A Diverse Nation
Some particularly wise person once said that if you are going to write about America, you should do so after a short stay, maybe a few weeks, before you are overwhelmed by its diversity and the sheer size of the place, with all its contradictions, excesses and complexities.
I fear that I have failed to convey the complexity of America, but if I have failed I am not alone. My view is that most of the reporting of the place by most foreign correspondents — British, European and, yes, Australian — fails the complexity test.
It is not without significance that, unlike Europe's Muslims, America's 2.5-million-strong Muslim community is highly assimilated, an economic success story and, overall, slightly more optimistic about America's future than the general population, according to recent research by the Pew Research Centre. And an overwhelming majority of American Muslims — more than 90 per cent — are opposed to Islamic extremism.
Much of American popular culture is trashy, of course, and much of its commercial media is mindless and fixated on celebrity, but the best of American journalism — print and broadcast — is better than anything I have found elsewhere, British journalism included.
America is a place full of contradictions that it would take a lifetime to unravel. For instance, while the Bush Administration's response to Hurricane Katrina and the drowning of New Orleans was inept and heartless, there was a great outpouring of generosity from Americans, who donated several billion dollars to support the mostly poor, black victims.
And tens of thousands of displaced people from New Orleans and the Mississippi coastal region were welcomed and resettled in cities in Texas that were not renowned for their history of great race relations.
That's not the first time I've read American journalism is ranked higher than that of the British - don't tell the poms though.
An interesting nation indeed. Pity the large number of Christian nutters give it a bad name.