The Rest Of The World had a field day laughing at Americans last week. Ironically, the catalyst for this was the Supreme Court’s ruling on Obamacare. Many people (particularly in Europe) seem to think that opposition to any kind of nationally operated healthcare system is a sign of brazen, deep American stupidity. So when the Supreme Court ruled that Obamacare was not unconstitutional, and a good number of Americans complained about the decision, lots of people on this side of the pond laughed.
Which is odd. Because what I saw was a smart country working its way through a complicated issue. I tried to imagine, say, Britain trying to introduce a national health service these days. I failed to see how it would. And I got more than a little irritated by the sneering assumption that Americans who don’t think like Europeans are somehow dumb.
I’ve met dumb Americans. I’ve met dumb French people. I’ve met seriously stupid English people. I’ve met some spectacularly idiotic Australians. There are dumb people everywhere.
But when I read things – history, literature, websites, even Tweets – I see Americans in the round?as smart, connected, hard-working, resilient, articulate, well-educated, proud and self-aware people. Those of us who take pleasure in mocking those things which look “dumb” to Europeans – gun-ownership, say – make no attempt to understand American history and how it got where it is today. Even the most stupid Tea Party anti-tax goon knows more about American history than 99.9% of those mocking American decisions and American instincts from this side of the Atlantic. We Europeans fail to understand the fundamental differences in relations between individual and state in that country, and how they came about from its unique, glittering, epic history.
The depressing thing about stating this kind of very obvious truth is how inevitable the response will be. There are those for whom America is some overfed combination of dumb and evil, the big fat overstimulated teenage kid in the playground. Nothing anyone can say will convince those people of the wrongness of their prejudices. But they are wrong.