May 31, 2010

Anti-Americans

One thing that gets old is privileged European and Canadian academics hating on America. Not just the U.S. government, but America and everyone who lives here. Especially the poor stupid hicks who don't understand global politics and have never traveled outside of the states. Those people, especially, are the targets of mockery and disdain.

My graduate school classmates from Europe are not the victims of American empire. Most of their home countries allow or support U.S. foreign policy, and they have never done anything to protest on behalf of the actual victims of those policies. Most of them had privileged childhoods in their home countries, with free healthcare and affordable education, and now they are here in the U.S. earning a fancy graduate degree from an American university. They travel around the world on their summer vacations, because they can afford it. When they graduate, many will choose to stay here and become professors at U.S. universities.

So it really irritates me when they look down on ordinary Americans. Some Americans are hateful and racist and willfully ignorant. Many others are poor and uneducated and unemployed, and they don't have healthcare or pensions, and their kids get sent to Iraq to die, and they might vote Republican but they don't deserve to be mocked by douchebag Europeans with cushy lives.

I have been to Italy once, but I have never toured Europe on vacation. My friends who have gone usually come back feeling even more patriotic just because anti-Americans pissed them off so much -- grad school is a little bit like that. For the most part, it's wonderful to have classmates from all over the world, but four years of anti-American comments have made me more defensive of "America" than I have ever felt in my life.

The U.S. government is screwing America and screwing the world -- but that's not what they're talking about. They aren't doing anything about that.

2 Comments:

  • I hear you! Here in the UK I wish visiting (priviledged) AMERICANS would be a little less SMUG about various less than good things about the UK - yes, our public transport is overloaded, many of our systems are breaking down, our inner cities struggle to cope with immigrant populations, and we often have ugly teeth. Have some manners!

    For me, living in Canada and meeting ordinary people there made me much more open minded and less prone to assume the public image of a country (e.g. the unbelievable bossy arrogance of certain American politicians...) meant its people were all of that opinion. And also a bit more aware that people living away from home are rather prone to big-up their home and complain about the place they're visiting, covering their basic complaint which is that it's not home and foreign - just the same as people from the north of Britain grumble in the south. But it's still very bad manners!

    By Blogger JaneB, at 5/31/10, 5:45 PM  

  • That's a good point, Jane. Just as Europeans who come to the U.S. tend to be privileged, Americans who can afford to travel abroad tend to come from privilege. So we send entitled snobby people overseas in exchange for the snobby ones who come here. We never meet ordinary people from other countries because those people can't afford to travel the world.

    Of course privilege isn't a bad thing. I consider myself someone who had a privileged childhood. It just means, don't make fun of the poor people who live in the country you're visiting. And don't complain that things are better at home.

    Americans are a lot more isolated from the rest of the world for various reasons, so I imagine they tend to be more ignorant when they travel abroad, which isn't necessarily their fault -- but the ones who behave rudely and complain about Europe are definitely jerks.

    By Blogger Di Di, at 5/31/10, 6:03 PM  

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