What does the world hate about America?

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Andromeda321
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Re: What does the world hate about America?

Postby Andromeda321 » Mon Mar 15, 2010 6:23 pm UTC

I have been lucky enough in my life to travel to 36 countries on five continents and counting, and first would like to say that the vast, VAST number of people out there in fact like Americans. I cannot tell you how many times I have met someone excited to meet me and ask a long string of questions upon hearing my country of origin. They might not have a realistic idea of the country, but often once I emphasize two points that a. there are idiots in every culture especially when there are 300+ million of us, and b. movies don't reflect reality. Which most people know, of course, but don't consciously separate from their perceptions as that's where they get most of their info from about us.

In fact, the only people I've ever met who didn't like Americans were Europeans. Sometimes this was just from falling under stereotypes despite never actually having met an American (I was often told how said person had a whole new view of Americans after our conversation- yep you're always an ambassador whilst abroad!) and the rest were, yep, from stereotypes that the person refused to let go- lots of "you seem fine, but most Americans are..." comments. Honestly these rare people were just unpleasant in many ways personality-wise, and their views were from some weird attempt to cover up for an inferiority complex. Frankly they were always the sort who made racist comments about Obama or gypsies or whatever as well, despite trying to one-up me in sophistication.

Oh, and all of the above is totally apart from my experiences of travel during and after the Bush administration. I was traveling for six months around the world when Obama was inaugurated and literally overnight everyone got a whole lot nicer. Travel pre-January 2009 just required an additional question though- "how many people here actually like [country's leader I happened to be in]?" With a laugh that was usually enough to settle things, because Bush or no most countries have governments much more screwed up than the USA's.

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Re: What does the world hate about America?

Postby bentheimmigrant » Mon Mar 15, 2010 6:57 pm UTC

Andromeda321 wrote:In fact, the only people I've ever met who didn't like Americans were Europeans...

Oh, and all of the above is totally apart from my experiences of travel during and after the Bush administration. I was traveling for six months around the world when Obama was inaugurated and literally overnight everyone got a whole lot nicer.



This is very interesting... I wonder if perhaps Europeans also see America making the same mistakes their countries did when they were imperial powers, and this causes frustration at the failure to recognise it in America. And perhaps Obama symbolised a change from that. At least that's how I feel about it.

The UK ruined much of the world in very creative ways... It is depressing to see someone else doing it and not realising it (or to perceive this to be happening).
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Re: What does the world hate about America?

Postby tetromino » Mon Mar 15, 2010 9:26 pm UTC

I cannot speak about the whole world. I can, however, try to explain why many Russians dislike America. Some of their reasons are:

1. The 1999 US attack on Yugoslavia. Before 1999, Russian attitudes towards America were for the most part positive. But after watching TV footage of American planes bombing an Orthodox and Slavic country into submission and then partitioning it in the best traditions of 19th century diplomacy, the Russian public's attitudes were completely reversed. The more paranoid types started seriously considering what to do when the American bombers come.
2. The insane and humiliating process that Russian citizens have to go through to obtain a US visa since September 2001. Everyone has heard the horror stories, if not from first-hand experience, then from friends, relatives, colleagues, and the internet.
3. The Russian government has decided that nationalism is the cornerstone of state ideology, and due to omnipresent propaganda, has successfully planted that ideology in the minds of millions. Since America had for a long time been the Soviet Union's geopolitical opponent, and in some ways remains Russia's, nationalism and anti-American sentiment tend to go hand in hand. And of course, making people angry at another country to some degree helps to prevent them from being angry at their own government's incompetence…
4. NATO. First, the fact that the anti-Russian alliance even exists 20 years after the Cold War ended. Second, the fact that it is expanding into the Russian sphere of influence, incorporating former Soviet republics, and building military bases in Central Asia creates the impression that Russia is being encircled by unfriendly armies; missile defense in Eastern Europe creates the impression that those armies are readying for war.
5. Various other frictions, such as the Jackson–Vanik amendment (I wonder how many Americans know that relic of the Cold War is still on the books?), America pushing its intellectual property laws down the world's throat, US sanctions getting imposed on Russian companies, American couples adopting children from Russian orphanages and then killing them through neglect, etc.
6. Stereotypes perpetuated in popular culture, e.g. that the typical American is a stupid, fat, intellectually shallow overgrown child who smiles at everyone for no damn reason.
7. Jealousy. Russians and Americans are in many ways alike; the fact that America is successful and Russia is stuck in the mire invites feelings similar to those one would have towards an unjustly successful sibling.

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Re: What does the world hate about America?

Postby stevey_frac » Mon Mar 15, 2010 11:15 pm UTC

Note: This post is directed at "America" itself, and hence often uses person pronouns.

Why does the world hate america?

Arrogance. I like how most Americans seem to think they single handedly won WWII, or at least were this huge effect. In fact, when you tell an american that, had they got off their asses and joined the war with the rest of the world in 1939, instead of playing scared until 1942, the war might not have been so long and bloody. The grain of rice that tips the scale kinda thing.

The whole Team America -- World Police thing.

Afganistan... totally your guys fault. Had you just taken care of them after the Russians pulled out the first time you wouldn't have had to go back. You abandoned a country with it's irrigation system destroyed, millions of people displaced. In the 1980's half of all refugees were Afgan. A nation destroyed, and it wasn't rebuilt. Those kids grew up angry, and because their fathers cursed america's name for abandoning them in their time of greatest need, they remembered that. Not that it was the Russians that invaded, but that it was america that abandoned us. 'We were good enough to fight their battle for them, but not good enough to help us rebuild'.

Cuba: Totally your guys fault again. It wasn't until after all the sanctions that the U.S. dropped on them, that Fidel Castro, with nowhere else to go save buckle under to outrageous U.S. demands, uttered his famous 'Marxist Lennonist' line. You have kept that country under your boot heel, and they suffer grinding poverty because of the trade embargo on them. They hate the U.S. And they have every right to. I've been there. Beautiful place. And I have to say, I agree with them. It's kinda funny that the bay of pigs was basically U.S. sponsored terrorism, and now, cuba is where you guys keep terrorists. Alleged terrorists anyways. Not like you ever try them in a court of law.

I could probably list more. All those little cold war proxy wars were terrible things, and left a lot of the third world in shambles.

I feel, but can't prove, that U.S. Anti-imperialism led many other nations to abandon their colonies before they were ready, leaving them without effective leadeship, that caused a lot of problems.

But finally, Bush.
Bush was a wack-job who had no concept of a moral grey area. He was viewed as stupid and simplistic. He contributed a large part towards the reputation that the U.S. has as being backwards, redneck, and warmongering among other things.
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Re: What does the world hate about America?

Postby scarecrovv » Tue Mar 16, 2010 12:09 am UTC

tetromino wrote:I cannot speak about the whole world. I can, however, try to explain why many Russians dislike America. Some of their reasons are:

1. The 1999 US attack on Yugoslavia. Before 1999, Russian attitudes towards America were for the most part positive. But after watching TV footage of American planes bombing an Orthodox and Slavic country into submission and then partitioning it in the best traditions of 19th century diplomacy, the Russian public's attitudes were completely reversed. The more paranoid types started seriously considering what to do when the American bombers come.

Interestingly, the prevailing view in the US is that Slobodan Milosevic and his government were on a brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing, it was the lack of commitment of ground forces that allowed this to continue, and it would have worked out better for everyone, the Kosovar Albanians especially, if NATO had put more military effort into the situation. I'm not saying your view is incorrect, I'm merely stating US thinkers' position on the matter.
tetromino wrote:2. The insane and humiliating process that Russian citizens have to go through to obtain a US visa since September 2001. Everyone has heard the horror stories, if not from first-hand experience, then from friends, relatives, colleagues, and the internet.

