Speaking to white Europeans tries all my patience. After only a few minutes they launch into broad, generalized statements about hating the United States. I predict each of their points: fat, stupid, banks, capitalist pigs, racism, McDonalds, GMOs, no welfare, no healthcare – really you like it? I would add specifics and subtleties if the conversations ever varied. But instead it is as if they are all quoting an episode of Southpark as the textbook they studied to understand the U.S.
It reminds me of those stories of identical twins being separated at birth, only in being reunited discovering that looking at the other person reveals all their worst flaws. Europeans can stake a claim to moral superiority only in contrast to Americans. My irritation rises to the surface, and I want to scream “we know what kind of ugliness we are, do you?”
I know that not all Americans, especially the 60 million now responsible for #45, are engaged in the national dialogue about our nations crimes and continued oppression of peoples, but nonetheless that conversation is ongoing, though sometimes within bubbles. My synopsis for the Europeans I talk to is that the U.S. is what Europe would be if the colonies lived within their borders.
They must own the same exploitation, violence, and cultural destruction they highlight to fault America. At least here we all live together within the same borders. Yes we have economic divisions, but Europe has entire landmass divisions, where those they are culpable to live far away, in other countries. The U.S. at times has tried to exterminate or expatriate the OTHER – with reservations, exclusion acts, settlements, prisons, lynchings, laws, police, policy, threats, and hate. But all has failed. Not due to some noble realization of our common humanity, but simply because the nation does not exist without all of its peoples. To co-exist, with co-dependence, miscegenation and commingling is the glue of this facade of a unified state. This nation was built upon an agreement to obey one document, yes it is flawed, but the origin of most nation-states is built on more volatile fault lines.
So European perhaps what you wish to say is that you wish you had never started this project, never sent people over to the new world, that Christianity had never been used as a justification for genocide, that your language holds no superiority, that you have fought vicious wars against each other before branching out to the rest of the world. The U.S. is the result of your actions, so yes we are ugly, we are a malformation and deviation; our DNA has been spliced, mixed, segmented, soldered but that part comes from you.
The part of the U.S. that I love are the parts that grew and survived in defiance of acts of treason against humanity: the Blues, the Twist, Chinatowns, Spanglish, burritos, Little Haiti, El Paso, the 7 train from Queens, the hood, the artists and the warriors. I have no intention of hiding or disguising our ugliness, but come at me with some sense of superiority and I strip away your costume until your own disfigurement is there for all to see.