Very shortly after I started PooterGeek, I posted a link to an article in The Independent, in the days when that newspaper was still in possession of some of its marbles. It described the abuse an American couple received in a British supermarket queue from a British family, abuse based solely on that couple’s being American. It attracted one of the first emails this site ever received. It was from an American living in London—a neo-hippie, anti-war Californian as it happens—in which she described her own similar experiences since 11Sep01.
This sounds like a ‘Blog cliché, but I recently upset a number of people at a posh dinner when, openly and at length, I objected to a series of casually anti-American remarks made by my fellow British guests. Their tone and content was exactly—and I mean exactly—that of racist remarks about blacks made by white people to each other when they believe they are in the company of sympathetic whites. Given my family background I am very familiar with that tone. Interrupting its chorus with a note of righteousness is a serious social crime.
Yesterday, Claire wrote asking for some tales of such anti-American bigotry and I pointed her at that old, now subscription-only Independent article; today, Judith pointed us both at this. It’s disgusting, but it’s not surprising.
Please make a resolution never to let this kind of poison go unchallenged. There is a manifestation of British snobbery that morphs unbroken into racism, anti-Americanism, and anti-Semitism. It rises up like a stink from the national detestation of “vulgarity”, of conspicuous consumption, of openly expressed brotherly feeling. Perhaps it is so intense and bitter because Britons hate themselves for enjoying the popular songs and movies that those white, black and Jewish Americans write, perform and produce; those calorific fried chicken and grilled burger bars they’ve dotted British high streets with; the “bling” and “flash” that have seduced them for decade after decade in one form or another.
There is a difference between coercion and seduction; it’s a difference that some of the seduced wish they could deny the morning after. They’re “overpaid, oversexed and over here”, they used to say of US GIs. Thank God Americans did come over here and that they keep coming, or this place would have become, at best, a cultural and economic morgue, at worst, a death camp.