Cardiff University's student newspaper wrote to me the other day because they are doing a story on whether US citizens encounter any prejudice over here. I was amused by my response and since they almost certainly wouldn't use all of it, I'll put it here:
"I personally have not ever experienced anything that I would describe as prejudice. Britons hear the American accent and it's an instant conversation starter. It sets me out as different but not too different. They tell me that they've been to Florida (seemingly all of you have, or are planning to go), and suddenly I've got a new friend who's buying me beer. No complaints.
Part of the reason for this is that the connection between the United Kingdom and the United States is much stronger and closer than most Britons care to admit. Have you ever been to Sioux Falls, South Dakota? There's no need, because it looks just like the Talbot Green retail park in Llantrisant, which looks like the Silverlink retail park in Newcastle. Cardiff Bay looks just like Mermaid Quay in Portsmouth, which looks just like the bay area in San Diego, California. This similarity extends all the way down to the individual: with the exception of the perception of America as a Bible-thumping nation, most criticisms of the United States can be applied to the United Kingdom. You are also consumer-driven over-eaters who enjoy making fun of Germans.
To some extent, the wide-brush perception of Americans that Britons hold comes from Americans themselves. In fact, if Wales is different from England, along the same ideological lines, the United States could be broken into hundreds of different little nations. I was born in Texas, which itself could probably be split into at least six distinct groups. But the "melting pot" mentality still holds for us -- we are a single people because we say we are. And to many Americans, members of my family among them, to suggest that all Americans -- all 300 million of us -- are NOT the same from shore to shore runs dangerously close to treason or communism or some other bad thing that they warned us about when we were kids.
The perception of Americans at the moment is a negative one, but it's a perception that's not entirely undeserved. In retrospect, Iraq has not been nearly as much fun as we thought it would be. And we show a frustrating lack of respect for the environment, dissimilar cultures and people without money.
All that said, I will occasionally spot a certain eagerness here to throw down the "The United States Is Fucking The World" card. George W. Bush is not Hitler. He's a silly man who makes bad decisions and keeps bad friends, but he is not the evil that Queen Street kids with clipboards would have you believe. And from time to time, I think that people have trouble hearing the words coming from my mouth because they hear them in an American accent. What they hear me saying is based on their assumption of what they'd expect me to say as an American. It is assumed that I am somehow incapable of understanding certain things because I know the lyrics to "Star Spangled Banner."
But I don't feel prejudiced by it. People will sometimes take the piss or misunderstand me, but I take it all in stride. You're only jealous because Jesus likes us more."