The observations were, for the most part, spot on. And we’d probably all have a similar list if we moved from Blighty to ‘Murka. But, in the absence of a Green Card, most of us will only be able to compile a list like this: inevitably distant, mostly made up of what we read in the papers and see in the movies, and necessarily subjective.
1. Columbus Day
How, in the words of John Oliver, one of our greatest exports to your fine country, is this still a thing? Columbus initiated and oversaw grotesque cruelty, rape and massacres, ushering in the genocide upon which the United States was founded. We don’t choose how we’re made, but must you celebrate it? Celebrating the colonial theft of indigenous peoples’ land is already dodgy ground. But this guy? Sure, it’s part of your history. Hitler is part of Germany’s. He’s probably not getting a holiday any time soon.
On that note – your attitude to immigration is odd. And yes, I know. 'Your' in this context is a pretty broad term, considering that Donald Trump and the Tea Party are not all of America. But how is that that a country founded by violent, conquering immigration (and apparently still keen enough to celebrate it), and then strengthened by ‘poor, huddled masses’ of further immigrants can now be a place where automatically anti-immigrant bile is not laughed into submission as a matter of course? This isn’t just rhetoric. I’m genuinely interested.
As a bit of a closet revolutionary, I’ve got a lot of time for your Second Amendment. The idea of citizens armed to the teeth to overthrow an unjust government pleases everything in me except the pacifist (and he is pretty aggressive and dominating – go figure). And yet, if a group of Muslim Americans decided to start openly stockpiling automatic weapons, just in case their religious liberty was threatened, I suspect the lovers of guns in America would be less keen on it. Guns don’t kill people, they say. People do. And that’s true. But people with guns kill quite a lot of people in your country. It’s odd to the rest of us that so many of you would be so opposed to any attempt to sort that out.
I love how much faith there is in America. I love that Christianity and God have (ironically, considering your fairly aggressive separation of Church and State) not been removed from the public square. I love that you can not only have a Christian music scene, but a Christian Metal scene. I love that you produced Martin Luther King and Shane Claiborne and Tony Campolo and Jesse DuPlantis (yes, really) and Francis Schaeffer and some of my favourite Christian Alternative bands. But there is so much I don’t get. How is it that the faithful who call themselves 'Pro-Life' are so often such fans of capital punishment, nuclear weapons and going to war? Why do your Christians so often believe that their nation’s enemies are God’s enemies? (This, to be fair, is true here, too, but we’re British, so we have less conviction.) Why do so many of your Christians think capitalism and Christianity are indivisible? I know it’s not all of them. I know that’s true of every point here. But it’s odd that such views are able to be so popular, so seemingly unchallenged.
5. Acting surprised when people hate you
You’ve been told it’s because of your freedom. It is. In the sense that people around the world hate America for how free its leaders, Republican and Democrat, have felt to bomb, invade, economically colonise and put military bases all over the planet. When trade agreements force nations to sell their public services to your private companies and when you decimate their economies with your subsidised imports, it is not your freedom they hate, it is your selfishness. When your sanctions against dictators you formerly propped up and armed start starving children, when you class every adult male in an area you decide as a combatant and then kill civilians remotely, it is not your freedom they hate, but your aggression. When you refuse to come under the authority of the International Criminal Court in case it prosecutes your soldiers and under international environmental treaties because it might hurt your economy, it is not your freedom they hate but your arrogance.
You’re a nation that has produced, as powerful empires always do, some of the greatest people and most brilliant thinkers the world has ever known. And I guess I’m often just perplexed as to how, in general, these things are even matters for debate. Like queueing, bad teeth and poor service perplex you about us.