Article for those concerned about safety

Old Mar 25th, 2003, 06:18 AM
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Article for those concerned about safety

Posters who are concerned about their safety in Europe these days may want to read the following article, which I thought was thorough and sensible. Sorry about the flashing ad on the right side of the screen - it's worth ignoring it to read to the bottom.<BR><BR>http://goeurope.about.com/library/guido/bl_g_031203.htm
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Old Mar 25th, 2003, 08:11 AM
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Thanks for that interesting article, StCirq. I thought that the author is pretty much on target. As a European who has lived in America for many years, I find the differences between the American and European political outlook very interesting. There are indeed some contrasting mindsets at work here, which makes perfect sense historically speaking. America is a relatively young country that really has been spared much of the war-related horrors and repressive regimes that have plagued Europe for centuries. So although America is progressive, inventive and proactive, it can also be naive and egocentric in its relations to the rest of the world. Unlike Europe, America hasn't had as much of a chance to learn from centuries of history. And what world power hasn't been a bit corrupted by its own power? <BR><BR>To its credit, I have to say that compared to other world powers such as Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, America as a super power has not, at least in recent decades, tried to crack down on free speech and the right to protest their own regime. If this were so, we would hardly see the large number of protests against the war taking place all over the country. Could anyone even imagine this taking place in Iraq? Hardly! And that is one point that many people critical of American policy seem to forget entirely. <BR><BR>It seems to me that this is also where criticism leveled at the USA becomes rather unfair, and where I would disagree with the author's final point. The likelihood of a Hitler or a Stalin assuming absolute power here is far less likely for one simple reason - America is much more diverse politically, ethnically and culturally than European nations were in the earlier part of the 20th century. Diversity breeds differences in opinion and lessens the power of extremist groups. Our diversity is, if you will, a safety valve against dictators. You may hate Bush's foreign policy, regime and even Bush himself, but to liken him to a dictator is not only wildly inaccurate but insulting. What dictator would let himself be voted out of office after four, or at the most, eight years? <BR><BR>Just my two cents worth. <BR><BR>
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Old Mar 25th, 2003, 08:55 AM
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<BR>I only read about 5 paragraphs but I would suggest others can not waste their time on something so biased. <BR><BR>To name only a few things: the author states he gets a lot of mail from Americans asking if travel to Europe is safe, then says Americans more than any other group in world consider safety and ignorance the same thing. That's a good starting point. He also says Americans try to hide from reality instead of confronting problems; hhmmm, I guess those 200,000 folks in Iraq would be interested to hear that. <BR><BR>The he says Americans are afraid to debate Europeans -- that's a good one to read on this forum! <BR><BR>Then he says American politicians wouldn't negotiate ... when I thought it was the French who said they would veto proposals before even seeing them. <BR><BR>Then he says ... well, you get the picture. <BR><BR>If you want to read something serious, try Kagan at policyreview.org. <BR>
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Old Mar 25th, 2003, 09:36 AM
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At least the author admits to &quot;hideous generalization&quot; because that's what this piece is mostly. As an American who's been living for several years in Europe, I find that *many* Europeans are in love with the belief that they are SO much more sophisticated, complicated, intelligent, etc. etc., than Americans. It's rubbish. However, the good news is they also badmouth each other as much as they badmouth Americans--Belgium is a classic example--the French speaking part of the country and the Flemish/Dutch speaking country disagree about almost everything; the French speakers are &quot;snobs&quot;, the Flemish/Dutch community does all the work, and so on. You hear similar things from Northern Italians talking about southern Italians. The Greeks badmouth the Turks and vice versa. <BR>As for &quot;open and free&quot; debate, you find that many Europeans aren't interested in the American point of view at all--their stereotypes are set in concrete and there is almost NOTHING an American can say to change that. Those &quot;open and free&quot; debates are about scoring points rather than increasing understanding. They can't seem to get around the idea that Americans DON'T all think alike. If Americans are all such stupid, ignorant, clueless hicks, why are they the only superpower? Don't think for one minute the French wouldn't love to trade places and be king of the hill. <BR>And those pseudo-intellectual young Frenchmen secretly read a LOT more Japanese comic books (translated into French, of course!) than Sartre and Camus. And if I have to listen to one more European complaining about American capitalism while he chainsmokes his way through a pack of Marlboros...<BR>One of the reasons so many Americans *seem* to be concerned about safety is often because they are retirees who don't live in big cities but are planning to visit major capitals. People from New York City or Boston or Los Angeles or Chicago have as much street smarts as any European. <BR>Guido's little essay is facile and self-serving.
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Old Mar 25th, 2003, 09:50 AM
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What better way to encourage Americans to visit Europe than to publish an article by a European that reeks of condescension and anti-Americanism?<BR>/Sarcasm<BR><BR>We're going to Europe this fall, but dreck like this is counter-productive. Most Americans aren't afraid of conversation--they just don't want their vacation to be occupied by strangers harranging them about politics.
