There’s Something Great About America

Picture: USDOD (PD)

“Europe was created by history. America was created by philosophy”.

- Margaret Thatcher

I’ve rewritten this article, in light of recent tragedy. It’s based on an original version first published on my personal blog.

In 2011 two big events were celebrated on either side of the Atlantic. In the USA spontaneous parties began as news spread that Osama Bin Laden was dead. In the UK the nation was told to celebrate a Royal wedding. The scenes of joy in America filled me with a sense of almost unreserved admiration for a great nation whereas the state sponsored merriment in my own country provided me with a deep sense of detachment from a people who appeared as mindless zombies driven by raw unquestioning patriotism to celebrate something which did not benefit them at all.

As the street parties began I became painfully aware of how unfashionable my views are and it’s important to emphasise how out of step with the broad consensus of my nation I am. At the time I was presenting a talk-show in London and the phone lines were rammed in response to my ‘controversial’ view that our old ally the US’s ideas were to be celebrated and ours condemned. Here it is the norm to hate the “stupid” Yanks. It has been for a long time and is almost a form of dogma. The irony of the belief that Americans are less intelligent is hammered home with the subtlety of a sledgehammer by the absurd presumption among Royalists that US fascination with a Royal Wedding is proof our system is better! I suspect they watch in the same way you might a documentary about the quaint customs of a jungle tribe who have drifted culturally in a ‘different direction’ and still worship fire. To me it’s respectful and implies nothing more.

What’s important here though is the fact that the two alternative sides of the Atlantic were celebrating two opposing ideas. Bin Laden was seen as an evil man. He qualified as such not because of the identity given to him at birth but instead the one which he earned for himself in life. His actions and deeds defined him in the minds of Americans. On the other hand their birthplace defined them in his twisted brain. He hated them because of who they were born to be: Americans. That was enough for him. It didn’t matter what they did with their lives, to him they would always be defined by their birthright. In my opinion the Royal Family’s state sponsored knees up falls down clearly onto the wrong side of this debate.

“All men are created equal,” Thomas Jefferson’s still radical phrase from the Declaration of Independence is a direct attack on the idea of defining someone by birthright. It’s a courageous refusal to accept the “Divine Right of Kings” and instead have faith in the people themselves. It is a phrase clearly not believed, understood or accepted in my country. Some seem to make the mistake of thinking this idea is the same as the significantly less nuanced feeling that ‘everybody is equal’. On the surface this seems just as good, if not better. However, give it a moment’s thought: should people all be treated equally when their behavior marks them out for a unique response? Should, for example, child murderers be treated by society as you would a scientist who discovers a cure for cancer? Of course not. Should the work-shy and hardworking members of society be paid in equal measure? Some think so, I do not.

The Americans, in Times Square, were celebrating the death of a man who opposed their idea that “all men are created equal”. The English in London and around the UK were, whether they knew it or not, celebrating the exact opposite of that on almost precisely the same day. This is ironic to me because the UK originated the philosophies which are encoded in the documents America is based upon. Furthermore, this irony is compounded by the fact that the Americans looked across the pond at us with respect for our quaint traditions and way of life. However, many of us looked at them while holding our noses with contempt at their “stupidity” and “gullibility”. There’s a curious unearned swagger to the cult of anti-Americanism which I nowadays find as confusing as a patriot who thinks loving their country involves never being critical of it.

Perhaps their smug attitude is partly down to the recent rise of conspiracy theory in the UK. Conspiracy theorists like to think they look behind the veil of what is going on in the world by not believing the “official story”. People of this mindset had a field day with the Bin Laden story. Many conspiracy theorists think they have a sort of “special knowledge” which puts them above other people, or “sheeple”. However, the cynical mistrust of Governments which gives rise to this mindset is, at core, very American. It has been allowed to incubate over there so much because of their commitment to the notion of “freedom of speech”. The majority of that subculture is appropriated by people here as proof of that nation’s failings but I see it as a sign of their strengths.

Again ‘free speech’ is something which we started here but do not have any firm commitment to. Certainly it’s not enshrined in our law. I’m not saying I’d want to burn a Koran but if I did want to express myself like that I’d have to go over to the US to do so, otherwise I might face prosecution. In the US their commitment to “freedom of speech” is like ours to the Queen, quasi-religious. This is only right because “free speech” displays a level of faith in humanity to act with responsibility and dignity. As I write this the UK’s Government is preparing further press censorship in line with ‘The Leveson Enquiry’. I’ve worked all my adult life in broadcast radio and I can tell you there is no freedom of speech there for merry old England[1]. The US still trembles in horror at their so-called ‘fairness doctrine’ whereas in the UK such legislation would have been nothing more than a footnote in a much bigger document.

Don’t misunderstand me here, I’ve been anti-American when gripped by the easy cynicism of a young man but this short essay is a love letter to a country I know existed once in my imagination and can only hope will one day exist in the real world. It’s the ideas behind America which I’m seeking to defend. I have no intention of ever going there as I’m always told the reality of it is nowhere near my idealised version. If you’re a reader in the states this piece is intended as a reminder of those ideas and philosophy which make you appear great to a Brit who has had a change of heart after considering the evidence. If you’re a reader from the UK it’s intended to push you into the realms of unpopular thought and ask you to reconsider your likely stance on “the land of the free and home of the brave”.

It’s also important to clarify that, like many of their citizens, I’m not blind to the often damaging effects of the reality of American foreign policy. Self awareness and the ability to change course are key to my argument and it’s one of the reasons I admire that nation. The term “military industrial complex” was coined as a prescient warning by one of their own, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, in his farewell address. You often hear external critics of the nation use it, apparently unaware of this. Anti-war sentiment played a huge part in the electoral success of President Obama and JFK. To think Americans love war as much as the big companies who sometimes pull its Government’s strings is absurd. Mechanised mass murder isn’t popular anywhere in the world. Just as the war in Iraq wasn’t here. The point is that some of the most damning critiques of American foreign policy come from within the country itself. Noam Chomsky doesn’t live in Iran, he’s based at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, proudly protected by the nation he criticises.

