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The Roots of Resentment and Cross Cultural Understanding

By tudlio in Culture
Fri Dec 21, 2001 at 11:19:01 AM EST
Tags: Round Table (all tags)
Round Table

This evening I listened to a special report on National Public Radio called The Roots of Resentment that tried to provide some explanation for the widespread international dissatisfaction with America. I don't think it succeeded, but I do think it served as an interesting departure point for a discussion about how people from different nations and cultures understand one another, and what role if any technology has in bridging the gap.


In the first half-hour of the report we heard Muslims in Cairo and Amman expressing their feelings of frustration and anger about America. In the second half-hour we heard English citizens expressing similar views. In both segments the people interviewed painted a portrait of America that was, if often accurate in the aggregate, decidedly one-dimensional. America was a land of people whose morality comes out of the barrel of a gun, who view citizens of other countries as less than human. America is a land of ignorance and complacency, of arrogance and naivete.

Obviously, that's too simplistic an explanation to characterize any nation, particularly one as large and diverse as the United States. Even so, there are Americans who hold a similarily simplistic view of Egyptians or Jordanians: Muslims are all religious fanatics, living on dirt floors and firing their guns in the air.

No such simplistic viewpoint could easily survive hearing Egyptians and Jordanians telling their own story, in their own words. A modicum of empathy is all that's needed to identify with the family who served chocolate cake and cola to the America RadioWorks crew, whose five-year-old daughter likes American movies because she thinks it's funny when the boys and girls kiss.

To get that level of connection requires a degree of technology, albeit nothing particularly new: tape recorders, microphones and radio waves. True, the program has a website where you can get expanded content, but it's incidental to the main force of the story.

It seems to me that the net offers an even greater opportunity than that to foster cross-cultural understanding. After all, people spend a great deal of time on discussion boards, blogs, and in chat rooms talking about what it's like to be them, and that's what cross-cultural understanding is about.

What do you think? Will the net help to obliterate the simplistic views that make international relations difficult? Has it already? Or will it simply be another media dominated by American culture?

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Poll
Will the net facilitate cross cultural understanding?
o Yes 19%
o No 24%
o Don't know 8%
o Don't care 0%
o The net's its own culture 25%
o Culture schmulture, bring on the porn 22%

Votes: 62
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o National Public Radio
o The Roots of Resentment
o Also by tudlio


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The Roots of Resentment and Cross Cultural Understanding | 76 comments (75 topical, 1 editorial, 0 hidden)
If I recall correctly... (4.46 / 13) (#1)
by chipuni on Fri Dec 21, 2001 at 02:31:25 AM EST

If I recall correctly, there was once a technology so revolutionary that it would guarantee an end to international wars. It would facilitate communication between countries so much that their people would learn one from another and learn to appreciate each other's culture. It would lead to an era of peace -- not through military conquest, as in the past -- but one of mutual understanding.

That technology, of course, was radio.

Without a doubt, radio and its successor, television, has broadened people's knowledge of the world. But it never became the educational utopia that its founders thought.

In short, though I sincerely hope that you are right, and that the Internet provides for a global village where everyone can get to know everyone... I expect that it will mostly devolve into sitcoms, with a few NPR-style areas for the rest of us.
--
Perfection is not reached when nothing more can be added, but only when nothing more can be taken away.
Wisdom for short attention spans.

It does work but for censorship (none / 0) (#66)
by A Trickster Imp on Sun Dec 23, 2001 at 09:40:24 AM EST

The thought about radio breaks down when the government censors the broadcasts. Witness even the friendly Moslim nations (as of the Gulf War) who censor because information to the people "needs to be filtered".

The US doesn't get into wars with countries that have freedom of speech and the press.






[ Parent ]
yes and no (4.64 / 14) (#2)
by Arkady on Fri Dec 21, 2001 at 02:32:05 AM EST

From the perspective you're looking at it, there are definitely two Nets.

Many of us on K5, for example, fall into the "foster cross-cultural understandin" category (even if all we do in that vein is participate at K5). For example, the annual NetHack tournament I host every November had 850 players this year, with winners on three continents and from about 12 different countries. The OpenNIC, for which I run some servers and admin a Top-Level Domain, has members in about 25 countries and users from probably another 50.

Between K5 and these other two online projects I participate in, I really have no reason to view nationality as anything other than an accident of birth since I deal with folks from all the world every day. I expect the situation is much the same for many of you as well.

The vast majority of Net users, however, only use the Net to email with people they already know and to view the web sites of the mega corporations. For _these_ people, the Net acts as an amplifier for their already insular existence rather than an expander of their horizons.

-robin

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere Anarchy is loosed upon the world.


A definite maybe (5.00 / 1) (#25)
by Estragon on Fri Dec 21, 2001 at 01:19:24 PM EST

Before saying there are two nets, I would say there are two types of media, and the Net embraces both types.

Media like radio and television are one-way communication. Most of us are only listeners. It seems inevitable that the transmitters are owned by the rich, who are therefore able to control what we see.

You cannot "foster cross-cultural understanding" without two-way media. The Net enables this two-way communication.

The question then becomes one of how much two-way communication is international. Does anyone have any real data to share?

[ Parent ]

one-way/two-way (5.00 / 1) (#32)
by Arkady on Fri Dec 21, 2001 at 02:24:42 PM EST

That's basically another way of saying the same thing: the one physical Net supports two different mental Nets, the higher level protocols, some of which are two-way and many of which are one-way.

The examples of TV and radio are interesting, since both of them _also_ support two-way communication, just not nearly as well or as cheaply as the Net does. TV and radio could have led to a democratization of communication if their underlying technologies had been built to encourage it but, particularly in the U.S. where the State has given those mediums to businesses pretty much completely, the social mechanisms controlling those mediums have tended strongly towards one-way communication.

The Net is being forced in that direction now, at least for many users. The underlying protocols still support two-way communication, but the software many people use (or simply the way in which they are capable of using it) still tend strongly towards one-way communication, since that's the model with which they are familiar and the model with which the controlling social forces (i.e. the State and Corporation) wishes them to remain.

Though the infrastructure and software do support two-way communication (and cheap one-way communication) quite well, the knowledge necessary to use it needs to be acquired first and to many people is difficult to learn and use. This is getting better, but the vested one-way interests are certainly _not_ helping in this sense. ;-)

Since there are two fairly discreet user bases, with two very different patterns of use, it seemed reasonable to say that (from that perspective) there are two Nets. The user groups, and the resources they use, do not overlap much at the higher level, though of course both use the same underlying hardware and transmission protocols.

-robin

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere Anarchy is loosed upon the world.


[ Parent ]
The Net versus Radio (5.00 / 1) (#51)
by Estragon on Fri Dec 21, 2001 at 09:09:31 PM EST

Radio is a fascinating example. 50 years ago technological teenagers were not hacking computers, but were building shortwave radios. There was a very real two-way radio community.

In the grand scheme of things, it doesn't seem to have had a large effect.

The difference between radio (then) and the net (now) is that the barrier to entry is much smaller. The knowledge required to participate in e-mail is simple enough for nearly everyone. And it is not hard learn how to join a mailing list.

The barriers to the international use of e-mail are much lower than for shortwave radio:

  • You do not have to be using the system at the same time, which makes it possible to communicate with anyone in any time zone.
  • You do not have to learn morse code and get a license from your government.
On the other hand, both technologies have to deal with speakers of different languages.

But outside of the language issues, there is no difference between domestic e-mail and foreign e-mail.

The non-technical lists that I participate in have a large foreign contingent. Maybe there is a chance that the net will do a better job than radio.

[ Parent ]

Remember the Babel fish? (4.35 / 14) (#3)
by epcraig on Fri Dec 21, 2001 at 03:19:06 AM EST

In The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams conjectured that the invention of the Babel fish, by bettering interstellar communications, led to more and more bitter wars.

In our more mundane world, the nastiest wars have been civil wars and rebellions, when people who know each other well communicate their differences lethally.

Why, then, are we so sure that increased internet connectivity will lead to peace?
There is no EugeneFreeNet.org, there is an efn.org

Promote cross-cultural understanding? (4.58 / 12) (#4)
by Apuleius on Fri Dec 21, 2001 at 03:41:02 AM EST

You and what army? Egypt's problems are severe[0], and are in due in no small part to Egypt being a place not endowed much by nature, and also to a great deal of self-destructive actions, policies, and cultural institutions of the Egyptian government and the Egyptian people. But the powers that be in Egypt have an imperative need to direct the frustrations of the Egyptian people to outside forces. Their survival is at stake. This is why the Egyptian media, particularly the papers catering to the lower classes, continue to hawk anti-American screeds, variants on the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, including one that centers attention on the Freemasons, et cetera. It's better to believe that Egypt's hepatitis problem is due to Jewish poisoners than to believe that decades of lackadaisical practices in the medical system spread the disease through bilhartzia vaccinations. If you set out on this quest, you will have active opposition.

