Jessica the PatriotCrawley is a self-confessed Americanophile. In this post, he asks for discussion relating to the themes in Justin Webb’s new book, Have a Nice Day, which is a British journalist’s portrait of the United States of America in a mostly – I assume – positive light.

I had to respond in the comments section, and after I finished I figured I’d throw it onto the blog here too with some additional comments.

In explaining why Americans are not like us (viz., people on this side of the pond, as they say, much too often, on that side of the pond), Justin starts with the landscape of the United States and describes how a natural history characterised by wildness, openness, vastness, adventureousness and danger has helped to create a culture of independence, individuality, single-mindedness and sometimes bloody-mindedness.

I’d agree a form of self-selection created the Americans of today who are more individualistic, more motivated to act on their own behalf, more adventurous. Those are qualities, for the most part. It creates a dynamic, fluid, reactive, exciting, enterprising, sometimes volatile society, and explains America’s prosperity, influence, and wherewithal.

I too have lived both in America and in Europe, and I’ve made my choice to live in the United States now. The people around me make money quickly and lose it just as fast: money doesn’t sit around for decades in bank accounts as much as it does in Europe; it exchanges hands in risky business transactions and incautious luxuries. In America, adults have toys too. Americans work hard and play harder. Most Americans I know hold strong opinions about life, politics, philosophy, and express them at the drop of a hat. Life happens with gusto, with the highest highs and the lowest lows. Is this generalizing? Maybe a little. But not much. There is a palpable sense of excitement generally in America, and I find it very, very agreeable. (Though I admit, it may not be for everyone.)

[The book is] a reasoned and impassioned defence (defense?) of the United States (or some version of that contested concept) against various forms of anti-Americanism.

What I think anti-Americanism has done in Europe and even here in the States is to use the notions of ‘war’ or ‘Bush’ or – most erroneously – ‘capitalism’, and to cloud the overwhelming good that America stands for on the earth, entirely irrationally and without premise, as though America can be reduced to a flawed foreign policy and some asinine stereotypes. Thankfully, the culture of the US I’ve been describing also means that Americans usually don’t care what pretentious Europeans with illusions of superiority think about them, or even pay attention to the fact (let alone give them a vote in American elections!).

Is it likely that anti-Americanism within Europe generally will decline after November┤s election even if the the leader of the free world turns out to be John McCain, and his running mate becomes the first former beauty queen to actually get a chance do something for world peace?

For the record, I think Sarah Palin would make a great president, let alone vice-president. She’s uncorrupted by the great political machine in Washington, she’s a person who seems genuinely capable of appealing to the world at large, and she’s as libertarian a candidate as we’re likely to get.

Do I think anti-Americanism will decrease in 2009? It should. If it doesn’t, then the preposterous foolishness of imagining that America is an enemy of some kind should be even more blatantly evident than it is already.

JW