Thursday, November 06, 2008

No longer embarrassed to be American

Having just read Hadley Freeman's column in today's Guardian all I can say is, "Hadley, get over yourself and grow up".

Freeman is relieved because she's no longer embarrassed to be an American living in Britain. Ah, the poor dear. It must have been so hard for her.
But all Americans who live or even travel abroad have, for the past eight years, become used to living with a glaze of protective, self-defensive and at times chippy armour. The American accent lost its aura of modernity and glamour, which it still had when I moved to Europe 20 years ago. Instead, the hint of a twangy vowel carried connotations of ignorance and arrogance: Hicksville instead of Hollywood. No matter that many expats hadn't voted for Bush: for eight years we have been represented by him.
First of all, the American accent denoted a "colonial" when I first went to Britain in the mid 1980s. I never had the sense that it was glamorous.

And there were plenty of Europeans who didn't like President Reagan and were not shy about telling me. There were many Americans I met then who were "embarrassed". And, I find it nearly impossible to accept that Freeman wasn't a bit "embarrassed" during the Lewinsky scandal (and I count this as different because it wasn't a government policy, but something ugly, dirty and unnecessary).

There's no reason to be embarrassed to be American because Europeans don't like American policy. You too might disagree with American policy, but all countries make mistakes, end up with elected officials who fail them. These things happen.

Of course she's not just embarrassed by the Bush Administration. She's also embarrassed by American culture.
Some might see Thanksgiving as awkward - marking the time when the pilgrims stole land from the Native Americans and imposed a tradition of supersized feasts.
Thanksgiving is "awkward"? Shaddup. Thanksgiving is a fantastic holiday, in fact I don't know of any other nation that has a holiday that is so perfect.