USADear Tim Dowling,

Perhaps you feel that the views of an America-bashing American will be more palatable for the liberal British readers of the Guardian than the views of an America-bashing Brit. In this, sir, you have sold out – not because you lack the right to criticise – but because you criticise on the basis of stereotype and not of fact. You know you’re in good company when you denigrate your homeland, among people who are predisposed to agree with what you say and devour it with gusto; in this your article serves no function greater than the stamp of credibility: “See? And it’s an American writing this!” Yet I would suggest that, after 17 years, you’ve left every last hint of ‘Americanism’ behind you, and share nothing with the people of your homeland save a common geography. Your classless little diatribe in this morning’s Guardian will attest to that by itself:

“When I go back now everything is bigger – the cars, the houses, the portions, the people. At first I think that I have been in a small country for so long that my eyes have shrunk. This bigness is not considered a disease of excess, but some bizarre form of constitutional entitlement – the right to drink Coke from a container the size of your head.”

Who are you, the Coke Police? You consider large fountain drinks symptoms of a “disease”? Really? Perhaps you’re the one who’s diseased. In any of these cases your complaint is with the concept of freedom, and your gripe with America due to its commitment to it. Since free, prosperous people seem to build bigger homes and drive bigger cars, it seems to me that honesty would require you admit that you simply dislike freedom (or at least its results). As for “constitutional entitlement”, perhaps you could tell me what the U.S. Constitution actually says?

“They don’t play music on the radio any more. The airwaves have been commandeered by rightwing gasbags. How bad must music have got for this to happen?”

As someone who works in radio I can tell you your problem: you’ve simply never found the FM band. AM is largely the domain of talk radio and, despite liberal Air America’s frequent attempts to get leftwing talk show hosts noticed on radio, “rightwing gasbags” tend to sell better. But that’s only AM. Music radio is doing very well on the FM band, where you’d be hard-pressed to find a single “rightwing gasbag” in any American city. (Want proof? See this list of FM stations in the city of Los Angeles for an example. Of course, you already knew this; you’re just trying to appeal to your bloodthirsty audience by regurgitating the hackneyed stereotypes they just love to read, no matter the extent to which those stereotypes might happen to bear upon reality.)

“Arnold Schwarzenegger is the governor of California. Sometimes I still wake up believing that this only happened in an episode of The Simpsons.”

Do you always complain this much Tim? What have you got against Arnold, now? He’s a film actor? He isn’t liberal enough? (By the way, The Simpsons is a parody of American life. If it didn’t bear a resemblance it wouldn’t be much of a parody, would it?)

“Above all, it is a country that voted George Bush Jr. into the White House twice.”

I have a question, Tim. Just when should I expect you to get over it? Complaints about George Bush are seven years old. He isn’t even running for President this time, yet it seems we may never hear the end of it. You’re like a bunch of kids in detention. It’ll be over soon!

“America seems to be, if anything, a slightly safer place than it was 17 years ago, but everybody seems much more frightened. Passport control has become a hostile and forbidding place, even for US citizens.”

You’re confusing fear with vigilance. I don’t know one American who I’d describe as “frightened”. Rather than fear, it’s a steely resolve that accompanies average Americans on their way to their oversized homes in their mammoth SUVs drinking their Cokes. And America is a different place since 9/11, true, but even if what you say about fear is true, criticizing America for it would be like walking up to a PTSD sufferer and asking them what they’d so afraid of. It’s kind of legitimate, Tim.

Of course, you’ve been gone so long you wouldn’t know anything about that.

Yours sincerely,

John Wright