No argument there. In fact, I agree with you. Bush-era paranoia is stupid.
tetromino wrote:3. The Russian government has decided that nationalism is the cornerstone of state ideology, and due to omnipresent propaganda, has successfully planted that ideology in the minds of millions. Since America had for a long time been the Soviet Union's geopolitical opponent, and in some ways remains Russia's, nationalism and anti-American sentiment tend to go hand in hand. And of course, making people angry at another country to some degree helps to prevent them from being angry at their own government's incompetence…

I'm not surprised. If I was in charge in Russia, I'd probably be doing the same thing.
tetromino wrote:4. NATO. First, the fact that the anti-Russian alliance even exists 20 years after the Cold War ended. Second, the fact that it is expanding into the Russian sphere of influence, incorporating former Soviet republics, and building military bases in Central Asia creates the impression that Russia is being encircled by unfriendly armies; missile defense in Eastern Europe creates the impression that those armies are readying for war.

This situation is interesting, and I'm not completely certain how I feel on the matter. I agree with your points, but also keep in mind why these former Soviet republics are joining NATO: because they feel threatened by Russia. Russia is a very large military presence, and controls vast oil wealth. The Russian invasion of Georgia, and manipulation of oil supplies to Europe only served to reinforce their fears. NATO is a natural place to turn when you are afraid of the Russians.

Also, about the missile defense system: this is one of the very few Bush era policies I actually hesitantly support. First off, anti-ballistic missiles are a strictly defensive weapon. Sure, if they numbered in the tens of thousands they would threaten Russia's strategic deterrent, which would be a VERY, VERY stupid thing to do. However, mere tens, or even hundreds could be easily overwhelmed by Russia if it chose, while still providing an effective defense against small nuclear arsenals, such as the one Iran is building. I do understand how Russia could feel slightly threatened though, and think it needs more thought on both sides.
tetromino wrote:5. Various other frictions, such as the Jackson–Vanik amendment (I wonder how many Americans know that relic of the Cold War is still on the books?),

After reading the summary on the Wikipedia page, I honestly I don't see what's wrong with it, except the exception for China. Restricting trade with countries that don't permit free emigration seems reasonable. If there's more to it than that, by all means say so, but I didn't see anything too appalling at first glance.
tetromino wrote:America pushing its intellectual property laws down the world's throat, US sanctions getting imposed on Russian companies, American couples adopting children from Russian orphanages

yes, yes, yes...
tetromino wrote:and then killing them through neglect, etc.

WHAT? Normally I'm not a Cites or GTFO person, but I must see some documentation for this.
tetromino wrote:6. Stereotypes perpetuated in popular culture, e.g. that the typical American is a stupid, fat, intellectually shallow overgrown child who smiles at everyone for no damn reason.
7. Jealousy. Russians and Americans are in many ways alike; the fact that America is successful and Russia is stuck in the mire invites feelings similar to those one would have towards an unjustly successful sibling.

No argument there.

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Re: What does the world hate about America?

Postby Andromeda321 » Tue Mar 16, 2010 12:26 am UTC

Regarding tetromino's comment about the difficulty of Russians getting visas to come to the US, just look at how ridiculously difficult it is for Americans/Western Europeans to get visas to visit Russia and repeat "he who casts the first stone..." after me. :wink: As for NATO, I come from a Hungarian family and the mentality there for joining NATO etc was it's more a way to show they want to be part of the West/E.U. rather than under Russia's influence (they're not exact fans of Russians after the 20th century, sorry!).

bentheimmigrant, to be honest I've never encountered any European who had that reason (ie that we're committing past sins) for disliking America- plus if that were true hating America seems like a bit of an odd step to take. It really just seemed like a much simpler spat of jealousy and attempts to show themselves as more sophisticated then those across the pond (by reverting to stereotypes? hmmm).

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Re: What does the world hate about America?

Postby Silas » Tue Mar 16, 2010 1:26 am UTC

stevey_frac wrote:I like how most Americans seem to think they single handedly won WWII, or at least were this huge effect. In fact, when you tell an american that, had they got off their asses and joined the war with the rest of the world in 1939, instead of playing scared until 1942, the war might not have been so long and bloody. The grain of rice that tips the scale kinda thing.

You know what else might have helped? Putting up a fight in '38. The Elbe valley nearly doubled the German manufacturing base. I guess the limeys weren't ripe, yet: still yellow*.

Nobody west of the Danube gets to play down America's part in that war. The Russians have a pair of legs to stand on, but Britain was in a death spiral until lend-lease, and France did lose. The Germans might not have been able to cross the Channel, but the boys in khaki would have been starved wraiths, cowering in the bombed-out ruins of their island when the Russians "liberated" Paris.

*botany be damned, I'm having fun.
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Re: What does the world hate about America?

Postby tetromino » Tue Mar 16, 2010 2:03 am UTC

scarecrovv wrote:
tetromino wrote:5. Various other frictions, such as the Jackson–Vanik amendment (I wonder how many Americans know that relic of the Cold War is still on the books?),

After reading the summary on the Wikipedia page, I honestly I don't see what's wrong with it, except the exception for China. Restricting trade with countries that don't permit free emigration seems reasonable. If there's more to it than that, by all means say so, but I didn't see anything too appalling at first glance.
The problem is that Jackson-Vanik amendment is still being applied to Russia. Every two years it is subject to a "compliance review". Every two years it has to prove that it is a market economy and does not restrict emigration. Congress refuses to stop applying the amendment to Russia (despite various presidents' attempts to convince it that the situation is utterly ridiculous), and as a result, the US and Russia still don't have permanent normal trade relations.

tetromino wrote:and then killing them through neglect, etc.

WHAT? Normally I'm not a Cites or GTFO person, but I must see some documentation for this.
The most recent case was a Pennsylvania couple who were charged with beating to death a kid that they had adopted from Chelyabinsk. Whenever such an event happens, it makes a big splash in the Russian media, even though Russia's own child protection situation is pretty awful.

EDIT:
Andromeda321 wrote:Regarding tetromino's comment about the difficulty of Russians getting visas to come to the US, just look at how ridiculously difficult it is for Americans/Western Europeans to get visas to visit Russia and repeat "he who casts the first stone..." after me. :wink:
Really. Because Russia does not require in-person interviews on a date that you cannot choose at a location that is a thousand miles from where you live. Russia does not require visa applicants to stand in line on the street for hours, no matter what the weather. Russia does not fingerprint visa applicants. Russia does not have an unofficial policy to prevent foreign scientists from attending international conferences (while still pocketing the visa application fee) whenever diplomatic relations between Russia and your country take a downturn. Yes—Russian visa and immigration rules are idiotic and counterproductive, but they are nothing compared to the sadism of America's consular bureau.

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Re: What does the world hate about America?

Postby Krong » Tue Mar 16, 2010 3:42 am UTC

Let me address a few points from easiest to toughest, here:
Woopate wrote:Another personal influence on my opinion of America is that despite it constantly holding itself to be a bastion of freedom and liberty, that it seems to move away from freedom on every level. Government representatives who say that not all speech is free, that freedoms 'should' be restricted for the sake of security. That local moms and preachers want speech restricted too, where scientific ideas or vulgar concepts (drugs, swear words, sex) be restricted, that education in matters of sound reasoning should be restricted to not offend others, to not violate religious tenets. That corporations can buy the right to abuse humanity without consequence, and that the government has essentially agreed to this point. This is not the planet's best representative of the idea of freedom, and it shouldn't boast itself as such.

Also, I live in Canada ...

You can criticize the U.S. for many, many things, as this thread would indicate. I can't understand why one of those things is restrictions on freedom of speech, as the guarantees from the First Amendment are among the strongest among industrialized democracies. For an easy example, there are no laws against Holocaust denial here, nor laws against racist, sexist, homophobic, antisemitic, or any other kind of speech. There are minor restrictions in the manner in which you can say things (the old "You can't yell fire in a crowded theater"), but even minor restrictions are taken very, very seriously. (The recent controversial Supreme Court ruling regarding corporate speech is one case where a seemingly reasonable restriction on speech was deemed unconstitutional; even if you don't like who benefits or the effect on elections, the ruling strictly increases freedom of speech.)

