The Ugly American

Growing up in Europe in the 1960s, we could always tell who was an American  (I mean U.S. American). It was the clothes, the table manners, the way they walked, and a kind of arrogance that seemed to be like an invisible aura about them. We laughed at their choice of seemingly garish outfits; they way they cut up the meat and then put the knife down and dropped their hand under the table (what exactly were they doing under the table with that free hand???); and their complete lack of knowledge of geography or European history. We were somewhat offended by the way they threw their money around and their perceived condescending manners.

To be sure, a lot of our attitudes were defensive and envious. We were still trying to re-build devastated cities, like Dresden, that were leveled in WWII.  We would look at a an American’s Chevrolet and then look at an East German Trabant (a “car” with  fiberglass body and a two-cycle engine that could maybe go 50 miles per hour) and slink away. Even West German Opels and French Simcas weren’t comparable to a Chrysler.

When I moved to the U.S.A. 50 years ago, I quickly discovered that I was wrong.  Americans were a wonderful and generous people, usually kind and very down-to-earth and helpful. Yes, there were jerks; but there are jerks everywhere. I was grateful for being accepted, and helped, and allowed to assimilate into this land and culture. I love the American flag and I still get tears in my eyes when I hear the National Anthem at a sporting event.

It is for the above reasons that I feel very ashamed now. I saw Mike Pence go to Europe to talk with our NATO allies, and I saw an ugly American sent by a gorilla. I can’t describe Hairball Trump in any other terms (apologies to gorillas). Pence, a native “Hoosier” who probably never left Indiana except to live in Alexandria,  VA, while he was in Congress, had absolutely no clue what he was doing.

So, now our foreign policies are going to be shaped by Tillerson (dealing with people’s problems is very different than trying to strike deals about gas and oil); Hairball Trump (we are not negotiating about Dubai hotels and Scottish golf courses, for Christ’s sake); and clueless Pence. And, oh, yes, we have Neo-Nazi Bannon to whisper into Hairball’s ear. Great! Our European friends are rightly nervous. The Kremlin is laughing and celebrating. Break out the best vodka, Boris! Dance for us, Natasha!

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