Now that casual anti-Americanism has become the number one pastime in Britain, I feel the time is right to come to the defence of our whooping, hollerin' cousins across the Pond.
Of course, anti-Americanism is far more prevalent in other downtrodden, hellish and backward parts of the world such as Iran, North Korea or France, but I can’t speak for them.
But I can speak about the climate in Britain in which to merely suggest that ‘I think America’s not that bad’ is considered morally equivalent to suggesting that ‘Hitler had the right idea’, and in which it is taken as read that Bush is no different to Osama, except that his IQ is lower.
Now I’m not suggesting that criticism of American foreign policy or American politicians is illegitimate. And I fully concur with the general view that Dubya has all the oratorical skills of a hotdog.
But I do object to the lazy thinking that allows otherwise intelligent people to utter such things as “all the yanks are just fat god-bothering idiots”. Here’s why:
The US is the world’s richest, most successful, most culturally-pervasive and diverse country, and also its only superpower. Therefore, anyone with an axe to grind can conveniently grind it somewhere in America. For instance:
Euro secularists hate America because they think it’s all evangelical fire-and-brimstone Bible-thumpers who go into hysterics at a flash of Janet Jackson’s nipple.
Fundamentalist Muslims, by contrast, hate the US because they think it’s all Britney videos, strip clubs and gay pornography.
British right-wingers think the US is crazy because of the political correctness, Jerry Springer morality and burglars suing homeowners when they get injured while attempting a break-in. British left-wingers, by contrast, think the US is crazy because they put petty criminals in chain gangs and have no NHS.
Armchair history pundits who would rightly scoff at anyone hammering ‘Germany’ today for Hitler’s war crimes, are nonetheless quite happy to hammer ‘America’ today for Johnson’s actions in Vietnam.
Cynics who scoff at anything a politician says, and refuse to believe even the most modest claims made by Government ministers, are nonetheless willing to swallow whole any old conspiracy theory under the sun, so long as it is propagated by Michael Moore and it denigrates the ‘stupid white man’.
Europeans think the American ignorance of the geography of their continent is a hoot. “I met an American and she asked me “Which country is Belgium in? Is it near Madrid?” and so forth.
But ask yourself: how many Europeans could point to Iowa on a map? Or Indianapolis? San Antonio has a population of more than 1.2 million. Can you pinpoint it?
The root of all evil
It’s perfectly fine to hate some aspect of America or American culture. So wide-ranging is that culture that you’d have to have multiple personalities not to.
But the trick is not to get your particular gripe mixed up with an idea that all Americans are dumb scum and that America is the root of all the world’s evil.
Otherwise you quickly end up sounding like the Life of Brian:“Yeah, but apart from most of the books I read, films I watch, clothes I wear and music I listen to, and the websites I buy them from, and the software I use to look at those websites, and the employment of half the people I know….what have the yanks ever done for us?”