Published on Monday, November 15, 2004 by Long Island / NY Newsday
For an American Abroad, Where's the Love?
by Kelly Ramundo
I am a 23-year-old American living in Spain - disconnected both geographically and culturally, and at times politically and even emotionally. But not any more. This presidential election hit too close to home.
It is clear to me living in Europe that there is no coalition with America in any way, shape or form. President George W. Bush and his supporters appear to be the only ones not to realize it.
And this sad fact is taking its toll. Being an American abroad no longer means what it used to. I had spent time in Spain and Europe before 9/11 and before the invasion of Iraq. It would be a lie to say there is no difference in how the world views Americans since Bush has assumed the presidency, and more specifically since he invaded Iraq. Big changes have occurred.
People no longer are intrigued to meet us, or curious about what the American Dream is about. I am no longer peppered with questions about Big Macs, skyscrapers, Woody Allen films, rap music and guns. Now they ask why we are in Iraq.
Instead of the respect and awe many Europeans had for us, now they shockingly ask whether Americans are able to understand how some of the world may have felt that justice was served in some morbid, bittersweet way when the Twin Towers burned that 11th of September. The heartfelt sympathy they felt for us immediately after 9/11 has eroded since Bush's unilateral invasion of a sovereign nation, and has led some to conclude that America is paying for its arrogance.
No, we are not loved in Europe. We are not any longer seen as the leaders of the free world, but as its oppressors. In light of Bush's arrogance in international affairs, who could really blame them?
I have never before felt the embarrassment I now feel when I am asked where I am from. And I have a feeling that most Americans living abroad would say the same thing.
Kelly Ramundo lives in Madrid. She was born in Islip, New York.
© 2004 Newsday, Inc.