendment B. If I had to venture a guess, it would be a relative few. And if I were to second-guess your reaction to that, I imagine the usual complaints of corruption, complication, disaffection and ennui for starters. But listen to yourselves, and then read your hearts' reactions to the open letter again. And let me point out that the current system, the corrupt one, is trying to disaffect you and thrives on the ennui of an intellectually and spiritually fat and lazy populace.

The tools to make the kinds of changes necessary to veer from this path of national selfishness and self-righteousness are at our disposal, always have been. Educate yourselves, organize yourselves, communicate with your communities. And not just amongst your peers in this borderless land of network ether; break your fingers away from the keyboard and pry your pupils from the monitor and television more often. Use them to open the door and look outside again to your neighbors, friends and family. I don't just write this with a finger pointed either, I am wholly guilty of it myself. We need to take back what we have now long turned our backs on in favor of AOL chatrooms, must-see TV and eBay auctions; we must take back our country and constituion.

This is what we can do about it. Let's stop with the irresposible slacker delusion of political helplessness and hopelessness and get back into the participating in the process of what America's founders had so sagaciously foresaw as necessary to the future of civilization: Of, by and for the people. Failing that, our fate and infamy is well-deserved. What else but bloody revolution would work?

Posted by: whoami at August 24, 2002 08:41 AM

As a Canadian I'd like to fill you in a bit. We've always supported our friends and neighbours. On September 11th countless Americans were taken in to Canadian households when their flights got cancelled. Our emergency crews were over the border and on route to ground zero shortly after the event. We cried real tears at what we saw happen on CNN. American flags outnumbered Canadian flags for weeks. Our armed forces have fought beside your guys in Afghanistan. Several of our snipers were responsible for saving American lives in Operation Anaconda. They would currently hold US decorations for valour if our government decided to allow it. Our troops have died in Afghanistan at the hands of American pilots. We still stand with you. We have died beside Americans in almost every conflict since the turn of the century.

However, I (like a lot of the Canadians here) think that some self reflection for Americans on the subject of American society as a whole is in order. McDougall painted a bleak (in some places paranoid) picture of the US. I think as individuals you have to ask what have you done to contribute to that picture, or to dispel it?

Posted by: bpalmer at August 24, 2002 04:10 PM

I think it's kind of funny that some of these guys act like the US gives out so much money to the world. Just about every country in Europe gives out more money in foreign aid a year that we do.

ANYWAY, don't diss Wil for speaking his mind and being critical of his leaders. I don't know how well you paid attention to your history class, but you may recall that's how this crazy place got started.

I forget which one it was, not sure if he's on any of our money, but one of the OG's once said something to the effect that for a citizen of a democracy, criticizing those in power is not only a right but a DUTY.

Posted by: Jared at August 25, 2002 01:47 AM

I read your open letter. I think that most people could find the same wake up call if they lived in another country for awhile. I am an American living in Europe right now. Everyone I meet has an opinion about Americans and a story to tell and has no problem telling me all about it the moment they meet me.

I try to be a sympathetic ear. No matter how hard I try, i am not a walking country. But I can't shake it. I used to let it get to me, but now I enjoy getting an outsider's perspective. It's true, the US is not liked. I feel like I have learned more on foreign soil than I ever did in high school history class.

It's a good start for developing self-awareness for anyone.

Posted by: Sarah at August 25, 2002 08:25 AM


Thanks for your honesty. This is rare these days. Much of what you had to say is unpopular in this post-9/11 world but often what is popular isn't right and what is right isn't popular.

I have to think back a few years ago when a friend of mine told me that I wasn't all that. She said I never listened and that I beat a dead horse to death proving my point. At first I thought what she had to say was bull and I let her know in no uncertain terms. The more I thought of it the more I realized I should listen more and speak less. You have one mouth and two ears, listen twice as much as you speak. I also realized that I should make my point and move on. If I have to harange some one to death maybe what I had to say wasn't worth much to begin with.

I have seen arrogant people that think they know all and have all the answers. The problem is with those that have all the answers is that they don't ever listen to the questions. This attitude can be found in religious fundamentalists and political ideologes. They should give their harange a break. How often do we have to hear the same story? It was like the story of Monica Lewinsky. Enough is enough!

Problem is that we can see clearly the faults of others but not so clearly the faults of our selves. Americans are shocked about the gender segregation found in certain Islamic societies but are blind to the racial segregation that exists in American society. Yes it still exists and no a law passed outlawing it did not legislate it away.