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Old Mar 25th, 2003, 10:16 AM
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Ditto what RAC and others say. Guido is condescending and self-serving. What a bunch of hogwash! And as for debating Guido, who would want to? He stereotypes Americans, dismissing anyone who might disagree with him as ignorant. I find his attitude of moral and intellectual superiority repugnant.
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Old Mar 25th, 2003, 10:18 AM
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I'll go one step further. It is my knowledge that most people in Europe aren't like Guido that keeps me coming back.
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Old Mar 25th, 2003, 10:22 AM
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Thanks for the link, StCirq. <BR><BR>While there were &quot;hideous&quot; (the author's own word) generalizations in the piece, overall, I found it interesting and provocative. I especially liked the sentence in his first paragraph, that &quot;it's becoming increasingly common to use the word 'safe' in a lot of creative ways, many going outside the boundaries of the word's intended meaning.&quot; <BR><BR>The author writes, &quot;Perhaps it's just me, but I fail to see the horror in debating politics in a cafe.&quot; and I agree completely. In fact, not only do I fail to see the horror in debating politics in a cafe, but I fail to see the horror in debating it anywhere. I've never understood what seems to be an American &quot;rule&quot;: never debate politics (or religion.) Why not? Politics is not something separate from life; politics is a part of life. <BR><BR>The author also writes, &quot;Nevertheless, I shall issue this warning: The traveler might do well to be aware that war is a hot topic around the world. And well it should be--killing folks and bombing their infrastructure, even for its 'shock and awe' value, should never be taken lightly. If you plan on traveling to Europe, you may want to be prepared for the distinct possibility that folks will ask (and maybe even demand) that you explain your position, whatever it is.&quot;<BR><BR>While I may not fancy a European &quot;demanding&quot; that I explain my position on the Bush administration's foreign policy, I wouldn't mind at all if they asked. To my way of thinking, if young American men and women are going to risk death in Iraq -- ostensibly to keep us safe from possible future acts of terrorism -- then I feel the least I could do would be willing to &quot;risk the wrath&quot; of a European by explaining how I feel and why I feel the way I do. <BR><BR>The author writes, &quot;And those terrorists? They've been around a long time in Europe, you just felt 'safer' before because you didn't realize they were lurking there. . . Europe has had to deal with terrorist acts for many years - People have been forced to deal and live with these events. They've been exposed numerous times to the fragility of life on earth. The US, by contrast, has experienced few incidences of terrorist actions and thus lives in greater horror of them.&quot;<BR><BR>Absolutely. The IRA. The Red Brigades. The Baader-Meinhof (sp?) Gang. Bombings of the Metro in Paris. These, and more, all existed in Europe prior to 9/11. Look at what Israelis have to live with every single day: the fear -- the very real fear -- that a suicide bomber is going to get on a bus, or walk into a cafe or nightclub, and blow them to bits. Yet they still go about their daily lives.
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Old Mar 25th, 2003, 10:57 AM
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StCirq, a while back you wrote this on one of these threads:<BR><BR>&quot;I'm actually looking forward to being someplace where there is no chance in hell I'll be exposed to the overblown American media for a couple of weeks&quot;...<BR><BR>So now what do you want, the media here in the US to show us Americans what is going on in the world? Or to bury our heads in the sand? You seem to be sending mixed messages with your posts.<BR><BR>This article in goeurope states that guido does not to take political sides, then when you read the article, you see that is a laughable statement in a slanted article.<BR><BR>Make up your mind StCirq, maybe you jump back and forth too much in all aspects of your life (as far as your posts reveal).
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Old Mar 25th, 2003, 11:04 AM
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As I read here so often, we are supposed to respect each other's cultures. We even have books in travel stores here for us to buy and use so we won't offend another's culture (such as asking what someone does for a living, etc). Part of our &quot;culture&quot; here in the USA is not to discuss politics (not everyone of course, that is the asset of being American, diversity) but on the whole, politics are not discussed unless both parties are willing to engage. <BR> <BR>If that is part of our culture it should be respected in Europe as well when dealing with Americans.<BR><BR>Our family was taught not to discuss politics or religion in an environment where in can encourage bad or hurt feelings, it is just not good manners.<BR><BR>I, for one, do not want to be on a vacation and be &quot;demanded&quot; to explain my country's politics. If I dont want to, that is my business and should be respected. <BR>
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Old Mar 25th, 2003, 11:39 AM
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BTilke: Excellent post.<BR><BR>SeaUrchin: Right on target. All I can add is AMEN.<BR><BR>Capo: &quot;Bombing the Metro in Paris, etc....all existed in Europe prior to 9/11....what Israelis have to live with every single day...the very real fear that a suicide bomber is going to get on a bus, or walk into a cafe or nightclub, and blow them to bits.&quot; <BR><BR>Isn't it just possible that if the world united against terrorists many years ago, that possibly some of the carnage could have been stopped?
