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More than a partisan political statement

After I had my say on the U.S. election in my last column, a few people were offended to learn that I don't support George W. Bush.

After I had my say on the U.S. election in my last column, a few people were offended to learn that I don't support George W. Bush. One fellow, who evidently subscribes to the president's policy of "those who are not with us are against us," accused me of being a Saddam-lover and suggested I start packing my bags.

It was not clear where he thought I should go, since I left the U.S. long ago and my beloved Canada wisely declined to join in Bush's invasion of Iraq. The whole argument was a discouraging reminder of just why the current regime in America scares me: in the land of the Bill of Rights, dissent now seems to be considered the equivalent of treason.

I've cheered up quite a bit, however, since discovering the website I found this site after my brother told me that for Christmas he'd like one of their sweatshirts, emblazoned with the slogan "Sorry world, we tried - half of America."

Like most great ideas, this website is very simple. Thousands of individual Americans have posted sad-faced photos of themselves holding up apologetic signs, begging the world's pardon for the re-election of Bush. You might think these photos would quickly become repetitive, but I found them fascinating in their diversity.

The photos, everything from blurry backyard snapshots to slick Photoshopped graphics, vividly show just how varied America is: multi-pierced students in dorm rooms, Florida grandmothers wearing cat's-eye shades, World War II vets, San Francisco gay couples, "real" Texas cowboys. Many stated their case with a hand-written "so very sorry," while others wrote mini-essays or posted inspiring quotes from Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, Jean-Paul Sartre, Martin Luther King, Dwight Eisenhower or Abraham Lincoln.

But the postings which really touched my heart were the responses from the people of the world. "We in Mexico know you did the best you could." "Abracos do Brasil! just don't let it happen again." "France and Morocco are sad and sorry with you." "49 per cent of you have restored my faith in the U.S. - Aussie chick." "Dear America, get well soon. Love, Canada. P.S. you can come visit."

Much more is happening here than a partisan political statement. The tremendous communication potential of the Internet, often so sadly abused by spammers, is here giving a voice to like-minded individuals from all over the globe. Many of them criticized their own governments; citizens from the so-called "coalition of the willing" countries disavowed their leaders and insisted their countrymen really want peace.

In a time when so much international news is heart-breaking, I found this outpouring of international goodwill to be a revelation.