Christian fundamentalists excuse certain attitudes and behaviors of their ancestors by saying, "they had a different mind set" and "you can't judge past behaviors by current standards." Okay. But what of gladatorial combat in ancient Rome or human sacrifice in the Aztec Empire? What about the lack of religious freedom in Saudi Arabia, Iran and China today? In China the good of society comes before the good of the individual. Unregulated and unregistered religion is devisive and disruptive in the society.

Well I think I made my point. I just wanted to say thanks Wil for an insightful letter. Good luck in your current endevors. BTW I thought you were great in Star Trek. In the original seris you had a multi-ethnic and multi-species crew, what is so far fetched in having a younger crew member function as a full fledged member?

Posted by: Robert at August 25, 2002 03:32 PM

How about instead of blaming America for all the worlds ills, you send an "Open Letter to China" and talk to them about forced abortions, insanely high pollution, and other crimes against their own people? Or maybe Iraq for gassing it's own people? How about Somalia for starving each other to death?

But maybe you're right. Driving an SUV is alot worse than jamming a needle full poison into a baby's head as it's born because it's a second child.

Everyone loves to complain, but no one has a solution. It's called whining.

Posted by: Brandon at August 25, 2002 07:04 PM

Angelwwolf wrote:
When the American government looks out for what is in the best interest of it's people, the other countries hate us for it.
When the American government takes care of other countries, the other countries hate us for it.
Could it be jealousy? I think so.

It's not about jealousy at all. Of course other countries have their problems as well. But in my opinion, the USA is to the late 20th and early 21st century, as Britain and Europe were to the 19th and early 20th century. It's all about power and who can control what.
The USA doesn't help other countries out of the goodness of its heart. There are all kinds of conditions involved when another country is given aid. All those conditions benefit the donor country, and to be honest, it never usually does the receiving country a lot of good. It just puts them in debt to the donor, and gives the donor power over the other country.

Yes, the author of the open letter went WAY over the top, but like many others who have posted here before me, I agree with the basic sentiment of the letter. The USA needs to look at why other countries are so against them, and it's not about jealousy.

Posted by: Nicola at August 25, 2002 07:52 PM

Actually, the U.S. does lots of good things for other countries, no strings attached, that we never hear about. When I was living in Nicaragua in 1999 they had 1,200 Marines land with construction equipment and they rebuilt hundreds of miles of mountain roads so the farmers could get the coffee harvest off in time and to market. They also deepened the drinking water wells, while they were at it. At about the same time, a group of US Air Force surgeons organized themselves and came down to do free eye surgery for poor children. This kind of thing doesn't make the headlines. All over the world, Americans are legitimately doing some good things. (Some of them are even Republicans.) The real problem with America is pretty simple. The real problem is that the big companies have such a stranglehold on power that they turn every politician into a jingoistic servant. That's also why there is no hope of having a decent medical system in this country, ever.

Posted by: Tim at August 25, 2002 08:13 PM

now *here's* one you should submit to This American Life ;) what a good metaphor. I wish everyone could hear what you said here -- I think it would win a lot more converts than the editorial it's responding to.

Posted by: gus at August 25, 2002 10:48 PM

I think it's amazing that so many of you are dismissing the open letter as "wildly offbase".... didn't you understand Wil's analogy?

There is a real Canadian out there whose thoughts and opinions are encapsulated in that letter. Those sentiments are what he thinks, and that's how he sees America. And as an Australian who just spent the last two years in Canada, I can say the feeling is quite widespread.

You can either completely disregard his letter as wildly offbase, or you can accept and acknowledge that people around the world, even America's friends and allies, feel this way towards you.

A very wise person once said to me "If someone is angry at you, listen to them VERY VERY carefully."

America, most of the world hates you. You can go on pretending they don't, or concluding that they must be crazy or wrong.... or you can LISTEN to them. You can consider their opinion and try to establish why they feel this way and what you might be able to do about it.

There are millions of people out there who feel this way. Don't be so foolish as to disregard it without honest and genuine consideration.... or hatred for America will just continue to grow every day.

Posted by: -133- at August 25, 2002 11:52 PM


I've been trying to put across that exact same point for months now. Most of those who replied were of the opinion that the reason for the widespread dislike of America are bollocks, so the person trying to explain them should be ignored.

We get accused of blaming America for all the worlds ills. We're not, we're blaming America for all the problems that IT has caused. I know when something is the fault of my own country and not America. I study my peoples history. Why would I blame America for something it has not done?

