As I expected, our rooftop is an ideal party venue: the fresh air, the view, the privacy, our apartment just below, and a nearly deaf 6th floor neighbor. Hence the 2am jam session. My roommate Tomas, who studies percussion, broke it down on the cajon with a young virtuoso guitarrista in a flamboyant white shirt and a woman who loved to sing. Then some guy sang some blues in English, which was more entertaining still. He could be easily heard at street level.
I love these international parties because, aside from meeting new people, you’re guaranteed to learn something about another country. If you’re lucky you’ll have someone insult the USA, or at least the Bush Administration. Depending on the person and my mood, I may try to defend Bush vehemently and expose the hypocrisy behind this person’s singling out the US as the Evil Empire. There is nothing like playing the gung-ho American devil’s advocate. The truth is, just as many liberals think young conservatives are clueless, selfish, or just out to lunch, rather the same can be said for many liberals, especially non-Americans who offer a terribly unsubtle and confused “liberal” critique of current American hegemony and culture. Granted, there is a lot to criticize. But that only encourages these people (and Americans on the left, as well) to conclude that Bush and his cronies are uniquely responsible for the downfall of mankind.
I love fucking with these people— even if I generally agree more than disagree with them. They often do not understand the basic fact that countries with power use it in their own best interest, and that the US is only the latest example of this logical trend. Further, they are incapable of admitting the good that the US has done for the world, and continues to do, even if Bush has epically bungled what might have been a manageable situation (in Afghanistan, Iraq, w/climate change, torture, our int’l reputation, etc). At the party I met a nice Italian who fit the stereotype of the Chomsky-esque, anti-US, anti-Israel (or at least pro-Palestinian), anti- historical perspective that I’ve run into so often in the last six years. Such people refuse to see how the atrocities of WWII and the realpolitik of the Cold War framed so much American foreign policy for so long; and, as far as the fight against int’l terrorism goes, they tend to think the US sort of ‘deserved’ to be attacked, or perhaps that Americans planned 9/11 or permitted it to happen (hate to say it, but the last of these accusations is not, unfortunately, beyond the realm of possibility).
This speaks to a phenomenon that I cannot fully describe here, but will try to develop for future posts, wherein Europeans and South Americans love to hate on American leadership and culture. I am not completely offended by this, because I admit I know where they are coming from; but I find the ignorance behind many of their claims to be alarming and illogical. When you get young people going on this issue—especially if they’re drinking at a party—they may reveal a visceral hatred of the US that boggles the mind in its simplicity and hypocrisy. American accomplishments and contributions are conveniently forgotten, while eternal problems of the Middle East are blamed exclusively on us, as if Europe has been standing on the sidelines of history. The Bush Administration, in both substance and style, has undoubtedly galvanized normal people into adopting this unhelpful perspective in which extremely complex issues are treated as black and white and American policy is dismissed out of hand. No alternate solutions are offered, of course, and no one wants to talk about how crappy and corrupt their own political scenes are (unless it is in the context of blaming part of this on the US or Americanization).
It is really quite a scene! How I would love to embrace the violent, crude American in me and break a bottle over some of these people’s heads! And then take a digital photo of it, post it on my blog, and pretend to be imitating the violent self-righteousness of a Muslim terrorist like a good old reactionary American patriot.
I kid. I don’t need to break bottles. Words are my weapons! Sharper than knives, yo. I am willing to offer a more balanced perspective, but more and more I wonder what the point is. These nice and otherwise intelligent people are convinced that America and its culture are toxic. Being a bit of an adopted European myself, I can’t entirely disagree. But with these people, moderation seems to have been tossed out the window, which allows the odor of ignorant righteousness to blow into the room like the foulest of Ignatius Reilly’s flatulence. And I, in my most unlikely efforts to defend our president, end up claiming that the dunces have aligned against George Bush—a comment typically met with the type of silence that allows us to move on to another topic of discussion.