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Most of the World hates my country. They see its rampant commercialism, its seeming lack of concern for its citizens, its backwards ideas on gun control, its obsession with sex, violence and all those other puritan taboos. And just looking at those, they're right, my country sucks. We're arrogant, we're not particularly european in our sentiments, not urbane enough, not moral enough or sometimes too focused on reality.

But people who don't live here don't see the beauty of America -- the America that isn't now and never really was, but lives in the back of the mind of everyone who truly considers themselves an American. The country that immigrants sailing into New York Harbor saw on the face of lady liberty. The place where everyone is truly free to follow their dream -- the American Dream -- the house, the kids, the self-sufficient life out from under the yoke of opression. It never existed in reality, but recent movies like American Beauty and The Patriot have tried to capture something of America's greatness on the silver screen.

Maybe it's finally time for my country to come into its own. To live up to it's dream. To realize the Myth of America.

Americans. I envy them what they have, and pity them that they are so blisfully unaware of it.

They understand freedom the way that fish understand water - completely, naturally and not at all. They always sell out, it is their nature, their culture, it is all they know.

They think that they have no need to know anything about the big bad world that exist beyond the cosy borders of America. The irritating thing is that they're right.

I could be wrong about all of this, my one visit to the USA was quite brief.

Ok, hmm.. Lots of misaimed accusations about what the Europeans think of America written by non-Europeans.. let me try to explain the hatred that some feel but before I start I must point out that I know enough Americans to say that I know that the vast majority of them are cool people and not applicable to the following text.

America is arrogant. It seems to believe that because it is the most powerful country in the world it is therefore the best and most desirable country in the world. America believes that the whole world harbours secret hopes on moving to America and find 'The American Dream'. To be honest, I don't even understand why the Americans seem to think that you have to be in America to fulfill the dream. People can be rich, happy, free, whatever, in other countries too.

Americans abroad. I am not talking about the backpackers who come to Europe to experience it properly. I have met some of those and they have always been the perfect ambassadors for their country. I am talking about what I assume is the richer class of America, the stereotypical family led by Pa dressed in sandals, white knee high socks, beige shorts, red/black check shirt, baseball cap and large camera wrapped around his neck - it is probably our media making them seem worse than they are but some have been quoted as saying things like "Stonehenge is too small, I've seen bigger ones in America", They can't seem to grasp the idea that America is big while Europe is old. A friend of mine went to a world scouts jambouree a few years back. It is designed to promote world harmony and the like and each country produces their own patches for the scouts to swap (encouraging mingling). Except the American scouts refused to swap unless they got two-for-one because theirs were bigger.

Anyway, different countries have different gripes. Lots of non-Europeans assume that Britain thinks the same way as the rest of Europe, this is not true. Britain has to be distinguished from continental Europe, we are not the same, we don't think the same and we certainly have some differing views on America when compared to, say, France.

British view: Despite what was said earlier the British like America, it was created by Brits and as such has grown up in quite a similar style to Britain. We view America as a close relative and agree on many political subjects (e.g. Kosovo). Despite the American propaganda machine that is Hollywood (see The Patriot. The node, not the film) we still have a respect for the Nation.
Some Brits see the Americans as naive but it is probably a better description in saying that we are cynical. The Americans dream of big successes, we say 'No chance, now get scrubbing'. A good example was given by Greg Proops, an American comedian, when he was explaining how Disney World would never work in Britain:
There's this guy walking around in a Mickey costume and an American family walks past. The Father sees him and says emphatically "Oh my god!! its Mickey!!! come kids quick! look!!! I can't believe I have met Mickey". Then a Brit walks past. he tuts and says under his breath "Stupid bastard. It must be like a sauna in there."
There is a common joke in that the Americans seem to believe our countries are smaller than they actually are. The number of times that me or my friends have had to say "No, I don't know Jack from London, I live about 8 million people away" or "No, I have never had dinner with the Queen, have you ever shared a cigar with your President?". I was unfortunate enough to be in Florida when Diana died. If I was given a dollar for everytime I was asked "Did you know her well?" I would have fulfilled the American Dream (btw, the answer is 'no').

Then theres the French view: The French are not jealous of America, they are scared of it. They are quick to derise America's self apointed role as the world police and are probably worried that they are the next one to be attacked. Remeber when they tested some nuclear bombs in Polynesia? sort of figures doesn't it? This is the real reason behind the European currency. The French (and whoever else) want to create a superstate that can 'compete' with the USA. The currency is proving a financial disaster but France is still keen.

Nowhere in Europe have I met somebody who wishes to move to America. I have lived in Europe and I have lived in Britain - I prefer Europe by a long margin, it seems to hold more of a community spirit - where the only community spirit I have experienced in America has been of the type 'Brothers in the hood'. America is too big and too spread out for my liking - I could move to an American city but I would be too scared of being shot (guns are rare in Europe and Europeans do still genuinely have a complex about them).

There is actually one thing that I am envious of America for. And that is its shameless patriotism. This is something that is almost illegal in Britain because it is often equated with racism. We have no propaganda designed to make us feel good about our country, in fact, looking at our movie industry (Trainspotting, The Full Monty, Shooting Fish, Twin Town) it seems designed to make us hate our country. That is something I am ashamed of and wish would be more American style - but I suppose at least this way we have avoided pissing off every other nation in the world.

Oh, and one last thing, Using tax rates as a guide France is one of the least socialist countries in Europe (probably only beaten by Britain and Switzerland). But then I suppose every country in the world is socialist compared to America...

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