Lol. Just posted something to one of the new "politics" discussions and I realized that I was too tired to really proof read it. So I have a feeling I'll wake up in the morning with a couple of freaks and maybe some flames. Oh well, express an opinion about Americans and you'll get trashed. Doesn't actually matter what the opinion is.
But the other day a Spanish friend asked me what I thought of the Americans. I'm Canadian and living in Spain, and whenever something American comes up I'm instantly assumed to be the local expert if there are no Americans around. Just because I could infiltrate and live among them without ever being discovered - white, neutral accent and a life time of getting tv signals bleeding across the boarder. I didn't feel like getting into a discussion at the time so I sort of made an off hand joke, "Half of them are crazy, and none of them know which half."
But I guess I do have an opinion about Americans and it's one that surprises Europeans and most Canadians when I actually talk about it. The normal response to opinion questions about Americans, especially since Bush really realized that 9/11 gave him carte blanche to do what he wanted, has been a sort of reflexive anti-Americanism. I sort of don't blame people for it, and have occasionally, unthinkingly been party to it myself, but my real attitudes are much much more complex.
First off, I need to repeatedly remind myself that GWB is NOT America. When he does something that pisses off the rest of the world, it reflects on America, it makes America look
bad, but it doesn't actually make
America bad. Second, even if he gets re-elected, and hell, even if he wins in an undisputed landslide this time, I still don't believe that that will undo all the good things America has done.
I keep thinking about America in terms of it's own history. People cannot deny that America, historically, until recently was mostly good for the world. For years America was the world leader in R&D and technology. Although France was a modern democratic republic first, the Americans really showed the world how to do it properly. They did the right thing in WWI, and again in WWII and for most of their history have been a force of good on this planet. Even with all the indictments against them in the second half of this century, the Americans are still a veritable generator of new, interesting and just plain good ideas. That doesn't absolve them of the bad stuff... but the bad stuff doesn't cancel out the good either.
What I find fascinating about America is that if you ask an American what the greatest things their country did in its own history (wars excepted), you'll get an interesting list.
The Revolution against King George and the establishment of the Modern Democratic Republic
Freeing the slaves
Giving suffrage to women
End of Segregation
I'm not American, but I'm sure they could name more. The point is, with each one of these things, there were always a huge number of people, initially the majority, that were against it. Doomsayers always said that this would be the end of society. Often much blood was spilled over these changes. Really. Try to think of a single thing of real historical significance that happened in America without there having been a huge internal conflict over it. Maybe it's something fundamental about the character of Americans. Maybe they can't do really great things without huge internal conflict, first. Maybe they can't really move forward without half the population trying to hold them back. But they do chug on forward, and they will for a long time to come.
Anyway, that's my two cents. I love the whole crazy schizophrenic country, and they're so divided right now they've got to be cooking a whopper of a leap forward. Good luck with that and don't blow up too much while you progress.
Note, it's not to say that I forgive them for all the ugliness and evil they've been a party to or responsible for, especially in the last 50 or so years. That's just not the only side of America there is. I think that their own historians will look back on this age with a mixture of condemnation and shame, just as modern ones look at the ugly blotches on our past. My point is that the progress still is generally forward, at least, I think it is.
But I'm really too tired and I'm going to bed now. Tomorrow I'll probably read this post and grimace.