Sunday, 13 August 2017

The US of A

First posted 1st August 2015.....

Ok, no bullshit, I've got to get this off my chest. On Twitter 58% of my followers are American. I'm not one to blow smoke up your arse and say "Have a nice day" if I don't mean it, part of being a Brit I suppose. So what's this all about? I feel uneasy that people like me when I know if I express my thoughts on their nation, they would probably revise their opinion. This is what I feel about America......

First off let's deal with the emotional tie. My thoughts before ever meeting an American. My father was a WWII child. At 14 years old he was man of the house and the bread-winner working down the coal mines while the men were fighting the Nazis. The one thing about us Brits from these generations is no matter how we fight, bitch, moan, and squabble amongst ourselves, in times of crisis we all pull together.

As a child my somewhat blinkered view of WWII led me to believe it was us Brits and our extended family of English speaking nations that saved the world. Australia, Canada, New Zealand and of course America. This naturally endeared me to these countries. Obviously this was a short-sighted view but I'm merely explaining how the 'relationship' developed.

I suppose I first came into contact with Americans as a young teen and just the odd tourist. We made jokes about them. Before PC killed humour we mocked the Irish for being dumb, the Scots for being mean (tight-fisted), the Welsh for their affiliation with sheep, Australians for being convicts, etc. The jokes we told about Americans centred around them being self-obsessed braggarts.

For example, an American was on a tour and kept drawing comparisons "Call that a river, we have bigger puddles in America". He kept going on about how much bigger the cars were, bridges, everything was bigger in America. Fed up he took the tourist into a cafe for a burger. "Our burgers are 10 times that size" he said and the guide replied: "Yeah, over here we make them to fit in our mouths as well"

Ok, not very funny but you get the idea. I didn't mind that too much it was only a trifling thing.

Then when I left school I joined the merchant navy and was fortunate to visit America many times. Florida, New York, Virginia, Hawaii and of course California. Without exception I had a terrific time. I found Americans very warm and welcoming. They were interested in what I had to say (I think they may have thought I was from another planet) and it was easy to build a rapport.

There were only two downsides to my visits, and again they were just trivial. One was the television and in particular the ads that seemed to come on every 5 minutes. It was the nature of the ads I found irritating, they insulted the intelligence. I questioned how people could be so gullible to believe the crap they were being fed. The type of ad I saw would have ensured I would never buy that product.

Then there were all these bloody evangelists, 'give me your money, God needs your money'. Go fuck yourselves, my God ain't short of a few bob. Sorry, still makes me a little angry. So anyway I came away from America with more positives than negatives.

Americans outside of America caused some concern though. It then took me back to my teens when the overall opinion of self-obsession. Although I thought they were generally harmless we did have a mass brawl in Fiji with the crew of a US Coastguard ship. They were clearly used to having their own way and thought they could be disrespectful to a bunch of British seamen, stupid mistake.

Since then, things have steadily deteriorated. I began to hate the way we were being 'Americanised'. It seemed our culture was picking up bad habits from America. Trick or Treat replaced Mischief Night, all of a sudden Easter had some stupid bunny. Again trivia but there were other things. Health & Safety for one. At work I was taken to hospital stitched up and went back to finish the job. Now we are suddenly embroiled in a blame and sue culture. It may have seemed like a good idea at the time but the system was too easy to abuse and people with minor injuries they would shrug off at home were suddenly hospitalised with fake or grossly exaggerated injuries.

[Trick or Treat actually began in Scotland]

Companies are so worried about being sued for an accident, because some moron tripped over a mop that shouldn't be there, we now have Health and Safety gone mad. Kids can't even play conkers any more. A tradition that stood for centuries suddenly banned in schools by H&S idiots simply because one kid in a million was blinded in one eye. We're building a generation of wimps. Then perhaps the thing I hate even more, Political Correctness. Banter is a large part of true Brit humour and thanks to America, PC is killing it. Ok so how come I'm blaming America for PC?

We call each other some horrible names, and we can because we know we're just trying to offend in a non-malicious way. As kids every one of us had a derogatory nickname, including 'Choc-Ice' who was a mixed race kid and one of a group of five of us best-friends. To call him that name today would have people up in arms calling us racist which is simply ridiculous.

It's not always what you say to a person that's offensive it is the way you say it. I hear this 'accidental racism' bollocks. There is no such thing. You're racist or you're not, no middle ground, no selective racism, this is one of the few things in life that is quite ironically, black or white.

Anyway I'm starting to ramble again, the point is I was naive about racism in America and perhaps still am a little. I studied the American Civil War objectively and although slavery was a major issue I became of the opinion that there was a lot more to it than that, and as with most things in life greed was the true issue. I knew about the KKK but dismissed them as a small minority of extremists that every country has similar problems with. As far as I knew racism in America was negligible - or at least at a comparable level to our own - since the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King.

For a long time I kept hearing incidents of racist attacks, but they were sporadic and not well reported over here. In a population of nearly 300m(? Guess) they were unfortunately expected. More recently though since using Twitter I'm seeing more and more of this type of thing and I started looking deeper. The first thing I saw was old footage from WWII where there was racial segregration imposed by the Americans on their own troops.

Of course that grated with the Brits. These guys are putting their lives on the line for you and you want to treat them as second class citizens. WTF?! Are you mental? It made me proud the Brits weren't having any of that crap and invited the coloured guys into their homes.

Some reports and video clips I've seen about racist incidents are deeply disturbing, not only by their nature but also their regularity. For example an unarmed, unresisting, pregnant coloured woman hit and wrestled to the ground by a police officer. In a land where just about everybody has access to a gun, I'd be paranoid as a cop, but this was just barbaric. It is just one of many clips I've seen recently.

There you have it, I've aimed for brevity and only skirted around things or I could have written at least another half a dozen posts on this highly complex topic. People who know me by now will know I'm not one for stereotyping, I don't hate a nation, colour or creed simply because of the actions of a few morons. America is an enigma for me. There is this hypersensitive paranoia, and it's fuelling suspicion and hatred.

For the most powerful nation on Earth you're doing it wrong. A few hundred have stockpiled billions whilst the nation is $18 trillion in debt. You have the power to make a difference if you put aside your greed. We can't do it, the vast majority of England is owned by foreign investment, we're just tenants now. Anyway I'm rambling again, just had to get that off my chest.

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