Volume 93, Issue 82

Tuesday, March 7, 2000


OPINIONS

Contrioversial or just inappropriate?

Give up beer, we dare you

Too little, too late from Western

Who wants to learn?

Libs trip up Alliance

What's the difference?

Who wants to learn?



To the Editor:

I am writing in regards to the popular show Who Wants to be a Millionaire? I enjoy this show, however in the episode aired on Feb. 28, one of the questions simply appalled me.

The question, worth $32,000, was, "Which country commemorates its confederation on July 1?" The four possible answers were a) France, b) Ireland, c) Spain and d) Canada.

As any worthy Canadian will tell you, July 1 is Canada Day. I can almost guarantee you that most Canadians can also tell you which country celebrates its heritage on July 4, 1776, can name five or more of that country's presidents and can tell you where they were when JFK was shot. My problem is that the contestant on the famed show could not give the correct answer.

He seemed like an average American who was relatively intelligent and yet he was unsure of which country celebrates July 1. Even when he used one of his "lifelines," his friend was not sure which country had a confederation. So what's the point?

My point is simple and should be glaringly evident. We, as Canadians, are constantly flooded and inundated with American culture and American hegemony through almost every medium possible. Most average Canadians know almost every important date in American history and yet the average American does not know which country celebrates July 1, or even which country has a confederation.

This is not a derived point – this limited knowledge of the average American was displayed on television for millions of people to see. What do they teach Americans in school? American studies, American dominance, American history and that's all? How come we are encouraged through our school system to learn about the United States and not vice-versa? As a political science and history student at Western, it is mandatory that I take at least one American history course and I'm encouraged to take courses on American politics.

Do Americans not feel it's necessary to learn about the very basics of their closest neighbour in all respects, geographically as well as culturally? The fact that the average American could not answer such a simple question on Canada does not bode well or paint a good picture of the American public. I hope the consequences and implications of this are as evident and bothersome to every Canadian who watched that episode or reads this letter. I hope this irks other people as much as it did me. The fact that such a simple question was worth so much money alone should bother people.

In conclusion, I would like to thank Regis Philbin for pointing out the ignorance in American society with regards to its nearest neighbour (with a "u!") to the North.

Shawn Lowes
Honours History and Social Science III



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Copyright The Gazette 2000