The American approach to freedom of speech is one thing, in my opinion, that Americans can very rightly be proud of in comparison with the rest of the world.

Now, of course, many people in this country don't like what others say. Too bad for them, it's still protected speech. When it comes to things like obscenity being censored by the FCC (which deals with the scarce public commodity of bandwidth, and thus is free to regulate), I think the right to say whatever I want about matters of importance is vastly more valuable than being able to hear "fuck" on broadcast TV.

Also, you mentioned you're from Canada. (Sorry about the use of "America" to refer to the U.S., by the way, but it's probably too late to stop that.) Unless I'm greatly mistaken, your country does not explicitly guarantee freedom of speech to its citizens. Why are you attacking the U.S. on this issue? I'm not trying to snipe here; I think I might have missed part of your point.

Pleochism wrote:The ignorance. There's ignorant people everywhere, of course, but living in South Africa it seems that ignorance is an export of American tourists. Thinking that South Africa is the entirety of the continent, not believing that we have electricity, thinking we're just across the sea from Australia (or Korea, or any country really), not understanding why it's summer here during your winter, etc.

My favourite example comes from my school days. We had some American kids visiting for a while as part of a sutdent swap type program. They walked into our history class, featuring a large map of the world, and pointed out that it was wrong. When we asked why, with some confusion, they informed us that America was "much bigger". Apparently the maps they had seen had made the USA twice life size, probably for an innocent reason, but they believed that was reality.

...

There just doesn't seem to be much work put into teaching most Americans about the rest of the world.

Well, regarding the map thing, it was probably the projection they were exposed to. Like how the Mercator makes Greenland bigger than Africa.

Yes, there is much ignorance about the rest of the world in the U.S. But, frankly, there is much ignorance about the rest of the U.S. within the U.S. Southerners routinely think of "Northerners" as super-fast, super-rude elitists. People from the coasts often think of the rest of the nation as "flyover country", sparsely populated with lovable country bumpkins who are amazed by them thar air-o-planes.

It's still a problem, but many people don't venture far outside of their state except for an occasional vacation. And, of course, vacationers thrive on novelty ("It's hot during the winter? How strange! But however do you manage?") It's something we need to work on, but don't think that it's arrogance that's directed outwards. I'd bet that Americans think Canada is a part of the U. S. just as often as they think Hawai'i isn't.

bentheimmigrant wrote:Many Americans seem to believe that their freedoms will be won or lost in some other country, and that is pure foolishness. Only America can grant or rescind American rights. And that is what I think made America a once great country that has failed to live up to expectations.

This is a small part of what you're saying, but yes, I do believe that my freedoms can be won or lost in other countries. To bring up the obvious, hyperbolic example, if Hitler had won World War II and enslaved Europe, would an American citizen still be as free? Sure, but only in the short term, before Hitler either invades or forces changes to our government through threats.

On a very basic level, my government exists to protect my rights. Attacks on these rights are not always domestic. If attacks on my right not to be murdered while flying in a plane are coming from within the borders of Afghanistan, my government has the authority (and even duty) to do what it can to stop that. In the case of the U.S., it can do quite a bit. We can argue whether that should include warfare or not, but even something as simple as a sternly worded letter still represents the government "arrogantly" making demands of other countries. I'm fine with that, as long as the justification is crystal clear.

This doesn't just apply to wars, by the way. Back on the topic of freedom of speech, take a look at the concept of "libel tourism." My freedom of speech is threatened by people from other countries through this practice, and members of Congress are rightly taking measures to defend me from it.


EDIT: I feel I should add: please don't read anything into my avatar. It's just from a computer game.
Also, jakovasaur probably hit the nail on the head. The world expects Superman and gets Batman.
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Re: What does the world hate about America?

Postby Lazar » Tue Mar 16, 2010 4:00 am UTC

Krong wrote:Unless I'm greatly mistaken, your country does not explicitly guarantee freedom of speech to its citizens.

Actually it does, since 1982. In the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms:

2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:
(a) freedom of conscience and religion;
(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
(c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and
(d) freedom of association.

I doubt that it's interpreted quite as strictly as our First Amendment, but they've still got it. I think Britain and Australia would be better examples of countries where freedom of speech depends on common law and custom, rather than on an explicit guarantee.
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Re: What does the world hate about America?

Postby stevey_frac » Tue Mar 16, 2010 4:19 am UTC

I should also note that, being from Canada, I can quite confidently say 'Bomb', 'Obama', 'Muslim', 'Jihad' and 'kill' in the same sentence, even in an Email, or posted online. And that's ok, because i'm not a terrorist. My American friends honestly get scared. And they should. Since the government COULD be listening. They COULD lock you up. They COULD hold you indefinitely without trial. They just have to claim you are a terrorist, and you are up shit creek without a paddle.

I'm Canadian. We're ACTUALLY free up here.
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Re: What does the world hate about America?

Postby Silas » Tue Mar 16, 2010 5:21 am UTC

stevey_frac wrote:Since the government COULD be listening. They COULD lock you up. They COULD hold you indefinitely without trial. They just have to claim you are a terrorist, and you are up shit creek without a paddle.

You're using misleading links to spout absurd lies. Your first link is apparently about how the government could be listening, but it's about a database that includes no audio. The second is about a program were spies eavesdrop on people overseas. The third is a prisoner camp housing war prisoners captured in Asia: you don't get hauled out of your Milwaukee home and dragged there. The fourth (really? the 4th International?) is about how war prisoners don't have to be convicted to be held. And the last goes to a page about a law that organizes some bureaucracy, but- according to the article you provided, at least- has nothing to do with what you said.
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Re: What does the world hate about America?

Postby Shivari » Tue Mar 16, 2010 5:33 am UTC

stevey_frac wrote:I should also note that, being from Canada, I can quite confidently say 'Bomb', 'Obama', 'Muslim', 'Jihad' and 'kill' in the same sentence, even in an Email, or posted online. And that's ok, because i'm not a terrorist. My American friends honestly get scared. And they should. Since the government COULD be listening. They COULD lock you up. They COULD hold you indefinitely without trial. They just have to claim you are a terrorist, and you are up shit creek without a paddle.

I'm Canadian. We're ACTUALLY free up here.


You're making such a huge overstatement with this that your point lost all of it's validity. No one's going to get sent to Gitmo for calling Obama a Muslim terrorist (no matter how false), especially considering the fact that there have very likely been a number of hard right wing personalities who have stated exactly that. And guess what? They're not in Gitmo and are probably still saying the same things.

Seriously, I don't agree with wiretapping and Gitmo isn't the prettiest petal on the American beauty rose, but the way you sold this I'd say you're either woefully ignorant (just like those darn Americans!) on these issues and how they affect Joe Sixpack or you way oversold it so that you could take a loud moral high ground. Either way, you're wrong. And yes, we're free down here too! Imagine that.

As a general note to everybody, I think a lot of you are over exaggerating the "American ignorance". Are there some people who are ignorant in our country? Yes.* Is everyone like that? Hardly. I'd be willing to bet that 99.9% of my high school would know that Hawaii is a state and Canada is it's own country. And I admit that we could improve our awareness, but I don't think that we're so woefully uninformed as other countries think we are. And I don't know of anyone who seriously dislikes other countries the way that I see being displayed here, while some of you seem to hold a bitter resentment to the US.**

Also, I checked out the list in that "Talking to Americans" thing that was posted earlier, and half of that stuff is irrelevant knowledge to Americans anyway. Did I know that Canada has "provinces" and not "states"? Not really, and I can think of much more important things to be aware of in the world than Canadian trivia facts that can be exploited against me to make me look stupid.

