November 4, 1979 was the beginning of a seemingly normal day around the world. People went off to work, put a load of laundry into the dryer, read a book report in front of their classmates, in short; nothing remarkable.
Funny how quickly things can change. For, by the time this day was in full-swing, the world would be at the edge of their seats. Thus began what is now known as the Iran Hostage Crisis. Yet while these tense days produced a lot of frayed nerves, particularly for the US, a brilliant maneuver being executed, right under the noses of the Iranians that had stormed the embassy in the name of their Ayatollah. As it is now known, the Americans, with the help of the Canadian government pulled off a highly risky yet successful operation that has recently been brought to the silver screen, being appropriately titled Argo.
The Iranians want to sue Hollywood for this adaptation of events. In truth, Canadians have a much stronger case. For what Argo did to re-write our history feels criminal.
It seems odd, but when Chris Terrio penned his screenplay, based upon multiple sources, somewhere among the words and music, fiction found its way upon the silver screen. And within this revision of now historical fact, a myth was born.
Sadly, within that act of revision, the truth about what a truly high risk operation this was for all involved ended up becoming “America The Brave”, with their lowly neighbours to the north being all but completely edited out of not only this film adaptation, but history to those too young to know the truth.
As the accolades and the film’s director Ben Affleck worked the red carpet not too long ago, something seemed remiss. Where were the Canadians?
This is an affront to Ken Taylor and John Sheardown, their families, and every other Canadian (as well as one brave British citizen) working with the CIA at great personal risk to ensure a happy ending for everyone involved.
Being Canadian, we never sought out the wonderful thanks that we eventually received from our neighbours south of the border. And they did, indeed, thank us. To be fair, they are still thanking us. And, in light of Argo, those that lived through those times almost seem to be apologizing as they thank us. No thanks were ever necessary. What happened during the Iran Hostage Crisis is very typically Canadian. We simply asked if someone needed help, and rolled up our sleeves. It was never about personal glory, or smiling brightly for the cameras. It was simply Canadians being Canadians, trying to make lemonade out of lemons.
Yet, one can almost feel the contempt rise as we who remember read, over and over, how wonderful it was for dear Ben to direct such a stunning cinematic effort. How thoughtful of Mr. Affleck to breathe a quick thanks to Canada when grasping his golden statuette. Yet, for adults, too young to know what Argo really was, a generation that is spoon fed “real” hard-hitting news from the kings of yellow journalism at Fox, The Canadian Caper never existed. And in this one simple omission, history is forever changed.
Canadians cheered when we learned about this dangerous yet highly successful caper. We all exhaled gratefully upon learning that everyone was OK. Because we all knew it could have ended very differently. And to know that all these years later, the risks taken by these brave men and women have been permanently minimized, and to be truthful, almost wiped away, just to keep things moving on film is not only an insult to what they risked to help those in dire need, but is yet another example of Canadians being, as Alanis Morissette once penned “Under Rug Swept”.
And, as this story works its way through the video stores, and eventually on Netflix, more and more Americans will cheer as Captain Affleck out-foxes those dastardly Iranian devils almost single-handedly. But for those living up on the 49th parallel, we will keep on doing what we do best. Making a good thing better, and doing so without ever once asking for applause while doing it.
The True North strong and free; it means so much more than they will ever realize.
And…for those that want a bit more “reality” please have a read: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian_Caper