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Childish Views

Charles Moore has an interesting article about his perceptions of America during his childhood and how the process that created those perceptions is still at work today:
The BBC did not preach to me about the Soviet threat with the same ardour that it preached about racial prejudice. I therefore thought that America was very violent and very backward, and I could never quite understand why such a country was by far the most powerful in the world. If I asked people why, they would say, "Oh well, it's because it's so rich," as if wealth were something that simply descended upon you without the contribution of human effort. As a result, I understood very little about America.

Today, we are presented with a similar narrative - so powerful that I find that 90 per cent of people here believe it, even those who think of themselves as conservative. The narrative is that America is bullying and naive about the outside world. It is very keen on killing people. George W Bush is taken to embody these characteristics, since he wears cowboy boots and is inarticulate and prays a lot. (Fine for Muslims to pray, not for Christians.)

There are good Americans who, again, come from the north-east and never talk about religion. You can tell they are good because they are not "unilateralist". Senator John Kerry, the Democratic presidential nominee, is, ex officio, a good American. But the bad Americans, with guns and money and a white God, are in charge.

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