There is little point in sending an Open Letter to China or Iraq, they have regimes in power who would not listen. America is a million times more likely to listen to critics that Iraq, thats why the letter was written. America is capable of listening and human enough to do so.

So what if some of the exact details in the letter are "off base"? The real message is that America is hated throughout the world, and it needs to understnad why, and learn to change.

For everyones sake, including America

Posted by: fluffy at August 26, 2002 04:30 AM

Hi Wil. It looks like I'm "Comment 187". Whoosh. I am impressed if you make it through all of these and still have time for family, life and maybe even a moment to yourself. ;)

Your willingness to begin the journey 6 years ago and look at yourself in a moment where it wasn't at all flattering to do so... your willingness to tell us all about that moment... and finally your willingness to share the story with us to allow us to have an insight into something that without your experience we might not have had...


Posted by: Janece at August 26, 2002 10:48 PM

I have a lot ot say about the letter and about wil's brilliant response. Sadly others have already said it so very well. Most of the comments I've read are in my opinion spot on. (Those which are balanced and objective, like Wil's article.)
My comment now is addressed to those peole who like to talk about patriotism as if it means that one must love everything about their country or they are not patriotic.
As someone who volunteered to risk my life serving in a Ranger battalion for my country and its ideals, I invite anyone come and tell me that I don't have the right to say that I am very dissatisfied with my government and its leaders.

Posted by: WR at August 26, 2002 11:17 PM

From those opposed to the letter, amongst the thoughtful responses, there's been a lot of comments such as "this is the best damn nation in the world".
Even if true, the implications of this are not what you want it to be.
A number of indexes could measure the US as top dog - standard of living, wealth per capita, levels of starvation, cars etc. None of this is that surprising when you look at what the US starts with- immense natural resources and a whole ton of space, temperate conditions all contribute to making it the land mass with it all. Plus, it has no significant rivals on the landmass, and hasn't suffered invasion in any real sense since its inception, and peace builds stability.
Being born an American is a little like being born in a country manor to landowning parents a hundred years ago. You have a massive privilege. As a result, you can afford to live a rather less ugly life. Its not something to be particularly proud of; its just what you started off with. What you should be proud of is what you've done with that.

And what do you have to do? You don't have to do anything, you can keep it all for yourself. As surely lots of lords did way back when, collecting their rent, foreclosing property, sleeping soundly at night. Not even cruel, just self-interested.

But basic old fashioned morality cuts against that. The Victorians knew it - there was a growing realisation that the plight of the poor, the child-workers, the mentally sick, the prostitutes, even the violent criminal, was not something to be accepted and ignored. The moral imperative was recognised, and produced many of the reforms that shape modern states. An analogous motion was occurring in the US, no doubt.

It seems to me we reach a new moral imperative. That the USA with its privelage, is obliged to improve conditions in the rest of the world. Without the hissing and fussing about its priority to protect business, or the military-industrial complex, etc. According to one contributor, the US already funds half the world. Well, if you look at stats, of the 20 biggest contributors to world aid (indexed against GNP), the US comes bottom. It gives more than all the others, but compared to what it can afford, it gives the least. That isn't really good enough.

But I think the point of the letter, plus the debate afterwards, is that its not so much what america should/shouldn't be doing as how it perceives itself. How do I see it?
As a wealthy playboy/dilettante, too much money, not realy aware of the where and why of whats around. Not bad, just thoughtless. A person with a vocation round the corner, a mission to do real good, the hard way (e.g. not "bombing tyrants"and running away) - but one it hasn't discovered yet. If America picked up its responsibilities and without fanfare started pulling its potential weight, I would be the first to trumpet it as the best nation on earth. It's positioned to do it.

Posted by: lazyjournalistonPCP at August 27, 2002 11:07 AM

I always had the feeling back then you were probably a dick in real life, Wil. Nothing personal; it wasn't genetics. Nine point nine people out of ten would probably end up the same in those circumstances. It is good to know that you came to terms with it, and that you have at least one good friend to stick you to it.

As for this land of ours, we are good at heart.

But we are no saints. We have it damn good. Try living abroad for a while. Not on a base, but as a civilian. It may surprise you how you feel on return. Fact is, we are way too damn apathetic as a population. True, our nation does many great philanthropic things. But what did you do to bring that about? Huh? I thought so. It was already taken care of.

These great philanthropic acts are however, no moral justification for anything by any means.

This Canadian cat was a bit over the top. But he did have a point. And while I would never say that folks who fly a plane or two into a skyscraper are right, I wouldn't simply dismiss their outlook as psychosis. Where does that come from?