By the way, Hollywood is possibly the worst offender in providing the world with misinformation about Americans. From the movies a foreigner would never guess the prevalence of religion in American life, nor would he have a good estimate of the American standard of living (high, but not as high as shown in the movies). He would assume incorrectly that Hollywood's level of vulgarity is accepted on the American street, and let's not even talk about sexual mores. Would the internet be better? Well, let's put it this way: with how many grains of salt do you take the results of an internet poll?

[0] I saw that first hand in a village near Sakkara, ten years ago, when I saw a family washing dishes in a canal, while a dead donkey floated nearby.




There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
I think that's the real problem. (4.00 / 6) (#15)
by Ken Arromdee on Fri Dec 21, 2001 at 10:31:31 AM EST

Hatred of America is *convenient*. It's easier for a country, particularly a dictatorship (notice how you don't see as much hate-America rhetoric from Western Europe or India?), to blame its troubles on the USA and on the Jews than to admit that its own problems are its own fault.

It's pretty much impossible to solve this problem as long as other countries have troubles, which is to say, it's pretty much impossible, period.

[ Parent ]

Re: (5.00 / 1) (#21)
by sopwath on Fri Dec 21, 2001 at 12:29:52 PM EST

I agree that hatred of America is convenient, but I don't think countries other than Britain are able to support us anymore. (I don't know why)

The main article here said that people in France were saying the same things as those in the other arab countries. I've heard negative reports on France etc (Germany, Spain, Norway to name a few) that have mentioned specifically that they would NOT help the US on the war on terrorism. There was a man arrested in Minnesota who was supposed to be the 12th hijacker on 9/11 and France said they opposed his trial. With that kind of international support, who can the US really count on?



good luck,
sopwath


Graduation, Sleep, Life: Pick Two
[ Parent ]
More bitter than Frenchmen eating Kraft Singles (none / 0) (#24)
by On Lawn on Fri Dec 21, 2001 at 01:17:37 PM EST

Their diplomat is not a very hapy soul these days.

[ Parent ]
France has always been like this (5.00 / 1) (#46)
by epepke on Fri Dec 21, 2001 at 06:20:48 PM EST

The main article here said that people in France were saying the same things as those in the other arab countries.

France has always been like this. There's a reason so many people in North Africa speak French. There's a reson that Vietnamese cuisine is half French. There was a reason behind their "Peace for Jews" solution to World War II. There is a reason they invented Existentialism. France was the biggest fence-straddler in Western Europe during the Cold War, and when they joined NATO, they really didn't mean it. Call me a bigot, but I'm just stating the facts. Don't judge Europe based on France. Most of Europe is great, but they can't do a lot to help the US right now.

Except possibly for moral support. I am disturbed by the lack of affirmation coming out of Europe that the people feel that they were attacked. Whether one agrees with what is being done, under NATO, an attack on one country is supposed to be viewed as an attack on all. Maybe the US couldn't always just smoosh the Soviet Tanks, but we didn't just shut up, and we took a number of really big risks. What I hear (or don't hear) is a bit like, "Hey, guys, thanks for saving us from barbarism once or twice and helping to bankrupt the Soviet Union. Now piss off." A few nice speeches of support, even if they didn't mean anything, would go down well right about now.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
Opposing the trial (none / 0) (#76)
by Curieus on Tue Jan 15, 2002 at 08:46:12 AM EST

I suspect, from what i heard from this side of the pond, that France did not so much oppose the trial itself, as well some conditions.
One of these conditions is the death penalty. That same penalty will be a reason why suspects caught in europe will not be handed over to the US if the US doesn't guarantee that they will not get the death penalty.

As for support for US actions that is dwindling? Logically, as stated before by others, the US only acts in its own interest. Why should any other country do otherwise. Those other countries saw a need to support the US against taliban controlled afganistan, but they don't see a need to give the US carte blanche to act anywhere in the world.
They (of course most ungratefully) don't have a burning desire to be automatically dragged in to every next american venture, be it Irak, Iran, Somalia, Sudan etc....


[ Parent ]
Getting to know people (4.88 / 17) (#5)
by jesterzog on Fri Dec 21, 2001 at 04:07:45 AM EST

I've been building up a theory on resentment of Americans over the last few months. This comment is less to do with middle eastern resent and more to do with general resent, but I think it's still relevant so I'll post it.

I can't comment in detail about dissent in countries such as those in the Middle East. If the opinions I've heard are correct, it's at least partly to do with the US Federal Government's foreign policy. It's not helped by some people feeling that George Bush and his friends are loonies for various reasons, but I won't go into that because there's been plenty of it on k5 already. I can definitely comment on more developed countries though.

For economic reasons and being a small country, New Zealand markets itself a lot overseas on tourism and getting foreign investment. As a result there are lots of different cultures here. I'm lucky enough to get to meet people from all sorts of different places.

So often, people here learn about other countries by meeting people who've travel from them. You don't necessarily learn about things like historical facts and political situations, but you do get to know the people who live there... and that means a lot for how people look at a country. As soon as you get to know someone on an individual level, they're about as likely to be as respectable as anyone you'd normally meet locally.

Because this country's so small (3.8 million people), the communities often intermingle with each other, meaning that relatively everyone normally meets everyone in some way. In fact, I'm probably lucky to live in a country with one of the most integrated mixtures of different international cultures in the world. For example:

  • There are lots of Chinese students coming here for postgraduate study at New Zealand universities.. albeit after their compulsory year of political training that they have to take before they can study overseas. There are students from lots of other asian coutries, too, as well as people who just choose to settle down.
  • Three of the lecturers in my department are Canadians, and they come through every so often on trips. I'm quite interested in going to Canada because most of the Canadians I've met have been really nice.
  • New Zealand is about as far away from Europe as is possible to get, and lots of young people from Europe come here on overseas experience and holidays.
  • There are big communities of people from middle eastern and african countries, sometimes as refugees or overstayers, or just making a new life on their own terms.
  • We have regular international sporting links with countries like South Africa, India, Pakistan, Australia, Argentina, France, England, etc. Apart from just competing with them though, there are lots of people following the teams around the world so everyone meets up with each other, they have drinks with each other downtown, and so on.
  • There's an abundance of Australians and people from various Pacific Islands. (Geographically they're neighbours.

One of the biggest differences between the USA and the rest of the world that I notice from here though is that I never really get to meet any people from the US. If there's one thing that the USA doesn't export internationally in bulk, it's people. As a culture, people from the US just don't travel that much internationally. Consequently almost nobody here really gets to know US people as they really are.

What the USA does export very visibly is media, and the USA exports it more than any other country in the world. Virtually everything that people here see of the USA and US culture comes from television, movies and news reports from sensationalist networks like CNN.

People's views of the US often come from watching shows like Jerry Springer, which is obviously a very niche collection of some of the worst representatives there could be, but it's what people see. It shouldn't be that much of a surprise if people outside the states joke about the US as being full of some of the dumbest and most ignorant people in the world.

Whether or not this is actually true is irrelevant, because from the outside it looks true. Virtually all of the television and movies that the US supports are US-centric, and don't acknowledge that the rest of the world exists. Whereas most of the world at least has some international relationship going with each other, the USA has heavily marketed events like the World Series that it's nearly impossible not to hear about internationally and yet it's a completely US-domestic event.

So anyway, several months ago I started playing Ultimate in my spare time. I still suck at it, but it's heaps of fun. In New Zealand, Ultimate is a very low-key sport and therefore I enjoy it, because the whole thing's very laid back. At least in the league I play in, the game's competitive but everyone's much more interested in enjoying it than in winning. One of the cool things about it is that a significant proportion of the Ultimate players here are migrants with strong North American accents. Some are from Canada but lots are from the US.

For a change, I'm actually getting to meet some people from some parts of the US. It doesn't change my attitude towards US foreign policy or the the US federal government as a whole, and I still laugh at all the "only in America" jokes. But it is reassuring to actually meet people and confirm that they're not like what we get on TV.

In answer to your question, I don't think the net will make a jot of difference. What would help to change things is if US citizens start travelling more around the world and meeting people in other countries. In doing so, they'll get to know the US as it really is, too, and might get a bit more respect for it. The net is just another media, and is already being polluted immensely by an awful signal to noise ratio. (Just look at the trolling on slashdot, for example.) In my opinion you don't experience other people in the same way or take things in the same context.


jesterzog Fight the light


One more thing (3.66 / 6) (#16)
by MicroBerto on Fri Dec 21, 2001 at 10:32:40 AM EST

If there's one thing that the USA doesn't export internationally in bulk, it's people.
Good points up there! But it goes a bit further - those that DO get 'exported' are those that are vacationing to other lands, such as tropical islands.

So who's got the money to go on a vacation to your country? You guessed it -- rich, snobby, selfish assholes. "Give me this! Gimme that!"... bratty kids... "America does everything perfect!", and so on.

