But you must hate us!

I am in Ithaca, New York, teaching a short course at Cornell University. Have you ever visited Ithaca? It was once voted the “most enlightened city in America” by the far-left magazine Utne Reader. Plenty of Volvos with “Impeach Bush” bumper stickers on them, a score of Tibetan bead shops in a desolate downtown area called the Commons, a own home-grown currency called “Hours” which is supposed to be more politically correct than greenbacks, and so on.

I was in a popular bar called the Chapter House (fantastic beer selection) and met a gentleman from England who was at Cornell taking a course from a well-known labor educator. This gentleman’s flight back home was canceled because of a thunderstorm. He is a union organizer for the Transit Workers in London. We had a nice chat over a few beers.

The bartender found out that my new friend was from England and asked him, “You must hate us over there.” By “us” he meant “Americana.” My friend said “No, we generally like Americans.” The bartender refused to accept this. “But you must hate us. Look at everything we have done!” My friend’s reply: “I was happy to come here. America is a great place.”

(By “we”, I assume the bartender did not include himself.)

This went back and forth a few times, my friend even describing a trip to Walmart to buy inexpensive jeans. The bartender lost heart and gave up. I felt sorry for him. There was nobody around to confirm his feelings of inferiority or to show him that he was not hated as he hoped he would be.

So the next time you are in Ithaca, please stop and tell somebody how much you dislike them. It will be sure to cheer them up.


  1. Bernie

    As a Brit, I am always amazed at these self-doubting and self-hating types. We live in the most free country on earth, where anyone with enough get up and go can do anything they want to do.
    I am just finishing Roy Spencer’s Climate Confusion. He captures this denial of reality of the left with his bumper sticker “Imagine Reality”. Imagine the world without the United States. I shudder to think.

  2. Oh.. but I’m sure the British really do hate us. After all, your friend is drawn from the small sample of Brits who like America enough to visit. 🙂

    I’m a bit puzzled about the alternative currencies. Isn’t on of the main purpose of those currencies to avoid taxes by creating an entire “off the books” alternative economy? If so, why have they caught on in areas where people claim to favor high taxes to be used to support social welfare programs?

    Or am I mistaken about the purpose of these alternative currencies?

  3. Sadly there is a vocal minority who do fit your bartender’s stereotype and you were lucky to get a union official with such a world view.

    A well educated friend was complaining about how TV news in the USA tended to be local and there we no real world view. This she declared was proof of the superiority of Europeans.

    When I asked here about here viewing times of German, French, Italian and Spanish TV it seemed they came to nought. When I pointed out that they were just as bad (well German was when I watched it) and that she suffered from a language bias she went quiet for the rest of the evening.

  4. I hate Ithaca and I’ve never even been there! I visited England once, though, and I thought it was very nice.

  5. GeorgeM

    My last visit to the UK was 8 years ago. I had the opportunity to get way off the tourist areas through several people I had made acquaintance with through other venues. The local folks I encountered were the most friendly, helpful and generous anywhere, and that includes a lot of the world. Ithaca I could do without.

  6. Tim James

    There are saints and sinners everywhere. I’ve been beaten up by a Buddhist and nursed by a Nazi. You just have to take people as you find them. However I hope you haven’t been buying beer for ‘Brother’ Bob Crow, the RMT union leader who regularly brings London to a standstill, Having just got rid of mayor ‘Red’ Ken Livingstone, he’s next on my hate-list!

  7. Bernie

    Us Brits have more of a world view because we had an Empire. The mystery is not that we lost it, but how the hell did we ever get one in the first place.

    My soccer mates would say – it was never so much a British Empire as a Scottish one!!

    P.S. The BBC does do a good job shedding light on faraway benighted places – however, they do a lousy job when it comes to reporting on America or anything to do with America. They suffer from a terminal case of envy or covetousness.

  8. Bernie

    Mike, If that is in response to me, I think that these days they are more likely to envy the Boston Red Sox!!

    Bernie in Boston

  9. RossH

    Ah, the Chapter House. That brings back memories – it was my favorite bar when I spent a few years in the People’s Republic of Ithaca a long-long time ago while a grad student at Cornell. In those days (any maybe still today) it catered more to grad students and faculty than to undergrads. At least in my experience, the students at Cornell seemed to be pretty moderate. Much of the faculty, however, appeared to be caught in a time warp. A shame really – with a more balanced local government, Ithaca had / has potential to be a world-class research and entrepreneurial center given the proximity of Cornell.

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