Wednesday, May 7, 2008

A letter to America

Hello America! How are you today? You are probably wondering what someone in the UK is doing writing a letter in effect to an entire nation. Well, it goes like this, have you, the average American man or woman, ever wondered why when you travel abroad you are disliked, distrusted or on some occasions even hated? I am not talking about some Islamic countries either, but often in countries that are supposed to be your closest allies, such as here in the UK.

Well, here is the explanation that may help because I can assure you I am not writing out of hostility. I admit there was a time a few years ago when I followed the crowd and said “Americans are dumb. They just got Bush as their president”. But then I thought that instead of simply saying that, why not explain why such a sentiment came about? Today, living in the UK which is a country that has stood by you very often in recent years, has committed troops to fight your wars and even faced bombs, essentially for you, the concept of “Anglo American” relations seems, at best, to feel a little one way. I will give you a personal example. In the US there is a clique of medical professionals whom I have written about very often, that have not only decided what clinical guidelines and treatment protocols should apply in every state in the US but also here, in the UK, and those policies are detrimental to the health care I receive and ultimately to my health.

I will not hide what my health issues are. I was born “intersexed”, that is “of no clear anatomical sex by the currently defined medical standards”. There is nothing politically correct about me, and I am not really a member of the LBGT lobby. I am just an individual with a medical condition that is a bit unusual; I have no “Gender identity issues”. All I really want is just to lead my life as best I can and that is that. It was an accident of birth and nothing I should be made to feel guilty about.

However, the medical professionals who operate from the “Clarke-Northwestern” school of medical opinion over in the USA have decided that I had no right being born. They don’t say it outright and it is not aimed at me personally, but they basically assert that there is only “pure” male and “pure” female. I am angry about this because I am not an American citizen, and yet it would seem that people who would be born with health issues like mine would probably not be born or if we are, we would be subjected to surgical intervention, secrecy and shame, all because of American sensitivities? And American morality?

Look at yourselves. At the time I write this, there is an African American and a middle class White Woman doing battle to become a presidential candidate. And listen to what is being said, from the outside, from “Not in America”. Do you know what journalists outside the US are saying? “The Americans are having a bit of a problem at the moment with the race issue and the gender issue”. America looks like a country of bigots presenting token candidates for the Democratic Party. I mean look at how quickly the issue of the Republican candidate was settled. No controversy or wringing of hands there.
In some countries, like the Islamic countries, you are compared to Nazis. I think that is unfair but from where I am sitting, in all honesty there is little smoke without fire. Take the issue of Homosexuality and Abortion. These are hot button topics Americans are stereotyped over. Now is it not interesting that some Americans, usually of the “Religious right”, would gladly kill a medical professional who carries out abortions, unless of course there is some test that can determine whether or not the unborn child may grow up to be gay. As it happens that is a bit of a joke outside the US, like the aborting of children with many other “Defects” (including those like mine, intersex conditions) is “fine”, and now I hear some (The Clarke Northwestern) talking of eradicating gay fetuses as well.

Any sort of non conformity to some physical or social ideal is met with abortion, with the intent to eradicate and the American Right wing and neo-conservative movements are funding this because they have been lied to. They are also paying doctors to interfere with the internal affairs of other countries. Is it any wonder an American Accent usually gets met with such derision and hatred, even in countries where people have laid their lives on the line defending American interests.

I am not saying the Clarke Nothwestern are solely responsible for the hatred (sometimes visceral hatred) felt towards America, but they are one example of what the problem really is. Let me illustrate the point with how the average American tourist looks through the eyes of your typical Brit. “Overweight, Oversexed and Over here” would be one commonly used phrase. “Bloated, superficial bully who wants to rule the world with an iron fist and Mc Donald’s” is another. I have no doubt you see the British as prudish, anally retentive and all talking like Dick Van Dyke in the Mary Poppins Movie. There is a difference; on the one side there is a sense that “Those over there” are quaint and probably a bit dim. On the other side there is a sense of real anger, at having our hospitality abused and at having your values imposed on us, of sensing that whatever happens, the Americans will always regard the rest of the world (and in this case the UK) as mere second rate of this planet.

And I am talking about people who traditionally are your allies, not your sworn enemies.
Perhaps you need to take a close collective look at yourselves. I am not saying look at the fat bully stereotype. I am saying stop and think. Stop taking other nations for granted. Stop imposing your rules on their day to day lives, and yes stop having the likes of the Clarke Northwestern (Among others) represent you on the international stage, making you look like a bunch of warmongering, genocidal, dictatorial maniacs. I am not anti American, as it happens the organization I am speaking to you from is an international organization (Which qualifies me to say what I am saying) which has a very large American contingent. In a way OII is a microcosm of the international problem you Americans have to be dealing with. OII represents international opinion, unlike say ISNA which represents American opinion. In OII there is a common and consistent thread, even among the American membership that America-centric organizations like ISNA and the Clarke Northwestern are a symbol of American arrogance on the international stage. In a way similar to some large companies like Microsoft or Coca Cola or McDonalds.

Now, you are not unwelcome. In the UK I can buy a copy of Microsoft Windows, buy a big Mac and swig it down with a can of Coke. But when I see these things as a product of a nation that would see people like me killed before they are born, along with the disabled and LGBT folks. I see symbols of an invader, not a friend. That is your problem America. Before you alienate yourselves from the rest of the planet, sit back and think what is it you are doing wrong. Take it as advice from an honest friend and remember I am still typing this on Microsoft Word, for now.