Nationality Identification

Jan 10th, 2007, 12:31 AM
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 5,056
Anyway, those of you who think that Americans get a bad rap abroad should try being Nigerian, like Mr Nona! At least Americans are generally just connected with being a bit loud and uncouth (unfairly) but his international 'image' is either an internet scammer or an illegal immigrant standing on a streetcorner selling handbags.
nona1 is offline  
Jan 10th, 2007, 12:59 AM
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I am American, living in Paris. I am usually taken for French, or at least European -- until I open my mouth. Then I am often taken for English. I always tell them I am an American.

Before moving here, I came regularly for about 7 years. I have never heard a negative comment about Americans Ė and donít tell me everyone is just being polite; thatís just not realistic. I speak to a lot of people, socially, professionally, and in incidental daily contact. The closest I have come is when, very recently, speaking to a French woman. I asked if she had ever been to America, and she said ďNo, and I wonít as long as Mr; Bush is the president.Ē I certainly didnít take it personally.

On the other hand, I have often had unsolicited comments about how much Americans are liked. I have been moved when, on several occasions, people over 70 have told me how grateful they are for what the Americans did for them during the war.

I think itís a big mistake to generalize about people anywhere and that, generally, you get back what you give.

Having said that, there are people everywhere who will dump on you for things you canít control. I took a cab in Washington the morning after the US invaded Iraq. The cabdriver, who apparently came from that part of the world unleashed years of pent-up hostility at me. I wasnít sure I would make it to my destination. Iím not exaggerating. Obviously, I made it in one piece, although he refused to take me to the door and dropped me off a block away.
Toupary is offline  
Jan 10th, 2007, 04:10 AM
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"I have been moved when, on several occasions, people over 70 have told me how grateful they are for what the Americans did for them during the war."

I'll second that. This summer past an elderly Parisian, upon discovering my nationality, thanked me.

"For what?" I inquired.

"Young man, don't you know the date?"

"Sure, 6 June".

"The anniversary of the landings. We Frenchman are grateful for the sacrifices of your countrymen."

No, I am not making this up.
RedStater is offline  
Jan 10th, 2007, 04:18 AM
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"amy_zena, you could have pointed out to your misinformed cabbie that the US hadn't "gone into" Pakistan at all. After all, you would have known that. Mind you, all those Stans can confuse one."

Sorry, that was my mistake...I meant Afghanistan. I should know very good friend is currently working in Pakistan. Maybe that's why I have Pakistan on my mind.
amy_zena is offline  
Jan 10th, 2007, 04:20 AM
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This is very moving, and yes, I am sure you are not making it up.
Toupary is offline  
Jan 10th, 2007, 04:40 AM
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What's even more astonishing is watching fellow Americans cave in under this kind of rudeness: "oh no, I don't like my country or it's administration, either (please, please think I'm sophisticated and cool!!)", totally missing that nobody thinks well of those who lack self-respect.

i don't agree that one should automatically jump to defend one's government, country, etc. this happens far too often when speaking to people 'on another team'. for example, i wonder how many of the britons on this board are cynical toward britain at home (what briton isn't?) but then come here to try to teach certain people how <<fill in the blank>> their countries are and how much more <<fill in the blank>> britain is.

however, i do agree with you that too many americans jump to do the opposite. in fact, they often initiate slamming the US in order to try to gain 'points' from europeans. i agree...i have no respect for these people. although i often agree with their views, i am turned off by this.

schuler...we are not talking about just discussing politics or world affairs with a tourist. i agree, that is something that europeans often want to do. We are talking about unsolicited comments that are made ONLY because the tourist is american. this is usually done for the wrong reasons, not just to chat. it is done to:
1. test the he 'one of them?'
2. provide an outlet for frustration/disgust (perhaps only done if the tourist fails the 'test').

sometimes i WANT to discuss the wrongs of the chinese government but i'm not going to direct this at a chinese visitor to britain! i don't disagree that we in europe sometimes WANT to discuss this....but it's not only about us and what we want, is it? After you see a film about WWII, do you approach visiting Germans with comments/questions about the holocost? wanting to know their views, etc? no, of course you wouldn't. a lot of americans were angry at the french it ok for them to start off on the french gov't every time they see a french tourist? (this may have happened but i don't think very many here would say it is right).
walkinaround is online now  
Jan 10th, 2007, 04:41 AM
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In Normandy, the memory is kept alive in the younger generations, too. I don't know how many 20- or 30-somethings mentioned the contribution les Alliés made to restoring their freedom. Alas, in the cities their sacrifice has fallen off the cultural radar.
Robespierre is offline  
Jan 10th, 2007, 06:05 AM
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Laverendrye, curious minds in the new hurricane territory of B.C. need to know - what's a two-four blue?

