The ‘evil empire’ is next door, [Canadian] youth say

Poll finds teens view some U.S. actions as global threat

excerpted from June 27, 2004 | The Ottawa Citizen

by Misty Harris

Evil is a word usually reserved for serial killers, Austin Powers villains, and kids who tear the legs off baby spiders.

But, a new poll shows a significant number of young Canadians would use “evil” to describe their U.S. neighbours.

In a telephone poll of 500 teens aged 14 to 18, more than 40 per cent of respondents saw the U.S. as an evil global force. Among French-Canadians, that number jumped to 64 per cent.

Ontario proved the most conflicted on the issue; there, nearly one-fifth of youth were on the fence.

“Teens have taken (Ronald) Reagan’s concept of the Soviet Union as an evil empire and turned it back on the U.S.,” says Rudyard Griffiths, director of the Dominion Institute.

“Clearly, the anti-American sentiment isn’t just something coming from 30-somethings or even 20-somethings.”

Avnish Nanda, a 15-year-old from Edmonton, says he sees the American government as neither totally good nor totally bad.

“When George (W.) Bush came into power, he was a real force of evil, getting into a war people say was about oil,” Avnish says. “But all over the world, America gives aid to countries whether they deserve it or not, and that’s really good for people.”

The poll was conducted at the end of March and has a 4.3-per-cent margin of error. It was commissioned by CanWest News Service and sponsored by the Dominion Institute and Navigator Ltd. to engage youth in the election and to give parents, teachers and politicians a look at where young people stand on key issues.

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