It’s worth pointing out that the caricature of an American who loves guns, god and gold is just that, a caricature. Again it’s most often touted by Americans themselves, angry at the failures of their own people. To all intents and purposes I am best described as an atheist. When push comes to shove I don’t see any objective evidence for a God. I certainly don’t think, for example, that Gods should be allowed to elect a head of state. However when I was an in the anti-American camp I laboured under the delusion that my nation had a clear seperation of church and state. The reality though is that turn of phrase is not ours. It comes from a letter written by Thomas Jefferson back in 1802:

“..I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church & State”.

In the UK there really is no such thing, we still have unelected Bishops sitting in the Houses of Parliament, the so called, Lords Spiritual. The idea of splitting The Church away from Government may again have its roots in England but, as with most of the things I admire about the culture I’ve emerged from, it has been done properly in America.

Yeah, but what about slavery? They had all that bad racism in the US, the UK wins there right?

Well, I’m not so sure. As I said before what I love about the US is their self awareness, their ability to change direction and correct things when they feel they’ve done wrong. They did abolish slavery and their policies of racial segregation when they realised the error of their ways and now, like him or not, a black man is their President. Nothing like that is ever likely in the UK. We’ll never allow a monarch of an alternative ethnicity. In truth, our mindset would have plodded on with segregation I think. Just as we have with the Royals. There’s no intent to change here in the UK, we’ve become stagnant, clinging to past glories:

“Ooh, lets put the Great back into Great Britain,” people parrot to each other as my mind shouts back: “OH JUST F— OFF!”.

Yeah but what about their policy on gun control eh? Michael Moore made that film and it proves what idiots they all are, with their guns. I win there don’t I?

I used to think their gun policy was absurd but in fact it ties right back into the faith their founders had in humanity. Initially their guns were used to defend themselves from the tyranny of the British Empire and its tax grasping Monarchy, this is a fact not widely known by those who decry the “stupid Yanks”. I didn’t realize this until the internet allowed me to hear the uncensored US point of view. Furthermore, someone from America explained their gun policy to me thus:

having a gun is a sign that the Government trusts the people to behave as citizens rather than slaves. A nobleman carried a sword. A peasant was not allowed one. The peasants might revolt, a nobleman will only do so if his cause is just. In short, an armed populace provides a final defence against tyranny.

There is now a full and frank debate taking place about their gun laws in light of recent tragedy. I trust their democracy to make the right decisions regarding this and have tried to avoid the unedifying spectacle of the foreign Brit smugly announcing how to improve their laws when ours still support a Queen chosen by a magic sky fairy. If only some of my fellow Brits had the good grace to hold their tongues as America endured tragedy:

When I was a child I never doubted there was something great about America. In the 80’s all the best films were American and all my childhood heroes had the accent to match. As a result when I played with my toys I’d affect one myself, as best as a little English kid can. The ideas projected by those early influences still shape me to this day: freedom, justice, democracy and trying to be brave in the face of tyranny. These are all ideas I like to think I value. In fact as a kid my country and America were almost indistinguishable to me. We both spoke the same language and had stood shoulder to shoulder when facing down the cardboard cutout figure of evil represented in my family’s collective memory by Adolf Hitler.

My grandparents lived in a city which was flattened by the Nazi bombs. Second only to London, Sheffield the so-called steel city of the north, still bares the scars of bombardment. Unlike our nation’s capital there are some areas there which have never been considered worth properly restoring. The fact that the USA came to stop the war machine that threatened my country is still important to some.

Over the years my childhood view of the world was replaced by the easy cynicism of a teenager and, in step with most of my generation, I had a period of fashionable anti-Americanism. It seemed exciting the first time I asked of the US: “aah, but who is the real villain, is it perhaps the war monger George Bush?”. My view of the world was bolstered by firece critiques from the comedian Bill Hicks[2] which at the time I misunderstood the context of. In retrospect I think Hicks deeply loved his country and was, like me, an idealist who couldn’t understand why the realities of it seemed to fall short.

I remember September 2001, it proved to me that America is not superman and can be wounded. Things change – America might not always be a world power. That won’t concern the Royals. They can do business with China just as easily as they can the Americans. Perhaps their Kingdom will be more adapted to fit that style of Government, when the economic tide turns. It concerns me that if that happens those who come after us will stuggle to find anyone of any note who thinks they were created equal. It also worries me that no one will be allowed to voice that concern and their last defence against tyranny will have gone.

Nick Margerrison.

[1] As if to make this point with unnecessary force we even banned one of America’s talk presenters, Michael Savage, from ever entering this country. He’s a man in his 60’s who talks for a living. It should be seen as incredible that the full weight of the Her Majesty’s Government was put behind banning him from ever paying us a visit.

[2] Hicks was very popular in the UK, probably more so in his lifetime than he was in the US.

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  • Opposite Day

    Never knew Bill Hicks was so big in the UK. Good read BTW.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=647058614 Will Coles

      Bill Hicks was HUGE there, still has a massive following too.

  • Bob_Dole

    One of the worst articles I’ve ever read on Disinfo.

    “On the other hand their birthplace defined them in his twisted brain. He
    hated them because of who they were born to be: Americans. That was
    enough for him. It didn’t matter what they did with their lives, to him
    they would always be defined by their birthright.”

    ‘They hate our freedom!’ ‘Merica!

