Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Why Does the Whole Wide World Hate America?

“America the moral pimp of the world
Say ‘in God we trust’
The killing they do
Is in His name they must
Some of these leaders
Had the Bible in one hand
In the other young guns
To do their killing on foreign sand”
Why does the whole wide world hate America,
How come the whole world hates America

The Whole Wide World Hates America – Anton Goosen

When I heard those words for the first time it didn’t ring any warning nor did I care for political reflections. I was fighting my own inner war. I was completing stacks of forms and going backward and forward between to go or not to go. A few months later we left South Africa to boldly go where none of our kin has gone before, into the whole new world of America.

Bushrock (of a white kaffir of Africa) was one of the last South African CD’s I bought that Christmas of 1996 before departing. According to the sleeve cover I bought it Vibes for R24.99. One of the biggest cultural bargains I ever scored in my life. So little money for so much musical insight and entertainment. I would come to listen to it many times over the next few years and still do. In my humble opinion and I generally hate to make these kind of comparisons, but I feel Bushrock was Anton Goosen’s Highway 61 Revisited. Not only was the album written in a reflective period in Goosen’s life, searching for his roots, musical roots; a time of hope, (listen to Rainbow Nation,) and a time at a crossroads; the music was simultaneously new and matured, and most appropriately also at a crossroads where boeremusiek met the sounds of Soweto and the townships, marabi.

I am getting those emails again, just like 8 months ago when the Stock Exchange dropped into the New York Bay and caused a ripple across the world. Then people’s pension funds in Johannesburg took a dive and some wanted to know what we’re up to on the other side of the pond. Now those emails are flying and screaming again, ‘insinuating’ that I actually had control over the matter: Hey, when are you going to get rid of Bush and his cronies? He let the stock exchange crash again. He is asleep at the switch. Actually, SEC chairman Cox is being accused of doing the sleeping, but Bush is having his “you’re doing a heck of a job, Brownie” moment again when his Press Secretary, Dana Perino exclaim that Cox has Bush’s confidence, Cox is a Bush appointee, while the stock exchange is tumbling again. However, many more cracks are now visible than 8 months ago. And let’s face it, if you want to blame President Bush for the current economic crisis, go ahead. After all, he got a balanced budget and a surplus bank account when he took office and now we are in the deepest shit ever no matter which way you look at the numbers.

But, “I didn’t do it, ok, and I have no control over the economy. And if you think your pension fund is closer to the South Pole than Ushuaia, well, my 401K is right there with your pension fund, frolicking in the frosted frozen wonderland.” I know the screaming is not directed at me but simply because I am in America. But the emails do arouse the question: Why does the whole wide world hate America?

Contrarily to popular belief, I read this last year in some travel magazine, we are not the loudest travelers in the world, the Italians are, and we’re not the rudest tourist in the word, the French are. Based on a recent survey done by, 4000 hotel owners and managers place the Chinese as the worst travelers and the Japanese as the best. Americans are the 11th best. But the perception lingers, doesn’t it.

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