I submit our rulers have erred time and time again, yet not every time. We may stand proudly by all the good things this nation does. But consequently we owe it to ourselves to face up to our sins. Can't think of any? Look up Wounded Knee for starters.

Posted by: Daev C Zen at August 27, 2002 04:58 PM

I'd like to know.. exactly what is factually incorrect about Mr. McDougall's open letter? It seems to me that his facts are about right. And if we, as Americans, are singled out unfairly, it's simply because we are, as my 11th grade English textbook put it, as did a Puritan settler, "A City Upon A Hill". Well, we're on the hill. We're leading the way. And we're looting, raping, and murdering our way to the top.

If you aren't part of the group that's getting rich off defrauding investors.. If you aren't advocating increased military expenditures.. If you aren't a racist cop.. well, aren't we all tolerating a system that allows these things to continue? And, if we aren't part of the solution, then aren't we part of the problem?

What really disturbs me.. is.. why aren't Americans saying this? At least, no one in the mainstream. Sure, there are some firebrands in say, The Nation. Or, Adbusters. Or, maybe, Harpers. But, why do I have to go to Canada, or the UK to get mainstream dissent?

I'd suggest an excellent work by a Mr. Chomsky and a Mr. Herman.. "Manufacturing Consent".

God knows CNN isn't telling us anything worth hearing.

Posted by: Geoff at August 28, 2002 01:08 AM

Wow!! I had my own revelation today ... I can't say I ever cared much for Wesley Crusher--but Wil Wheaton, you are awesome. Thanks for this wonderful entry.

Posted by: maria bustillos at August 28, 2002 08:56 AM

The next time a Canadian tries to make you feel guilty for America's maltreatment of other nations, our disregard for land and nature, or our cruelty towards other cultures, direct him/her to this URL:


Let me quote from the page:

"For many natives, life has been a cycle of racism, poverty, and deplorable treatment by Canadian institutions where their land, their culture, and they themselves were subject to being wiped out. The Kanesatake natives chose to fight back. But they were also fighting for something many natives desire: sovereignty. For many natives, this means being treated as distinct nations within or in partnership with Canada as a whole. Sovereignty is seen as the way in which natives can preserve their land, culture, and themselves."

Posted by: Majestic at August 28, 2002 12:36 PM

I am sorry to say that, the "Open Letter" is right. Most of the world doesn't like you, because the US is an irresponsibly behaving behemoth.

- The US wants exemptions for US citizens from the International UN Court, but feels free to overthrow and replace governments and officials they want to see discarded and prosecuted.

- The US produces most of the CO2 in the world, even more than the 350 million people of the European Union, but does not want to ratify the climate treaty almost all nations of the world signed.

- The US sanctions hacker acitities for its legal arms and its industry, even if the machines in question are not within the US and US jurisdiction, all the while luring two Russian hackers into the US for hacking a US machine.

The US is generally the most disliked nation in the world, not because it's powerful, but because it doesn't act like a just teamplayer.

Posted by: Infidel at August 28, 2002 05:08 PM

When I read the Open Letter, it hurt to read so much truth. I'm an American living in Ireland and am exposed to many viewpoints other than that of the Stars and Stripes. While I hate to generalize, I've always said that America needs to look at itself hard in the mirror before we can even try to tell other countries how to run their own nations. Our government has made some horrible decisions and has committed horrible acts. But Americans are good people, this I know. We are hard workers; we still like to fight for the truth. There are many Americans who do not like what our leaders do. I think the metaphor you make Wil touches a lot of us because it's something we can more easily identify with. You've put it on a more personal level. However, I think the Letter has succeeded in getting our attention and has at least made more than one person stop and think.

I know Americans care about the rest of the world, but it's hard to convince the rest of the world of this point when our own Leader is the only major world leader not attending the Earth Summit this week. What kind of message does that send?

Posted by: Sherri at August 29, 2002 03:37 AM

responding to the original "open letter" article as well as Wil's article...however one personal comment for Wil, is simple, I'm extremely delighted that you have this site now, and I'm very sad that you won't be in the movie...That was the only reason I was going to go see it...with that said, on to my puking rampage of sorts......ahem......