    Jesus Christ, get a grip.

    • Matt Staggs

      “Worst” in the sense that you strongly disagree with the thesis of the piece, or “worst” in the sense that it is poorly written?

      • Bob_Dole

        Sorry, the writing is fine. I personally find the arguments naive and sycophantic. I could go through each paragraph point by point but really, who has the time? So I chose to highlight two points that glared out at me.

        This first point in this comment thread read exactly like a typical Tea Party Republican speech about stating just why Terrorists(TM) target America (and the UK). “They hate our freedom, that’s why they attack us!” Anyone with an ounce of knowledge of the Middle East would know how ridiculous that sounds. It could possibly be the decades of political interference and military action in that region by the U.S. and its allies? Nah. Freedom.

        He also ridicules ‘Conspiracy Theorists’ in relation to the Bin Laden death. This coming from a man who has interviews with Alex Jones and David Icke on his website. I mean, come on now.

        I’m sure Nick is probably a nice guy and if he’s trolling for a reaction, he’s done a great job.

        • Matt Staggs

          Bob, very reasonable criticisms. Knowing Nick, I doubt he’s trolling. Good points to bring up with him, though. Hope he pops up!

        • nickmargerrison

          Hi Bob.. Your two points are easily cleared up.

          “They hate our freedom, that’s why they attack us!”

          – that’s not what I say, I’m not sure where you got that quote from?

          OBL didn’t hate Americans “for their freedom”. Why do you suggest that?

          He hated PEOPLE who are defined as Americans, usually because of their birth. What they did in their lives made little difference to him. It’s the same problem the American war machine encountered when it dropped two atomic bombs on cities in WWII.

          I think a number of people may have misunderstood the title of this piece. I try as hard as possible to use words as precisely as I know how. It is NOT called “Everything’s Great About America”.

          However it is a polemic designed to snap people out of the equally absurd belief that everything is wrong about it.

          As for “also ridicules ‘Conspiracy Theorists’ in relation to the Bin Laden death.” – where precisely?

          I do not buy 100% into the CT mindset. However I feel it’s a VERY American mindset and also incredibly useful. However, as with Anti-Americanism, it becomes tedious when treated as a form of dogma.

          If you really are inclined to write a point for point rebuttal of this piece I’d certainly be interested to read it! I see all my online stuff as a work in progress and frequently change my mind on things. The old days of stone tablets are over. The last thing I write is the most accurate reflection of where my head is at…

          Best, NM

          • Bob_Dole

            Thanks for the reply Nick.

            The first point – it sounded as though you were trumpeting the tired ‘they hate us because of our freedom’ line to me, sorry if that’s not what you meant. Yet, isn’t that still skirting around the issue?

            OBL ‘hated Americans because they were Americans’, it’s almost equivalent in my mind to the first statement, as in, what exactly does that mean? Did he hate them (assuming it was OBL responsible for 9/11) because they produced so many series of Friends? For their double Whopper burgers? Or for the history of installing/backing up dictatorships and thus subjugating the populace to a tyranny which the U.S. was historically created against? Would you restate that for me please?

            “Conspiracy theorists like to think they look behind the veil of what is
            going on in the world by not believing the “official story”. People of
            this mindset had a field day with the Bin Laden story. Many conspiracy
            theorists think they have a sort of “special knowledge” which puts them
            above other people, or “sheeple”.

            That does sound like a condemnation, even if I do agree that it’s actually true in a lot of cases. I just saw that you’ve interviewed those I mentioned and it seemed a bit perverse to go on the offensive against conspiracy buffs, especially on Disinfo. Although the level of sophistication and intelligence of some people on this site is incredible sometimes. I used to read Inofrmationclearinghouse but it’s become a hotbed of Jewish world government conspiracy theorists over the last year.

            I like a lot of your pieces, so I’m not attacking you personally. I was in a bad mood when I read it actually, hence the curt first couple of messages! ;) But I also see that this piece has rubbed a few people up the wrong way but damn it, it got people talking right?

          • nickmargerrison

            Final reply Bob as I’m loathe to get into a long conversation here.
            Nothing personal I just want my work to speak for itself and hate having
            the get out that I can clarify my articles further in the comments
            section. It makes me a lazy writer if I allow myself to think that.
            Also, there’s always the chance I’ll rush a comment whereas I usually
            give articles a number of proof reads.

            I have this awful vision of the Disinfo site descending into a forum instead of what it currently is!

            “The first point – it sounded as though you were trumpeting the tired
            ‘they hate us because of our freedom’ line to me, sorry if that’s not
            what you meant. Yet, isn’t that still skirting around the issue?

            OBL ‘hated Americans because they were Americans’, it’s almost
            equivalent in my mind to the first statement, as in, what exactly does
            that mean?”

            I
            try not to be scared of saying what I mean. If I thought OBL killed
            Americans “because he hated their freedom” I’d come out and say it, I
            deliberately do not.

            He defined them using ONLY their
            nationality. Muslims died in 7/7 and 11/9 but the fact they were tainted
            by the wrong nationality made it ok. Doesn’t even matter if they agreed
            with his cause or were starting to be won over to his point of view.
            They’re dead now because of an ideology that brands people by birth
            right, like cattle.

            As I’ve said already, the above article is
            not “Everything’s great about America” so it’s irrelevant that the US
            has done the same. It’s wrong in both cases and piling further misery
            onto the heap of hate this world swims around in doesn’t look like a
            good idea to me.

            Secondly, I love conspiracy theory but it’s not
            the only truth. There are firm dogmas developing in that subculture and I
            direct you towards the excellent “Allow Me To Shake My Cane At You”
            article which featured on Disinfo recently:
            http://disinfo.com/2012/11/allow-me-to-shake-my-cane-at-you/

            My
            point there is simple. Don’t go thinking that you’re “special” because
            you read some article about Freemasons or watched a YouTube video
            suggesting OBL was already dead. To a lot of Disinfo old timers that
            stuff is quite tame to be honest.

