- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 5 Dec 1963, p. 130-136
- Whitney, Honourable John Hay, Speaker
- Media Type
- Item Type
- Some remarks on the traumatic aftershock to the United States, following President Kennedy's assassination. Canada and the U.S. as joint inheritors, in the new world, of a common old world heritage—a sharing of the some goals, the same values. Speaking a common language in more than the dictionary sense. Problems which greatly affect Canada, for which the U.S. has a responsibility, for example, the Great Lakes. Working out the differences. The special relationship that Canada and the U.S. have enjoyed for so long as a rare one. Capital from the U.S. as a benefit to Canada. Nationalism that can become over-sensitivity. Ambassadors and publishers: their job to get the people to the truth and the truth to the people. Making a dent in that unreason which does still persist, and which does still divide man from man and nation from nation.
- Date of Original
- 5 Dec 1963
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- Full Text
- DECEMBER 5,1963
Canadian and American Relations
AN ADDRESS BY Honourable John Hay Whitney, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF AND PUBLISHER OF The New York Tribune
CHAIRMAN, The President, Mr. Arthur J. Langley
Distinguished Guests and members of the Empire Club of Canada and the Toronto Junior Board of Trade. Rowing, polo, golf, shooting and race horses are the more popularly known interests of our guest, who bears the name of one of the United States' most distinguished families.
Less well known in Canada, may be some of the reasons for that distinction-on his father's side-descent from the William Whitney who was Grover Cleveland's Secretary of the Navy-on his mother's side-descent from the John Hay who was Secretary to Abraham Lincoln, Secretary of State and Ambassador to Britain under President McKinley and President Teddy Roosevelt. So the blending of the Hays and the Whitneys helped to form the man who has followed this star of public service, not just as his country's Ambassador to Britain from 1957 to 1961-but in countless fields such as the U.N., welfare, education, the arts and so forth. His military and citizenship records, his countless awards and decorations are impressive and too lengthy to catalogue. Suffice to say that the eminent Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of one of America's great newspapers-The New York Herald Tribune-is most warmly welcome here todayMr. Whitney.
I'm delighted to be able to be with you today. For one who served four years in London it's something of a venture in nostalgia to travel from New York to the Royal York, from the Empire State to the Empire Club. And it's a true pleasure for me, as an American, to toast the Queen in the company of Canadians-not only because she is a most gracious majesty, but because doing so seems to symbolize not only the essential union of the English-speaking world, but the special triangular relationship of our own three countries.
These past two weeks have been traumatic ones for the United States. In a sense, we've been a nation in both shock and analysis-a mass, self-administered psychoanalysis.
We're emerging from the shock. We always do, as man always does, after any climactic national tragedy. President Johnson, well qualified and well prepared, has taken firm hold, without hiatus. The government continues to function. The people are again getting back to their pleasures. The nation, its stride sadly but briefly broken, is again moving forward.
Yet a profound unease lingers on. We're not accustomed to assassination. In recent years, many Americans have been spouting a lot of malicious nonsense about their fellow countrymen, and the commentators have been quick to see a connection.
Thus it's being proclaimed in the press and by the politicians and from the pulpits that all Americans are guilty-that we are sinking into a morass of brutality-that hate and violence and unreason stalk the land-that they have poisoned the nation, and made it sick, and that what happened in Dallas was a result of that sickness.
This, I would submit, is nonsense. It compounds a crime against the nation with a slander against its people.
It's true that there is hate in America, and violence, and brutality. There always have been. We're still a young nation, and young blood and hot heads go together. Gun-toting frontier days are close in memory even without television. Within the lifetimes of most of us here, a good deal of blood was spilled in the U.S. over the rights of labour. The decade of the Twenties brought Prohibition, with its gangland warfare and mass contempt for law. This same period saw the rise of the Ku-Klux-Klan, with its doctrines of intolerance and terror, with its flaming crosses and its lynch law for Negroes. In the Thirties, when Stalin preached class warfare and Hitler harangued against the Jews, both had their organized and vocal followers in America.
And let's not forget Big Bill Thompson, the Chicago Mayor who threatened bodily harm to Britain's and Canada's King if he poked what Mr. Thompson somewhat inelegantly called his snoot into Chicago.
Lately unreason has shown itself in dramatic ways, and brutal ways. Violence is the last refuge of the desperate, hate the last refuge of the defeated. Both have been loosed in years of climactic upheaval. But they have not gone unnoticed, or unopposed.
And what's important to remember is that violence has not been and is not now a dominant strain in our character. Nor is the political myopia that's represented today by the John Birch Society or the Fair Play for Cuba Committee or any of the other ragged tassels on either lunatic fringe. Man is an imperfectible animal, and because he is, we can't eliminate hate-we can't eliminate brutality-we can't eliminate unreason. But we can work to reduce them. We can try to modify them. We can try to contain them. And we are trying. We of the press, especially, are trying. Amid the frenzied breast-beating over the President's death, there has also been a lot Of sober soul-searching. I don't think the breast-beating accomplishes much, but the soul-searching does. It's had a cleansing effect. It has, I think, brought home to us how bitter has been much of our political discourse, how trivial have been many-though not all-of the sources of that bitterness.
