In the 00s, anti-American feeling was high in Europe. Even kids between 2002-2007 were cynical about American foreign policy in the Middle East. We were sold the story that European and American values were fundamentally different. I got brainwashed as a young one by socially and politically liberal parents and aunts, and read anti-capitalist, anti-American books that were heavy on economics and critical theory a decade too early at 13 and 14.
America became a vast alien wasteland, a Great Satan filled with strip malls, “freedom” and concentrated corporate evil. GW Bush Jr. was a grotesque puppet in our news: forever putting his foot in it while he ordered people to their deaths. All this put young people off America, and the Celtic Tiger economy made us think we’d be the first generation that wouldn’t need to emigrate.
I hit college wanting to become a corporate lawyer or businessman, which was a bit of a break with family tradition and the liberalness of my teens. I guess all that economics helped. The Bowie album we listened to most was Young Americans. There, I came into contact with Americans for the first time – and realised America is a vast heterogenous continent, with too much going for it in every state to write it off.
Then the 2008 US elections came. I first became aware of the candidates through furry porn posted on the asshole of the internet in 2007, so I was cynical from the off. We Irish people really believed in the “Hope” and “Change” messages Obama put out, like America was going to emerge from some glorious chrysalis into the rightful leader of the free world. But when that didn’t happen over the next few years, some of us reconsidered America as being more complex than just presidents.
When we met Americans professionally, or socially in college, they were always chill as fuck: polite, friendly, great workers with a lot of cop on. When I went to Florida to the conference, I will admit I stuck with the Canadians and Texans, so I can’t speak for every state. Minnesotans I’ve met have been cool. And I’d love to go to America to see the countryside, and taste your amazing regional food. Shooting sports seem easy to get into too. I treasure the Leatherman I picked up in the US, and picked up a Nalgene because it was a quality product.
Like most families, I inherited my parent’s beliefs. But I also inherited their prejudices against America without really thinking about it. I wonder if they even thought about it. Celiaxx might wish he was Russian, but living on the cheap (with health insurance) in America would be swell.