Thursday, November 04, 2004

Anti- American? Tempting, but no.

Look back. The peoples of India (now India, Pakistan & Bangladesh) absorbed, embraced and also enhanced a great deal of British culture: cricket, railways, government, much more: there are still many people of Indian extraction both in the UK and in India who were brought up believing in and who continue to believe in Britain as, in some limited sense "the mother country", as a result of the years of British rule there. And yet ultimately the people of those countries could not bear to be ruled by Britain and there were years of violent, and famously, non-violent protest and pressure to be free of Imperial rule.
And now? The people of the world drink in the American Way with their Pepsi. We watch Buffy and West Wing and the Hollywood movies and we love it. A man will wear a T-shirt with the word "Michigan" printed on it, but wouldn't dream of wearing one that said "Gloucestershire".
The anti-Americanism only starts when we see the iron fist behind Mickey's glove. The fist was there in Carter's or Clinton's time as much as it is in Bush's. We've had US forces in the UK and Europe since WW2. But we in Europe didn't truly see the iron fist, it wasn't displayed to us. All empires have it. The stupidity of the present US administration lies in its carelessness in displaying that fist. We'll embrace so much of the culture, much as the Indians did of the British culture in the 19th and 20th Centuries. But only so much as we'll consent to.
We're belatedly starting to realise, partly thanks to the neo-cons, that the USA is a truly foreign country, just as much as The Ukraine or Uruguay, and not a powerful lost colony that will always be on our side.
We have to realise that the USA will only be our friend on its own terms, not ours, and deal with it on those terms and stop deluding ourselves about "special relationships".

Yes, still being po-faced. Perhaps a beer will help. Incidentally, my Google search for "Gloucestershire T-shirts" yielded no results at all.