            Thanks for your comments: become a contributor!

          • Bob_Dole

            OK, again thanks for your reply. I’ll leave it at that. Have a good Christmas.

          • Matt Staggs

            @disqus_Guy:disqus Don’t make me draft you! ;-)

          • Bob_Dole

            So flattering! I’d love to have a go at contributing sometime. I could then experience the full force of Disinfo internet criticism ;)

          • Matt Staggs

            Hey Bob, ever thought about becoming a contributor here?

  • Bob_Dole

    Lots of brownie points (You guys have Brownies in the US or just Girl Guides?) you’ll get for this one Nick.
    I’m not exactly sure what you’re trying to say through the mish mash of hyperbole?

    “It’s the ideas behind America which I’m seeking to defend. I have no
    intention of ever going there as I’m always told the reality of it is
    nowhere near my idealised version.”

    What!?

    • Matt Staggs

      Nick isn’t an American.

      • Bob_Dole

        I realise that Matt, hence quoting the piece where it appears he’s saying he’s never even been to the United States!

        • Matt Staggs

          Sorry, this particular line threw me off: Lots of brownie points (You guys have Brownies in the US or just Girl Guides?) you’ll get for this one Nick.

          • Bob_Dole

            Yeah sorry, it was a little confusing.

          • Matt Staggs

            Bob, thanks so much for wandering into this. I’m really getting a sense of who you are, and I quite like it. I do hope that you’ll speak up more often.

          • Bob_Dole

            Thanks Matt, I’ll try.

      • Bob_Dole

        Which is not to say that I’m hating on the States, at all. I have some very good US friends and have grown up with American culture all my life and I too love the values that it may once have represented. I’ve only been once before to San Francisco and I’m going to South Carolina next year to visit a friend. Can’t wait.

        • http://twitter.com/TedHeistman Ted Heistman

          Can you ride a bike backwards?

          • Bob_Dole

            Maybe?

          • http://twitter.com/TedHeistman Ted Heistman

            I noticed you are good at back peddling. Ba Bing!

          • Bob_Dole

            Zing! I’ll have to remember that one. I just didn’t want to come across as one of those haters of ‘stupid Yanks’ that Nick mentions but I stand by my points.

          • http://twitter.com/TedHeistman Ted Heistman

            Its all good.

  • Mr B

    ‘In the USA spontaneous parties began as news spread that Osama Bin Laden was dead. … The scenes of joy in America filled me with a sense of almost unreserved admiration for a great nation…’

    Unconscionable bloodthirsty sycophant.
    Why’s this execrable article in disinfo?

    • Matt Staggs

      Nick is a regular and popular contributor of all sorts of material here. He’s written about occult topics, popular culture, politics, music, you name it. I value his work, and regardless of whether you or I agree with the piece, it is well-written and likely to start a conversation (We’re having one now!). Mr. B, if you’d like to contribute work of your own, do let me know and we’ll talk about issuing you an account. I’d be happy to run a rebuttal piece.

      • Mr B

        Hi Matt (I liked your recent Abby Martin interview btw),

        Just to be clear, I’m not objecting to Nick or dissenting opinions being here. But from at least the ‘About’ page; I gathered that this was a site which specializes in promoting: ‘…important political, social or cultural issues that are ignored by the mainstream media.’

        His OBL sentiments are of the typical right-wing nature, which I’d expect from the latter; thus I’m surprised and disappointed to see them here.

        I sincerely thank you for the generous (and tempting) offer, and the grace with which it was articulated.

        I’ll give it some serious thought.

        • Matt Staggs

          Fair enough. The site does indeed, but I do give our frequent and high quality contributors a little more leeway when it comes to opinion pieces, particularly if they’re few and far between. I’m also extremely eager to reflect a diversity of opinion, as I’m none too eager to promote a self-reinforcing feedback loop. Things get boring here when that happens. You may not have noticed, but I scheduled this post and the one below it (about America’s aversion to “substance”) to run near-simultaneously. It was a bit of an experiment- one I’ve run many times before. People basically skim over or don’t even read stuff that they already agree with, and hardly ever comment on it. I’ve run diametrically opposed viewpoints at exactly the same time on the same day and seen the one that reinforces people’s beliefs get zero interest from our readers, and the piece that they disagree with turn into a hotbed of vigorous discussion, and mind you, I do mean discussion – not just anger and insults. To do this too often would be a major problem, but at Disinfo we’ve, got page after page of bizarre, challenging and ignored news stories – and then the occasional opinion piece like this one, and only when a regular contributor of amazing and unusual content writes one up. It’s not bad, and if it gets people talking – especially people that otherwise don’t normally get involved in the community here – then I think it’s well worth the criticism I take (and believe me, I’m usually the guy that takes it.) ;)
          Thanks very, very much for your kind comments about the Abby Martin interview. She’s a fantastic person. Get with me if you want a contributor account. Believe it or not, I’ve had a few really great writers come out of the woodwork when posts like this run.

  • IokSotot

    This piece is a load of shit. The USA has ALWAYS been a ruthless expanding power happy to use whatever violence it wants to get what it (‘s leadership caste) wants and still is. You don’t have to believe in a single “conspiracy” to see that. (Oh, oh and kudos to you Nick for not being like all the other sheeple and believing whatever you’re told by non-“conspiracy theorists” /sarc) Same goes for the UK, or mass murdering, serial pillaging “GREAT” Britain as it used to style itself. I lived in the UK long enough to realise that the people there are incredibly proud of how “just this tiny little island” conquered and enslaved all the “pink bits”. Both countries are cut from the same cloth psychologically and I for one won’t shed a tear when they finally collapse and/or are balkanised and/or bombed out of existence. My Ggandparents supported the cheered the bombing of your grandparents. (I think watching their relatives die in British concentration camps might have had something to do with that).
    To defend and promote ideals you believe in you have to call out those that habitually claim to embody those ideals while they habitually act in exactly the opposite way.

