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NousDefionsDoc
02-06-2004, 19:20
I posted a news article in The Early Bird. If you want to discuss it, we can do it here. RL?

Roguish Lawyer
02-06-2004, 19:23
Originally posted by NousDefionsDoc
I posted a news article in The Early Bird. If you want to discuss it, we can do it here. RL?

I'm leaving to see my kids before they go to sleep. I'll be in for most of the weekend, though. Maybe I'll log on later tonight from home too.

Roguish Lawyer
02-07-2004, 15:18
OK, I don't have much time because I have to get a bunch of stuff done and forgot I have to go to a family thing tonight. But here are my quick thoughts to get this started:

1. While we love to criticize others like the French and the Japanese for thinking they're better than everyone else, it seems to me that we are just as bad if not worse. Now don't get me wrong here -- I agree that we are better than everyone else. :D But that doesn't mean we have to announce that to the world and act like it all the time. Arrogant people are really annoying, and I believe that many American tourists piss off their hosts when they say and do stupid things. I cringe when congressional delegations go abroad, because I think many of our representatives are no better than our average tourists when it comes to being diplomatic.

2. We believe we are, and want to be, the Leader of the Free World. We still are, but IMO you can't lead by constantly reminding the people who are supposed to follow you that you are the leader and that they should follow your shining example. Better to keep quiet, set a stellar example, speak only when necessary, and let your actions do the talking.

3. The fact that other countries do things differently does not make them inferior per se. I think many Americans think our way is the only way, and that's a big part of the problem. I don't support going to the other extreme and accepting Nazis and Cannibals, but I do think we need to be not only tolerant but respectful of other countries. We tend to be very disrespectful, I think. I'll bet lots of American tourists ask where they can buy a burger in India, for example, and get upset if they can't. (Haven't been there; don't know if it's an true example, but you get the idea).

4. How many Americans speak more than one language? I find it extraordinary when tourists get upset that no one speaks English! (Note: I am part of the problem. While I've spent time working on two other languages, I can't speak either one worth a damn.)

OK, that was stream of consciousness, but looks like I typed a lot. Who's next?

NousDefionsDoc
02-07-2004, 15:33
1. I think the difference is, a lot of Americans don't realize they're doing it. Its not arrogance, its loud pride.

2. I like it, kind of like quiet professionalism.

3. Agreed, how does one learn tolerance?

4. Agreed in part. Language is part of culture. One of the things I see is that the US is so big, and we're bound on both sides by people so much like us, that US citizens aren't forced to learn about other cultures. That, and given the English and the dollar are the currency in the business and political worlds does not lend itself to acceptance.

Also, its a lack of experience at being the masters. We've only really been at it since about 1945.

Its a lack of upbringing these days. US children aren't really taught as well as they once were.

US citizens tend to be loud, noisy, take up a lot of space both physically and by perception. A lot of cultures found that offensive.

Myriad of reasons. One of the things that I find disturbing is that actions such as those taken by the pilot and the individual in the last article are often cheered by fellow citizens. Its bad enough they did it, but to have others cheer them or even just accept it, is, IMO, worse. Think of the inconvenience, if nothing else, those two people put others through with their childish displays.

Roguish Lawyer
02-07-2004, 15:43
Originally posted by NousDefionsDoc
US citizens tend to be loud, noisy, take up a lot of space both physically and by perception. A lot of cultures found that offensive.

Part of this results from our emphasis on the worth of the individual. We believe in individual rights, for example. In many cultures, that concept doesn't even make sense. We get horrified when someone "innocent" gets shot in cold blood, for example, but in some cultures that's no big deal from what I understand. So some of this stuff is inherent to us, I think. To me, the issue is one of diplomacy at the individual level rather than changing who we are. I think we kick ass, personally.
:)

NousDefionsDoc
02-07-2004, 15:50
Originally posted by Roguish Lawyer
Part of this results from our emphasis on the worth of the individual. We believe in individual rights, for example. In many cultures, that concept doesn't even make sense. We get horrified when someone "innocent" gets shot in cold blood, for example, but in some cultures that's no big deal from what I understand. So some of this stuff is inherent to us, I think. To me, the issue is one of diplomacy at the individual level rather than changing who we are. I think we kick ass, personally.
:)

I couldn't agree more and I was trying to think of how to say it. It seems that others are more bought into the social contract than we are, probably from necessity. I also don't think we should lose our US-ness. There is a time and place for everything though. What frustrates me about incidents like these is that accomplish nothing but proving the stereotypes and makes it harder for the rest of us.

These guys didn't do this out of any real sense of protest. It was a silly immature gesture to get others to laugh. being the big man.

CRad
02-07-2004, 18:30
We get called prudish for not liking it that Clinton was an indiscrete hoser and these people are offended by a hand gesture? They fined the Airline $12K? Nice scam, if you ask me. I can understand them saying tit for tat on the you finger print and photgraph so we're going to do the same to you, but when was the last time we tossed somebody in jail or fined them for freedom of speech or expression? If you are going to do like the Americans then do like the Americans and deal with with the anger over the program. Are we going to start hiring cultural interpreters who understand their ways of showing disgust so we can get some of our money back? Hell, we have a deficit and could use a little extra cash.

