Guardian columnist Matthew Engel (you'll recall his snide columns earlier this year, in which he sneered at rural and suburban America), apparently received some mail about his America-bashing. He responded with this column, in June. (Yes, I know it's almost the end of July, but I just found the column.)
In the giving-credit-where-credit-is-due spirit, I must admit that I was startled. He manages to get in swipes against our gun laws, capital punishment, low gas taxes, our food, our work ethic, and (of course) Bush and Ashcroft. However, he also has a number of points about why America is a good place, and even paints a few flattering direct comparisons between the US and Britain. I'll not quote his entire piece, but he makes four points that I would really like to share.
1. Race. It's been a 140-year journey and the US has not arrived yet. But Europe is way behind in its commitment to racial diversity and equality. A black cabinet minister in Britain? So what? Two of the five most important leaders here are black (Powell and Rice), and no one comments. Also, the tradition of immigration makes it far easier for any outsider to be accepted.
2. The legislators actually think and matter. Senators and congressmen are not lobby-fodder. Lobbyist- fodder, maybe, but they play a crucial role in the national debate.
3. Invincible green suburbs. My observation (on incomplete evidence) is that the average patch of American suburbia is less crime-ridden and certainly less fearful than its British equivalent.
50. The sense that things are getting less decrepit, not continually worse.
From the Guardian, no less.
posted on July 21, 2002 05:56 PM
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