  • http://twitter.com/TedHeistman Ted Heistman

    I guess I’m in the category of those Skeptical of the Assassination of Bin Laden, but its an interesting juxtaposition you make.

    I think Americans are kind of like the popular kids in High school. We don’t really pay that much attention to the other little sub cultures, like the stamp collecting club, etc. We have homecoming and Student council.

    For example, every Canadian I have ever met has strong opinions about American Foreign policy, our political parties etc. But Americans, don’t have strong opinions about Canadians. I have only a dim inkling of their political structure, I must admit. Its just a place to buy Maple syrup, where there are some good Hockey players.

    I mean, I’m personally really into Geography, but that’s the sentiment of Americans. We’re self absorbed. I remember as a kid though everyone was really into Princess Di. I think it just has to do with the dream girls have of marrying a rich guy and getting to be Cinderella. I don’t think much thought goes into the ramifications of where the wealth comes from in terms of hereditary Monarchy and so forth. But that is an idea Americans are against by and large. The idea is that anyone in America can become rich with hard work. A lot of socialists here are pretty against that idea and trying to orgsanize the working class into a proletariat but its not really catching on.

    • Raz

      Their wealth (monarchy) comes from the same place as any other type of wealth comes: from exploitation of the people. In capitalism is the same way the wealthy say that came from hard work but in truth it was their ancestors that get rich by exploiting society’s weakness. Look to Wallmart or McDonalds for example. In the old times they would call people servants and say that they were property just cause they where poor and standing on their lands. Today we pay taxes that goes directly to them in pretenses of helping solving the crisis that they themselves created. Shit is the same anytime.

  • http://twitter.com/TedHeistman Ted Heistman

    I really liked the article. Its from a refreshing and unique point of view. Its uncommon to see people honestly share their opinions, without trying to shoe horn themselves into an established ideology. I don’t know why the comments are so mean spirited and petty so often here. I guess its just the internet as a whole.

  • http://twitter.com/TedHeistman Ted Heistman

    I do know one disturbing fact about the UK that is line with this article The Queen of England is the largest landowner in the World. She officially owns all of Canada. 2 and half billion acres. “crown land”

    its called because that’s who owns it.

    http://www.whoownstheworld.com/canada/

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=647058614 Will Coles

      But she doesn’t ‘own’ it, her value is actually rather low (“Queen Elizabeth II has a personal net worth of £310 million ($500m) as of April 2012″), 19th richest woman (top place: Helen Walton, WIFE of Walmart founder), 15th richest royal (top place: King of Thailand), 257th richest Brit.

      • http://twitter.com/TedHeistman Ted Heistman

        OK, who owns it then? Its not federal land, like US public lands are.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=647058614 Will Coles

          I think the ‘crown land’ is essentially government land (they have ‘crown land’ here in Australia too.) “Crown land is held in the ‘right of the Crown’ of either an individual state or the Commonwealth of Australia”

          • http://twitter.com/TedHeistman Ted Heistman

            Did you read the link? It explains the legal difference. A private individual can’t really own land in Canada. Australia might be similar.

            “All physical land in Canada is the property of the Crown, Queen Elisabeth 11. There is no provision in the Canada Act, or in the Constitution Act 1982 which amends it, for any Canadian to own any physical land in Canada. All that Canadians may hold, in conformity with medieval and feudal law, is “an interest in an estate in land in fee simple”. Land defined as ‘Crown land’ in Canada, and administered by the Federal Government and the Provinces, is merely land not ‘dedicated’ or assigned in freehold tenure. Freehold is tenure, not ownership. Freehold land is ‘held’ not ‘owned’.”

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=647058614 Will Coles

            & yet she doesn’t own it, she can’t sell it. Unless you think that much of Canada is worth less than the $310Million her assets are valued at!

          • http://twitter.com/TedHeistman Ted Heistman

            I don’t believe Monarchy is literally the idea of the person on the throne being actually in charge. The Monarchy is controlled by the Aristocracy. So that kind of goes back to Nick’s point.

          • Bob_Dole

            Also, it’s a constitutional monarchy, which means royalty stays out of politics. You realise the Queen has next to no political power in the UK right?

          • http://www.ContraControl.com/ Zenc

            Not exactly the UK, but didn’t the queen dissolve/suspend the Canadian Parliament just a few years back?

            http://www.reuters.com/article/2008/12/04/us-politics-canada-idUSTRE4B34BC20081204

          • Bob_Dole

            I heard about this but never looked into it TBH.

            From the looks of the article, it was actually the Canadian PM that made the request to the Governor General of Canada, who then granted the request.

            I could be wrong but I don’t think it’s possible for the Queen to dissolve UK parliament on her own, she would need a formal request from the UK PM, much like the situation in Canada.

            The Crown is supposed to be politically neutral. Hence, such a big deal was made of the fact that the Queen attended a Cabinet meeting last week here in the UK for the first time in 100 years. Even then, she only stayed 20 minutes. I don’t blame her really, 20 minutes sitting between David Cameron and William Hauge (Google young William Hauge) would be enough for anyone.