Yeah, I know that I'm grossly overgeneralizing, but I'm very right to a certain extent, I've seen it myself (in the Cayman Islands). It just doesn't help. Others don't get to see what most Americans are really like.

We're mostly the same stupid, beer-drinking, hard working, fun-loving people just like everyone else! You only see the wrong end of it.

Berto
- GAIM: MicroBerto
Bertoline - My comic strip
[ Parent ]

Yeah, many of us hide out (none / 0) (#18)
by greyrat on Fri Dec 21, 2001 at 11:55:24 AM EST

just because we don't want to be associated with that "typical American" stereotype. I've been tagged as a Canadian and even a European who speaks English very well (I have many BBCisms in my dialect) and I don't mind the dissasociation exacly because I find many Americans abroad to be the very worst ambassadors you can imagine.

Sadly, it's the big bad things people see, not the small good things. As I've said elsewhere, this is true most of the time when two societies meet.
~ ~ ~
Did I actually read the article? No. No I didn't.
"Watch out for me nobbystyles, Gromit!"

[ Parent ]
European who speaks English very well (none / 0) (#22)
by FredBloggs on Fri Dec 21, 2001 at 12:41:46 PM EST

"I have many BBCisms in my dialect"

Actually, the reason they think you are European probably isnt so much what you say, as the fact that many Europeans are taught English by Americans, plus a lot of English language programming on tv is American, so thats the accent they learn.
Some English people think Europeans are American for the same reason!

[ Parent ]
Good points all. (none / 0) (#37)
by Happy Monkey on Fri Dec 21, 2001 at 03:29:38 PM EST

All good points, but:

People's views of the US often come from watching shows like Jerry Springer, which is obviously a very niche collection of some of the worst representatives there could be, but it's what people see.

Please spread the word among your countrymen that the characters on Jerry Springer are ACTORS. The stories are made up, and people are hired to improvise based on the story.
___
Length 17, Width 3
[ Parent ]
why Americans don't travel (5.00 / 1) (#59)
by kubalaa on Sat Dec 22, 2001 at 09:00:35 AM EST

I think they suffer from a "we've got everything we need" syndrome. Basically, America's so big, and produces so much stuff, that Americans don't feel they need to go anywhere else to get what they want, culturally. And when they do, it's accomplished by subsuming it into the greater mass and packaging it nicely. As an example, there have been a few foreign films very successful recently: Run Lola Run and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. But were there any theaters showing the originals with subtitles? I sure couldn't find one. And both of these were still close enough to Hollywood style that they didn't bring much of anything new to the public.

I'm an American student studying in Germany, and I've met all kinds of American tourists here for Oktoberfest and such, but no other American students (although I know there's a couple). In fact, I think I've met students from just about every other part of the world: Australia, Japan, China (lots of Chinese here), Italy, Russia, Romania, Malaysia, etc., just no Americans! A few people have asked me why I'd come here, when all the universities in America are so good; for lots of foreign students in fact, Germany is only a stepping stone to America.

So I guess the point is Americans feel they have a rich enough culture, and they have the privelege of waiting for outside influences to come to them rather than the other way around. And to some degree it's true, but there is something about experiencing new things outside of your own culture's comfortable context that they sadly miss out on.

[ Parent ]

No one likes you (3.66 / 6) (#6)
by nobbystyles on Fri Dec 21, 2001 at 05:28:15 AM EST

But you don't care....

If you want to be numero uno, don't expect to be popular. I don't think us Brits were exactly lauded around the world when we were running the show either.

I don't dislike the US. But I don't think it's heaven on earth or a place I want to live. As far as world powers go, you're one of the better ones we've had but I wouldn't say you are that much better behaved and caring than the British Empire.


No better behaved than The Empire Upon Which? (3.33 / 3) (#11)
by DesiredUsername on Fri Dec 21, 2001 at 09:05:39 AM EST

The US is not blameless. Nor was the British Empire evil incarnate. But I *do* think we are better behaved and/or caring.

Not through any inherent superiority on the part of the citizens, though. I think the difference is the form of government/cultural matrix. Victorian England was kind of a top-down place. Everybody was ordered around by their "betters". Add to that a belief that white is better than black and domestic is better than foreign and you have a situation on your hands.

It is true that a lot of people in the US think that same way, but I think most of the more intelligent citizens take the meaning of democracy more seriously. We are willing to concede, for example, that a foreign nation can runs their own affairs without consuls or what-have-you making edicts about local matters.

Hmmm...the entire time I was writing that last sentence I was thinking to myself "Central America. Iraq vs Kuwait. Cuba." But nonetheless I think there is a difference here. Nowadays at least there is a public outcry and feeling of guilt over the kinds of things that were just taken for granted 200 years ago. And furthermore, those making the outcries and feeling the guilt have the ability and opportunity to make it right.

Play 囲碁
[ Parent ]

Yes, top down admittedly (2.50 / 2) (#17)
by nobbystyles on Fri Dec 21, 2001 at 10:59:54 AM EST

But I think there was more of a commitment by the British to these countries. They actually got their hands dirty by trying to bring the rule of law and railways to the countries that they ruled over. Whereas the USA uses puppet governments which often are very bad for the inhabitants of the country eg: Mobutus's Zaire or just sends in multinationalsto extract the raw materials.

Just because you don't have a formal viceroy there doesn't mean that you don't have a lot a power over these places...

[ Parent ]
Welll.... (none / 0) (#20)
by DesiredUsername on Fri Dec 21, 2001 at 12:16:52 PM EST

"Just because you don't have a formal viceroy there doesn't mean that you don't have a lot a power over these places..."

No, obviously any World Empire (even if just de facto like the US) is going to have a lot of power within nominally foreign countries. As you point out, what you DO with that power is the issue here.

The Empire Brits did do a lot of work to bring law and railways into these countries--but only because "law and railways is close to Godliness", to coin a phrase. "I say, those filthy savages are awful beasts, wot wot. Do let's build a railway to Make Them Civilized." That is, the Brits made improvements in Savage Lands in order to make the Savage Land in question more like Mother England. That this also sometimes improved the Savages' lives was largely incidental.

In our case, we (try!) to consider the problems that actually exist in the target nation and then propose a solution that is workable there. And where we don't do this, we (hopefully!) don't just assume that "a nuclear power plant would go *perfectly* with your hunter-gather lifestyle." Again, this doesn't always happen--my point is that there are those within our country that don't assume the opposite and those people have the opportunity to make it work.

As for puppet governments; I guess it is up in the air which is worse: a 75% hit rate on "local government" solutions or a 90% hit rate on Foreign Rule.

(Pardon any major errors regarding The Empire--I learned everything I know from watching "Gandhi"...)

Play 囲碁
[ Parent ]

Damned if you do; damned if you don't (none / 0) (#44)
by epepke on Fri Dec 21, 2001 at 05:56:15 PM EST

But I think there was more of a commitment by the British to these countries. They actually got their hands dirty by trying to bring the rule of law and railways to the countries that they ruled over.

Can you imagine the shrieks of outrage coming out of Berkeley if the US were to do that, ever? California would not just fall into the ocean; it would fly at Asia like a ping-pong ball!


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
Oh, if the queen were a man (none / 0) (#43)
by epepke on Fri Dec 21, 2001 at 05:41:51 PM EST

"Oh, if the queen were a man, she should like to give those Russians...such a beating!"--Queen Victoria, in a letter to Benjamin Disraeli

The English did have some interesting tactics, such as burying Muslim enemies in hollowed-out pig carcasses or executing Hindus by tying them to a cannon and setting it off so that their bodies would be shredded. One of these is depicted in Gandhi; pouring sewage on some of the protestors who were lying in front of a train.

Most people consider this horrible and brutal of the English. I'm not so sure; it seems to me a couple of aerosol pork grenades might sometimes be a good idea. After all, the Indians in front of the train got to live, and without the certainty that their cause was exactly the right one, it seems a neat and humane solution. In any event, this kind of behavior if anything shows a greater willingness to understand other cultures than the US considers appropriate. Our enemies, whoever they are, do understand something about the US. You have to, in order to predict that holding a box cutter to a stewardess' throat gets the pilots out of the cabin.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
wrong empire comparison (4.50 / 4) (#19)
by ethereal on Fri Dec 21, 2001 at 12:11:31 PM EST

Really, the U.S. is a lot more similar to the Roman Empire. The military makes the world safe for the empire's businesses and citizens and there's a worldwide "Pax", except for local squabbles that are too minor to attact the attention of the hegemon, or larger squabbles that are quickly pacified. The citizens at home aren't too concerned with what happens to the non-citizens in the rest of the world (the provinces, you might say) and really the entire empire is very inward-looking. Meanwhile, in the rest of the world there is discontent that is gradually growing, based on the actions of the empire's businesses and military in those areas. Their military even marches under the same standard - the eagle. The empire is increasingly occupied with keeping "them" out, and continually tries to point out the difference between us (citizens) and them (barbarians).

