Thursday, October 4, 2007

America from Outside

I was having dinner with a bunch of travelers one night--Europeans, Australians, New Zealanders, a couple of Americans. Somehow the Americans were talking about where they were "from." I'm from Germany, England, Ireland etc. One girl was really from Ireland, and we were talking about immigrants fleeing the potato famine and coming to America. "Do you know what really happened during the famine?" she asked. "There was plenty of food. The people were growing plenty of wheat, but it was to pay the British." (Similarly, I'm told, at one time plantation owners would not allow Ecuadorians to eat any of the bananas the country produced--they were all exported.) She explained that when people were starving, besides taking in immigrants, the US sent food. "American ships bringing food in would pass the British ships that were taking food out." She finished with a line that made my heart sink: "America has always been our friend until George Bush."

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