Listening to Simon and Garfunkel this evening I can’t help but think the UK and the USA were a lot closer a few decades ago than we are now. We shared music and still do. We shared values and mostly still do.
But, increasingly, we Brits struggle to understand America and what it stands for. Many of us admire Obama and find it difficult to comprehend why so many Americans seem to hate him with a passion that no other US president has endured. To a nation that’s never known socialism I suppose you could could him a socialist, but to the rest of the world he’s nothing of the kind. Certainly not anything more to the left than that mild label. And yet, he gets called a communist, a traitor and worse.
Frankly, it makes America seem like a very weird place.
And that’s before we even mention guns. Americans’ obsession with the right to bear arms (actually a corrupt reading of the second amendment) is really quite scary. In a largely lawless country, as early America was, it made sense to be able to defend oneself. And yet there are more guns per person in the USA now than there ever were during the great expansion west. A proportion of the more rabid gun owners (I don’t know what proportion but they make a lot of noise) seem to think they will need to defend themselves against the president himself, or ‘the government’ or the forces of law and order that represent it.
There’s a lot to criticise governments for – the UK government as much as the US one – but it really beggars belief that people are so deluded they need to own weapons of war to defend their homes against, who – tax collectors?
Anyway, Simon and Garfunkel’s sweet tones, singing about all those people who went to ‘look for America’ just made me wonder if they ever found it. The real, brave, friendly and reasonable America we owed our survival to a couple of generations ago.
If they did, I’d like to see it too. If it still exists.