Letters from Americans are kept on the American Perspectives page.
I'm traveling to New York and Washington for the first time in a few weeks. The prospect of going to New York is thrilling. For my whole life I have watched American films and here will be my first chance to see the many landmarks featured in these movies.
I recently saw Saturday Night Fever a wonderful evocation of 70s life in Brooklyn. I saw The Squid and the Whale, too, which is an evocation of Brooklyn in the 1980s. I love the sense of place these films create. The dialogue, and the observations of aspirations and fears, I find fascinating.
I've booked my Sopranos tour, which will take me round all the settings I have grown familiar with, watching six series (or is it seven?) of that amazing drama. I'm looking forward to seeing the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, and the kind of streets that are featured in The Godfather, Sex in the City and Woody Allen films.
Having had the reputation of being a low-brow culture, the Americans in the last decade have redefined television and its possibilities. I'm a fanatical fan of Alan Ball's Six Feet Under. It's a wonderful series which confronts viewers with all the really big questions. It's funny, profound and moving.
I particularly enjoy the ethnic mix which series like the Sopranos and Six Feet Under explore. For seven years I lived in Bayswater in London. It was a tough place to survive, and the English were a community among many other communities.
London is America these days. The idea of a nation state, an England that is for the English, is defunct. As a culture we are not very good at expressing or depicting this new world we live in. The Americans do it beautifully.
About the Author:
Name: Brian Jenner
Country: United Kingdom
Experience With US: Visited the United States
Your government, not to mention your political system, has failed you. George W Bush has failed you. There are many reasons why I feel that your government has failed you, I hope I can clarify why during the course of this letter.
Your government has failed you at the most basic level. The overriding job of any government is to protect its citizens. That is a fundamental foundation of any civilised nation. Sadly, your government has chosen not to protect its citizens. Instead, it has decided to cut you loose and see if you sink or swim. Inevitably, it is the poor who sink. Take for example the recent legislation rejected by President Bush. Bush had a chance to ensure that every section of society was given the ability to swim. When presented with a bill to extend health insurance to millions of children, he could have chosen to embrace American society and ensure every member of the society was given an equal chance in life, regardless of their financial background. However, he chose (for the fourth time in seven years) to reject this legislation and ensure that millions of the poorest children will be left to sink, to disappear from mainstream society and remain a part of the so-called ‘under-class’. From birth, it would appear that the American government has chosen not to protect its citizens and thus renege on its obligations as a civilised nation.
It is not just in terms of healthcare, the American system (particularly under Bush) has displayed a blatant disregard for the ordinary working man/woman. Many Americans were proud of their achievement of being the ‘Most Productive’ workers, according to a UN report. But this reputation has come at a heavy price. Once again, the political leadership had a choice: protect the citizen, or allow them to sink. Once again, Bush chose the latter. Despite their reputation, the American worker suffers intolerable working standards. Unionisation is practically obsolete, with only 12.5% of workers owning union membership in 2005. Under Bush’s watch, the minimum wage has dropped from $5.84 in 2000 to $5.15 in 2005, the median family income dropped by $1,000 between 200 and 2004 and the lowest quintile saw its annual income after tax decrease by $200, while the top 1% saw their incomes grow by $53,000. The workers have been left to sink by Bush, while the wealthy continue to swim at a healthy pace.
The Bush administration has also failed to protect the rights of the indigenous people of America. When given the opportunity to vote on a treaty that set out the rights of the indigenous people, including protection of their human rights and their land, the United States was one of only four countries to vote against the treaty. Once again, we see how the Bush administration fails to abide by its obligations to protect all its citizens. In fact, its treatment of indigenous people has also been condemned by Amnesty International. Amnesty has claimed that:
Native American and Alaska Native women in the United States suffer disproportionately high levels of rape and sexual violence, yet the federal government has created substantial barriers to accessing justice, Amnesty International (AI) asserted in a 113-page report released today. Justice Department figures indicate that American Indian and Alaska Native women are 2.5 times more likely to be raped or sexually assaulted than women in the United States in general; more than one in three Native women will be raped in their lifetimes.
Native Americans are, like many other sections of society, left to sink to the bottom. The Bush administration has washed their hands of them, much like the poor and the workers.
But it is not just internal affairs that the Bush administration has failed the American people and endangered them, foreign policy has put America at risk like never before. The sympathy spawned from the attacks on 11th September, has been squandered as the US government seeks it tighten its grip on the world. However, the tighter they squeeze, the more anti-Americanism will grow. This in turn will lead to greater difficulties on the world stage and America’s increased isolation from the civilised world. This isolation will make all Americans vulnerable and put them at great risk. If current trends in foreign policy were to continue, the entire nation will sink without a trace.
In short, the American administration has done its best to ensure that the poor and the dispossessed sink to the bottom, while the wealthy rise to the top. If America is ever going to regain its status as a respected, civilised nation, it needs to stop threatening sovereign nations of the world and start focusing on the needs of the poor in their own country. Martin Luther King once said:
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."
Forty-four years later, it remains a dream.
About the Author:
Website: Mask of Anarchy
Try to contain your delight at hearing from an epigone of Lenin.
You may wish to know that your continent is surrounded by vast areas of the world that wish you no specific harm. I refer, of course, to the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Everywhere else has it in for you. I mean it. Even loyal serfs like South Korea are turning against you, despite the fact that they have clearly modeled their flag on your excellent PepsiCola product (mmm mmm). Poll after global poll finds that most people consider the United States the world's most greatest threat to peace. Like you, and dear President Bush, I have not the slightest understanding of how this state of affairs can have come about, but I am told that it may have something to do with the habit of American governments to initiate wars and, where they don't initiate them, to escalate them to insane peaks of global danger, from the threat to use atomic weapons against North Korea in 1950-1, to the refusal to reunify Germany as a neutral state and the subsequent threat of a hot war with Kruschev, to the Cuban missile crisis in which Kennedy contemplate global nuclear war.
I am further informed that opinion was soured by near-genocidal violence in Korea after the march past the 38th parallel, in Vietnam before and after the march across the 19th parallel, and in the remainder of Indochina in the same period. The use of right-wing dictatorships and death squads to avert outcomes unamenable to American elite interests has also invested an otherwise fine continental principality with a suspicious poo-taint. Lately, certain people (namely, the world) have taken exception to a global war for dominance counterintuitively dubbed the 'war on terror'. I respect and trust Americans too much to believe that they have ever been taken in by that appelation, but it is now beyond your province, and mine.
Amreekans will naturally understand that I personally would wish to enhance their global standing and protect them from global wrath. May I therefore recommend you take the earliest opportunity to overthrow your government, socialise the means of production, distribution and exchange under the control of democratic workers councils, reduce your massive 'defense' industry to what is necessary to defend your land mass and only your land mass, and convert the trillions spent on war-making into useful production and services. Not only would it benefit most Americans to so transform their conditions, but it would also invite countless billions to relax their batties and stop dragging the stars and stripes across the epicentre of their chutney pipes each morning.
Meanwhile, I and my Bolshevik armies will sneak up on America via the Panama Canal and - d'oh!
About the Author:
Country: United Kingdom
Experience With US: Never Visited the United States