What do you say to a British person who’s bashing England?

Posted on October 14, 2009 by yankeebean



I went to a ‘networking-of-doom’ event the other day and an English guy walked up me and said, “Oh my God, I just HAVE to find out where you’re from in America, I can’t take it anymore.”  (I guess he’d heard my joyful, thunderous hard-R’s from across the room or something…)

So I smiled and gave my standard where-I-came-from speech (I could do it in my sleep, in fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if I DO say it my sleep…)

He was a complete America-lover, but he didn’t talk so much about loving America – instead he kept going on about how much he HATED England.

I was like a deer in the headlights… I didn’t know WHAT to do in order to escape the situation with everyone’s feelings in tact.  I quickly scanned through the options, much like the Terminator when in a situation of danger.  I could:

  1. Agree with every thing he said and use the opportunity to have a good ol’ rant about every thing that annoys me.  But I didn’t want to risk taking it too far and turning his gung-ho attitude into an ‘I-think-you’re-a-ho’ attitude.  I know we’re all familiar with that defensiveness that creeps in even if it’s only a bunch of English people talking about how much they hate CSI Miami.
  2. Smile and laugh and say nothing (yeah, right… saying nothing isn’t exactly my strong point.  I’d get hungry if my foot wasn’t constantly in my mouth)
  3. Disagree with him and defend my nation 2.0, trying to come up with the positive side to everything that seemed to make him clutch his moobs in dispair.

In the end, I opted for a kind of combination of 1 and 3.  Laughing and smiling like a loon, agreeing with him while also trying to point out anything positive I could.  It ended up feeling very aren’t-we-all-just-amazing-and-blameless-and-innocent-as-fresh-snowfall.

I don’t think he noticed my inner Terminator calculations - he seemed perfectly happy… phew!

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What Others Are Saying

  1. FriskyTurtle December 5, 2009 at 1:16 am

    It’s ok. I bashed the USA tonight upon hearing the results of the World Cup draw. We (the USA) deserve to get lose at some point only because the general populace don’t give a rip about World Cup. And if you do and you live in the States, it’s because you were born someplace else. ‘Nuff said!

  2. ExPatinEdinburgh November 14, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    Eh, there are three words that sum up pretty neatly why the US is in no way superior to the UK: NHS, NHS, NHS.

    Anyway, it sounds like you opted for the most tactful possible option. In such situations I usually go for something along the lines of “yeah, every country has its problems…”

  3. wickedripeplum October 18, 2009 at 11:16 pm

    Eeesh that’s what I would call I no win situation. Way too easy to get pushed into saying something that would have him react in a “Nobody kicks my brother but me!” way.

  4. peacefulyorkshire October 16, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    Exactly, in an instant you could be known as “that nasty American” that is dissing where she lives. Especially at a business event, where you are there to potentially earn some dough with these people.

    BTW Have you noticed that we do a lot of nodding and smiling in England? haha

  5. Iota October 15, 2009 at 11:01 pm

    I think you were wise to be careful. It’s a bit like the mother-in-law syndrome. It’s ok for you to criticise her, but it would be offensive if someone else did.

  6. Steve Shawcross October 14, 2009 at 6:23 pm

    I think you did the right thing, so worry not. Such people who spout bile about their own country (or any other topic!) can’t be reasoned with, so all you can do is fog them or perhaps politely humour them.

    Then if you can, do the “I need go to the loo/Is that the time, I must be making tracks routine” and find somebody less querrelous to speak with :)

  7. Expat Mum October 14, 2009 at 4:23 pm

    It’s a really tricky situation when someone is bashing their own country. If you join in, they can turn on you in the wink of an eye!

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