Not that I'm very comfortable with this comparison, mind you - for one thing, I definitely don't want to get stuck with an Emperor any time soon. But I think that a millennia from now, historians will be able to point out the similarity even more forcefully. I only hope that we can contribute as much to history as the Romans have, while trying to avoid their bloodthirsty reputation. So far, we're not doing too well on either count.

I think the U.S. has enormous power that it could use for good, but too often it is too greedy, distracted, internally conflicted, or just disinterested to do so. Just like the Romans.

--

Stand up for your right to not believe: Americans United for Separation of Church and State
[ Parent ]

Maybe (4.00 / 3) (#7)
by Masa on Fri Dec 21, 2001 at 05:33:40 AM EST

The Internet is a great channel for spreding knowledge and to tell about cultural differences. It also is a great place to express personal opinions and beliefs. And I think that dominance by Americal culture is not a problem and isn't actually true because not everything is spinning around USA. There is millions of home pages, web sites and Internet users who are promoting their own cultures and views.

So, in theory, it is possible to use Internet to spread knowledge and cross-cultural understanding. However, there is also a flip-side with this freedom and ability to spread your own beliefs. With Internet it is extremely easy to advertise closed-minded rasist opinions.

With Internet, which doesn't have clear national borders drawn around, it raises in some people a need to defend aggressively their nationality and views. This behavior will reflect at chat rooms and news sites (and I don't mean nntp news, I mean REAL news servers). Another problem is that people tend to belive everything they read. Without any doubts. So it will be easy to affect some people with twisted-minded propaganda.

I know that I'm generalizing things a bit, but what I'm trying to say is that with Internet it is as easy to spread toleration, cultural understanding and good will as to spread intolerance and hate. So Internet by its own will neutralize effects is can have.

Not really (none / 0) (#48)
by weirdling on Fri Dec 21, 2001 at 07:45:00 PM EST

People will believe anything that agrees with their preconcieved notion of 'right'. If one feels that one's problems are the result of other's actions, then a rabid racist viewpoint will resonate. If one feels that blaming others for one's problems is a good way to lose freedom, then a libertarian viewpoint will resonate. One thing I had hoped the internet would have demonstrated is the inherent resistance of joe schmoe to whatever actual information he sees.

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
[ Parent ]
A Core, Unmentioned Issue (4.50 / 8) (#8)
by joecool12321 on Fri Dec 21, 2001 at 05:42:34 AM EST

First, let me preface this posting with a disclaimer. It is necessary, in order to be a functioning human being, to be tolerant of other people's beliefs. This toleration follows from two things. 1) We are both human, and as such, I should listen and appreciate what you have to say. 2) We are both motivated by a search for truth. I cannot approach truth without examining as many options as I can, and then making a reasoned decision regarding it's truth value.

That being said, let me draw a distinction between toleration and pluralism. In toleration I listen critically, and can disagree. I can say, "You are, my friend, quite wrong, and here's why." In pluralism I cannot disagree. I can only respond, "I'm glad you believe that, because that's true for you, and I have no more a claim to the truth than you have claim to the truth."

Pluralism is the reason two drastically different cultures cannot relate. If truth is relative, not only is there no reason for me to listen to your beliefs (it's just a belief), there is also no possible way I can appreciate your worldview. Why? Because I beleive what I believe, and you believe what you believe, and after all, niether one of us is right! It's like trying to have a debate over ice cream. "Vanilla is better!" "No, Peach is better!" It's just beliefs! and if we accept pluralism (or relativism), we can only ever argue about the flavor's of ice cream, not move together towards goodness, truth, and beauty.

--Joey

A minor quibble (5.00 / 1) (#23)
by Hobbes2100 on Fri Dec 21, 2001 at 01:00:12 PM EST

I agree wholeheartedly with (much of) your second and third paragrphs.

However, I have a problem with your disclaimer.

I think it is an idealistic pipe-dream to claim that toleration of other's beliefs is necessary to function as a human being. While it may be very helpful, I cannot concede that it is necessary. Indeed, it is much easier to tolerate many beliefs then to go around arguing (or acting forcefully) against them all. However, I think that most people show at least some intolerance and that some people may show great intolerance.

I think that may activists show a great intolerance towards any views opposed to their own (why? b/c they are right!). I think many people who have no exposure to different peoples/cultures/ideas many be intolerant but the the bigger problem is that they are ignorant first and intolerant second.

Now to the thought provoking department:

You hypothesize that truth is relative and draw some conclusions. Where do the conclusions go if truth is absolute? Or, where do the conclusions go if truth is relative, yet many (most?, any?, *shrug*) people believe truth is absolute?

Regards,
Mark
Sed quis custodiet ipsos custodes? --Iuvenalis
But who will guard the guardians themselves? -- Juvenal
[ Parent ]

Degrees of toleration (3.00 / 1) (#36)
by Happy Monkey on Fri Dec 21, 2001 at 03:17:47 PM EST

I think it is an idealistic pipe-dream to claim that toleration of other's beliefs is necessary to function as a human being. While it may be very helpful, I cannot concede that it is necessary. Indeed, it is much easier to tolerate many beliefs then to go around arguing (or acting forcefully) against them all.

If you go around arguing, then you are tolerating it to an extent, while still attempting to convince them otherwise. If someone starts to find it intolerable that other people exist who don't share his beliefs, then that person becomes a monster.

I think that may activists show a great intolerance towards any views opposed to their own (why? b/c they are right!).

Single-issue activists are always in danger of becoming monsters - witness the abortion protestor who sent anthrax threats/hoaxes to abotion clinics.
___
Length 17, Width 3
[ Parent ]
"the abortion protestor" (none / 0) (#40)
by Hobbes2100 on Fri Dec 21, 2001 at 05:00:25 PM EST

Single-issue activists are always in danger of becoming monsters - witness the abortion protestor who sent anthrax threats/hoaxes to abotion clinics.

Yeah, no shit, tell me about it. I dated his oldest daughter. Ain't that scary. It was in the early 90s though so I'm a little out of date (no pun intended :) ).

His name is Clayton Lee (aka Roger) Waagner, btw.

Of course, it's better that he hoax then that he bomb or assassinate ... I heard rumors that he had a doctor "in his sights" ... literally ... at one point (but I do not condone the hoaxes by any means).

Regards,
Mark
Sed quis custodiet ipsos custodes? --Iuvenalis
But who will guard the guardians themselves? -- Juvenal
[ Parent ]

relativism, absolutism, and arrogance (5.00 / 1) (#26)
by akp on Fri Dec 21, 2001 at 01:48:57 PM EST

I wouldn't be so quick to pin the inability for two different cultures to relate on pluralism. Historically, it hasn't been all that easy for two cultures that both believe in Absolute Truth to agree on just what exactly Absolute Truth consists of. Instead of getting nowhere by each saying "I'm glad you believe that, because that's true for you" (as in your example), they both end up saying "You are, my friend, quite wrong, and here's why." Either way, nothing constructive is gained.

That's not to say that I think that the brand of relativism that you've brought up here is a good idea. I've rejected that philosophy on k5 before. It's just that I don't really accept the implication that you have to discard the absence of Absolute Truth because of the problems associated with one of the possible alternatives. It seems to me to be like trying to convince people that 2+2 == 3 by showing convincingly that 2+2 != 5.

To get back to your main point, I do think that the attitudes that different cultures take towards one another do affect their abilities to understand and accept one another. But I also think that the problem isn't as much one of absolutism vs. relativism, but rather one of superiority vs. humility. The really interesting thing about both of the examples here is that in neither case does the 'I' change; it either shows why the 'you' is wrong, or states why it is that neither the 'you' nor the 'I' need to change opinions. What we really need is a paradigm where the attitude is something like, "Things are going well so far, but I still have a lot of problems. I think that I can do better. Have you solved any of these problems? If so, maybe we can learn from one another."

...hurm. Come to think of it, maybe it's the lack of that attitude that people don't like about America. The whole "America: love it or leave it" view, and the resistance to criticism and change that goes with it, won't make many friends.

-allen



[ Parent ]
heh... looking back at that link (none / 0) (#27)
by akp on Fri Dec 21, 2001 at 01:59:54 PM EST

Shows that I was talking with you in _that_ discussion, too. :) I hope that I'm not doing too much of a broken record imitation.

-allen



[ Parent ]
Exactly (none / 0) (#31)
by joecool12321 on Fri Dec 21, 2001 at 02:12:12 PM EST

You make a good point in that cultures in the past have been non-pluralistic, yet still do not seem to agree. My point was not to blame inability of two different cultures to relate on pluralism alone. If a country is non-tolerant and still absolutist horrible tradgedies still occur (perhaps even greater ones). Two quick examples that spring to mind are the activities of the Inquisition and the need for the Protestant Reformation. A culture that listens and strives towards truth has the best chance.

It's just that I don't really accept the implication that you have to discard the absence of Absolute Truth because of the problems associated with one of the possible alternatives.

