Opinion

Across the Pond: An American from the inside, out

“What do you think about Americans?” I asked the back of the taxi driver’s head as he drove us from the hotel to our first day of orientation at the University of Sussex, in Brighton, on the southern coast of England. “Do you want me to be honest?” the Briton replied. “Well, yeah.”

“No, do you want me to be brutally honest?” “I think that’s why I asked you.”

“I think they’re all a bunch of big-headed wankers, to tell the truth.” And I laughed, because I loved his sincerity. Is it far from fact?

And that was a tame interaction. The first taxi driver I had the pleasure of falling into conversation with demanded to know “why in bloody hell” I voted for George Bush. When I told him I was 17 in 2000 he calmed down. Still overcharged me, though.

Across the street from the Houses of Parliament in London, a man has been sitting vigil for 963 days (at the time of writing), protesting Blair, protesting Bush, protesting capitalism and war and how all these elements seem to run in the same circles. His name is Brian Hay. He’s lost his wife, he sleeps outside and he only leaves to shower and eat (save the time when thugs in the night attacked him and broke his nose; others maintained the vigil while he was in hospital). He has erected dozens of banners and signs bemoaning America’s strangling presence on the rest of the world. One sign reads “Bush. Blair. Saddam. War Criminals.” Others discuss how Blair ignores the British people and common sense but still obeys G.W. And many more present pictures of Iraqi children deformed from chemical weapons exposure in the first Gulf War or starving due to a decade of sanctions, all thanks to America.

Most people I’ve met here are kind, accepting and incredibly helpful – what a shock, coming from Miami! And they often maintain a positive attitude toward Americans. They don’t blame America’s people for the state of the world. They blame its government. They tell me that, from over here, where we aren’t bombarded with CNN and MSNBC, it seems as if the administration has run away from the mandate of the masses and pursued its own agenda. Just as Blair is learning to do.

How should an American, born and raised, react to such criticism? Should I just nod my head and agree that it’s not the people’s fault, but the government’s? Should I stand behind a government that is daily denying the right to vote to Iraqis? Isn’t it – hasn’t it always been – the people’s responsibility to monitor their leaders, and therefore what they do is a reflection of what we’re willing to accept? Maybe I should take my friend’s advice and sew a Canadian flag patch on my coat.

Sam Lockhart is a junior majoring in neuroscience. He is studying abroad at the University of Sussex. He can be contacted at social_blunders@hotmail.com.

January 30, 2004

Reporters

The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

Either the Miami Hurricanes get a collective adrenaline rush from heart-palpitating fourth quarters, ...

Mark Richt is not overly concerned with depth. Not when the eighth-ranked Miami Hurricanes (6-0, 4-0 ...

After jumping three spots from No. 10 to No. 7 last week in the Amway Coaches Poll (one spot better ...

University of Miami weak-side linebacker Michael Pinckney is definitely old-school Miami Hurricane. ...

The question came straight at Ahmmon Richards, like a tight spiral. And this time, he was locked in. ...

Univeristy of Miami’s Wynwood Art Gallery holds its annual faculty exhibition featuring thought-prov ...

From a game simulating how whales navigate to a tribute to Ella Fitzgerald, the U showcased some of ...

A new mobile game called Blues and Reds, now available worldwide, aims to help researchers study int ...

A major Lancet Commission report, a three-year project headed by UM’s Professor Felicia Knaul and co ...

With a $6.8 million NIH grant, the UM School of Nursing and Health Studies and FIU Robert Stempel Co ...

The Hurricanes grabbed four interceptions and another ACC victory as they defeated Syracuse, 27-19, ...

The Miami women's tennis team wrapped up play Sunday the ITA Southeast Regional Championships P ...

As a Hurricane Club member, you are invited to participate in the 25th Annual University of Miami Ha ...

Kolby Bird had a career-high 21 kills, but the Hurricanes dropped a five-set battle to Notre Dame on ...

The Miami soccer team recognized its four seniors Sunday afternoon and then dropped a hard-fought 2- ...

TMH Twitter Feed
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.