I just really hate the ignorance argument, as you go from criticizing the governmental actions or policies of a country (which has merit) to attacking its population, which is kinda not cool with that population, and you probably wouldn't like it either.

*And in your country too! Britain and Canada aren't flawless intellectual bastions.

** I'm not saying all of you, so there's no need to quote this one by one saying "Surely not I"

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Re: What does the world hate about America?

Postby Krong » Tue Mar 16, 2010 6:00 am UTC

Lazar wrote:I doubt that it's interpreted quite as strictly as our First Amendment, but they've still got it. I think Britain and Australia would be better examples of countries where freedom of speech depends on common law and custom, rather than on an explicit guarantee.

Point taken. I was mostly going off of things like this:
Wikipedia, Freedom of speech by country: Canada wrote:Due to section 1 of the Charter, the so-called limitation clause, Canada's freedom of expression is not absolute and can be limited under certain situations. Section 1 of the Charter states:

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society. (emphasis added)

This section is double edged. First it implies that a limitation on freedom of speech prescribed in law can be permitted if it can be justified as being a reasonable limit in a free and democratic society. Conversely, it implies that a restriction can be invalidated if it cannot be shown to be a reasonable limit in a free and democratic society.

where the emphasized section seems, to me, to be more wishy-washy about restrictions on speech than U.S. restrictions.

Also, what I've heard about the Canadian Human Rights Commissions, in spite of the fact that it mostly seems to come from very conservative and/or American sources, is very worrisome. But anyway, we've got our own troubles down here related to the Patriot Act:

stevey frac wrote:I should also note that, being from Canada, I can quite confidently say 'Bomb', 'Obama', 'Muslim', 'Jihad' and 'kill' in the same sentence, even in an Email, or posted online. And that's ok, because i'm not a terrorist. My American friends honestly get scared. And they should. Since the government COULD be listening. They COULD lock you up. They COULD hold you indefinitely without trial. They just have to claim you are a terrorist, and you are up shit creek without a paddle.

I'm Canadian. We're ACTUALLY free up here.

xkcd is based out of Massachusetts, right? It's probably safe to assume that the fora are based in the U.S., too. What makes you think that a Canadian making terrorist threats online is less likely to attract attention from the FBI, NSA, etc. than an American?

Besides, I'm talking about the permanent law of the Constitution, and not the temporary way in which it is not being enforced. The Patriot Act continues to undergo heavy judicial scrutiny, and many parts of it have already been found unconstitutional / been modified. If I had to guess, I'm thinking any parts of it that touch close to freedom of speech or habeas corpus rights will go the way of the Alien and Sedition Acts. Even with it in effect, though, I could still call the US a country of infidels and express a desire for its end, though I should be prepared if I do for the remote possibility that I'll find myself in a court battle (on the winning side.)
The answer to the question "What’s wrong with the world?" is just two words: "I am." -- G. K. Chesterton (attributed)

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Re: What does the world hate about America?

Postby stevey_frac » Tue Mar 16, 2010 6:03 am UTC

Not so absurd at all. I think.

And even if that particular article didn't detail all the faults of the Homeland Security Act, I should think they are common knowledge.
I could also point to the Patriot Act, which I have a few problems with.

With regards to the NSA wiretapping program, I quote from the great wiki

"NSA warrantless surveillance controversy concerns surveillance of persons within the United States incident to the collection of foreign intelligence by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) as part of the war on terror. "

and:

"The exact scope of the program is not known, but the NSA is or was provided total, unsupervised access to all fiber-optic communications going between some of the nation's major telecommunication companies' major interconnect locations, including phone conversations, email, web browsing, and corporate private network traffic"


So... ya, i'd say they're listening. We can debate over if they're interested in me.

@Shivari: I sometimes try and see how many red flags I can raise at NSA headquarters. I figure the more of us do that kinda thing, the more inefficient their wiretapping of my conversations becomes. I wasn't trying to call Obama a muslim, or black, or that he has a bomb. That IS absurd. Besides, i kinda like the guy, even if I don't agree with everything he does. (but that's just politics for you)

I'm not saying that these things will have a huge impact on Joe Sixpack. They probably won't. The U.S. isn't going to start throwing large populations in jail for giggles. But I rather enjoy the fact that I don't have to worry about being misunderstood, being called a terrorist, and instantly having any and all of my rights revoked based only on an accusation. Gives me a warm fuzzy feeling inside. Also: When did "equal rights for most of us" become the U.S. slogan? Who cares if it doesn't effect most of you. It's impacting some of you.

Also: I know the U.S. has states. That you don't feel it important to know we have provinces makes you LESS ignorant? I'm pretty sure that knowing the U.S. has states is just as useless to me. And I should think that the Govenor of a state would know that Canada doesn't hold it's national legislature in an igloo. Srsly.

@Krong. The FBI and NSA can attract all the attention they want to me. It's not going to do them any good, unless you think the U.S. is going to do some sort of ninja - kidnapping of a Canadian Citizen on Canadian Soil, haul me across the border, and throw me in Gitmo? If you do, lets discuss why you think that... And how would be a really good example of !free (not free).


I could keep going here, and point at a lot of other things in the arguments above, but i'm tired, and if I had a listed series of perfect arguments and examples, it likely wouldn't matter. People are going to enter this thread with a bias. Myself included.
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Re: What does the world hate about America?

Postby Silas » Tue Mar 16, 2010 7:22 am UTC

You're doing it again. And you sound as paranoid as the people who think there's a massive conspiracy to steal out guns in the night, build a twelve-lane highway from Tijuana to Saskatoon and replace the dollar with something called the Amero.

The article on the Homeland Security Act doesn't go into detail about the new powers of government because it's a law that creates a new Cabinet department to oversee existing agencies.

TIA links to a program that was defunded in 2003. Hepting v. AT&T is a lawsuit about the same audio-free database you were talking about, before. Those don't add up to a plausible fear of someone listening to your phone calls.

The NSA wiretapping does involve the possibility of people in the United States being listened to... if they happen to be on the phone with someone under surveillance overseas. That's what "incident" means.

And last, I doubt you have any serious complaints about the PATRIOT Act. If you did, you'd have named one of those, instead of a disorganized list of cases either where the authorities used the Act for things other than investigating terrorism or which were only tangentially related to the Act at all. If you can name some provision of the Act that actually impinges on freedom, like you say it does, do so, or quit pretending that you can.
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Re: What does the world hate about America?

Postby Zamfir » Tue Mar 16, 2010 8:30 am UTC

bentheimmigrant wrote:[...] Why do we care? If America wishes to reject things that many outside the country view as essential social progress (regulatory reform, nationalised health care, etc) then they can live with the consequences. And yet it bothers us. Is it a matter of just being annoyed by ignorance, or is it because sometimes these things do affect us (such as the recession) and America's unwillingness to change may have contributed to it? Or is it that occasionally we have to deal with America, as in Zamfir's wonderful Windows analogy?


I think you are mostly right, domestics politics of the US shouldn't bother people outside of it too much. I would say that as a partial explanation, people notice so much of American domestic politics as a side effect of its political fights.
It might not matter to me how the US finances its medical system, but it definitely matters to me who is in control in the US. And to know who is and will be in control, we have to watch domestic debates too. Of course, it's also amusing to watch, as American politics is made by expert show masters.

Another effect is the sheer size of American politics. The US has 20 times the population of my home country, and as a result something like for example healthcare, or banking regulations, or social security funding is debated by more people, with more relevant studies, more arguments, more rebuttals of arguments, than its counterpart overhere. For educated people in my country, who can read fluent English and have at least a moderate grasp of the quirks of the US system, that US debate is very accessible. More than for example a Swedish banking regulatons debate.
As a result, part of the American debate will be held again elsewhere, usually brought here by local people who prefer a more American-style approach. Even if you do not prefer the American approach on some issue, you still need to know the basics of the US debate in order to pe prepared.