The reason I reject pluralism is because, as far as I can tell, it makes no sense. This wasn't an argument against pluralism facutally, but rather ideologically. I reject relativism because of the question, "Is it true that truth is relative?".

"Things are going well so far, but I still have a lot of problems. I think that I can do better. Have you solved any of these problems? If so, maybe we can learn from one another."

Exactly -- non-relativistic and tolerant

Come to think of it, maybe it's the lack of that attitude that people don't like about America. The whole "America: love it or leave it" view, and the resistance to criticism and change that goes with it, won't make many friends.

Quite possibly. See above for lack of toleration.

--Joey

[ Parent ]

Relativism (none / 0) (#39)
by epepke on Fri Dec 21, 2001 at 04:59:25 PM EST

The reason I reject pluralism is because, as far as I can tell, it makes no sense. This wasn't an argument against pluralism facutally, but rather ideologically. I reject relativism because of the question, "Is it true that truth is relative?".

What you are referring to is described as "Pragmatism" (a proposition is true if it works for the user, where "works" is defined pretty broadly) or "Postmodernism" (deedle deedle queep, booga booga, Karl Marx was a woman, how come I don't get tenure?). Yes, I know the definition of "Pragmatism" is dumb, but I didn't make it.

Relativism, or Cultural Relativism, is the notion in anthropology that an aspect of a culture cannot be understood in isolation from the rest of the culture but need the cultural context. E.g. there are about a half dozen cultures that practice polyandry as the dominant form of marriage, which doesn't tell you much. If you also notice that every one of them practices female infanticide, then it makes sense.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
this reminds me of jensen (5.00 / 1) (#57)
by kubalaa on Sat Dec 22, 2001 at 08:45:36 AM EST

From an earlier article. You're not saying the exact same thing, but it basically boils down to the fact that relativism breeds apathy.

The point is to believe everyone's views are equally likely to be valid, not that they actually ARE equally valid. This preserves the idea that there is a Truth somewhere, but that you should be prepared to discover your own views are no closer to it than anyone else's.

[ Parent ]

Cultural baggage, piled to the rafters (3.83 / 6) (#9)
by ragnarok on Fri Dec 21, 2001 at 06:13:57 AM EST

Personally I think it's more to do with the baggage you bring to the topic, whatever it is.

As part of growing up in a Christian fundamentalist church I was exposed to some of the most ghastly of American anti-government rants disguised as "interpretation of the scriptures", and I was living in Australia at the time. So I knew all about that part of the American cultural background very early on.

Many of my personal attitudes toward the U.S. of A. can be ascribed, not to not knowing about America, but knowing it rather too well.

None of this affects my friendships with the Americans I meet from time to time. The only way it affects me, is that I am likely to feel entitled to quote from the U.S. Constitution when and where it pleases me to make my point about some deed or action where I feel America is going off the rails.

As regards the Internet being such a great invention that we'll all turn into wonderful, enlightened people overnight through it, ... where the 7734 where you in my Pali classes?

Let me explain - I began researching the Israel/Palestine conflict in considerably more detail than the media allows with the voice-bite method, and I came across an article, translated from the Russian, where the author, a Russian Jew who had chosen not to emigrate to Israel, asked some pointed questions about Israel's behaviour. He also gave the impression that he was very, very upset about this behaviour, that it was not acceptable, that he as a Jew regarded it as a betrayal. The web site I found it on belonged to an Anti-Semite. That is, someone who hated and feared Jews, and found them under every convenient bed.

Did the mere technical fact of the Internet's existence make any difference to the Anti-Semite's rabidity? No more than the Jewish identity of the author he was using, made any difference.

Adding further would be superfluous.


"And it came to healed until all the gift and pow, I, the Lord, to divide; wherefore behold, all yea, I was left alone....", Joseph Smith's evil twin sister's prophecies

Huh? Help me out here, I'm confused. (3.75 / 4) (#10)
by regeya on Fri Dec 21, 2001 at 08:37:52 AM EST

As part of growing up in a Christian fundamentalist church I was exposed to some of the most ghastly of American anti-government rants disguised as "interpretation of the scriptures", and I was living in Australia at the time. So I knew all about that part of the American cultural background very early on.

Many of my personal attitudes toward the U.S. of A. can be ascribed, not to not knowing about America, but knowing it rather too well.

So let's see . . . you grew to hate everything American based on some kooky Australian preacher.

My Bad-Logic-O-Meter is pegged right now.

[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]
[ Parent ]

how odd! (4.00 / 3) (#14)
by cthulhain on Fri Dec 21, 2001 at 10:28:12 AM EST

As part of growing up in a Christian fundamentalist church I was exposed to some of the most ghastly of American anti-government rants disguised as "interpretation of the scriptures", and I was living in Australia at the time. So I knew all about that part of the American cultural background very early on.
That's funny. I also grew up as a Christian fundamentalist, and I was exposed to equally ghastly pro-government (or should i say, pro-Republican) "we-are-the-new-Israel" diatribe, which, needless to say, was gleaned from the scriptures.

Isn't it interesting how many different ideas people can get from a supposedly infallible book?

--
nothing in his brain except a ruined echo of the sky.
[ Parent ]

Not so odd. (5.00 / 1) (#33)
by BurntHombre on Fri Dec 21, 2001 at 02:35:12 PM EST

Isn't it interesting how many different ideas people can get from a supposedly infallible book?

It's almost as interesting as how many different answers people can give to a supposedly logical math equation, or how many bugs a programmer can introduce into a supposedly "infallible" computer. As usual, the problem lies with the people.

[ Parent ]

[OT] not quite (none / 0) (#54)
by cthulhain on Sat Dec 22, 2001 at 06:49:46 AM EST

It's almost as interesting as how many different answers people can give to a supposedly logical math equation, or how many bugs a programmer can introduce into a supposedly "infallible" computer. As usual, the problem lies with the people.
In the case of the math equation, there is only one right answer. If someone gives a wrong answer, it can be proven that it is incorrect. Your second example is slightly ridiculous, because computers are most definitely not infallible, but again, mistakes introduced by programmers can be corrected, not in the least because they can be recognized as mistakes in the first place.

As far as the bible is concerned, there are many different "answers" that have been derived from it (some of them contradictory), and none of them can be proven to be right or wrong since the only standard that one is allowed to judge them by is the source they came from, the bible itself. Naturally, most people think that their own set of beliefs is the "correct" interpretation.

The bible is a very large, old book comprised of material that was not intended to exist in this final form (as the bible), which furthermore claims to be the infallible word of god and has 2000 years of various religious traditions attached to it. This leaves one a lot of room to maneuver, and makes it nearly impossible to say whether a particular biblically inspired belief is wrong or right.

The irony of all this is that Christians claim that the bible is an absolute standard. This is what I was getting at.

--
nothing in his brain except a ruined echo of the sky.
[ Parent ]

[OT] A Broad Church (none / 0) (#68)
by RandomUsername on Mon Dec 24, 2001 at 01:34:19 AM EST

The bible ... claims to be the infallible word of god

Beware of falling into the worldview of fundmentalists as you criticise them. The Bible does not claim to be the infallible word of God.

The irony of all this is that Christians claim that the bible is an absolute standard.

Only a minority of Christians have the Protestant American Fundamentalist theology you seem to be describing. Christian theology is amazingly varied - check out http://www.religioustolerance.org (a non-christian site) and you will see that there is much more than you might expect.

[ Parent ]

Math having one correct answer, but which (none / 0) (#75)
by Curieus on Tue Jan 15, 2002 at 08:31:24 AM EST

As in any interpretation, it is essential to know in which context one is speaking. Take for example the following equation:

1 + 1 = ?

Depending on the context the answer varies, it can be 2, 10 or 1. Some creative minds can probably find some other possible answers.
We are still talkin math here, the only difference is that 1+1=2 is basic math. 1+1=10 is basic, but base 2, while 1+1=1 is a boolean equation.
Using math in biology/society one can say
that 1+1 = 1+1
or 1+1=>2

Moral of this boring sermon: without knowing context, most things are uncertain.

[ Parent ]
42 (3.50 / 6) (#12)
by greyrat on Fri Dec 21, 2001 at 09:16:32 AM EST

$LOCAL_SOCIETY was a land of people whose morality comes out of $WEAPON, who view citizens of other countries as less than human. $LOCAL_SOCIETY is a land of ignorance and complacency, of arrogance and naivete.
And societies have felt this way about each other since Ogg discovered Ugg lived in the valley next door. It's just that the stakes are much higher now and everybody needs to grow up and learn to tolerate and compromise with each other.

Sorry kids, it's all about humanity growing up.


~ ~ ~
Did I actually read the article? No. No I didn't.
"Watch out for me nobbystyles, Gromit!"