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Old Mar 25th, 2003, 12:02 PM
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Lorac, sure it's possible that if the world &quot;united&quot; against terrorism many years ago that some of the carnage could have been stopped. (In fact, interestingly, I seem to recall at least some Brits criticizing people in the U.S. for lending support to the IRA in the past.)<BR><BR>But I think that &quot;stopping&quot; terrorism is like stopping violent crime (which I'd call &quot;domestic terrorism&quot; unless one wants to live in a country devoid of civil liberties, we'll likely always have violent crime, and perhaps terrorism as well. <BR><BR>. . . <BR><BR>On another note, if one *supports* the Bush administration's policy on Iraq, which means one is in favor of young American men and women risking their lives, then why wouldn't one be at least willing to engage a European, opposed to the policy, in debate? Isn't a supporter of the Bush administration policy who is *not* willing to do this basically saying &quot;While young American men and women are fighting and dying, I refuse to even say anything, especially while I'm having fun on vacation&quot;? Shouldn't one be at least willing to stand up for one's beliefs, especially since young men and women are fighting and dying for one's beliefs?
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Old Mar 25th, 2003, 12:18 PM
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Well, isn't that special, MCNAMARA. You registered and posted under that name for the very first time JUST to tell us that?<BR><BR>While I see no disturbing inconsistency demonstrated by starting this thread, nevertheless, for our reading pleasure, here are some famous quotes re the &quot;virtue&quot; of consistency:<BR><BR>&quot;A foolish inconsistency is the hobgoblen of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do.&quot; <BR>Ralph Waldo Emerson<BR><BR>&quot;Consistency is contrary to nature, contrary to life. The only completely consistent people are the dead.&quot; Aldous Huxley<BR><BR>&quot;Do I contradict myself?<BR>Very well then I contradict myself,<BR>(I am large, I contain multitudes.)&quot;<BR>Walt Whitman<BR>
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Old Mar 25th, 2003, 01:08 PM
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If you judge something to be bad manners then you are not being respectful of another point of view. If you are not respectful how do you expect to be respected. Other people's manners are neither good or bad they just are. Of course I don't have to like them, just accept them.
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Old Mar 25th, 2003, 01:12 PM
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cmt, in that case you should be happy that I broke my consistency and registered, isn't it special that I did that? lol.<BR><BR>Good point, Capo. <BR><BR>Dougp, I don't quite get your point, explain?
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Old Mar 25th, 2003, 01:51 PM
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I don't get all this about American culture not encouraging debate of issues. What American culture are your referring to? In my household and in my community, discussion of politics and religion is a big part of life and I know we were not alone. America is a big country, with lots of ethnic groups and subcultures within. <BR>That said, were I going to Europe, I would not want to discuss this war with Europeans who feel as Guido or with some strangers I might meet in a bar, in a cab, or on the street. There is a difference between the respectful exchange of ideas and letting yourself open for attack. Guido has already stereotyped Americans who disagree with him. If he wants to vent, let him do it with his friends and not in my face. <BR>It is easy for someone who agrees with the majority of French on the war, to think such debate serves some useful purpose. I fail to see how it would be an enlightening experience for anyone.
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Old Mar 25th, 2003, 02:29 PM
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&quot;If you judge something to be bad manners then you are not being respectful of another point of view. If you are not respectful how do you expect to be respected. Other people's manners are neither good or bad they just are. Of course I don't have to like them, just accept them. &quot;<BR><BR><BR>This is a classic...sort of like there is no right or wrong, no acceptable or unacceptable behaviour!<BR><BR><BR>Amazing...give me a break!<BR><BR>US
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Old Mar 25th, 2003, 02:33 PM
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What a dumb article that is. Presumably it was written to dispell the generalization so many people have that travel is now unsafe. But in trying to do so, the writer has made the most absurd generalizations I've ever read. Basically he is saying, &quot;Don't generalize about . . . , because all Americans are alike.&quot; How stupid.
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Old Mar 25th, 2003, 03:08 PM
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Americans don't or won't debate. What absolute tripe. While the author's purpose appears to be trying to drum up support for travel to europe, its probably one of the stupidest articles I have read in a long time. Talk about ridiculous generalizations about both Americans and europeans. Americans probably spend as much or more time arguing their politics as anyone in the world. I think what the author misses is that there is a marked difference between a debate and a harangue. Like some of the posters on this board, you can't debate with someone who has a closed mind. On many occasions, I have had very interesting political discussions with people in europe. Other times, I have had to listen to people spout off about Americans in a way that only reflected their ignorance and reliance on stereotypes in trying to classify &quot;all Americans&quot; as being alike in their beliefs. While I enjoyed debating the former, I had no time for the latter.
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Old Mar 25th, 2003, 09:58 PM
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StCirq, I am surprised you found that article thorough and sensible, maybe you should reread it.
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