Just to be clear, none of the above is in any sense a fault of the US or its citizens. Sometimes the US or some of its citizens do actively try to export their visions, and that can be annoying as hell. But a lot of it is simply that we are watching US internal debates anyway, so we might just as well have an opinion on them.

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Re: What does the world hate about America?

Postby icanus » Tue Mar 16, 2010 8:49 am UTC

I can only really give my perception of british sentiment towards america - which is a rather perverse love-hate thing at the best of times, but personally, I think the geo-political stuff and talk about freedoms vs abuses, while there are plenty of valid grievances there*, are mostly used as post-hoc rationalisation for a deeper seated (and much shallower) reason why the British tend to dislike America: Differences in manners and culture.

Until relatively recently, the only direct contact most Brits had with USAlien culture was with american tourists in loud shirts wandering around asking the way to BuckingHAM Palace and Lie-Sester Square, or the train to Edin-Burg (that's in Scotchland), trying to pay for things in some sort of green monopoly money worth less than a pound coin, and attempting to tip our bar staff in vulgar cash instead of buying them a drink as a civilised person would.

Add to the mix really bad american sitcoms with too much canned laughter gradually taking over our airwaves (this has improved greatly over the last decade, but the perception is still there), McDonalds and Pizza Hut replacing our beloved Pie and Mash shops, tales from our parents and grandparents about american GIs being "Overpaid, Oversexed and Over Here", and it's enough to taint our instinctive mental picture of Americans.

We speak nominally the same language, which means that we don't make the same allowances for differences in manners and culture we do for "real foreigners" - when you ask where the "Restroom" is, we see it as a needless cicumlocution to avoid talking about perfectly normal bodily functions. When you invite a stranger to "have a nice day", you're being insincere. When you call a waiter "sir", you're being sarcastic. We don't instinctively get that you're behaving perfectly appropriately for your culture and making every bit as much effort to respect local customs as we do overseas, because it takes a while to filter through to us that you are in fact from a different country and not just British people with a funny accent and horrible manners.

Intellectually, most of us know this image is a combination of several grossly unfair, outdated and unrepresentative stereotypes, based on trying to fit you in as part of the same culture rather than a different one that shares a similar language, and that our own reputation overseas is (rather more justifiably) even worse**, but it still lurks in our subconcious ready to bring a little bit of bile to the back of our throats when someone mentions that A-word.

A lot of these perceptions are gradually fading, as they're largely based on british experience of american Culture in the 80s-90s - it's now a lot cheaper to travel to and from the US, we get a broader serving of American culture on TV than just Al Bundy and high-school shootings, and a lot of us communicate daily with Americans via the internet, so perhaps ther's some hope that we're moving toward a more representative mental picture of Americans than we've had previously.


*From my totally anecdotal assesment of "how often did/do people complain about The Americans" pre and post Bush, while the reasons stated have changed totally, from the general "they're rude/arrogant" to specific complaints (Iraq, Guantanomo, etc.), the actual frequency of america bashing seems to me about the same. It's become easier to articulate a justification for the dislike, but I think a lot of it comes from the same poorly justified roots.

**Lobster-sunburned football hooligans starting fights in spanish and greek bars and SPEAKING VERY LOUDLY TO THE LOCALS as if that makes us easier to understand. That's probably the most positive aspect of Britain's overseas image...

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Re: What does the world hate about America?

Postby Zamfir » Tue Mar 16, 2010 8:58 am UTC

Icanus, and Americans speak through their noses. If they just stopped doing that, I could even forgive them their car supensions.

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Re: What does the world hate about America?

Postby bentheimmigrant » Tue Mar 16, 2010 11:28 am UTC

scarecrovv wrote:Interestingly, the prevailing view in the US is that Slobodan Milosevic and his government were on a brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing, it was the lack of commitment of ground forces that allowed this to continue, and it would have worked out better for everyone, the Kosovar Albanians especially, if NATO had put more military effort into the situation. I'm not saying your view is incorrect, I'm merely stating US thinkers' position on the matter.


Chomsky reports that the genocide did not begin until after the bombings, once the rule of law had been incapacitated.


Krong wrote:This is a small part of what you're saying, but yes, I do believe that my freedoms can be won or lost in other countries. To bring up the obvious, hyperbolic example, if Hitler had won World War II and enslaved Europe, would an American citizen still be as free? Sure, but only in the short term, before Hitler either invades or forces changes to our government through threats.

On a very basic level, my government exists to protect my rights. Attacks on these rights are not always domestic. If attacks on my right not to be murdered while flying in a plane are coming from within the borders of Afghanistan, my government has the authority (and even duty) to do what it can to stop that. In the case of the U.S., it can do quite a bit. We can argue whether that should include warfare or not, but even something as simple as a sternly worded letter still represents the government "arrogantly" making demands of other countries. I'm fine with that, as long as the justification is crystal clear.


But as you said, this is only a small part of what I was saying. I'd rather not use this thread to argue which wars have been justified, but apart from WW2, and perhaps Afghanistan, there have been more acts of aggression/control than I can list, using the same kind of justification that we (the British) used when we set up the future ruin of most of sub-Saharan Africa, the entire Middle East, the Kashmir region, and many others. The idealogical belief that I perceive in many Americans is that the country can do no wrong (all actions are self defence), but this is ludicrous in light of the atrocities in Latin America, as discussed earlier, as well as Vietnam and Iraq. Were American freedoms won or lost there?

I feel like America has this desire to hold the moral high ground without actually attempting to have morals (e.g. Indefinite detention/Gitmo, torture, the aforementioned illegitimate aggression). There is a pride that was evident during the British Empire (that everything done is good, and a refusal to bother to understand the culture/country you are invading - such as India for us, Iraq for America, and Afghanistan for the both of us) that I see reproduced in America, and it only goes bad places for everyone involved. The refusal to recognise this is extremely frustrating.

Perhaps it just comes down to the old quote about refusing to learn from history, and therefore repeating it. There are few sayings that I take as absolute truth, but this is one of them.
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Re: What does the world hate about America?

Postby Azrael » Tue Mar 16, 2010 11:47 am UTC

icanus wrote:Add to the mix really bad american sitcoms with too much canned laughter gradually taking over our airwaves (this has improved greatly over the last decade, but the perception is still there), McDonalds and Pizza Hut replacing our beloved Pie and Mash shops...

It's come up before in the thread, so I'm curious: Does anyone complaining of cultural export willing to admit, to any degree, that if there weren't a market, there wouldn't be an export?

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Re: What does the world hate about America?

Postby stevey_frac » Tue Mar 16, 2010 12:08 pm UTC

Silas wrote:TIA links to a program that was defunded in 2003. Hepting v. AT&T is a lawsuit about the same audio-free database you were talking about, before. Those don't add up to a plausible fear of someone listening to your phone calls.

The NSA wiretapping does involve the possibility of people in the United States being listened to... if they happen to be on the phone with someone under surveillance overseas. That's what "incident" means.

And last, I doubt you have any serious complaints about the PATRIOT Act. If you did, you'd have named one of those, instead of a disorganized list of cases either where the authorities used the Act for things other than investigating terrorism or which were only tangentially related to the Act at all. If you can name some provision of the Act that actually impinges on freedom, like you say it does, do so, or quit pretending that you can.


From the Hepting V. AT&T article:

"including the playback of telephone calls routed on the Internet, and thus in effect spying upon the entirety of the communication of many or all American citizens and businesses who use the Internet."
Its about more then a call Database. So yes, plausible fear of listening to your calls. And reading your email. and other things, like internet traffic.