What we have most forcefully felt, during this period of reappraisal, is the need for a more responsible language of discourse on the issues that divide us -a language free of cant, free of vituperation, a language in which reasonable men can seek reasonable answers. And I think we are seeing that more responsible language used.
It was a great comfort to me, as Ambassador, that Britain and the United States had just such a language of discourse. We had our separate national interests, often divergent, sometimes conflicting. But we could discuss these differences, we could debate them, without rancor.
The same holds true of the United States and Canada. We, too, have our separate national interests, our differing world responsibilities. At times, our differences are sharp. Yet we have been able to discuss them, most of the time, as gentlemen, and above all as rational men. As your Prune Minister Pearson put it in New York last month, "It makes all the difference ... when you can talk to each other in the friendly, frank and direct way that political leaders in our two countries now do."
You and we are the joint inheritors, in the new world, of a common old world heritage-we share pretty much the same goals, the same values. We speak a common language and I mean that in more than the narrow, dictionary sense. Such concepts as honesty, as good faith, as fair play, have the same meaning for both of us -a meaning they unfortunately don't have for the people of many another nation. We think of each other as being pretty much the same kind of people.
In the U.S., I recognize, we sometimes carry this "identity by absorption," as Mr. Pearson has called it, too far. We do often take Canada for granted. We do often neglect Canadian interests, or fail to make allowance for the disparity between Canadian and U.S. interests. This must be a frustrating thing for Canadians.
But we live in an unfair world, in which neglect is often the sincerest form of flattery. The Latin Americans complain that the only time we pay attention to them is when they have revolutions. Newspapers are often criticized for printing only the bad things that happen, not the good things, and there's a certain amount of truth in this criticism. It's the one time an airplane crashes that makes news, not the thousand times it doesn't.
It's the countries that come crashing, or threaten to come crashing, down around our ears that get first call on our attention. It's precisely because you are neighbours who are vastly important to us, and in whom we do have confidence, that we feel secure in taking you as much for granted as we do.
I might add that it's vital to us to be able to do so. We have our hands full with a world that stubbornly doesn't order itself the way a world ought to. I hope you will give us patience and understanding. Patience with our preoccupations; understanding that we are not free agents. Responsibility can be a very confining thing. We do, for worse or for better, bear the chief responsibility for free world defence. This requires that we know a little about every corner of the world, and a great deal about many.
There are, I admit, problems which greatly affect Canada, for which we have a responsibility, and to which we don't give the attention they deserve. The shipping dispute on the Great Lakes is a prime example. And it's one on which I think American sentiment, if our people were better aware of what's going on, would be overwhelmingly with Canada. But if what makes top headlines in Toronto doesn't in Los Angeles or Washington or even New York, it's because we have to concern ourselves equally with what's happening in Tokyo and Delhi and Leopoldville.
When we do tread on Canadian toes, it's likely to be from neither malice nor indifference, but by accident. Our Washington policymakers have the interests of more than a hundred other nations to juggle, as well as yours and our own, and sometimes the jugglers fumble. This is small comfort, I know, to a nation so closely entwined, economically and culturally, with the United States. But it's here that our ease of discourse comes in, here that our mutual faith and trust bears fruit. For when this happens, your leaders and ours can talk without hurling imprecations or uttering threats, without ultimata, without innuendo. They can sit down, as rational man to rational man, and work out their differences. I don't mean it always works out this way. But most of the time it does, and it always can.
The special relationship our two countries have so long enjoyed-and I use the word enjoyed advisedly-is rare in the history of nations, rarer still in the history of neighbour ing nations. This relationship does not depend on identity of views. It does depend on a general spirit of co-operation. It is strengthened as we work together on concrete co-operative projects-such, for example, as the St. Lawrence Seaway, one of the most massive works in the history of mankind, and one which works pretty well when the dockers do. It would, I think, be strengthened further if we worked more closely together in Latin America-where we both have a major stake.
It can survive Canadian fears about U.S. investments in Canada-but I would suggest to those few who take the more narrowly nationalistic view that they reflect on the history of our own economic development. We, too, depended on capital from abroad to develop our resources, to generate our economic steam. As richly endowed as Canada is with its own natural resources, and above all with an educated and energetic people, it shouldn't fear foreign development capital. Whatever is built in Canada is ultimately going to be of primary benefit to Canadians, just as the things foreign money built in the United States have benefited us.
Nationalism is one element of nationhood, but it disturbs we when I see nationalism-especially in so close and friendly a neighbour as Canada-take the form of an oversensitivity.
This over-sensitivity, when it manifests itself, can be kin to the unreason that has so disturbed us Americans in our own country, during these two weeks of analysis and reflection. But I don't think it's any more typical of the true relationship between our two countries than the lunatic fringe is typical of America.
One of the many things ambassadors and publishers have in common, I've discovered, is that they both stand, in a sense -I hope in the better of the possible senses -between the public and the truth. It's our job to get the people to the truth and the truth to the people.
If we do this well enough-and at the Herald Tribune, we're trying-we can make a dent in that unreason which does still persist, and which does still divide man from man and nation from nation. That, at least, is my own profoundest hope.
Thanks of this meeting were expressed by W. Russell Cooper,-Chairman of The Toronto Junior Board of Trade.