…was the question put to me, recently.
Well. Well, well, well. The gut response to this (as just such a citizen from another country) is that we aren’t “secretly laughing at the United States because of your president and his tweets”. No, we’re openly laughing at you. There’s video footage of it, too: from the NATO leaders openly sniggering at him during the 2017 Brussels summit:
To world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, succumbing in 2018 to full-throated laughter, both at his apparent ignorance of historical reality, and at his unalloyed egomania:
One could argue that, if world leaders, who are seasoned politicians and diplomats, are openly laughing at him, then your average Citizen Joe is probably rolling on the floor, slapping his thighs in hysterics.
Here’s where my view may differ from many who claim we (Europeans) are laughing at the US: I don’t think the hypothetical scenario I describe above fits the bill, because firstly, Trump isn’t funny. People are laughing out of discomfiture. Secondly, it implies that we care more about you than you seem to think. This is a standard feature of American exceptionalism: the belief that you are pre-eminent in the world, and that the rest of us look to you as some sort of example. We do (among highly developed countries, at any rate), but as an example of what not to be. We are wary of your obvious military superiority, and doubly so, since you put someone of questionable mental stability in charge of the nuclear codes. Other than that, you’re not exactly at the forefront of our thoughts and minds, because we have better things to do, like enjoying our superior standard of living, our culture, our universal healthcare, enjoying going out without getting shot, and so forth.
Many citizens from highly developed nations provide commentary on social media platforms, critical of the US and the current occupant of the White House, but, as I have suggested in the past, this is only because we’ve seen how much better you can be. If we didn’t think you had it within you to be the inspiration you clearly aspire to be, we wouldn’t bother commenting.
So, rather than laughing, what happens instead is that a sort of “bullshit fatigue” sets in (sometimes equated with “adrenal fatigue” in some sources, but this is not an officially recognised diagnosis; coincidentally, it’s what people often complain of after prolonged exposure to a pathological narcissist): we’re bored of the utter lack of decorum and the vulgarity, the neverending rage-tweet tantrums, the childish insults, the grammatically challenged down-punching, the pathological need to make everything about him, the constant, obvious lies. Here’s a recent one from his current trip, the G7 summit in France:
(You almost have to admire the twisted talent it takes to pack so much blatant mendacity into one sentence.)
And yet, the English-speaking internet being dominated by American activity, short of muting, deactivating, or unsubscribing from every type of news by keyword (such as “Trump”, “USA” or “American”), we can’t do much about it: we’re a captive audience. It’s just that we’re a bit less captive than you, by virtue of being outside of the US, by having our own, less US-biased news sources, and by not generally receiving the shamelessly propaganda-laden domestic news that you get fed to you.
Much like many Americans, I suspect those of us outside of the US and with an interest in US affairs are not (or no longer) laughing. We’re just exhausted.