Letters to the Editor. The history of great nations

I have lived in Canada three months a year for the past eight years. I was astounded by Everett Carll Ladd's statement that Canada has paid an enormous price for the historic absence of ``a muscular sense of Canadianness'' [``The American idea of nation,'' Sept. 30]. Just as America had to surmount the civil rights crisis of the '60s, so Canada had to confront Ren'e L'evesque's demand for an independent Quebec. Was Canadian nationalism any less resilient or imaginative in surmounting the challenge of French Quebec than white America in surmounting the challenge of black America?

Thanks to the tolerance English-language Canadians were able to muster and to the skill of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, Canada was able to make timely and significant concessions to the Quebecois. The movement for Quebec independence collapsed and the new generation of Quebec leaders identifies Quebec's future with that of Canada. Resentments have yielded to characteristic Canadian common sense and the spirit of tolerance bred into Canadian nationalism.

Many Canadians regard the heavy economic and media influence emanating from the United States as the principal threat to the preservation of a distinctively Canadian set of values and to Canada's political independence, but even that is viewed in a mature way. David S. McLellan, Professor Miami University Oxford, Ohio

Professor Ladd mentions the ``even theological lucidity'' of the American creed, set forth in the Declaration of Independence. This religious factor deserves emphasis.

Thomas Jefferson makes clear in his Preamble to the Declaration of Independence that men's ``unalienable rights'' are the gift of their Creator and, as such, belong to all men. George Washington not only saw religion and morality as a ``necessary spring of popular government,'' but in his farewell address cautioned the American people against the delusion that ``morality can be maintained apart from religious principle.''

Kindred convictions were held by many of the founders who, although they belonged to different churches, or no church, nevertheless acknowledged a universal moral law which they believed to be the expression of God's government in the affairs of men. Francis Bradley Dedham, Mass.

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published and none individually acknowledged. All are subject to condensation. Please address letters to ``readers write.''

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