I sadly and completely agree with the opinions made overwhelmingly clear in this article. I as an American, am decidedly sickened by the lack of awareness, spreading like a plague, in this country. The deeds done by Mr. Bush are disgusting and absolutely convuluded! The day I heard he was elected I cried rivers, and refused to come out of my bedroom for two days. The country was bad enough before he took over. I am proud to be a human...a spiritual and awake human being...but ever so ashamed to be called an American. The people here as a whole mean well by their deeds and opinions, however, ignorance is bliss "they" say. I however refuse to be ignorant. The citizens of the US are very smart, compassionate people. Sadly, however, by stubbornly holding fast to the voices of the past, or opinions they half-heartedly understand, or simply what they've been "brought up" to believe in, they (as have I at times) completely miss the truth. The truth is simply this... you are what you believe you are, until someone else walks into the room... perception is everything. Looks like a duck, smells like a duck, feels like a duck....but is it a duck? If it is a duck, is it alive?
Lastly what I have to say is... If you feel the way you do about something it is valid. If someone else feels something different, it too is just as valid. You cannot help the way you feel, but you can help the way you listen, understand, accept, perceive, and act.


Ember Ryan, Minnesota

Posted by: Ember Ryan at August 30, 2002 10:27 AM

Here's a quote from Mark Twain that helps me keep my head on straight when thinking about politics:

You see, my kind of loyalty was loyalty to one's country, not to its institutions, or its office holders. The country is the real thing, the substantial thing, the eternal thing; it is the thing to watch over, and care for, and be loyal to; institutions are extraneous, they are its mere clothing, and clothing can wear out, become ragged, cease to be comfortable, cease to protect the body from winter, disease, and death. To be loyal to rags, to shout for rags, to worship rags, to die for rags--this is loyalty to unreason, it is pure animal; it belongs to monarchy, was invented by monarchy; let monarchy keep it.

Posted by: Michael at August 30, 2002 11:07 AM

This is a comment on the open letter from the Canadian.

I am a Canadian. I disagree with the approach and sentiment in the open letter. It is accusational and based entirely in emotion rather than in fact and critical argument.

I am ashamed that a Canadian would so arrogantly post such words. I agree that there are problems with the Foreign policy of the United States, and there needs to be a review of those policies. An attack on our neighbour is not only disloyal, it is also hypocritical. Canada enjoys much security and wealth, simply because the United States is our biggest trading partner. The actions of the United States affects Canada in every way. To think that we are not part of the cause is ignorant.

Canada sent soldiers to fight in Taliban, remember? We didn't have to send soldiers. And I don't think that we were coerced into going.


Posted by: g at August 30, 2002 12:44 PM

I had not seen the "Open Letter" before and was directed to your site by Tom Tomorrow. I am impressed with both your candor and wit.
To me, an American used to speaking her opinions in hushed tones in the aisles of the health food store, the library, the bike shop, the letter rang eerily true, its content a precise echo of quiet conversations among like-minded friends. Never before had I truly understood the national temperment that allowed such horrors as blacklisting and internment camps within our precious borders. Today, I live in fear that "unpopular" opinions might lead those of us who understand our freedoms to lose them entirely.
In response to the person who quoted Twain: Here, here, never worship institutions or people. However, what is left for us that hasn't been spoiled? What have we allowed our land to become, our leaders to lead us to? I am embarrassed and ashamed that so many of us feed at their bloody trough, lick our tainted lips and repeat "God Bless America" like a nightmare mantra.
I am also sorry for my cynicism.
Wide Awake in America

Posted by: bijou at September 1, 2002 08:51 PM

Americans - LISTEN and you will know what´s going on in this world. LISTEN and you will learn what to do.
Right now, you are the leaders of this world. That doesn´t mean, that you have the right to take it all - it just means that you guys have the responsability to THINK.

Posted by: Gerd at September 4, 2002 08:34 AM

I am impressed with you Mr. Wheaton I must admit I was expecting a flag waving epic and I would not have blamed you in the face of such vitriole. I would have been disappointed; but I would not have blamed you at all. Even though there were a lot of truths in that open letter it was, none-the-less,over the top and savage. Most people's patriotic instincts would have launched them along a road of mud slinging and achieved nothing. Your response was intelligent and provocative in ways the open letter lost after the first paragraph.
In addition the responses of your fellow Americans were encouraging and so welcome. I am a Brit turned Canadian and I have done my fair share of America bashing but, and I never thought I would say this, if more Americans thought and felt like you and your friends then America will be as great as it has always dreamed it is. Other nations will always hate you simply because you are the super power of the era...but they wont have any real mud to throw at you. I applaud you and your friends...With America in the hands of people like you I can go back to being an optimist...Make it so Wil.

Posted by: Kevin at September 11, 2002 06:57 PM
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