America At The Crossroad

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Aug 30th, 2007, 03:42 PM
  #1
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America At The Crossroad

I watched a documentary on PBS last night, "America at the Crossroad". It painted a picture of a Europe that dislikes, even hates, America and Americans. Not just the administration, but the people, their appearance, their attitude, their culture, their morals, their intelligence, just about everything American. Very Disturbing!
I am interested in learning of the experiences of forum contributers in their recent contacts with the European people on your visits to Europe. I am not trying to create a debate on the pros and cons of American foreign policy, but to draw on your Europe experiences personally. I know that this forum has participants from Europe, and I would like to hear their point of view as well, I'm not interested in America bashing responses, but honest comments or criticism. I know our speech, our culture, our attitudes are different from yours, but I like and respect you for who and what you are (that's why we travel there, to learn and grow), please do the same for us.
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Aug 30th, 2007, 04:12 PM
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Solaplex,

I'm a Scot who will be making my 6th trip to the USA in the next few weeks so I certainly don't have any innate dislike of America or Americans.

(Do you sense a "but" coming here?)

But...

One of things that gets my goat here on Fodors are posts that ask about the views & attitudes of "Europeans" to various issues.

You say that you know "our speech, our culture, our attitudes are different from yours" but the truth is that our speech, culture & attitudes are different from each other. The concept of some sort of generic, consistent "European" attitude just doesn't hold water in my opinion (and I say that as someone whose instinct generally favours closer European political integration).

Or maybe I'm just being an old grump...

Jim
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Aug 30th, 2007, 04:19 PM
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Sorry, but I don't buy it. While it may be true that SOME Europeans don't like the US and/or Americans, I have traveled to Europe every year for the last several years and have never encountered any anti-American behavior.

In the 80's, there were demonstrations all over Europe against President Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. There are alot of differences between the US and Europe and sometimes these differences cause tensions.
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Aug 30th, 2007, 04:21 PM
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No, Jim, you are right. There is a difference here. The food and the accent of the southeners is so different from us, yanks on the East Coast. Like Frane, England , Any country, stray from the capital and it's like being in a different country.
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Aug 30th, 2007, 04:22 PM
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Everyone hates Americans, didn't that become obvious? But then everybody hates the French, Germans, British, Polish, whatever too! In fact everybody hates everybody. Don't you just hate yourself having to ask that question and being two days late?
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Aug 30th, 2007, 04:25 PM
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You may be a grump, but you're right.

Ditto "Americans" -- there are all sorts. Some of us are very bad news indeed, but I've never had any trouble getting along with the various kinds of Euros I've met. It helps if you can see beyond yourself a little.

There are a few ground rules that you'd do well to observe -- like, never discuss soccer refereeing with an Italian. And "we shore saved yer butts in dubya dubya too, hyuh" lost whatever little charm (or accuracy) it ever possessed more than sixty years ago (i.e., before most utterers of it were born).

As for brutish politics, or ugly clothes, or general stupidity, more Europeans are well aware that they have plenty of examples on their own turf too.
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Aug 30th, 2007, 04:32 PM
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A line from a song of years back...
"And I don't like anybody very much."
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Aug 30th, 2007, 04:33 PM
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Today we are the landlord, banker, and policeman. Most people only like them when they need them. Combine this with the arrogance, ineptitude, and lack of leadership, this adminsitration has created an untenable position for the average citizen.

To make matters worse, the US was in a unique postion in world history. We could have concentrated on hunger, disease, education, etc. Of course, there will always be bin Ladens but with a different agenda you do you create jihidists and you create allies among other countries to fight extremists.

When I travel abroad the first words in that language I learn is "I did not vote for George Bush."

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Aug 30th, 2007, 04:34 PM
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I watched this episode last night as well. I think such programs can be edited to show the most outrageous statements. For example, only showing the French schoolkids' drawings of the US that portrayed the US negatively or that one French woman who stated emphatically that the US was without doubt "the most racist nation on earth... well, except for New York which is another country." (This from a woman whose capital city suburbs were aflame with rioters last summer.)

I was in Ireland and the UK this summer and found everyone to be entirely pleasant.
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Aug 30th, 2007, 04:54 PM
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Overall, I did not get the sense that Europeans hate Americans from that documentary at all. Though I thought the children's paintings were quite astute. Yes, that one women was a bit overboard, but she was probably no different than if you were to ask a non informed American, with few drinks in them, what they think about the French. Honestly, I have never not been to treated with respect when I was abroad as long as I was giving the same in return. And I have visited France, in particular, my last four trips.
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Aug 30th, 2007, 04:59 PM
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Is there a link where I can download the show from the internet? PBS is only sometimes broadcast via Eutelsat.
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Aug 30th, 2007, 05:07 PM
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Reminds me of a story when someone asked a Frenchman "Why do you hate us Americans?" The Frenchman answered, "Why shouldn't we, we hate each other, why shouldn't we hate you?"
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Aug 30th, 2007, 08:00 PM
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Most of the Italians in Italy that I know dislike the French, the Germans, the English. They like the Americans although they don't always like our leaders but then most of them do not like their leaders either.

