I am afraid of Americans
I am afraid of the world
I am afraid I cannot help it
I am afraid I cannot
~ David Bowie
Yes dear readers, I have had a few more profound thoughts while walking. This time however, I was plugged in. I had the iPod blasting, I felt the need for a strut in my stride, I was jonesing for some grooves.
Out the front door I sprang. Sunglasses on, (of course, they are like my cape, they make me all-powerful), hands in pockets, ears connected to iPod, I was ready to roll.
The second song that played on my journey was 'I am afraid of Americans' by David Bowie. I am a huge Bowie fan, and 'I am afraid of Americans' is one of my favorite Bowie tunes. Why? Well aside from the fact that it is just a solid bit of rock 'n' roll, it turns out that I too am afraid of Americans. Not individually, nah, individually Americans are really quite lovely, they are a blast, they are kinda like your crazy, hyper cousins from away. They are boisterous, opinionated, and can't hold their beer. Salt of the Earth, really. It is the American herd that scares me. Moo!
No, no, and no I will not, nor would it be fair for me to do so, tear the American cultural fabric to bits. I am Canadian, hell there are those outside of North America, who think that I am as American as apple pie. In terms of things cultural, especially pop cultural we have very, very, similar experiences. An American's favorite television show is the same as a Canadian's, our favorite burgers are garnished the same way, we drink the same colas, we wear the same t-shirts and jeans. I dare you to pick out the lone American in a line up of Canadians or vice versa. Why the fear then? I am getting to it , WAIT! I have to butter up my friends down South first. I see no need in pissing them off, they are known for their temper, oh, and I am told they come well armed.
So why the fear? Am I not afraid of all crowds? Did I not admit only a couple of days ago that elementary schools freak me out because they are over stuffed with children? Maybe, maybe, I simply suffer from demophobia (Google it!). But what is a country, if not a large crowd of people jammed into invisible boarders? My country, Canada, although a much larger land mass, has a tenth of the amount of people in it, is my fear really only one of numbers? Numerophobia (Google encore)? If so, should I not be even more afraid of India, or China? Should not the idea of Africa scare the living shit out of me? YES, but no. I do get queasy thinking about the masses of humanity, say in Mumbai, Delhi, Shanghai or Beijing. It also pains my guilt ridden whitey Canadian soul to think about the poverty, the conflict, and the global laissez faire towards Africa. But fear, nah, India, China, and Africa are so far removed from my day to day reality that they have become little more than abstraction, not things I tend to think about all that often. The Unites States, however, well those mad buggers make so much noise that it is impossible not to peek from up under the covers to see what all the racket is about. Maybe I am a phonophobe (Google again)? Shhhhhhhh.
Of course my demophobia, numerophobia and phonobobia might play some part in my fear of Americans. No one wants to be trapped in a small room with a huge number of really loud anybodies. But there has to be more than that. I lived in Montreal for 9 years, I kinda dig the clutter and the din. It is more than merely numbers and noise. What is it then? Bombast? That is the word that comes to mind. This polite Canadian, this quiet artist type gets a little edgy when EGO, and RAH, RAH, RAH, and flag waving, and God Bless America are thrown in his face. When the whole we're number 1 shtick is out in full force this humble fella wants to run and hide. Extreme patriotism, and extreme nationalism are ugly my enthusiastic southern friends, get over yourselves.
Love your country, celebrate your culture, cheer for the home team, of course. But goddamn it, the world is bigger and more complex then a hodge podge of a 51st state. Don't make me break out a list as to which areas the USA is not number 1...ahem, ahem, healthcare, need I say more?
Oh and what is all this Us vs Them shit? Does there always have to be a good guy and a bad guy? Right vs left, Commie vs Capitalist, Christian vs Muslim... a little hint my funny southern friends; and here it is, there is no absolute right or wrong. Everything lies in the mucky middle. So quit picking sides, get it? The wild west has been won, the League of Super Heroes does not exist. You, and I mean this with all due respect, are not the planet's moral authority. We are all in this thing together. There are many of us here that would like to help, but you have to let us speak, we want a voice at the table.
So there, I am afraid of Americans. I am afraid of them as a collective. I am afraid at how they religiously follow their churches, their governments, and their Mass Media. I am afraid of how they are so willing to swallow the Kool Aid, of how they are so willing to scream USA, USA, the planet be damned. I am afraid of the wilting super power, like a wounded animal, I am unsure if it is vicious, I am afraid of who or what it might bite next.
As a neighbor, as a close friend, I want you to know that fear does not imply dislike, nor will I be frightened into some sort of quivering respect. Nope, I am Canadian, and a man of the world, and as such, I just thought I should let you all know what the rest of us think. Friends?