            The UK Bill of Rights (16 December 1689 – what the US Bill of Rights is based on) was a major step in restricting the power of the monarch. We could even have weapons then but not any more obviously, unless you count stinging satire.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=647058614 Will Coles

            Rather like a janitor, she looks after it, supposedly it can’t be sold (but often is) it’s meant to be a safeguard but has little meaning these days.

          • MoralDrift

            Doesnt it work that way in America as well? Eminent Domain and all of that?

            If the State Wanteth the State Shall Taketh.

            See China as another example, although apparently like Canada they also outright lay claim to all land ownership unlike the US which allows you to “own” land….unless the federal government needs it

          • http://twitter.com/TedHeistman Ted Heistman

            You can fight it in court though. The legal underpinnings are different and don’t hearken back to Feudalism, like in the Case with the UK and British Commonwealths

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=647058614 Will Coles

    The main problem stems from the celebration of an assassination (for it was nothing else.) The execution of an untried man, with enough doubt about his being part of it that the FBI didn’t have him listed in their most wanted. The raid on another country to take him, breaking international & national laws, not to bring him to justice but to avoid justice. All done without any proof that they actually did kill Bin Laden himself, that he was alive & where they said he was, dumping his body at an undisclosed location at sea.

    As for royal families, yes dumb people worship them, but as the U.S. proves, if the people don’t have one they will create one, either by bloodline (the Kennedys) or celebrity (the Kardashians). As I see it, the U.S. has nothing to celebrate in that the U.K. royal family is bred to fill a specific role whereas in the US they are chosen for nothing other than entertainment, ‘entertainers’ paid $millions indirectly by the dumb poor & defended by them under the delusion that they could one day (somehow) become like them.

    Then that brings you to ‘social mobility’ where the UK has the worst social mobility, as proof of existing class structure. So what is the US’s excuse since it comes second or third on that list? In the UK they can point to the royal family & the aristocracy as proof (& reason) that exists, how does the US explain theirs?

  • BrianApocalypse

    I totally understand the sentiment being expressed in this article. It’s talking of ideals which are very admirable, even if they are not always lived up to.

    It is this idealistic and philosophical root that America projects most purely in its myths, and the sentiment the writer is expressing is the very same that inspired British comics writers to so powerfully intervene with the very American myth of the superhero, to the extent of reinvigorating and redefining it. From a distance. the British writers could see it in a way that their American counterparts couldn’t, as an aspect of an ideal world, inspired by the perception of America viewed through the lens of myth.

  • Anarchy Pony

    “There’s something Great About America”
    Is it the great amount of propaganda we internalize as children?
    What about the total blindness to the rampant imperialism that permeates all of our country’s history?
    Is it the way that Orwellian double speak and double think has seemingly been integrated to our national discourse?

  • “Big” Richard Johnson

    We weren’t fascinated by the royal wedding. The media was.

    I suspect being able to write off attending a god damn royal wedding as a work expense may have something to do with it.

  • http://twitter.com/Craig219 Craig219

    One of the reasons that America is so “great” is that we come from good stock. Most of Americans, are descended from people who decided to risk everything and leave their mother country and move to America in search of a better life for them and their children. That takes a lot of courage, so we end up with a lot of quality people here and it fosters a culture where most people believe with hard work and effort you can be anything you want to be. No we are not perfect, but who is? As the article points out, we have plenty of people in our own country who are willing to stand up and say that, but at least we have the freedom to do that.

    One of the things that I think Europeans fail to realize is just how big the United States is. We are a country made up of 50 states. A state is not like a county, it is like a country. Saying everyone in the US is the same is like me saying the British are the same as Germans because you are both from Europe.

    I think the rest of the world does have a slanted view of the US. While people were happy to hear an enemy of our country was killed only a small percentage was out “partying in the streets”. Most of America is made up of people just like you. We are just looking to live peaceful lives and provide a good home for our family.

    • kowalityjesus

      I have thought the same thing before, but am not so sure that it is solely due to the fact that we came from families that were ballsy enough to pick up everything and move. I think part of it is also that Europeans in America had a clean slate of beautiful land to work on (thanks to virgin soil epidemics) and we picked the best ideas from the motherland with which to create our society.

      Not to be cynical, but from my perspective in Chicago, I am quite convinced that European history has ended in America. All historical knowledge is irrelevant, the attempt has been made to level the playing field by disenfranchising all of their cultural heritage. It wasn’t hard to accomplish because most people are too busy making a living, or on drugs, or distracted by glowing rectangles to understand the magnanimity of change which has progressed around us. It’s quite fucked, though.

      • http://twitter.com/Craig219 Craig219

        I wasn’t just talking about Europeans. It started with the Europeans, but with the fall of the “Iron Curtain”, we got an influx of Eastern Europeans and more recently a large increase of Asians: Japaneese, Chineese, India, Koreans, etc… All brining in fresh ideas and their own unique cultural backgrounds that eventually get woven into the fabric of American culture..

    • Bob_Dole

      I think a major problem that a geographically challenged populace have on both sides of the Atlantic is that they tend to view each other through the prism of the media. Hence, news of Bin Laden’s death on our TV networks show people dancing in the street in New York or have some clip of some frat-boy types jumping up and down with a beer and shouting into the camera something like “We got ya boy! Woooo!”.

      The alternative for you guys (although I’m guessing here) is that during the Jubilee celebrations, you may have seen street parties and thousands of Union Jacks decorating the streets making it look like the whole population of the UK (63 million) were royality fanatics. Both appearances are obviously as you say, false.

      • Matt Staggs

        Astute observation.

  • kowalityjesus

    I am the rare person who is not a total nazi and yet will defend a realistic historical view of WWII. First of all America did not win the war against Germany, Russia won the war against Germany. The invasion of Normandy was what gamers call a “kill steal,” because Germany was on the brink of a catastrophic retreat from the Eastern Front when it happened.

