Cat’s CradleKurt VonnegutContents

45. Why Americans Are Hated

Claire Minton’s letter to the Times was published during the worst of the era of Senator McCarthy, and her husband was fired twelve hours after the letter was printed.

“What was so awful about the letter?” I asked.

“The highest possible form of treason,” said Minton, “is to say that Americans aren’t loved wherever they go, whatever they do. Claire tried to make the point that American foreign policy should recognize hate rather than imagine love.”

“I guess Americans are hated a lot of places.”

People are hated a lot of places. Claire pointed out in her letter that Americans, in being hated, were simply paying the normal penalty for being people, and that they were foolish to think they should somehow be exempted from that penalty. But the loyalty board didn’t pay any attention to that. All they knew was that Claire and I both felt that Americans were unloved.”

“Well, I’m glad the story had a happy ending.”

“Hm?” said Minton.

“It finally came out all right,” I said. “Here you are on your way to an embassy all your own.”

Minton and his wife exchanged another of those pitying duprass glances. Then Minton said to me, “Yes. The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is ours.”

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