During the recent conflict in Afghanistan... (4.50 / 2) (#28)
by The Wandering Atheist on Fri Dec 21, 2001 at 02:03:28 PM EST

...commanders on opposing sides fighting against each other would talk to each other by radio [1] - inquiring about their well being and that of their families (often in fact the same family) - yet were prepared to kill each other. I'm not sure they were suffering from the problems of cross-cultural communication.

[1] Reported on NPR by a reporter who spent some time traveling with the northern alliance.

Doubtful (4.00 / 3) (#29)
by moosh on Fri Dec 21, 2001 at 02:07:13 PM EST

I think it's doubtful that during the near future The Internet will help to improve cross cultural understandings. From my experience average Joe simply doesn't believe what is on the 'net. According to a lot of the people the 'net is only full of porn, commercial web sites to purchase products from and web sites made by nuts to spread extremist views and misinformation (oh, and apparently the web = the internet ;-). How many times have you told a person that you found a piece of information on the Internet and then they have a critical, weary look in their eye? Ooohhh the Internet.. nothing's true on there ! I think that this will probably change with the generations that grow up with the 'net and accept it.

That aside, people still actually have to want to learn about other cultures to understand them. For example, here in Australia a lot of people don't understand the native Aborigine's culture, nor do a lot of people want to. It isn't hard either - there are numerous places to begin - information centres, courses at university, neighbours, friends, etc. Even through compulsory education their culture is being taught to some degree, and sure it's had some sort of impact, but 'understanding' would be an overstatement.
So if people don't want to learn about another culture they have to live with that's right in front of them, why would they bother with the rest of the world? Or perhaps I'm just broadcasting my experience in Australia to the rest of the world unfairly, and I've just run into some culture-conservative people throughout my life.

On the note of compulsory education, when I was in grade 6 I had an exchange teacher from Canada. We wrote letters to his old class back in Canada and they replied. To my surprise a lot of them asked really, uh, "stupid" questions such as, "Do you have TV and pizza in Australia? Do you have a pet Kangaroo?" etc. "Stupid" to me, completely innocent and fair to them. This brings me to my final point; Firmly embedded stereotypes and prejudices will probably never disappear. People (including myself) often think they understand a culture simply by knowing a stereotype, so why would they want to "truely" understand another culture when they think they already do?

To sum up; No I don't think the 'net will have a huge impact improving cross-culture understandings, at least not at this point in time. This is because a) Many people don't believe what there is to learn on the Internet, b) Many people simply don't care or don't want to understand other cultures and c) Existing cultural stereotypes will be very hard to break, and I think more than the Internet is needed for this task.

Does your pet kangaroo eat pizza? (4.50 / 2) (#41)
by pyramid termite on Fri Dec 21, 2001 at 05:19:28 PM EST

I'm sorry, I couldn't resist.
On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
[ Parent ]
Stupid questions (4.00 / 1) (#42)
by epepke on Fri Dec 21, 2001 at 05:28:47 PM EST

On the note of compulsory education, when I was in grade 6 I had an exchange teacher from Canada. We wrote letters to his old class back in Canada and they replied. To my surprise a lot of them asked really, uh, "stupid" questions such as, "Do you have TV and pizza in Australia? Do you have a pet Kangaroo?" etc. "Stupid" to me, completely innocent and fair to them.

When I went to England for the first time in 1982, I was surprised to find that one common American stereotype was really true: the toilet paper was terrible. I especially enjoyed the paper in public parks that had the consistency of waxed paper and had "Property of HM Government" printed on each and every sheet. I swiped some as a souvenir, which was probably some sort of crime against the state. For the record, English toilet paper nowadays is just fine, but they don't seem to have gotten the concept of aluminum foil down yet.

Another funny thing about the English is the widespread belief that all Americans carry guns. Now, I own a number of firearms, but hardly any of the people I know do, and I've only ever met a couple of people who carried a firearm. You need a permit to carry a concealed weapon almost everywhere in the US, and in most states, it's very hard to get one. Yet when an acquaintance of mine went to be an exchange student, his hosts sat down with him very seriously and said, "Now, we've talked this over very carefully, and we want you to leave your gun in the house." Preposterous! Turn on the telly in England and there's about a 25% chance it will be tuned to an ancient rerun of Mannix or The Rockford Files, so it's understandable.

If that kind of thing happens between cultures that are so similar, what hope humanity?

The most disturbing thing about all of this "why do 'they' hate us" stuff is that it isn't about American perceptions versus Arab (or whatever) perceptions, at all. It's about American perceptions versus American perceptions. One group of Americans (or Europeans or Australians) advertizes themselves as having the reall skinny on other cultures, and everyone who doesn't lap it up must be a jingoistic pig. I like NPR, but they give an NPR view of the world, just like The Jeffersons wasn't about Black people; it was about what entertainment industry Jewish people thought of Black people. It was kind of a fun show, but don't go looking for Truth.

The second most disturbing thing is that both "sides" use models of why people hate that are known to be wrong, and neither "side" wants to listen to the actual research, most of which can be found in a great book called Interpersonal Attraction, which is probably out of print. The upshot is that people aren't talking about why various people hate others at all and do not want to. They are talking about how they make it all make sense to themselves. Both "they hate us because we're successful" and "they hate us because we do bad things to them" are totally wrong, but they appeal to a childishly simple sense of truth. That is why they're popular.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
Tell me more... (none / 0) (#45)
by tudlio on Fri Dec 21, 2001 at 05:58:31 PM EST

I'd be interested in seeing a more detailed discussion of the research in Interpersonal Attraction, if you ever feel like writing it up and submitting it as a story.




insert self-deprecatory humor here
[ Parent ]
Jealousy? (4.00 / 1) (#30)
by mech9t8 on Fri Dec 21, 2001 at 02:10:06 PM EST

I'm not sure how much of a factor this is - it seems to me to be the most overriding factor when I'm in a cynical mood, and less important when I'm feeling less so - but it seems to me that jealousy is a factor that shouldn't be ignored.

Jealousy is a natural reaction when someone has more than you, even if you're the most well-behaved person on the block (which, arguable, the States is not). America (and the West in general, but concentrated on America) has wealth, power, cultural dominance - all things the Arab world had hundreds of years ago, and the British Empire had somewhat more recently. Such things are not soon forgotten, and no matter how well the US tries to act, I'm pretty sure that resentment will be there for a long time to come.

--
IMHO
No (none / 0) (#38)
by mami on Fri Dec 21, 2001 at 03:36:39 PM EST

I think that is a big misconception.

[ Parent ]
Well argued. (none / 0) (#71)
by vectro on Sat Dec 29, 2001 at 11:56:42 PM EST

An excellent rebuttal. Your powers of rhetoric are most impressive. I applaud you.

“The problem with that definition is just that it's bullshit.” -- localroger
[ Parent ]
couple of media thoughts... (4.00 / 3) (#34)
by sety on Fri Dec 21, 2001 at 02:48:30 PM EST

Checking out of the grocery store cash and seeing "God Bless America" on the front of Magazines (Not the tabloids). This saying is in many places (TV, ads, print, etc). I believe this makes some Americans feel good about themselves. Why not God bless Sweden? Or God bless Afghanistan? Or God Bless peace? It is a powerful saying (to some). Little things like this add up and piss poeple off.....

Right. (4.50 / 2) (#47)
by weirdling on Fri Dec 21, 2001 at 07:24:33 PM EST

First of all, as an atheist, 'God bless America' is both amusing and offensive, but other parts of the world have to understand that we are a sovereign nation, not their government, so we can be as patriotic as they like. This argument boils down to nothing but envy...

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
[ Parent ]
God Save the US (none / 0) (#56)
by needless on Sat Dec 22, 2001 at 07:45:52 AM EST

Why not God bless Sweden?

In American media, I would believe the reasoning be, well... because it is American media. Big friggin surpise there, eh?

I'll have to remember to save up some righteous indignation next time France doesn't precede any nationalistic media statements with an appropriate snippet praising Spain, China, and Brazil....



[ Parent ]
An American On Americans (4.33 / 3) (#35)
by xee on Fri Dec 21, 2001 at 03:04:57 PM EST

Disclaimer: I'm patriotic.

The Big Media that rapes American culture every day is the same Big Media that exports our culture to the rest of the world. Because Big Media is by its very nature a capitalist endeavor, it will force its capitalist will on everyone it encounters. This includes both Americans (i.e. talentless pop stars like Britney and N*Sync raping america's youth culture; music as fashion) and citizens of other countries. Just as a child has no frame of reference regarding what is Real Life and what is Big Media, people from other nations, who have never been to america, have no frame of reference with respect to what is American and what is Big Median.

As Big Media gets bigger and bigger it will monetize culture more and more. The progression has slowly turned from promoting the edgy rock stars of the 50's and 60's to sponsoring Ready Made bands whose songs and lyrics are designed specifically to sound alike. Music, TV, and Movies are now being productized -- the same way a shoe company aims to establish and maintain a reputation for a standard quality of product, Music, TV, and Movies are becoming more and more standard. Creative expression is being shunned out of mainstream culture. Rather than make an excellent movie that educated people will enjoy (and uneducated people will learn from), Big Media continues to produce Cliche Media. TV shows are becomiing standardized. Every episode of every show recycles the same plot devices and joke formats as every other.