I did not see the PBS program so I can't make any comment about it but if you want go over to the Lounge solaplex and you will be able to read a lot about this program.
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Aug 30th, 2007, 08:10 PM
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Thank you all for responding, this is what I was hoping for; an open discussion from real people, not so called documentarians. Incidentally, I've been to Europe a few times, years ago, and have met very few people who were anti-American. Just wanted to see what the current attitude really is.
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Aug 30th, 2007, 08:43 PM
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Solaplex
There were three threads running on this program, two in the lounge and one in this one. (Europe) One in the lounge is still going, but has gone completely off topic. I'm sure you can find the Europe thread and the other original lounge thread, if you are interested.

Things became a bit nuts, (count me among the the nuts) but it was an interesting discussion. I understand some of the posts were deleted, so they may seem a bit confusing.
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Aug 30th, 2007, 10:21 PM
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You asked for people to draw on personal experiences. I have a few close friends in the UK, one in Paris, and a number of friends and acquaintances in various regions of Italy, and several who live part time here in New York. I could not say that "most" feel one way or another about this issue. The opinions vary, and discussions when they do occur, are usually on a specific topic, such as (from a friend in Verona) "I can't understand how you live without a bidet! It's not clean!" or in NY, "Why do all of you drink coffee all day long, when your coffee tastes terrible?" etc. On the rare occasions when I have had political discussions, I have been asked, "If Americans don't like the war in Iraq, why did you keep Bush as President?"
I also know a number if Italians who are here in NY to buy apartments, because of the exchange rate, so they don't hate it here all that much.
When traveling, I have observed groups of American tourists doing things that appear rude, even to another American, but the Europeans I know from different countries are generally friendly to American people.
When watching TV documentaries, I think it's important to remember that there is normally an underlying agenda when the show is produced, so I don't take everything at complete face value, because sometimes things come across in sweeping generalites.
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Aug 31st, 2007, 01:24 AM
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Logos is right on. Europe is a still a bit angry at the US for treating Clinton so badly. We never understood why Monica became a national issue since there were more important things at hand. And we were shocked that GWB was elected TWICe and then was allowed to start a war he couldn't win.

Yup, we are frustrated with the land of the free when it comes to politics. Trying to understand the US is becoming a lost cause.

There is a light at the end of this dark tunnel though. Looks like a great amount of citizens are finally snapping out of their 9-11 shock and realizing their leader has taken them for a ride. There's hope that much better officials will be elected in the future.
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Aug 31st, 2007, 02:57 AM
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someone posted:
"Today we are the landlord, banker, and policeman."
Most of the dislike that some feel comes from this attitude.
The US is in fact none of these.
Landlords & bankers aren't massively in hock to their neighbours. An international policeman would keep international law, not flout it.
Fortunately most Americans arent like this but too many still have this illusion.It gives an impression of arrogance.
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Aug 31st, 2007, 03:14 AM
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So many great points! I especially like the one about American states being as different from one another as European countries.

My friends in California have nothing in common with the neocons and so-called religious right characters who voted in our current regime. As far as we're concerned, we'd gladly split the country and go off on our own (we're bringing in all the money anyway, so it could only help us). But I'm still holding out hope for the upcoming election.

Aduchamp1 - I found a universal way of saying "I didn't vote for George Bush": "George Bush - blech." I've made lots of non-English-speaking friends that way.
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Aug 31st, 2007, 03:25 AM
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Remember Tom Lehrer's "National Brotherhood Week"?

"But during National Brotherhood Week, National Brotherhood Week,
New Yorkers love the Puerto Ricans 'cause it's very chic.
Step up and shake the hand
Of someone you can't stand.
You can tolerate him if you try.

Oh, the Protestants hate the Catholics,
And the Catholics hate the Protestants,
And the Hindus hate the Moslems,
And everybody hates the Jews.

But during National Brotherhood Week, National Brotherhood Week,
It's National Everyone-smile-at-one-another-hood Week.
Be nice to people who
Are inferior to you.
It's only for a week, so have no fear.
Be grateful that it doesn't last all year! "

What happens to individuals when they meet people from different cultures, and what happens in international politics, do not have a direct relationship with each other. "Top dog" countries are rarely popular precisely for that reason, and that's a factor of life to be expected. There is no reason to expect people either to like you or loathe you as an individual because of the strange misconceptions - or accurate perceptions - they may have about where you come from. Personally, it meant as little to me when people immediately started talking about Princess Diana as when they would say "English? Bobbee Charl-ton!".

The interesting question here is why it seems to bother Americans so much.
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