Why is it that the British are always perceived as the big baddies when all of the European nations were at it, and frankly, they were far more cruel and rarely put anything back into the country. At least the British did things like build railways and sewage systems.
I would have thought that Americans would be far more willing to look at the situation as a combination of both good and bad as their recent history as the modern colonialists and global police force is rife with situations where it isn't always crystal clear if invading and/or assisting countries with wars is such a good thing.
Colonialism, for the most part, was atrocious, however, due to the histories of the US and the Americas, I do think that the role of the British Empire is viewed in an odd way.
Jeebus Christ, it could have so easily been the French that you rail against as the big bad Imperialists.
The French helped us win the Revolutionary War so they get a pass!!!!
Okay, but seriously, the issue here is that *do* deal with our past on a daily basis. Unlike the European powers, our colonialism was all about actually making the country itself larger. As a result we have people living on soil which a couple hundred years ago belonged to someone else. Giving Seattle back to the local Native Americans is not feasible but at the same time we do take great care to deliver Native American artifacts back to the original holders when they are found (we do have, that being said, a lot of stuff on display in museums as well but by and large that is with consent).
I'm not saying that England doesn't do that, not in England at least (England's national archaeology is quite admirable), it's that they don't really do the equivalent with colonized or otherwise defeated nations. It'd be nice if they'd even acknowledge the reality that they stole the Elysian Marble and re-stole the Rosetta Stone (and speaking of "keeping good care" of the artifacts they own, anyone want to guess what its original color was? I'll give you a hint: not the color that it is now) but the British Museum instead has a panel which basically says "yeah, it's ours now and we're better at this than the Greeks so nyah".
As for England and Spain, we simply know more about what they did over here than France, the Netherlands, and Germany (who of course only got into colonization really late in the game due there not technically being a Germany until the 1870s). A large part of *that* is because the USA and Canada were founded by English people (well, Canada in the form of Quebec was French territory until the French and Indian War) and modern Mexico was colonized by the Spanish. I mean, that's our local history. FWIW the Spanish are considered far, far more harshly than the English are, and with good reason. Most people in the States are as ignorant of English action in India and China as we are of Dutch action in Africa.