Note: Because of the potential for inflammatory comments, I will block anything that is simply derogatory, nationalistic, or otherwise serves no constructive purpose.
A friend of mind in the US relayed a conversation to me, between her and her teenage son. The topic being discussed was the current political posturing in preparation for the imminent Presidential election and the comment made by the son was this:
“We need to move to Canada if Trump is elected. Canada is the best place to go to, for everyone likes Canada. No one hates them!”
It could well have been a “tongue in cheek” comment. Perhaps it was accompanied by a wry smile, but it was the last sentence which bothered me and formed the basis of this Post.
Nobody can substantiate a comment like “everyone likes Canada”, but to contrast it with “No one hates them” is a very powerful statement because, by inference, there is a teenager in the US who believes that people hate “them” and, by association, hate him.
Of course Trump is not helping matters with his nationalistic nonsense, but there has to be something inherently not working in a country that can generate negativity…. and the US does do that.
When I left the UK in 1975, a large percentage of my income tax was still being used to pay off the US for debts accumulated during WWII. Yes, the US was a significant help in resolving that conflict, but their help came with a price tag which I believe was paid off in 2006 (70+ years later). Perception is reality, and the perception of many English is that WWII was a business investment opportunity to the US. The US involvement in WWII was not free!
Hollywood did not help the US image by the sheer proliferation of WWII movies which, quite naturally, focused mainly on their campaigns. During my time in England, they were known as the “How the Americans won the war” movies… which was usually stated with a tone of contempt.
Movies such as U-571 merely aggravated an already delicate situation. U-571 told a story about how the US Navy boarded the U-571 and captured the German Enigma code machine. The reality of the situation was vastly different in that U-571 was in fact sunk in an engagement in 1944. The Enigma code machine was retrieved from the captured U-110 by Royal Navy personnel, and before the US had even entered WWII. There were a lot of negative feelings expressed towards the US on the basis of that movie and even Tony Blair (then P.M.) stated that it was an affront to British sailors.
While not everybody in the UK dislikes Americans, there is a significant proportion such that when my Canadian friends visit, I always tell them to make sure you let people know that you are Canadian. The English cannot tell the difference in the accents and if they think that you are American, you may get poor service, or very good service at 3 times the usual price!
To try and briefly explain an English perspective, you must visualize a very small but highly populated country, in which the population centers around key industrial cities. Those same cities were constant WWII air raid targets, and the continual bombing decimated areas of London, Birmingham, Coventry and many more industrial cities. What collateral damage did the average Englishman hear about in the US? For many years after the war, food was scarce and was rationed based on need. We had meat once a week. In contrast, the American Air Force personnel, who were still on bases in England and financed by the US, were very affluent. This fact was blatantly obvious even in the 1960’s when I was in my teens!
I am not suggesting that Americans deserve the reputation they have in England, and in fact not only is my largest reader base from the US, but I have friends there. The issue seems to be that the various US Governments over the years have not seen the situation as needing any image change. In fact, reflecting on some relatively recent Middle East campaigns, I just shake my head and my thoughts go out to all the really nice people who live in the US and think “You deserve better than this.”
The circumstances and emotions around the US involvement in WWII, and the following years, will soon be history as generations are replaced but, unless the US foreign policies are changed, then it would seem that the antagonism towards the US will simply be perpetuated… and that is rather sad.
Donald Trump for president? I sincerely hope not!