Thanks for the giggle,

BowenLinda is offline  
Jan 10th, 2007, 06:38 AM
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Being hassled in remote parts of the world over your country's policy isn't some unique penalty for being American.

In much of Africa and Asia, it's commonplace if you're British. I've been personally held responsible for defaced wall paintings in Dunhuang in China's far west (if the defacement was done by westerners at all, it'd have been in the 1890s), and for imposing cricket on an unwilling populace by a guide in Fatehpur Sikri (if those batters and bowlers on India's maidans are unwilling, God knows how they'd maul our boys if they actually wanted to play).

And not just by people in poor countries who've been indoctrinated to believe their country's poverty is the fault of western imperialism. On hearing my accent in a Bahamas resort, one Canadian professor immediately - without even introducing herself (when will those colonials learn some manners?) - wanted to know when we were going to pull out of Northern Ireland. And was truly confused by the answer "the second the Northern Irish agree".

Goes with the passport. If you can't stand the heat, don't leave home.
flanneruk is offline  
Jan 10th, 2007, 06:44 AM
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<<what's a two-four blue?>>
a case of 24 bottles of Labatts Blue beer
robjame is offline  
Jan 10th, 2007, 07:29 AM
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Nona1, the idea of wearing a Canadian flag so as not to be mistaken for American has been around a long time. In 1967 when I was 15 I went to the UK and everyone told me to wear a maple leaf (I'm Canadian). I was just a kid and I didn't really notice anyone treating me one way or the other.

And I have to say that Americans can also be unpleasant to visitors from countries with politics they don't agree with. Shortly after the Iraq war began my parents were travelling in Utah and they had several uncomfortable incidents with Americans who found out they were Canadian.
outwest is offline  
Jan 10th, 2007, 07:43 AM
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oops--I mean 1977. i just added 10 years to my age. I guess it's a little too early in the morning--
outwest is offline  
Jan 10th, 2007, 08:49 AM
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Nona1 - I think my mom thought that if people knew we were Canadian, we wouldn't have any problems (i suspect she had visions of people pickpocketing/kidnapping/being rude etc).
BikerScott is offline  
Jan 10th, 2007, 09:18 AM
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Flanneruk -

Sometimes that's what colonialism leads to. My father-in-law was born and raised in Hong Kong, and still remembers signs prohibiting him from entering public parks that were reserved for the British or other whites. The signs read, "No dogs and no Chinamen allowed." And this was NOT in the 1890's either.

No one "indoctrinated" him into believing the British didn't belong there - unless it was the Birtish themselves. It is amazing that he didn't turn into a total racist; he still welcomed his white son-in-law (me) into the family.

bennyb is offline  
Jan 10th, 2007, 09:32 AM
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I'm an American and I go to France at least once a year and would never speak bad about my President even if I didn't like him. Anytime you run down the President you are running down at least half the population of the US. Things change, if you don't like it wait awhile and your party will get thier chance. I wasn't a big fan of President Clinton but I would always stand up for him.
eric502 is offline  
Jan 10th, 2007, 09:41 AM
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The only reason not to speak honestly about your legally elected representatives is if you live in a country where there are repercussions for doing so. I admire French/Italian/whatever countrymen who aren't afraid to be truthful about their internal politics.
LucieV is offline  
Jan 10th, 2007, 09:49 AM
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Lucie: I'm happy for you but I think I will hold on to my way. If you don't like it vote, if you vote and don't get your way try and change it, but try and do it in a way that doesn't divide.

eric502 is offline  
Jan 10th, 2007, 10:01 AM
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Absolutely, Eric. I do agree & I've never missed voting in a national election. And what's extra-good about this amazing country that we live in is that we don't have to agree about everything!
LucieV is offline  
Jan 10th, 2007, 10:02 AM
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How very unfortunate your father in law was. If Britain hadn't run Hong Kong, he - and his descendants - would have had the indescribable joy of living in a city full of "Worship the perfection of Chairman Mao" signs. If they'd not been starved or killed by the greatest mass murderer in history.

If you'd have the common courtesy to read what I wrote, I said "indoctrinated to believe their country's poverty is the fault of western imperialism".

In the case of Hong Kong, even the unaccountable tyrants in Beijing now acknowledge that the territory's affluence is entirely the result of that Western imperialism. And the territory's citizens are only too aware that it's their imperialised heritage that gives them rights to freedom of speech, assembly and religion still denied to the rest of China.
flanneruk is offline  
Jan 10th, 2007, 10:10 AM
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Bennyb: PS

I'm not calling your father in law a fantasist. But could he tell us where he saw these "no dogs or Chinamen" signs.

Even the Bruce Lee film that's the source for this myth is set in Shanghai.
flanneruk is offline  

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