Ammo Grrrll calls this one THE UGLY AMERICAN (Revisited). She writes:
Being of late, late middle age, I am old enough to remember when a whole best-selling book was written talking about what crude, rude, fat, loud, insensitive slobs we Americans were when we traveled internationally. Why, we expected the countries we were visiting to speak some English!! Quelle gauche!
Then, we had an invasion of several tens of millions of illegal immigrants. And a few million legal ones. And suddenly, instead of ragging on insensitive GUESTS, it was the American HOST COUNTRY that was fat and insensitive, rude, and – it goes without saying – racist! Why? You couldn’t guess it if you had just read The Ugly American, but it was, in part, for failing to speak the guests’ language. No, really! We were supposed to provide ballots, directions, signs in Walmart, and instruction in schools in Spanish.
Whoa! Didn’t see that comin’, did you? Damned for wanting English spoken abroad and damned for wanting English to be spoken in our very own country. As the President’s sweet spiritual adviser, Reverend Wright said, “God damn the United States of America!” as its citizens can clearly do nothing right. How odd that so many people are trying to flood in to such a terrible place. And nary a soul risking life and limb to get out. You want to leave? There’s the door! Bye-bye, Clock Boy and Daddy. Enjoy the heck out of Qatar.
Now, correct me if I’m wrong here but, to the best of my knowledge, Americans in Europe never marched in angry parades carrying American flags. They never demanded that France or Switzerland or Spain not only let them overstay their visas, but give over half of them welfare benefits. They never insisted they all get drivers’ licenses and be allowed to vote in French or German elections. They never swarmed around young women in a mob gropefest or worse. Americans just wanted someone to tell them how to get to the Eiffel Tower while they spent their hard-earned tourist dollars on over-priced coffee and dry pastries that couldn’t hold a candle to a raised, glazed doughnut in any hometown bakery.
Why, if you are demanding to be a legal resident of America, do you think brandishing a Mexican flag, for example, is the way to convince people that you give a crap about this country except for the free goodies? Ethnic pride, you say? It’s long been a mystery to me why ethnicity, gender, sexuality, or race has anything to do with “pride” anyway, even the St. Patrick’s Day Parade which would include many of my relatives.
I am a short, roundish, pale, enthusiastically-heterosexual woman. (The Grrrll from Arizona is sort of the polar opposite of The Girl from Ipanema who was “tall and tan and lean.” We do both “go walking,” however.) Anyhow, I was born this way and am very happy, though I wouldn’t protest if I were a few inches taller. But I can take no credit for any part of it. Why should I be “proud” of something which is a complete accident of birth? Moreover, like many Americans, I am a mutt – a mixture of six ethnicities. That’s a heavy parade schedule and bloated flag budget. I think I’ll skip the whole hyphenated-American thing. Old Glory is plenty flag for me.
I am proud of my long-ago puny academic achievements, my long-term marriage, our great son, my semi-secret recipe for Brisket and Made-From-Scratch-Including-Pitting Fresh Cherries Cherry Pie. Those are things I accomplished or achieved. I am blessed to be an American and profoundly grateful.
I am neither proud nor ashamed of my skin tone and would gladly be a darker shade if I could look like Halle Berry or Salma Hayek. You can’t convince me that I benefited from “White Skin Privilege” when virtually every single person I competed against in the first several decades of my life was the exact same color. However, I sure did benefit from having two wonderful parents who were actually married and still are after 71 years. My father served in the Navy, went to college on the G.I. Bill, worked all but three days a month in his store, and supported us. Nobody was a criminal or substance abuser. Those cultural choices are available to all.
I shall not hold my breath anxiously awaiting an updated version of The Ugly American called The Demanding Immigrant in which the foreigners – both invited and invading – are taken to task for insisting that Americans speak their language. That road – like so many – only goes one-way.