Posts in England
How England Sees America

For one year from 2007-2008, Amar traveled around the world reporting on how people from all walks of life view the United States through text and video.  The following is one of a number of posts from England. For more, click here.

After a month in the UK, I get the sense that Britons feel America has grown up too fast for its own good; its muscles are larger than its brain. Culturally, economically, and militarily, America carries tremendous weight, but doesn’t know how to wield it effectively -- for its own interests or for the benefit of others.

In my interviews, the average American came out looking like a pre-pubescent Don Quixote in a sandbox. We’re described as big-hearted, big tippers with an exceptional service culture and a willingness to aid lost UK tourists. But we're also considered somewhat childlike: poorly traveled, insular, fervent with unexamined faith, excessive patriotism and wishful thinking.

The good of this that is we believe we can accomplish anything, spurring innovation and making us work hard. But confidence can easily slip into arrogance. The notion that Americans are exceptional, having founded a city on a hill, particularly irks Britons, who remind me they abolished slavery first. Omnipresent American flags and recurrent politicians’ calls for God to bless America blend faith and politics in a way that violates our founding principles, I'm told. Certain Muslim communities are particularly wary of American religiosity.

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EnglandAmar Bakshi
Turning Back from the Taliban

Walthamstow - When America invaded Afghanistan, Hanif Qadir sent money to a Taliban-run charity for innocent women and children caught in the war. Then he decided to visit the battle ground himself.

He’d seen pictures of Afghan boys with their private parts blown off by the U.S.-supported Northern Alliance and children weeping over their parents' corpses. “All that to catch 22 people, who America can’t even prove caused 9/11,” Hanif laments. He is against the loss of all innocent lives, he says, Americans included. But departing East London, he half-jokingly warned his British-born family that if he saw America committing the grave injustices he expected, he might become a mujahideen himself and never return.

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EnglandAmar Bakshi
Blackburn Muslims Happy, Afraid That Could Change

Blackburn - Though you’ll see them as a group playing soccer and eating kebabs, you won't see any of these Muslim men from Blackburn talking to my camera. They’re all afraid of saying the wrong thing and ending up a terrorist suspect.

These men live in the tight-knit Muslim area of Whalley Range. Just on the edge of the city center, this hillside community is flooded with sweet shops, halal kebab restaurants, madaris and mosques galore.

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