    Second of all, total war i.e. bombing civilian targets was first engaged in under Churchill’s directive, and was only reciprocated by a nazi pilot error during a night raid intended to destroy a military target. Allied bombing represents a war crime, and still was to this day.

    The popular misrepresentations of fact that this article embodies is only NOT irritating, in that it is posted in a much less monolithic forum, where intelligent individuals can banter with the semantics. yay disinfo

    • Todd X

      Total war was invented by U.S. Grant. He thought that the only way to win a war was at any cost. It could be done a great faster if the civilian population was decimated. He wrote about this a great length. It was the reason Lincoln wanted him as a leader. The practice used by every military force since.

      The Nazi actions against civilian populations inspired Russia’s scorched earth policy. by the time Churchill engaged civilian targets it was against a nation that allowed for the internment of pretty much everyone that did not fit the model of a good German.

      Here is another fact, the Nazi’s found their inspiration in ethnic cleansing in the US’s treatment of the Indians. Many Germans left Germany because they did not agree with these party ideals. It was like 90% approval rating. Churchill saw a war machine rolling across Europe and saw no other alternative.

      I have conducted interviews with many WWII vets (including one of the team members that found a recently dead Hitler) and citizens of Russia and Europe. The Nazi’s were scarier in reality than they are in history. Churchill may have had his faults, but he did not have the benefit of hindsight to authorize his decisions.

      • kowalityjesus

        It seems that General Sherman was actually the first to employ “total war,” even though by WWII standards his practices were tame. Lincoln and Grant needed some convincing as to the necessity of the practice because of its decidedly unchivalrous nature. In any case, how one can use this to justify civilian firebombing is not clear.

        Do you really think that Stalin was a decent guy until he saw Nazi policies and said “huh you know maybe I will try that?” That is patently absurd, Stalin was always ruthless any amount of historical knowledge will vindicate that sentiment. Not saying the Germans and Russians treated each other well as prisoners of war, no siree.

        I have heard that Nazis were using California’s and North Carolina’s eugenic breeding policies as an inspiration behind their own. This is what you may be talking about, as by early 20th century, the plight of American Indians had been happening for centuries, and primarily due to unintentionally spread virgin soil epidemics.

        As for the idea that Nazis had become the vast political majority through mass emigration (after their election by plurality in 1933). This is absurd because between 1933 and 1944 german population increased by 1,000,000, a political shift like that which you state occurred would have required massive population loss to emigration. Anyways how this justifies wholescale destruction of non-military targets, resulting in hundreds of thousands of civilian murders is mysterious to me.

      • Calypso_1

        German ethnic cleansing was small compared to the mass starvation, purges & pogroms Stalin instituted before the war even began.

        • kowalityjesus

          This is heresy, for it may brand me a nazi-sympathiser, but don’t you think a world under the rigid and efficient boot of the nazi would find it imperative to do something about global warming, and indeed have the faculties to execute such carbon-reforms? Will distant posterity rue the success of the allies due to its effect on planetary health?

  • Bruteloop

    You know I wanted to like this article because we have things in common. I too grew up influenced by the US. I have family there. I visited. This was in the 60s. I discovered better toys. better portions and food and cartoons every Saturday morning. Then there was drag racing, hot rods and chopped bikes. Burroughs and Ginsberg. Ed Roth and the Hells Angels. Warhol and the factory. Twain, Williams, Mailer, Bellow, Updike, Roth. The mainstream soundtrack seemed pretty rubbish but I had T.Rex here and knew about Motown and Philly. It was all vibrant and exciting and modern and a world away from the weight of hundreds of years of history we had to endure here. The people I met were warm and open and generous.

    Later I lived for months at a time in Palm Springs (which I hated) and Baltimore (which I loved). I actually did lose my heart in San Francisco and it remains there ( I’m not allowed to marry so we put paid to the idea of a future actually always physically together). I think I probably lost my dignity in New York.

    When 9/11 happened I was appalled at the anti-US sentiment that was suddenly revealed or adopted by people who had previously availed themselves of all things American culturally and commercially.

    I was always the one who called them out on their hypocrisy and criticisms.
    But, woah, did the lice crawl out of the woodwork in the years after. How quickly did a country that seemed to stand for progress and opportunity become defined by paranoia and ignorance? How much harder did it become to ignore the chest beating and bullying stance, the lack of knowledge about or interest in the world outside their borders and the constant claims to be chosen by a God I didn’t even believe existed.

    And, sadly, slowly, I and others realised that much of what the country had seemed to stand for appeared to have either been at best built on sand or, worse, was empty propoganda.

    Sold so cynically in those films you found so influential. (The 80s…really???)

    Unfortunately the ‘stupid yank’ stereotype, which I too loathe, has been reinforced by Palin and Romney and Beck and all those idiot Creationists and gun-waving, chest beating knuckle draggers we now see with so depressing a regularity.

    You write as if you are the only English person who despises what the Royals represent. I knew no one who was mindlessly celebrating the Royal Wedding though I knew a few who were glad of the day off work. The people I saw on tv had little to do with me.

    But I began some time back to appreciate the history this country has. We at least have had a chance to witness some of the many mistakes that can be made and make some attempts to rectify them. The Royals, while privileged, have very little real power. The aristocracy are dying on their tweed wrapped arses in their rotting country estates.

    The real threat, you must admit, is just as it is in America – the rise of the corporations and the super rich. We even have a similar pointless two party system to ensure their interests are always taken care of.

    However, America remains the most powerful power in the West and if you now choose to ignore the abuse of that power and the aggression and greed the you are wilfully putting your head in the sand.

    Both countries were built on many good ideas.

    We now stand at a juncture where the availability of information allows us to see how those ideas have been abused and twisted and manipulated.

