People greeted me with a smile. Invariably, they asked where I was from. I often said, “You tell me.” They guessed and guessed, running through five or six countries before giving up. When I finally told them, “America,” they'd be momentarily shocked. They seemed to be thinking, “I thought Americans hate us. Why would one be here like this?” The smile left their face. Then a bigger smile came back as they said, “Welcome!” or “I love America!”
In a hundred such interactions in our 12 days in Iran, never once did my saying “I am an American” result in anything less than a smile or a kind of “Ohhh, you are rich and strong,” or “People and people together no problem, but I don't like your Mr. Bush.” (It seemed that Iranians liked our president as much as Americans liked Iran's.) I found it ironic that during the Bush years, Americans found they were better off keeping a low profile in most foreign countries. But in a country I was told hated me, my nationality was a real plus absolutely everywhere I went.
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You are reading "Do Iranians Hate Americans?", an entry posted on 05 March 2010 by Rick Steves.