Sunday, November 21, 2010

When American expatriates boast that Obama's election makes them proud to be Americans again

I really like visiting France, even if the expats get on my nerves
writes Joe Queenan in a Wall Street Journal article entitled Mon Dieu ! You Like the New Speaker?! (merci à Gary Zuercher).
If you travel to France, as I did last week, a French dinner companion will eventually tell you: "We were all so proud of America when you elected Barack Obama president." It's a condescending thing to say, but the sentiment springs from an affectionate place, and I myself am proud that my native land two years ago affirmed its vigorously multicultural character, repudiating, if only by proxy, its racist past, something no one is likely to do in France, Italy, Germany or England anytime soon.
After that brief introduction, regarding foreigners, Joe Queenan turns to the subject of American expatriates (aka "all those America-hating left-wing expats"), and that's when he truly lets his anger show.
What I don't like is when American expatriates tell me that Mr. Obama's election made them proud to be Americans again. This not only implies that Mr. Obama's predecessors were wicked or incompetent, but that patriotism is an exclusively partisan activity. It's like only loving baseball the year your team wins the World Series. My love of country has nothing to do with who's running the government at any particular time

Last week, just for chuckles, I had a couple of Parisian tête-à-têtes with expats about American politics. As soon as they started in with their generic Obama-pride spiel, I told them that I had never been prouder to be an American than when John Boehner got tapped to be Speaker of the House.

"He smokes, he drinks, he has a tan and I'm pretty sure he golfs," I exclaimed. "For me, he's the complete package."

Expats are incredulous when you say things like this. Their idea of America is derived entirely from YouTube clips of Rachel Maddow. Expats always repeat the vacuous cliché that they get their news from "The Daily Show," because the mainstream media cannot be trusted. To them, it is almost criminal to say anything nice about a public figure like John Boehner. No, it is criminal.

"John Boehner?" one expat demanded. "John Boehner makes you proud to be an American?"

"I didn't say Eric Cantor or Jim DeMint," I replied, somewhat sheepishly. "I didn't say Sarah Palin. But John Boehner really does it for me. I just love his Midwestern, salt-of-the-earth stolidity."

"How can you say that?" one sneered. "He's the head of the party of no."

"I've always liked people from the Buckeye State," I replied. "They've got their finger on the pulse of America. Ohio is the pulse of America. But I also like Boehner's maverick quality. The smoking. The drinking. The tan. He reminds me of the guys on 'Mad Men.'"

I usually waited until dinner was over before I expressed my burgeoning Boehner pride; otherwise I might never have gotten dessert.
From the comment section, we get these gems:
• I can usually forgive the French. They are a product of their culture. The expatriate Americans who CHOOSE to embrace that particular brand of snobbery and condescension have no excuse.

• I am … eternally ashamed of the ugly Americans. You know them. They’re the ones who frequent Paris. restaurants and are obnoxious with their loud jokes. They are also the social climbers who take anti-American positions at foreign dinner parties and portray genuine proud Americans as traitors. Or they are the ones on short-term contracts who socialize only with fellow Americans. Then they come home and speak with authority on their foreign non-experiences. But you should also know that their gracious hosts are not fooled, They know them for whom they are.

• I don't have a problem with all those America hating left wing expats. If we could just get 80 million more of them to move out we would be well on our way to fixing what is wrong with America.

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