    Like Uncle Bill said – we can truly see what is on the end of the fork.

    Time to move beyond the boundaries we set ourselves and that so restrain us- geographical, ideological and more.
    I’m not sure we were chosen but I sure as shit know we are all stuck on this rock together.

    Hell, running out of time. Better go before the world ends…

    • http://twitter.com/TedHeistman Ted Heistman

      “Unfortunately the ‘stupid yank’ stereotype, which I too loathe, has been reinforced by Palin and Romney and Beck and all those idiot Creationists and gun-waving, chest beating knuckle draggers we now see with so depressing a regularity.

      You write as if you are the only English person who despises what the Royals represent. I knew no one who was mindlessly celebrating the Royal Wedding though I knew a few who were glad of the day off work. The people I saw on tv had little to do with me.”

  • Tuna Ghost

    Is anyone else really disturbed at Dawkins’s use of “orgasm” and “cream”? That really weirds me out

  • Exoixx

    Refreshing to hear this POV – I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s rare these days but it’s certainly rare to hear in expressed, in the UK at least. I agree with the points made about the monarchy and the seperation of church and state – and I have heard many people proudly condem the US for being ‘brainwashed’ be that in terms of religion, politics or even pop culture, when in reality, I think this is a more accurate description of the UK.
    The gun laws in the states are a point of issue for me though – and my reason is this; it’s all well and good to have faith in humanity, but the truth of the matter is humans rarely act in a ‘humane’ way. Once we’re given these, in a sense, unnatural tools for destruction we tend to get a bit carried away. Look at any period of history anywhere in the world and you will find evidence for this. Now, most of us have a strong sense of morality and rationality that we use to regulate the temptaion of power and destruction but there are many who don’t. It’s a lovely idea, trusting humanity to behave ethically, morally and justly. But it’s just that, an idea.

    The same goes for the idea of free speech. I personally feel everyone has a right to their opinion and the right to express that opinion – but I believe there is a time and a place to express that difference of opinion. I believe there is a line, once crossed, the situation turns into something else. Where does it end? Should a pedophile have the right to express his opinion that what he is doing is perfectly okay and discuss it openly? Should an anti-semite have the right to tell the world jews are evil and should be all be systematically murdered? Of course, we like to think that the majority of us would read or hear such opinions and dismiss them but we only need look at the example of Nazi Germany to see how this can get out of hand in the right circumstances. Where is that line? The WBC constantly promote hate, and most of us roll our eyes and dismiss them and their message. But if you had just lost your child in the Newtown massacre and they turned up, chanting that your child deserved to die, how would you feel? Is this something that should be allowed? This is the downside to these ideas and America has countless examples of this.

    At the end of the day, I think this ‘anti-american’ feeling boils down to one thing – someone to blame to shed ourselves of any responsibility. It’s far easier to call the Americans stupid than it is to recognise our own stupidity or ignorance. It makes us feel superior, it makes us feel better. But perhaps we need to stop looking at what everyone else is doing wrong and placing ‘blame’ and face up to the problems within our own society and do something about it…

  • Guest

    I clearly remember the week in question. I had to have one of my beloved cats put to
    sleep so it sticks in my mind.

    I can’t agree with your scene setting.

    We certainly were told to celebrate the royal wedding by a broadly right wing cabal of print and broadcast media, but I’m not convinced that was the reality on the ground.
    There was no bunting or street parties in my town, though many of us celebrated having an extra bank holiday!

    And the events in the USA were a simply a celebration of revenge finally taken on an individual who had hurt and humiliated America so deeply and dramatically.

    America was clearly built on noble and sincere philosophy, phrases like ‘All men are created equal’ and ‘We the people…’ strike a chord with the most profound characteristics of humanity – liberty, fraternity,
    equality.
    Britain was built piecemeal over millennia and by visitors and victors from lands over the sea and never
    really had the option of starting with a clean sheet.

    I don’t believe the Founding Fathers would approve of how the USA are handling Bradley Manning or how non unionised Walmart treat their staff anymore than I believe the people who wrote the Magna Carta could forsee our government proposing trials without juries.

    There’s much that is great about each country, but I don’t believe your average American goes about his daily life considering the glories of the Declaration of Independence any more than your average Brit worries about the Divine Right of Kings in the commercial break on XFactor finals night.

    Never forget we have the power to begin the world over again!

  • http://twitter.com/mutterful Jackie

    I clearly remember the week in question. I had to have one of my beloved cats put to
    sleep so it sticks in my mind.

    I can’t agree with your scene setting.

    We certainly were told to celebrate the royal wedding by a broadly right wing and sycophantic (when it suits them) cabal of print and broadcast media, but I’m not convinced that was the reality on the ground.
    There was no bunting or street parties in my town, though many of us celebrated having an extra bank holiday!

    And the events in the USA were a simply a celebration of revenge finally taken on an individual who had hurt and humiliated America so deeply and dramatically.

    America was clearly built on noble and sincere philosophy, phrases like ‘All men are created equal’ and ‘We the people…’ strike a chord with the most profound characteristics of humanity – liberty, fraternity,
    equality.
    Britain was built piecemeal over millennia and by visitors and victors from lands over the sea and never
    really had the option of starting with a clean sheet.

    I don’t believe the Founding Fathers would approve of how the USA are handling Bradley Manning or how non unionised Walmart treat their staff anymore than I believe the people who wrote the Magna Carta could forsee our government proposing trials without juries.

    There’s much that is great about each country, but I don’t believe your average American goes about his daily life considering the glories of the Declaration of Independence any more than your average Brit worries about the Divine Right of Kings in the commercial break on XFactor finals night.

    Never forget we have the power to begin the world over again!

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