|09 November 2004
The End of a Love Affair
Unlike America, where only 49% of the population is in shock,
100% of the British people are currently staring westward in slack-jawed
disbelief wondering how W could possibly be elected President. Again.
I know you Americans aren't terribly interested in the mood of the world
beyond your boarders but let me assure you, if the election had been held
in England, it would have been Kerry 51%, Bush 0% and Homer Simpson 49%
(You think I'm making this up? Homer Simpson was voted the cartoon character
most people would like to have as President of the United States.)
I generally eschew politics on this website, but the fallout from
this event is impossible to ignore and, as an American, I have already
been called upon to explain how my fellow country-people could re-elect
a man who, from their perspective, is unquestionably the most dangerous
man on the planet. All I can do is tell them that the perspective is
different in America. They can't understand that, any more than the
Americans can understand how frightened the world is of Bush in particular
and, now, Americans in general. I think an exchange program might prove useful.
Traditionally, the British view of America involves a nation of overweight
boors, but there was genuine affection in this caricature. Underneath, the
Brits embraced us Yanks and all things American.
Suddenly, however, we are no longer the loveable louts we used to be.
We're a huge nation filled with idiots, armed to the teeth, and led by
the head idiot who claims he talks to God. In the British psyche, we've
gone from fat and loud, to fat, loud and congenitally stupid overnight.
"How can 59,000,000 people be so dumb?" the Daily Mail asked rhetorically
when the election dust settled, and stupid American jokes have become the
jest de jour on TV and radio. But unlike the fat jokes, these barbs have
a bite to them; we're no longer amusing, we're stupid and dangerous.
The Brits, it seems, don't like us anymore, and I, for one,
think this is a good thing.
Britain is a lovely country filled with very nice people, but its collective
love affair with America blinded it to the ways it was being manipulated by a
more dominant partner. Being in love is a wonderful thing, but being in
love and giving up your identify smacks of low self-esteem.
Perhaps this newly discovered anti-American sentiment will keep another
McDonald's from popping up where a fish and chips shop used to be. And
maybe the 'Kill Krispy Kreams' crowd will get a boost--no one wanted it
here in the first place. If the Brits continue to hate us, hopefully
they'll start to turn their island back in to Britain and cease populating
it with Starbucks franchises, Chevy Suburbans and Bud Lite as if it's the
fifty-first state. That's Canada's job.
Think of the millions of tourists who stream into England every year to
savor its Englishness; when they discover it's no different from America,
they--and all their tourist dollars--will stop coming. They'll go to America
instead; it will look the same, and we have Disney World.
Don't get me wrong; I love America, but I love Britain, too, just as
I love chocolate and peanut butter, but that doesn't mean I want them
mixed up together (despite what the Reeses Pieces people claim). The
result is a horrible, hybrid concoction that pleases no one.
It was never my intention to move away from America, but having done so,
I don't want America following me over here. What could be sadder than
leaving your native country only to be denied the fun and excitement of
experiencing a foreign culture because the culture you moved into is
identical to the one you left? If Britain doesn't come to its senses
soon, I'll have to move to France.
I'm probably the only person in Sussex who can see anything good coming
out of this election and I think that's a better way to live than hunkered
down and scared.
Without entering into a political debate, can I just say to everyone who
fears Bush and what he might do that the situation is not as dire as you
are making it seem. You're crediting the man with too much power; he's
just a President, not a dictator. To those who support Bush I'd like to
say, this is your chance to show the world that America is as responsible
as it is powerful. Please don't fuck it up.
And to all you British comedians I say, well done! Keep the nation hating us;
the tourist board will thank you for it.
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