The American Traveler

October 17, 2012

English: Looking south from Top of the Rock, N...Traveling in most countries around the world is great fun if one hides their American passport. No, not from thieves, but from the people who really dislike us. It is a confusing thought with which one is confronted at the oddest moments, and in the strangest places.

I am an American, I am a tourist, I came to your country to spend American $, I tip well, I buy a lot of your junk to take home, so what is your problem?

My first encounter with dislike for the American passport was in 1986 in London. After a night flight, I arrived at my hotel late morning. The man at the hotel desk took my passport, we chit chatted about the good weather in London, and since I was there for a week of tennis at Wimbledon, the weather was of particular interest to me.

He returned my passport with the following bit of advice: “Don’t tell anyone you’re American, and you will have a great time.” On that morning I was too tired to take him seriously, so I just left his advice at his desk. But I remembered!

My second encounter with dislike for the American visitor was in Paris. My English friend and I were at a restaurant for dinner. Looking at me, our waitress asked where we came from. Before I could open my mouth, my friend kicked my foot under the table and said, “London.” The waitress took our order, listened to two very different accents of the English language, and said in English with a French accent that, “We like American $ here. Good for us.” The dinner was excellent and it was paid for with American $, plus a very generous American tip.

In Spain and Italy it was the same disdain for the American, but great love for the American $.

In Morocco the song was different. They repeated often that they don’t like America, but they like American people, and that Morocco was the only country in the region that had a friendship with America since 1786. (The Moroccan-American Treaty of Friendship was signed in 1786. I learned about this treaty on my first trip to Morocco in 2000.) Okay! We hate American politics, but our countries are friends. I understand.

In Egypt and Mexico I heard almost the same stories. People asked the same questions, and made the same comments about the state of their respective situations.

In Egypt, they claimed America is their oppressor. America is good at making guns while they are creative people who built pyramids and practiced medicine 6,000 years ago, and if it wasn’t for America, they would be more progressive today.

In Mexico, they claimed that America is using the drug war to run their government and oppress their people.  They are creative people who built pyramids and an empire before America was born, and if it wasn’t for American policies and American guns they would be a prosperous nation today.

Around the world there are enough people who hate our guts. Of course, we don’t really care; they don’t pay our bills, and we certainly don’t need the Europeans, the Middle Easterns, or the Central Americans.

However, the question is: Why do all these people hate us? Or hate me – I’ve never done anything to them!

We sell them all guns. We are impartial, and we arm both sides of the conflict. We drone them to death.  We kill innocent women and children. We destroy their infrastructure. We run their internal politics – that is we select their leaders and dictators. We kill who ever we do not like in their countries. We take their oil and natural resources (trees and minerals), and we deny them food and medicine.

In other words, pick a country in Asia, Africa, or Central and South America, and American foreign policy is there with an American chosen ruler. Perhaps this is why Third World Countries hate us. But why do the Europeans hate us?

For anyone wondering how the writer came to these conclusions, the answer is simple.  Visit some of these countries and speak to the hotel clerks, the cab drives, the waiters & waitresses, the shop keepers, the patrons at the tea shops, and anyone passing by who is willing to chit chat.

Two things become clear. First, they hate America, and that is not going to change during the ten days you are going to stay in their countries. Second, if you are friendly and give them your time, show them you care, they will invite you to their homes and hospitality in a New York minute.

Accepting or declining the invitation is a personal choice, but what the oppressed people of Third World Countries need to know is that whatever passport we carry, we are people just like them who just happen to live in the Bully Capital of the World.


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