The NSA wiretapping issue is also intrinsically a domestic issue. Because they recorded the conversations from 'our' end. So basically, if I call someone overseas that conversation could legally be recorded without warrant? Especially if the NSA had suspicions about me, and therefore everyone I called was an international person of interest now? They should still need a warrant to listen into my conversations on my end. It's like tapping my phone just in case I happen to call Afganistan. And do you really think that the NSA used it's powers of observation on only foreign calls? When they were 'provided total, unsupervised access to all fiber-optic communications going between some of the nation's major telecommunication companies' major interconnect locations'. I'm sorry, but if I were in their shoes wouldn't you just datamine the whole thing? My faith in their word of 'don't worry about it!' isn't very strong. If they are doing the right thing, why not put some sort of watch dog in place to make sure they are doing the right thing here?

The program that was defunded in 2003, but if you read the article thoroughly, you'd find that a lot of the programs continued on in other names.
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Re: What does the world hate about America?

Postby Zamfir » Tue Mar 16, 2010 12:37 pm UTC

Azrael wrote:
icanus wrote:Add to the mix really bad american sitcoms with too much canned laughter gradually taking over our airwaves (this has improved greatly over the last decade, but the perception is still there), McDonalds and Pizza Hut replacing our beloved Pie and Mash shops...

It's come up before in the thread, so I'm curious: Does anyone complaining of cultural export willing to admit, to any degree, that if there weren't a market, there wouldn't be an export?


I complain about cultural exports from time to time, and I have no probem at all in saying that there is a market. In particular, I think it's silly to assume that the alternative to American sitcoms and hamburgers would be high drama and good food. The alternative is home-made sitcoms and our own fast food.

At least overhere, our own fast food (and some varieties of Asian fast food, from the former colonies so it counts as native*) completely dwarves American fast food. American chains do tend to sit at attention-grabbing locations, so they look a bit more present than they are. For sitcoms, the American ones have chased away nearly any local competition.

I guess it matters how important economies of scale are. For sitcoms, or books, the guys with the biggest home market will always win out. In principle, I would prefer local sitcoms in my own language with local jokes, but a third-rate US sitcom still has a budget that dwarves any local attempt, and that shows in quality. I guess this works inside the US too. There must be enough Americans who get tired of televisions shows based in LA and New York, but you can't get those economies of scale without unifying American tastes into one big bag.

For fast food, it's somewhat different. McDonalds has a huge organization and enormous experience, but that counts only so much against local tastes.


* : There is interesting question whether Kebabs are more typical German food than Hamburgers.
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Re: What does the world hate about America?

Postby Peter Galbavy » Tue Mar 16, 2010 12:41 pm UTC

bentheimmigrant wrote:The point of my question is to find out WHY people hate America(ns), not to discuss whether those reasons are valid. It may or may not be an "alleged conspiracy," but that is not the issue. Dislike is based on perception, not necessarily fact.


I was trying hard not to comment on this thread as my language and comments may neither be as erudite or lucid as others or just repeating the same old thing. However...

What with arguments about which country has a "better" constitution or which quote from some dead politician summed up best the reason why there is a hatred of the US I am sure I must have missed it but what I haven't seen is much mention of is the politics of envy. What I see out here in the UK is any dislike, distrust, disdain or outright hatred of US-ans ("Americans" is such a sweeping landgrab of a generalisation that it plays to the point here, especially if you are Canadian or Mexican or ...) is greatly as result of envy of the quality of life, either genuine or as portrayed in the media and movies - which are almost all US produced or targetted at a US audience - and a perception of nationalistic arrogance tempered by ignorance that makes the US a very good ally or dangerous enemy - or visa versa.

My experiences of being in the US at various times in the 90s and those friends I have from the States tell me that the rough proportion of assholes to angels is about the same as anywhere else, so it isn't that.

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Re: What does the world hate about America?

Postby ianf » Tue Mar 16, 2010 12:55 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:For fast food, it's somewhat different. McDonalds has a huge organization and enormous experience, but that counts only so much against local tastes.


This was demonstrated in Barbados, where McDonalds opened and then shut down because people just weren't interested in their food.

So, to answer the original question, yes there needs to be a market for the export.

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Re: What does the world hate about America?

Postby Azrael » Tue Mar 16, 2010 1:37 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:I complain about cultural exports from time to time, and I have no problem at all in saying that there is a market. In particular, I think it's silly to assume that the alternative to American sitcoms and hamburgers would be high drama and good food. The alternative is home-made sitcoms and our own fast food ... At least over here, our own fast food (and some varieties of Asian fast food, from the former colonies so it counts as native*) completely dwarves American fast food. American chains do tend to sit at attention-grabbing locations, so they look a bit more present than they are ...I guess it matters how important economies of scale are.

This is exactly where I hoped we'd go -- the same is true here in America, although we frame it as a commercialization (or globalization) issue which is actually the cause, not a cultural one. Large chains serving crappy food have better margins, brand recognition, vast savings in economies of scale and a pool of marketing money. My local 'fast' food is way better than the chains too, and those same business are endangered the same way. The only difference is that I can't scapegoat a convenient third party, but have to recognize the 'faults' in the immediate and fellow consumers.

As far as movies and TV shows go, I can see why there's actually an export discrepancy because production value is so directly tied to available audience size.

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Re: What does the world hate about America?

Postby Eyat » Tue Mar 16, 2010 1:44 pm UTC

stevey_frac wrote:@Shivari: I sometimes try and see how many red flags I can raise at NSA headquarters. I figure the more of us do that kinda thing, the more inefficient their wiretapping of my conversations becomes. I wasn't trying to call Obama a muslim, or black, or that he has a bomb. That IS absurd. Besides, i kinda like the guy, even if I don't agree with everything he does. (but that's just politics for you).


I don't know where you get this crazy fear but I will attempt to set you straight. First off, if it were somehow magically against the law to call Obama a muslim (which people assert, in large groups in washington with signs in front of the white house) or black (which he is so why would that even get you on this watch list of yours?) or had a bomb (which would be a threat how? would he assasinate himself?) a noticeable amount of people would be in jail.
Secondly I have my doubts that the NSA cares about cell phone calls in canada, however come into the US and call a terrorist suspect overseas and you might find yourself on tape somewhere (but to review it would be his phone that was being monitored not yours, we may be doing it from our end but if you had say called up someone in britain to discuss the superiority of vinegar as a condiment over that dastardly ketchup no one would give a damn even if you then said " you know who likes ketchup, that black muslim bomb wielding Obama feller that lives at the white house")



stevey_frac wrote:
Also: I know the U.S. has states. That you don't feel it important to know we have provinces makes you LESS ignorant? I'm pretty sure that knowing the U.S. has states is just as useless to me. And I should think that the Govenor of a state would know that Canada doesn't hold it's national legislature in an igloo. Srsly.



Well maybe if Canada was named the United Provinces it would be more common knowledge that it had provinces ( I knew it had provinces for the record, but are you really lording over people that you knew the United STATES... had states?)

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Re: What does the world hate about America?

Postby Zamfir » Tue Mar 16, 2010 2:10 pm UTC

Azrael wrote:the same is true here in America, although we frame it as a commercialization (or globalization) issue which is actually the cause, not a cultural one.

Sure, Americans complaining about Walmart share a lot with French complaining about McDonalds.

But I don't think you can dismiss the cultural aspect quite that easily. The economies of scale effect is much stronger for things like sitcoms and books and other cultural artefacts than it is for food. There is a serious possibility there that a country or culture loses some of its ability to be a producer, a contributor of (small and large-c) culture, instead of just a consumer. A second part is that the difference between your tastes and "uniform American" is probably smaller than for non-Americans. So if economies of scale shift the available tastes towards "bland American", foreigners lose more.

