Enough with the America Bashing

Independence from Stereotyping Day. Please.

SG Buckley

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Photo by Lucas Sankey on Unsplash

I’m a big fan of Financial Times columnist Gillian Tett. I read her all the time. So imagine my irritation when a favorite British writer takes a gratuitous swipe at Americans.

In a story about cell phones and the confusing near-coup in Russia, she writes:

“If a revolution can be followed on our phones, it should, theoretically, make it easier to persuade Americans, or anyone else, to take note of geopolitics.”

What’s with the cheap shot at Americans Ms. Tett?

US citizens are no different from people of other nations. Some folks follow the news; some don’t.

In fact, a Reuters Institute/University of Oxford report shows that Americans are nearly ten times more likely than British people to follow the Russia/Ukraine conflict “extremely closely”. The same survey says that in 2022 46% of Brits “sometimes or often actively avoid the news”, compared to 42% of Americans.

And yet, the chair of the editorial board of one of world’s most respected news outlets casually suggests to readers (most of whom reside outside the US) that Americans are myopic, incurious, ignorant.

I should be used to this by now. I’ve lived in Britain long enough to appreciate that America bashing is a national past-time.

Soon after moving to London, I walked into a Vodafone shop. To the guy at the counter, I said: “Excuse me, may I please ask you a quick question?” I can’t for the life of me remember what that question was, but I remember his reply like it was yesterday.

“Wow, you’re the first American I’ve met to say “excuse me” and “please.”

Shocked into submission, I got my answer and left.

Over the years, I’ve lost track of the number of times someone has casually condemned my nation to my face. People do it so frequently in the UK, I think typecasting Americans as awful must not register as wrong.

Just this weekend, I was at my daughter’s Speech Day, an end of year event at which kids get prizes and the school’s leavers…

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SG Buckley

Writer, editor, parent. Former staffer at Quartz, WSJ and Inc. magazine.