I was out at a local bar a few weeks back and had a funny thing happen. Funny because it made me laugh, not so much because it was unusual.
“Hey Amanda! Big Jim just called you a Canadian!” Stuart called out with a laugh.
With feigned terror I went up to give Big Jim a bad time… “Canadian? Are you joking? Me? A Canadian? How could you? The horrors!”
Big Jim laughed back and said, “Yeah, my mistake you are far too loud to be a Canadian! I just thought, well, you know, because you are, you know, living here and whatever…” It was kind of funny watching him sqirm a little, (Big Jim is really quite large, like nearly 300 lbs – and no, I do not know how many kg that is.)
I told Jim that I like to tease Canadians because, well, I don’t know, because they are Canadian I guess. I actually have no problem with Canadians at all, I just have never wanted to be one nor have I ever wanted to pretend I was one. Additionally, I have no problem being American. In fact I quite like it and look forward to relocating back to the States.
But for some reason, lots of people (mostly Americans over-seas for reasons other than work – that would be loitering and malingering…) have a huge problem with being American and feel a need to constantly abase Americans (not themselves so much I notice…) There is also this commonly held assertion (I have no idea if it is true) that only 5% of Americans hold passports. While that may be true and strange (I taught students in Reno, Nevada who had never been to California – a 30 minute drive) people tend to forget about what is in America. When people from the UK give me shit about how Americans don’t travel (while I am over-seas ironically enough as many of them have not been to the US) I say… “How long does it take to drive from the most northen part of your country to the most southern? About nine hours? Right. I cannot even get from the top to the bottom of my state in that amount of time.” There is a lot to see in the States, and the only collective group of people I know who have checked it out tend to be Aussies. Most of the big time America/n bashers have not even traveled in their own country. And it is lovely there. Sure there are freaks and weirdos… but that is just what makes us part of the human race.
I walked over to another group or people, one of which is the ‘girlfriend’ of a notorious America/n-basher and said, “God, it is so stupid [America/n bashing]… it is like white guilt… totally pointless.” She laughed and said, “God, you’re right, it is! That is so funny!”
And so I wonder?
I think white guilt is stupid, pointless and useless. In fact I believe that the mindset actually prolongs the situation it professes to feel guilty for. Acknowledging that something has been, or is shitty is fine… but to lump all people of a color or creed or nationality into a collective source of blame is really stupid. I feel the same way about America-hating. What is the point?
I realize that I am probably getting better health care over here than I would in the States, but should that make me hate Americans? I realize that George Bush is dumber than a brick, but should that make me hate Americans? I am not a fan of his policies, in fact, those of you who know me know that I left my job in public education in part because of GW’s “No Child Left Behind (But Every Student In Public Schools Marginalized)” plan, but I still think there is a real reason why people all over the world are struggling to get to America.
Hating America/ns for the nations foreign policy is like hating every Iraqi for living under Saddam Hussein, or every Russian who lived under Stalin, or more likely every German born since the time of Hitler. I am not big fans of any of those guys either (though I was vehemently opposed to the execution of Hussein for lots of reasons I will go into if you are interested) but what’s that got to do with the people?
The point is, unless you condone the attitudes and policies that you hate so much, there is no reason to be an Anti-American American (and I say that because the most venemous Anti-Americans are Americans over here… and probably don’t even vote!!) Frustration and angst are fine, they are the natural accompaniments for people who are involved in politics and take it seriously, but ridiculous denigration of an entire people is as stupid as any of GW’s policies.
I am white and I am American. White people and Americans have done some horrible things in the world. I have not supported these things, I have taken active measures against these things, and I will continue to do what I can to combat these things. Bashing my race and my nationality do none of this.
Just thought I would share that because I think it is so silly how people are about this American-guilt phenomenon. Funny enough, the two biggest America/n bashers I know are Americans, one who is a typical complainer in order to achieve some sort of intellectual/expert status on things and one whose name is American – seriously!!!
Go figure. Am I nuts?