An example: there is apparently only room for a handful of full-time science fiction writers in German, and none in Dutch. That's not because the market cannot sustain more writers, but because they would have to compete with English-language writers who do not need to pull a full living wage out of the German or Dutch markets. In this particular niche, the effect of an international market is that there is a more room for English-language wirters, because those on the edge of sustaining themselves get access to new markets, and less room for other language writers. For readers, it's probably a good thing, since they get access to more variety than their own language could support. On the other hand, they do lose access to culture-specific works they might have enjoined especially strong.

So it's not straightforward. A culture can't exist of consumers and audiences alone.
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Re: What does the world hate about America?

Postby bentheimmigrant » Tue Mar 16, 2010 2:17 pm UTC

Azrael wrote:This is exactly where I hoped we'd go -- the same is true here in America, although we frame it as a commercialization (or globalization) issue which is actually the cause, not a cultural one. Large chains serving crappy food have better margins, brand recognition, vast savings in economies of scale and a pool of marketing money. My local 'fast' food is way better than the chains too, and those same business are endangered the same way. The only difference is that I can't scapegoat a convenient third party, but have to recognize the 'faults' in the immediate and fellow consumers.

As far as movies and TV shows go, I can see why there's actually an export discrepancy because production value is so directly tied to available audience size.


I would say that the market is for only certain types of culture, as mentioned earlier regarding Barbados. For example, US soaps seem to hold very little attraction here - UK soaps are very different in style and disgustingly popular. When it comes to other shows and sitcoms, it has only been in recent years that budgets seem to have been big enough to create consistently good entertainment - we've had various shows that have been amazing (particularly comedy/sketch shows that can be done on a minuscule budget) but when it comes to exciting shows like mysteries or crime, or something like House, there is nothing there to compete. Perhaps it is a cultural thing, that our nation does not have whatever it is that would be required to produce a House like show, but our hospital dramas suck compared to any of the US offerings I've seen (yes this is obviously an opinion, but the success of them over here is undeniable).

In terms culture clashes, I think it'll be pretty hard to beat icanus' interpretation. Just thinking about some of the situations (s)he mentioned made me cringe, and although they are stereotypes, I have seen them consistently lived up to. There is no denying that American culture leads to different behaviour in public - my American friends have realised how loud they are when they're over here, compared to the other people around them - and this is quite often offensive (especially butchering our place names!!!!!!). This may be shallow, but it does lead to a perception of a lack of effort on the visitors' part.
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Re: What does the world hate about America?

Postby Azrael » Tue Mar 16, 2010 3:31 pm UTC

bentheimmigrant wrote:Perhaps it is a cultural thing, that our nation does not have whatever it is that would be required to produce a House like show, but our hospital dramas suck compared to any of the US offerings I've seen (yes this is obviously an opinion, but the success of them over here is undeniable).
No, it's an economic thing based on intrinsic audience size. And it illustrates my point regarding the market perfectly: Yes, it's 'cultural export' but you're willingly consuming it over native materials because you like it better.

bentheimmigrant wrote:This may be shallow, but it does lead to a perception of a lack of effort on the visitors' part.
And I have yet to meet a foreigner who can pronounce our names either. At this point, you (and icanus, for the most part) are just whinging that people from elsewhere are people from elsewhere, which is rather unavoidable.

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Re: What does the world hate about America?

Postby Mokele » Tue Mar 16, 2010 5:32 pm UTC

I'm surprised this term hasn't come up before, especially since it seems to perfectly mirror what so many find distasteful in the US:

American exceptionalism

Basically, the idea that the US is, for any/many reasons (speaker dependent) somehow "better" or "superior". It can include admission of faults, but usually in a manner which implies a) that we made up for it somehow b) others screwed up wore or both.

It's important to note that is isn't just present in the over-hyped Republican way - it's subtly leaks into all Americans via the highly biased version of "history" taught in schools here. It's rarely as obvious as "Yay America! Boo Everyone Else" - it can be as subtle as only presenting inventions or events that are connected to the US, differences in emphasis, an omission here and there. For instance, I've never seen a US history book that acknowledges that the UK broke the Enigma Code, or even mentions it at all. Marconi's invention of the radio barely got a mention, but there were huge chunks of text devoted to the telephone, telegraph, airplane, etc. and their effects on the world. Every book talks about the Space Race, none of them mention the fact that the only reason the US won was the use of captured, pardoned Nazi scientists.

So basically, in addition to our geographic isolation, there's a deliberate educational isolation which has a pervasive slant of either lionizing the US either at the expense of or omission of other countries.
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Re: What does the world hate about America?

Postby bentheimmigrant » Tue Mar 16, 2010 5:57 pm UTC

Azrael wrote:No, it's an economic thing based on intrinsic audience size. And it illustrates my point regarding the market perfectly: Yes, it's 'cultural export' but you're willingly consuming it over native materials because you like it better.


On this note, there are a few English shows that have been taken and remade in the US (ignoring reality shows like Pop Idol, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?, Weakest Link, etc.), such as The Office. What is it about such shows that makes them less accessible to American audience? The US version of The Office appears to be a line by line copy. Is it just that people can't understand the accents or what?


Azrael wrote:
bentheimmigrant wrote:This may be shallow, but it does lead to a perception of a lack of effort on the visitors' part.
And I have yet to meet a foreigner who can pronounce our names either. At this point, you (and icanus, for the most part) are just whinging that people from elsewhere are people from elsewhere, which is rather unavoidable.


As I said, reasons are reasons, whether they are defensible or not (although being an Englishman with an American accent, I may find myself less forgiving, as I have managed it - not that this is an adequate excuse...)
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Re: What does the world hate about America?

Postby ianf » Tue Mar 16, 2010 7:03 pm UTC

bentheimmigrant wrote:On this note, there are a few English shows that have been taken and remade in the US (ignoring reality shows like Pop Idol, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?, Weakest Link, etc.), such as The Office. What is it about such shows that makes them less accessible to American audience? The US version of The Office appears to be a line by line copy. Is it just that people can't understand the accents or what?


It's more to do with cultural references. Things that you don't even notice. I think some series are also modified to fit more in with US sensibilities. I think that Coupling, for example, was tamed down a bit in the US remake. And I don't think that the Office is a line for line copy. I know it was to begin with, but it's got new episodes now, I think.

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Re: What does the world hate about America?

Postby icanus » Tue Mar 16, 2010 7:32 pm UTC

Azrael wrote:At this point, you (and icanus, for the most part) are just whinging that people from elsewhere are people from elsewhere, which is rather unavoidable

Sorry about that. I rather fell into a laundry list of "things about americans that piss brits off (even when they're not actually true)", and kind of buried the suggestion I was trying to make, that the similarity of language and some aspects of our cultures make it easy for us to forget that Americans are in fact from elsewhere, and makes us a whole lot less tolerant of the cultural differences than we should be.

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Re: What does the world hate about America?

Postby Shivari » Tue Mar 16, 2010 9:01 pm UTC

stevey_frac wrote:Also: I know the U.S. has states.


Probably because we're called the United States of America. :roll:

If you were called the Canadian Provinces then I might have known, but I really have no reason to know how Canada is divided. Quick! How is Japan divided up? You'd have no clue unless you had to do a report on it like I did in Government class. Does this make you ignorant? I wouldn't say so, you're just unaware about something that you have no reason to know in the first place.

Mokele wrote:For instance, I've never seen a US history book that acknowledges that the UK broke the Enigma Code, or even mentions it at all. Marconi's invention of the radio barely got a mention, but there were huge chunks of text devoted to the telephone, telegraph, airplane, etc. and their effects on the world.


Probably because it's a US history book and not a World History book. Why shouldn't it focus on American advances over foreign ones?

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Re: What does the world hate about America?

Postby Lazar » Tue Mar 16, 2010 9:54 pm UTC

Mokele wrote:I'm surprised this term hasn't come up before, especially since it seems to perfectly mirror what so many find distasteful in the US:

American exceptionalism

Basically, the idea that the US is, for any/many reasons (speaker dependent) somehow "better" or "superior". It can include admission of faults, but usually in a manner which implies a) that we made up for it somehow b) others screwed up wore or both.