It's no wonder why other countries see us this way.




Proud to be a member.
Tape recorder, internet won't work (1.00 / 2) (#49)
by weirdling on Fri Dec 21, 2001 at 07:53:58 PM EST

It takes an open mind. You listened to that broadcast with an open mind. I daresay that a lot of Americans have an open mind; we simply can't keep up with the millions of reasons others with closed minds hate us.

Basically, hating America has less to do with America than that America does two things that the world finds reprehensible: steadfastly goes its own way and succeeds at it.

Dire prophecies of doom the US ignores if it doesn't agree with it, no matter how convinced the rest of the world is. We see no reason to hurt ourselves because of things others are paranoid of.

The rest of the world perceives the US as a leader and thus assumes that the US will act in the interest of the rest of the world. The US, however, has never perceived itself as a world leader except in that we manipulate the world to our increased security. In other words, the US tends to act to see that US security interests are augmented, as it should be. When acting otherwise, we invariably fail: Vietnam, Korea, Somalia, the list goes on and on. When acting in our interest, we succeed: WWI & II, Gulf War, Afghanistan, and so on.

So, I think that people who call for world unity need to understand that there is no way the US can pacify everyone, so perhaps you need to call for Arab nations and other Western nations that disagree with America to have some understanding and grow up. They don't need to quit disagreeing with us, but it is horridly childish to hurl invective every time we disagree with you and remarkably naive to expect the most powerful nation on earth to do your bidding...

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
Fnord! (none / 0) (#52)
by rakslice on Sat Dec 22, 2001 at 01:32:27 AM EST

"The rest of the world perceives the US as a leader and thus assumes that the US will act in the interest of the rest of the world."

ROFL!!

Speak for yourself, buddy. =)

-aT

[ Parent ]
The UK (3.50 / 2) (#50)
by sgp on Fri Dec 21, 2001 at 09:04:20 PM EST

In the first half-hour of the report we heard Muslims in Cairo and Amman expressing their feelings of frustration and anger about America. In the second half-hour we heard English citizens expressing similar views.

As a UK citizen, I find mixed emotions towards America. I'm sorry if this is hard for you to hear, but we don't all love your glorious land. Not for great religious or political ideals, just that:

  • Every new President has to start a war outside America
  • This counts as Foreign Policy
  • All American Law counts over and above everyone else's law - see, for example, Dmitry.
  • We invented the fscking Internet, so we dictate who has rights over given domain names, however you may feel about ICANN, etc - they're American-appointed bodies.
  • StarWars (or whatever the Resident Shrub calls it today) - plans for a base at Menwith Hill (http://www.gn.apc.org/cndyorks/mhs/) don't suit me to well - as far as I am concerned about the safety of US citizens, the safety of UK citizens is (hopefully understandably) my prior concern
I've got more (and without mentioning sitcoms once;-), but as far as I as a Western non-American am concerned, the US's attitude to the rest of the world is that it's something out there which we can look at when we like, and ignore at other times.
The Kyoto agreement would be one example, the sudden interest in Afghanistan would be another. Forgetting the Iran/Iraq issue, but suddenly remembering it now that we are at TWAT (The War Against Terrorism).
The arrogance at making such a TWAT of the USA - if the USA was/is capable of erradicating terrorism from the face of the earth, why did it take such an event to trigger this response? Or maybe the USA isn't capable of eliminating terrorism - so why not admit it? Indeed, why fund the IRA if you're so anti-terrorism?
So sure, I'm a Westerner, but that doesn't mean that I love the good ol' USA and all she stands for.

This whole confusion of "But why don't these people like us?" really confuses me ... The reason you're so disliked is exactly because of this attitude.
Like any child learning to get along in the playground, the US has to learn that power is not everything, and respect, and playing to the rules, being reasonable, and listening to others is a far better way of being heard than just shouting "My dad's bigger than yours".

Anyway, that's my view as a UK citizen. Many UK citizens think you're great cause you gave us coca-cola. Many don't.

live with it


There are 10 types of people in the world:
Those who understand binary, and those who don't.

Hate America, Hate Americans? (4.00 / 1) (#53)
by tudlio on Sat Dec 22, 2001 at 02:32:33 AM EST

So you dislike the United States as a nation. But do you dislike Americans? Do you feel that all U.S. citizens are painted by the brush of American foreign policy?

If I were you, I'd be dissatisfied with the United States for each of the items on your bulleted list. I hold very similar points of view as you. The candidates I vote for would probably be the candidates you'd vote for, and the letters I write to my representatives probably express viewpoints similar to yours. But I am an American. Do I then inherit the attitude you see reflected in American foreign policy? Do I need to learn that power is not everything, and respect, and playing to the rules, being reasonable, and listening to others is a far better way of being heard?

I suspect if you're a reasonable person your answer will sound something like this: "No, of course not, we weren't discussing individual citizens. We were discussing national character."

When you characterize America based on its foreign policy, you lump me in with Dubya, M-16 wielding militia nuts, arms dealers, and Whitney Houston. Someone who by all rights should be your political ally, isn't.

On the other hand, I'm not sure what the alternative is. I do the same thing as you do when I think to myself that the Palestinians cannot expect peace until they disavow violence. The truth of the matter is that only a minority of the Palestinians favor violence, and I'm lumping the idiots who strap bombs to their chests in with the poor people just trying to find work.

There's a lot to love about the United States, just as there's a lot to love about the United Kingdom or Palestine. There's also a lot to dislike in each of those societies. For me, cultural understanding comes when we recognize that fact, and stop talking about a nation as if it were a cohesive whole.

Only when we recognize that Americans (or Palestinians, or Brits) have something in common with ourselves can we start talking about how to work together to address the systemic problems we face as a world.

Sheesh, that sounds like a sermon. Sorry for being bombastic, but that's the way I see it.




insert self-deprecatory humor here
[ Parent ]
Oh please... (none / 0) (#55)
by needless on Sat Dec 22, 2001 at 07:33:53 AM EST

As a UK citizen, I find mixed emotions towards America. I'm sorry if this is hard for you to hear, but we don't all love your glorious land.

Um, who ever said that any of us expected you to? If you want to stereotype America into you're own personal view then I'll guess you'll forgive me for saying that I find most US criticizing Europeans as utter hypocrites with a penchant for equivocating a government's foreign policy with the essence of country and its people. Not to mention the glaring lack of looking inward for the same things you accuse the US of.

  • Every new President has to start a war outside America

Of which the UK has happily participated in at least half of them. I guess it's not as trendy to criticize the UK though.

I don't agree with US foreign policy at all, but let's be realistic here. Throughout history, every superpower chooses to exert its influence through needless foreign conflicts. Pre-WWII, this was pretty much exclusively the province of certain European countries that so enjoy spending their time criticizing America for actions not so unlike their own of years past.

  • We invented the fscking Internet, so we dictate who has rights over given domain names, however you may feel about ICANN, etc - they're American-appointed bodies.

Whatever. s/American/corporate/ and I might agree with you.

Like any child learning to get along in the playground, the US has to learn that power is not everything, and respect, and playing to the rules, being reasonable, and listening to others is a far better way of being heard than just shouting "My dad's bigger than yours".

Um yeah, that'd be great if governmental bodies behaved like that, but why are you singling out the US? Please let me know what country you're talking about, because it sure as hell isn't the UK - hell it isn't any government.

Be more careful with your wording next time around as well. Painting an entire people simply by your interpretation of their government's foreign policy is the exact kind of elitist stereotyping that makes the rest of the world despise westerners in general.



[ Parent ]
Oh please yourself (none / 0) (#72)
by deaddrunk on Sun Dec 30, 2001 at 04:40:32 PM EST

One thing I really hate about any argument with a US citizen about it's government is the specious answer, 'well you did it too'. So what if the governments of 75 years ago did evil things, those governments and the empires that they controlled are gone. The US and it's bullying is still here and still going on. If you are incapable of arguing why this is a good thing without degenerating to 'you used to do it' then spare us your posts please.



[ Parent ]
you're missing the point. (none / 0) (#73)
by needless on Thu Jan 10, 2002 at 05:10:07 AM EST

You seem to think I'm defending the US. Far from it. My point is that those things your country used to do were often when your country was a dominant force in the world at large with far-reaching interests. It behooves most smaller countries to adopt the "lets all get along" stance because their vitality depends immensely on many other countries - it is not because their governments are innately more rational, peace-loving, whatever.

The US, on the other hand, is often in the position that many other country's vitality depends on friendly relations with the US. Since the US is in this advantageous position, it tends to throw its weight around without much consideration for other countries. This is not something that is somehow particular to the US, no matter how many hamburgers we eat or guns we own, it is simply the nature of power. Put the shoe on the foot of any other country and I sincerely doubt you would see much better behavior, and I think that history proves that.

