Well, it seems I've managed to offend a good few Americans with a careless comment in my last newsletter. In re-reading it, I can see how- to someone who doesn't know me, at least- it may have sounded like I was insulting all Americans with my jibe about the immigration officers who refused me re-entry to the US. In context, that insult was specifically aimed at the immigration officials themselves, for the incredibly rude way they treated me, and then forced me- under threat of incarceration- to sign a false statement, before they would release me. It wasn't 'all Americans' who refused me re-entry, so I wasn't calling 'all Americans' a pack of so-and-so's'. With further editing, it should have read "When the Canadian officials asked why THE AMERICAN OFFICIALS had sent me back, I said....." In fact, after I managed to re-enter the country a few days afterwards, I went on to meet some incredible American people, and had the most amazing experiences, as my web journal shows.
I was more than a little surprised, and upset, that some of the people who responded angrily to my comment were people I had actually stayed with, people who I consider friends, people who I would cherish the opportunity to meet again, who I would be thrilled to host in my own country, and repay the kindness that they showed me while I was in theirs. I would have hoped that anyone who knows me would have re-read my comments, and realized that I couldn't possibly have intended to insult Americans in general, even though that may have been the way it came across.
I met the most wonderful, kind and hospitable people throughout the length and breadth of the United States, and as my newsletter says, I was witness to "unusual human kindness" during this trip around America, "the most rewarding and enriching experience of my life." I have almost finished writing my first book, which is a testament to the great people I met in America. In fact, if you've been following my journal, you'll already know that just about the ONLY people who I have ever had an unkind word for since I landed in North America eight months ago- besides that rude waiter in Memphis!- were those specific immigration officers at Detroit. To think that I would insult an entire country of people is almost an insult to me, and I must admit I'm a bit hurt that some of my friends would so easily assume that of me.
One recipient of my newsletter went as far as to say that I was showing disrespect for the three thousand souls who were killed in the terrorist attacks. That, I felt, was drawing a long bow indeed. The awful terrorist attacks, firstly in the US, and a year later in Bali, were the driving force behind me starting this project. My website is all about showing people that the world is still a great place, that people really are kind and helpful and good. Thankfully, I receive dozens of emails every week from readers who pick up on this, finding hope and inspiration from the way people have received me throughout my travels.
I'm not one to apologize lightly, but I am deeply sorry if my comments came across as a wholesale attack on the people of America. Nothing could be further from the truth. This trip was my third to the US, in total over twelve months I've spent hitching the highways and biways of America, and I couldn't, wouldn't insult a people who have made my travels so wonderful. Sorry if you thought this was the case. I will be more careful in future, to proof read anything before I send it out.