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Gwyneth Paltrow, the movie star, says Americans are dumber and less cultured than Brits.

Why would she say such a thing? Or, why would she not?

After all, she's married to a Brit pop star and lives in Britain full time or close to it. And she has obviously become infected with a disease that has existed in Britain and on the continent since the days of the American colonies 300 years ago.

A Frenchman in the time of Ben Franklin wrote a best seller that said in America everything was smaller and animals and plants were evolving backwards. He even purported that in America dogs don't bark. And people believed him. This particular French author claimed people and animals were smaller in America. This as American ambassadors like Franklin and other American officials like Thomas Jefferson towered over their European counterparts.

Hating America is an old tradition in Europe and Britain. I wrote a book about it a few years ago, and I'm constantly amazed that it is a theme that will just not go away.

So Gwynnie says the Brits are smarter and more civilized. What else is new?

She is not acceptable in British society. You have to hate America to get invited to dinner. And once at dinner you better have a few things to say about how awful America and Americans are. It's always good to have an anecdote about Wal-Mart handy, or perhaps you could talk about American obesity. Another favorite is the American propensity for violence. Oh the Euros love that. What did they call us as the Iraq war began? Overfed burger-chomping warmongers was one of the phrases, I believe.

You've got to wonder if they're all so smart, why are they all second-class nations these days? Britain is our friend, but it's a friendship that only goes so far. So perhaps it is OK for me to point out that the high-water mark of British influence is a century behind us at least. When was the last bit of French greatness? Napoleon?

Oh you say I shouldn't always talk about the abilities of nations at war? OK, fine. Why are they all so anxious to get a movie deal in Hollywood or a Broadway opening or a slot on The New York Times best-seller list? After all, the European Union is more populous than the U.S. and therefore richer.

If America is so bad why do they all want to come here so badly? You don't think they do? You only have to reduce the number of visas allowed to any one country to see how badly they want to come here.

Of course, Gwynnie can come back anytime. Her parents did her the favor of making certain she was born here.

That's My Word.

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