You’ve got hate mail!

I’ve had lots of email in response to my latest Guardian article, which is a pretty unremarkable slice of nostalgia, but it’s not the nostalgia that’s got people going, it’s the couple of positive lines about the USA at the end. I won’t quote any of the really rude messages but something from Steve H in San Francisco:

“I don’t mean to deflate your baloon, but my country really is not the “optimistic, open, self creating” place you describe it to be, far from it. I have seen friends murdered, had people pull guns far too often on me, seen people get the shit kicked out of them by police with batons leaving them a bloody mess…the list goes on and on, there is terrible racism and injustice here. This is a rough place. Yes there is optimism, but far too often it is borne out of ignorance and/or denial. There is great, great suffering here under the phony facade you see in your lecture halls. You just don’t know. Anyways I had to write and warn you about this place. You have it DAMN GOOD in Europe/UK…in many ways much better than America and don’t you forget it young man!”


  1. On the other hand, I’ve been living in the US for over 20 years. I’ve never been mugged, had a gun pulled on me, my friends have not been murdered, I’ve never been racially profiled. Whatever injustices I’ve faced are not results of my government or my country. Rather, I’ve only dealt with the ignorance and stupidity inherent in the human race. Even with all of her imperfections, I feel there is no better motherland. Perhaps Steve is embittered by his trials, but he has no reason to blame his country. People are mistreated everyday, in every place. It has been that way since the beginning of time. No sovereign state has stopped that. I doubt they ever will. He should spend more time finding ways to make things better rather than pointing out what has been obvious since history began.

  2. Hmm, I dunno, Jim. There certainly seems to be a lot more inherent racism and tendency to violence in the states than in the UK – at least in my personal experience. Granted, I lived in San Jose, LA and Boston – all big metropolitan areas – while here I live in sleepy Cambridge and only have small amounts of experience of life in the big cities of Manchester and London or the more trouble-prone areas like Peterborough. I personally put it down to the size of the country. I don’t think it possible to sustain in the long run – at least not while being socially progressive (which I don’t believe the US is anyway).

    But I did experience a sense of that American facade when I arrived in Europe. As soon as someone heard I was from LA, they’d “ooh” and “ahh” and say how wonderful it must be to live in Hollywood and why would I ever consider leaving. I’d start to count it down at that point, “the smog, the crime, the traffic, the long working hours, the competitiveness, the poverty…it’s not all Beverly Hills 90210, you know.” OK, well, the competitiveness bit is, but you get my drift. 🙂

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