It is interesting to travel to other countries to see how your country is perceived outside its own boundaries. There are the obvious slaps at the land of one’s birth that one needs to be prepared for; such as being told every day for the first week of my trip that the US President is a “Total Wanker.” (No duh, guys! Really?)
Then there are the more subtle ways that one learns how their homeland is perceived. These ways include such obscure ways as going to the pubs or watching the television. Today I give you two examples of how the United States is viewed in the United Kingdom as evidenced by 1) an overheard conversation at a pub and 2) a television program of last night.
First the conversation. I was sitting at a table reading a book on Geology last evening minding my own business and sipping on a Diet Coke when I overheard a couple sitting at the next table and deriding horribly, the nerve of an American who had come into their shop earlier that morning. From what I heard, the American had had the effrontery to suggest that the upcoming election was a chance to re-elect Tony Blaire and prove that the war was a good thing. I agree that this comment by one of my countrymen was one that I do not fully share, but please, everyone, quit painting all Americans with the same brush! We know that Blair was not elected unanimously last time! Half of us didn’t vote for our wanker president either.
Then, on the television last night, there was a history of VE Day. This Sunday is the sixtieth anniversary of the Allied Victory in the European Theatre during World War II. The coverage of the anniversary included interviews with people from there and a retrospective of the news coverage from back then. The slant of the program was one that I had not heard before. The coverage tended to blame much of the problematic history of the last sixty years on the American decision to allow the Soviet army to conquer Berlin. It was an interesting spin on the story. I am not saying it was untrue, it was just a version of the history I am not used to hearing.
Well, today is election day here in the UK and I am sure there will be many interesting and active debates tonight in pubs all over the area. I cannot wait to listen to the talk tonight to find-out what else we are responsible for.
I hope you are having a great day wherever you are!
Don Bergquist – 05-May-2005 – Thames Ditton