My own conception of American exceptionalism is that it's almost entirely a bad thing - the unique blend of reactionism and neoliberalism that makes our political culture seem so backward compared to other developed nations. I know it's a gross generalization to say that America is uniformly deficient and aberrant and that Europe and Canada are uniformly good and normal, but I'll admit to feeling that way quite often.

Shivari wrote:Probably because it's a US history book and not a World History book. Why shouldn't it focus on American advances over foreign ones?

I think Mokele meant "US history book" as in "history book from the US", not as in "book on US history". In any case, that movie U-571 was a flipping travesty.

bentheimmigrant wrote:On this note, there are a few English shows that have been taken and remade in the US (ignoring reality shows like Pop Idol, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?, Weakest Link, etc.), such as The Office. What is it about such shows that makes them less accessible to American audience? The US version of The Office appears to be a line by line copy. Is it just that people can't understand the accents or what?

The most notable thing that comes to mind is that the British version consisted of 12 episodes, while the American version currently stands at over 100 - we expect a lot more episodes per year. (Hugh Laurie has commented on the culture shock of having to do 20+ episodes per season for House.) But in any case, the notion of having a foreign show on a major US network just seems inconceivable - it would be a cool thing to do, but I could never imagine it being done. There are a good number of Americans who like British shows (mostly but not exclusively comedies), but we watch them on public television or on BBC America.
Last edited by Lazar on Tue Mar 16, 2010 10:18 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What does the world hate about America?

Postby bentheimmigrant » Tue Mar 16, 2010 10:16 pm UTC

Shivari wrote:Probably because it's a US history book and not a World History book. Why shouldn't it focus on American advances over foreign ones?


Because this can easily lead to inferences that all that is good comes from America. I'm not saying world history is more important to an American, I'm just trying to give a simple answer to your question.

I would say that in my history classes in England, I learned a fair amount about our failings in our empire building days, in terms of colonisation and such, as well as the various sides of the troubles in Northern Ireland. Although it was at an earlier age, I don't remember learning the negative aspects of American history (except slavery) when it comes to things such as the expansion during the 1800s, and the mistreatment of the indigenous people that came with that. Hopefully this is covered at high school level (I throw this out there in the hope that someone will reassure me that it is, not as evidence that it isn't).

And with recent news about the Texas education board, the image of American education is hardly helped. The fact that such things can happen in a developed country are mindblowing to me... That is the kind of thing that I would say endangers American freedoms.

Lazar wrote:My own conception of American exceptionalism is that it's almost entirely a bad thing - the unique blend of reactionism and neoliberalism that makes our political culture seem so backward compared to other developed nations. I know it's a gross generalization to say that America is uniformly deficient and aberrant and that Europe and Canada are uniformly good and normal, but I'll admit to feeling that way quite often.


I'd say that's a pretty good interpretation of the message that it sends to the outside world. Unfortunately under Bush that's what we saw for most of a decade.

But in any case, the notion of having a foreign show on a major US network just seems inconceivable - it would be a cool thing to do, but I could never imagine it being done.


But why? What part of American culture prevents this from happening? My first reaction is to assume that it's something to do with the attitude of "only America produces good things," but I doubt that's a major reason...
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Re: What does the world hate about America?

Postby she-ra » Tue Mar 16, 2010 10:26 pm UTC

I think hate is a strong word but I can reiterate what Pleochism said about the South African view of America insofar as Americans are often perceived as ignorant, especially of the world outside America. There is a long running joke in South Africa that whenever someone comes back from overseas (especially America) you ask them if they told people that they live in the bush with giraffes in their back garden and have a pet lion named Simba (or similar).

I personally get annoyed when people refer to Africa as if it was one country. Also when people say, 'do you speak African?' There is no such language!

I think one of the problems is that America seems quite insulated from the rest of the world. My parents went on a trip to America last year and my mom said one of the things she found quite interesting was the difference between the CNN channel in America and the one we get here. Apparently in America a large percentage of the news was all about America whereas we get a lot more worldwide news. I think this insulation can also be seen in the way that America does not seem to play a lot of international sports. You have an event called the world series (baseball I think?) were all American teams play each other. Whereas I feel that it would be harder to to sell the 'I live in a hut with my pet lion' bit to Australians or Brits because they know we have rugby stadiums here and therefore probably cities to go with them.

I think the problem may be that because the American culture is so pervasive around the world (especially TV, movies and music) a lot of people from other countries know a lot about America not through study but through the absorption of that culture whereas Americans do not have the same opportunity to learn about other places the same way.

On a completely different tangent I personally dislike America for spawning McDonald's and the entire fast-food culture which it gave rise to but that might just be because I believe that McDonald's is the embodiment of pure evil.
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Re: What does the world hate about America?

Postby kjsharke » Tue Mar 16, 2010 11:00 pm UTC

icanus wrote:We speak nominally the same language, which means that we don't make the same allowances for differences in manners and culture we do for "real foreigners" - when you ask where the "Restroom" is, we see it as a needless cicumlocution to avoid talking about perfectly normal bodily functions.

Firstly, I think "bathroom" is more common around here, which seems less circumlocution than misapplied to public toilets :)

That said, I've seen language as a rough spot on some occasions -- I was in a hostel with a Scottish guy, and was telling a story, and said someone didn't speak "my language", and he snaps:
Him: (paraphrased) That's what I hate about you Americans, it isn't your language.
Me: (wtf? I guess we can't share, we'll just have to fight over it)
(maybe he just needed a fight though, he previously said "I hate how you Canadians plaster your nationality all over everything" to an *American* who lacked any unavoidable indication of nationality at all)

I do think that there are a lot of ugly American tourists like this:
icanus wrote:**Lobster-sunburned football hooligans starting fights in spanish and greek bars and SPEAKING VERY LOUDLY TO THE LOCALS as if that makes us easier to understand. That's probably the most positive aspect of Britain's overseas image...

Except we'd mean something different by 'football', and omit "TO THE LOCALS" since they would mostly ignore local culture beyond alcohol and how much nicer McDonalds is here... Singing "Star Spangle Banner" late at night on the Fourth of July loud enough to be heard for blocks in Granada (sound carries in that valley above Plaza Nueva), or saying "This would never fly in Houston" about Parque Guell, or kids too young to drink in the US doing little else on their "study abroad". I think many Americans are really sociable travelers, so none of that applies, but the rotten ones stick out, and they annoyed me too (obviously^^^)

she-ra wrote:I think one of the problems is that America seems quite insulated from the rest of the world.

a) geographically, that is largely true b) the US is big in population and land, so there is a lot of fodder for "domestic" news.

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Re: What does the world hate about America?

Postby freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeen » Tue Mar 16, 2010 11:49 pm UTC

A few points I have in regards to this argument.
1.) the British Office is played weekly on adult swim in the US.
2.) it is pretty dumb to complain that US citizens don't know X country is divided into y provinces etc. when I guarantee there is at least one country out there whose method of dividing into territories you don't know. Be happy, not sad, that we have States in our country's name to help solve that problem :p
3.) While i think the whole Texas education thing is ridiculous and moronic myself, that's the price we pay for freedom. I'd rather have the opportunity to choose to believe God did everything or there is no god or any other belief I want. Texas citizens voted those people into office, and it is indeed possible to vote them out. And the people who did not vote for them, but live in the state, they always have the option of private schooling, home schooling, petitions, etc. if they are so very against the ideas. I think it is a good thing, not a bad thing, that our country lets the "idiots" vote, since denying them that right would solve the problem you have with our country, but also take away the freedoms we love.

*DISCLAIMER* I am thoroughly against teaching religion, creationism etc in schools and think the Texas controversy is ludicrous
I also do not mean this post to be an attack on anyone


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