15 April 2006

i have just read this . . .

. . . and am a bit fired up

this began as a short comment i was going to make on the bbc website article which you can read here (if you wish)

i agree completely with tom watson’s comment as above: ‘however, i think americans need to be educated in such a way that equips them better to travel without appearing to treat to rest of the world like an extension of disneyland. i frequently hear patronising, insensitive comments made by american tourists who are tarnishing the reputation of their compatriots.’

having been born and raised in the US, i have lived here for nearly four years, and have never experienced any of the behaviour ms cox indicates. although i did anticipate it initially and have discussed it with my british friends and colleagues at various times over the course of the years, they too are unaware of this sentiment being thought of and/or used on us-types living or visiting here.

when i hear these stories, i tend to think they are embellishing as a means of drawing attention. i once heard a student here on exchange from small town america say that a woman on the til at a shop said to her 'you sound just like george bush - you must support the war and killing innocent people', leaving those in the room to whom she said this to tut-tut incredulously. puh-leeze, i would like to hear from a witness to this actually happening, because i do find it quite unbelievable

that said, i too lower my voice when in public and/or meeting new people - but that comes more from the belief that americans speak in a loud, uneducated and crass manner. i tend to agree with that, and am fairly embarrassed when hearing others in public. but the same can surely be said of, say, australians who are here to get away from oz, or the brits in ireland, who are there to get away from here, or anyone wanting to get away from ‘their own’ people, yet finding there is no escape, no matter how far you go

as steveo said: ‘i honestly think its all about the tone and volume. americans are always wah wah wah on the train, in the restaurants. you can hear them a mile off. its as irritating as when someone is talking on their mobile loudly in a train. it gives the impression they are better than everyone else. what i would advise americans to do is to talk less, listen more, and talk more softly.’

indeed, there was a noticeable difference around a year or so ago when people automatically assumed and asked me if i was canadian, rather than american. that had never happened before, but is rampant now. and though this could have more to do with this funky 'transatlantic madonna-esque' accent i seem to have acquired, i believe it is more to do with not wanting to cause offence with a general assumption i am american. this has always struck me as amusing, bearing in mind the generalisation in america of canadians being 'dumb, uneducated, rubbish' (see south park, et al); (although those such as john candy who were happy to play along with the stereotype in things like canadian bacon were brilliant. but i digress)

supporting emilie dingler-meek's comment of: ‘as a seattleite living in london i often find that i can get away with pretending to be canadian as well. and i do. i am ashamed to be american. i didn't vote for bush and i don't support the iraq war and i feel american foreign policy is abhorrent. but i also find that people will assume i'm a thick headed, right-wing, mcdonald's loving, anti-islamic, fundamentalist christian, intolerant, homophobic idiot. that couldn't be further from the truth, but i never get a chance to show people who i really am.’

i am grateful for the rare opportunities in which i do not have to say aloud the words 'i am american' or 'i am from america'. gain ire at the words, if you will, but i would rather than not be classified by where i was born but rather who i am

besides, the thing about london is that one is hard-pressed to even find a true anglo-saxon through-and-through brit (is there such a thing?) - a brilliant facet of the multi-culturalism of this city is that when taking stock of your tube carriage, you are likely to run out of fingers rather quickly when counting the nationalities/backgrounds of those sitting amongst you

if ms cox felt she needed to 'go back to 'the states' (another term i despise because it sounds quite selfish to me - there are other countries in the world that use the term 'state' - it is just further evidence of americans having no cognisance of there being a world outside their own country. but i digress. again.) where she felt loved, then perhaps she should go back there full stop. i mean, really, if people don't like it here, make no efforts to ingratiate themselves into the local life/culture/knowledge and simply prefer to moan about all things london/english, then by all means, go back to from wherenst you came. she is possibly too of the ilk of those who, when the bombings happened in july, greatly contemplated the idea of 'going home'. whereas there are those of us who feel this is our home, and felt more connected to this country, london and londoners than ever before

someone clever once said something to the effect of 'you can't choose where you were born, but you can choose where you die'. indeed. although i hopefully have at least another 50-60yrs until reaching death, i know i would rather it be where i am happy and around those to whom i feel i can relate

-an expat with no desire to ever 're-patriotise' to the us (canada, maybe - the anglo/euro-cised parts...)

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