While we're at it why don't we burn Brazil flag. ;)

Jimbo
02-07-2004, 18:48
I'd just like to commend NDD for his literary allusion. Very highbrow.

brownapple
02-07-2004, 20:39
Originally posted by Roguish Lawyer
[B]OK, I don't have much time because I have to get a bunch of stuff done and forgot I have to go to a family thing tonight. But here are my quick thoughts to get this started:

1. While we love to criticize others like the French and the Japanese for thinking they're better than everyone else, it seems to me that we are just as bad if not worse. Now don't get me wrong here -- I agree that we are better than everyone else. :D But that doesn't mean we have to announce that to the world and act like it all the time. Arrogant people are really annoying, and I believe that many American tourists piss off their hosts when they say and do stupid things. I cringe when congressional delegations go abroad, because I think many of our representatives are no better than our average tourists when it comes to being diplomatic.

My observations are that American tourists are far less likely to piss off their hosts than Germans, French or English tourists. Japanese tourists are at least as arrogant, but they display it in a very different way. As for most of our elected officials, they are not "no better than our average tourists", they are significantly worse.

3. The fact that other countries do things differently does not make them inferior per se. I think many Americans think our way is the only way, and that's a big part of the problem. I don't support going to the other extreme and accepting Nazis and Cannibals, but I do think we need to be not only tolerant but respectful of other countries. We tend to be very disrespectful, I think. I'll bet lots of American tourists ask where they can buy a burger in India, for example, and get upset if they can't. (Haven't been there; don't know if it's an true example, but you get the idea).

Poor example, and makes assumptions about tourists that are not true for most.
Every people in the world thinks their culture is better than others, thinks theirs is the right way, and is culturally blind to their own culture's biases until exposed to other cultures and given the opportunity and external viewpoint to consider those cultures as well as their own. Some Americans (some NYC residents for example) are actually more accepting of other cultures because they have had the opportunity to deal with other cultures at home.

4. How many Americans speak more than one language? I find it extraordinary when tourists get upset that no one speaks English! (Note: I am part of the problem. While I've spent time working on two other languages, I can't speak either one worth a damn.)

For all the claims that Americans don't speak more than one language, my experience has been that many Americans do speak more than one language, but often they did not learn that language in school. For those who learned Cantonese, Spanish, German, Italian or Hebrew because it was their parents' or grandparents' native language, they may not show in the statistics...but they will probably learn additional languages more easily than those who grow up with one language (multiple studies have found that children who grow up learning multiple languages have a higher aptitude to learn language throughout their life). Regardless, English is the primary communication language worldwide, and only very arrogant peoples would expect someone to learn more than a few words of a language that is insignificant on a worldwide scale for a trip as a tourist (oops, did I just suggest the French are arrogant?).

I can say "hello" and "thank you" in a lot of languages. But if anyone thinks I am going to learn Japanese for a two-week holiday in Japan, they are sadly mistaken.
On the other hand, the expectation that people speak some English is legitimate (the expectation that they understand American accents, rhythm and speed is not) as English is the worldwide standard language for communication today. Most of the world is very, very aware of that.

NousDefionsDoc
02-07-2004, 22:09
GH, good stuff. I agree with you about everything. I would add that while NYers may be more tolerant of foreign cultures, I have found them to be intolerant of US cultures other than their own, especially Southern.

Jimbo - if you mean the thread title, it was mandatory when I went through and I think it should be taught and mandatory reading in Jr. or High School.

brownapple
02-07-2004, 22:57
Originally posted by NousDefionsDoc
GH, good stuff. I agree with you about everything. I would add that while NYers may be more tolerant of foreign cultures, I have found them to be intolerant of US cultures other than their own, especially Southern.


"some" NYers, NDD. Fact is that most NYers have the same problems as everyone else regarding other cultures, or even their own. :cool:

NousDefionsDoc
02-07-2004, 23:00
I said "I have found..." I was careful - LOL.

Airbornelawyer
02-07-2004, 23:46
The whole arrogant Americans won't learn foreign languages "argument" is BS. As s statement of fact, it may be that Americans have a far lower literacy rate in a second language than many other societies, but as a moral judgment, i.e., evidence of American arrogance, it carries little weight.

Throughout the world, most people speak one language, the language of their home. In many places, the language of their particular home differs from that of their workplace or other areas of social interaction, so they are forced by necessity to learn another language. This applies equally to a Guatemalan busboy in Georgetown, a Tutsi doctor in Kinshasa, or a Russian Jewish lawyer in Brooklyn. In some cases, a third language might even become necessary. DC has many an Afghan cab driver who grew up speaking Pashto, learned Farsi to interact with coworkers in Kabul, and then learned English. The same goes for many an Ivoirean who spoke a tribal language and French when he came to America, and is struggling to learn English while selling discount sunglasses outside my office.

When your workplace or other area of social interaction is the international community, you have to learn the language of that community. Today that is English. A century ago, and for several centuries before, that was French. Well before that, it was Latin.

Americans in the world thus find themselves already speaking the language of the international community, and don't generally have the necessity to learn another. A German or Frenchman today, though, must learn English to participate fully in that community. But there is no moral judgment there. We are not morally suspect if we speak only English, and Jacques Chirac can claim no moral superiority because of his excellent English.

I would, nevertheless, encourage every American to learn another language, for it opens up new horizons and even makes you better in English.

mfG, ma'a salaama, au revoir and o-si-yo!
Dave

Roguish Lawyer
02-08-2004, 01:29
Thanks GH and AL. Very interesting comments, particularly coming from guys with your backgrounds. Not at all what I expected, and quite influential on my thinking.

HUMBLE
02-09-2004, 17:57
GH - I couldn't agree with you more.

Having traveled extensively as a civilian and formerly as a member of our armed services: I have come to the conclusion that 'the Ugly American' is a creation of the leftwing demoeurocratic American leadership - thank god it's currently not in a leadership position.