[ Parent ]

And that is exactly the point (none / 0) (#74)
by Curieus on Tue Jan 15, 2002 at 08:11:50 AM EST

Returning to the original question: Why is the US so disliked...

It is exactly throwing this weight around and disregarding rules when it is in the US's advantage while insisting that others do follow rules.
The school yard bully has no reason to complain about not being liked.
As an example, insistence that people who commit crimes against american should be tried on american soil, but at the same time insisting that no american (soldier) shall be tried for warcrime at an international tribunal. Threatening of using even military force to liberaty any accused soldiers...

There are more examples like that around.

[ Parent ]

Why they hate us: a note on culture (5.00 / 6) (#58)
by matthew28 on Sat Dec 22, 2001 at 09:00:03 AM EST

Others here have referenced the global cultural dominance of the US as a cause for resentment. xee noted the dominance of 'big media' over american culture and its confusing consequences when sold abroad. xee's exactly right, but there's more to the story.

First, there is an important lesson from political economy: american culture is built within the societal superstructure that grows from its economic base (Marx). In other words, the organizational structure of an economy lays the foundation for the society that grows out of it-- this includes government, religion, cultural norms, etc. In America, the economic base is almost pure capitalism. (Pure in the free-market-little-restrictions sense.)

The resulting society-- the one so visciously hated-- values the accumulation of wealth over all else. Literally, we are consumers that spend conspicuously for the ultimate purpose of pecuniary emulation. We emulate those one step higher on the wealth ladder by buying what will make us more like them (or, make us look wealthier). Want to feel like an NBA star? Wear Nike air jordans. Want to be like Trump? Roll up to the country club in a Lexus. Buy the most expensive everything, because that's what this game is all about-- a tidy little closed-end Game of Life based on material accumulation. (It also happens to be a neat way of controlling a whole society).

In the US, this is all known as the American Dream: start off as an immigrant busing tables, end up as a millionare business owner. Ask the republicans running the White House, and they'll tell you this is all about opportunity: you can do what you want. The truth is that capitalism does make some people rich. Generally the top 10% of people get fabulously wealthy (because they own the capital) while some do mediocre and the rest (the majority) get screwed. Getting screwed in America means living as a blind consumer-- you shop at the Gap, eat McDonalds, drink Starbucks and read People magazine. As long as you buy the right brands, you'll fit right in.

Here's the point: the rest of the world doesn't go to the extreme of selling their citizens into slave-life as a consumer. In fact, this seems quite insidious. It especially reeks to those in the bottom, say, 80% of global income distribution, whose own condition shines a light on American life that reveals its self-centered preoccupation. It's self-centered to the point that we not only think the world revolves around us, but with the advent of global capitalism, it actually does. America is resented because people around the world resent being sold into the economic machine that makes Americans wealthy.

This perspective goes to the root of why Americans are disliked, from shunning the Kyoto and ABM treaties to supporting the IMF, World Bank, WTO and WIPO.

And just for good measure, let's not forget the 60 years worth of war America has engaged in since WWII, in places like Greece, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Korea, Iran, Guatemala, Lebanon, Vietnam, Cuba, Laos, Panama, Indonesia, the Dominican Republic, Cambodia, Oman, Chile, Angola, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Grenada, Libya, Bolivia, Iraq, Somalia, Yugoslavia, Bosnia, Haiti, Croatia, Sudan, Colombia, and Afganistan. [adbusters]

No, the Internet will not answer these problems.



Not quite so simple, I think (3.00 / 1) (#60)
by tudlio on Sat Dec 22, 2001 at 01:33:20 PM EST

I don't know that Marx and his finely ground axe is the best authoritative source for political analysis. I doubt that any one-dimensional explanation for the roots of government, religion, cultural norms, etc. can be entirely accurate.

However, I agree that in the United States the money measurement of value trumps all others. And as a sheltered, well-fed and reasonably comfortable middle class American, it's pretty easy for me to recognize and regret the denigration of other, higher values.

But from the perspective of someone starving in Somalia or freezing in China, the 80 percent who, in your words, are "getting screwed" are fabulously well off. They would give anything to change places with an American. They're lessed concerned about selling themselves into virtual consumer slavery when there's a very real concern that they'll end up in literal slavery.

Like it or not, the evidence of history is that a free market, capitalist economy supported by stable governmental and legal systems is the most effective way to generate wealth for all.

I think you're right in pointing out that outside the United States there's a fear that American culture and values will replace local culture and values. I think the core problem is not that capitalism is bad, it's that there's a tension between capitalism and non-money values that all of us (Americans and everyone else in the world) have to figure out how to balance.




insert self-deprecatory humor here
[ Parent ]
Re: Not quite so simple, I think (5.00 / 2) (#62)
by matthew28 on Sat Dec 22, 2001 at 03:06:17 PM EST

I doubt that any one-dimensional explanation for the roots of government, religion, cultural norms, etc. can be entirely accurate.

Good point. I don't think gave Marx's theory here enough explanation. It's more that culture, society, and religion sit on top of an "economic base" whose characteristics are inherited. It's multi-dimensional, multifactorial... but off-topic enough to let it go ;).

But from the perspective of someone starving in Somalia or freezing in China, the 80 percent who, in your words, are "getting screwed" are fabulously well off.

Exactly. The are two dichtomies that I'm outlining: first, the difference b/w getting screwed in America and getting screwed in a 2nd or 3rd world country. Yes, we're better off materially, but it's at their expense that we live better. Second, the dual notion of resenting the US while most poorer foreign citizens wanting badly to live here. Imagine if you're a President whose citizens are bent on emulating the US. It's going to be a problem.

Like it or not, the evidence of history is that a free market, capitalist economy supported by stable governmental and legal systems is the most effective way to generate wealth for all.

This is the whopper; it's a hard sell to anyone who has grown up believing (with reason) our country's myths. Capitalism does generate the most wealth of any known economic system. The problem is that it does not distribute that wealth evenly. In fact, even with the graduated tax system, the wealthiest Americans have gotten wealthier over the past 30 years while the real income of the bottom 50% has stagnated or fallen. Most importantly, that top 10% does make two or three times as much as you or I, but the make several hundred times as much. Read Schor, "The Overworked American," or David Gordon, "Fat and Mean."

I think the core problem is not that capitalism is bad, it's that there's a tension between capitalism and non-money values that all of us (Americans and everyone else in the world) have to figure out how to balance

Exactly. This was what I was trying to get at, you've crystallized it perfectly. This tension exists here in the US as tangibly as it exists b/w the US and other countries: it can be dangerous to maximize profits without regard to social concerns like environmental sustainability, health care, a living wage, fair housing, and so forth.



[ Parent ]
Wealth (4.00 / 1) (#63)
by valeko on Sat Dec 22, 2001 at 09:12:56 PM EST

Like it or not, the evidence of history is that a free market, capitalist economy supported by stable governmental and legal systems is the most effective way to generate wealth for all.

It's definitely the most effective way to generate wealth. I find the "for all" part to be questionable.

Economic fairness is a function of the distribution wealth. That does not exist under a rampant, unguided market economy. Not in the US, anyhow. Places with more state-guided forms of capitalism like those of east Asia[1] have managed to pull it off better.

What history does not show is that "generating wealth", even for all, is necessarily the thing most conducive to a decent, sufficient way of life. It's difficult to understand for someone reared in the context of a market economy, but currency and wealth do not mean the same thing within the socialist domain, for example, as they do here. The Soviet ruble exchanged for 1.5 USD at one point, and sure enough, if a middle class American went to the Soviet Union, he could gobble up 40 pairs of jeans from a profiteer with his monthly salary and have plenty left over. He could then gloat at the Soviet worker who had to save several months' salary for that kind of thing - sure, in terms of raw purchasing power, there's no question that the American has more of it.

But how do you convert currency when the context of an unleashed market is taken away? Soviet citizens were guaranteed free healthcare, free education at all levels, housing, and employment. One of the biggest government expenditures at the time perestroika came along was food subsidies; it costs a farmer 30 cents to produce a potato - government pays 20, consumer pays 10.

I don't think that you can freeily map the notion of wealth from one sphere to the other and expect it to mean the same thing. For many people, particularly of the urban class, salaries were more of an afterthought to the benefits of a socialist apparatus. Hell, many had 6 weeks out of a year vacations, with substantial portions of the costs for them paid by the state.

So, I just have a problem with arguing that the system that can generate the most wealth ("for all" being somewhat dubious) is necessarily the most equitable for all, as far as achieving goals of being left alone, enjoying life, etc.

------------
[1] Which is a complicated subject altogether, since maintenance of good living standards in countries like Japan and South Korea are a function of how well they've been able to resist American mandate and cultivation of their 'miracle' economies, particularly during the Cold War.


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

"For All" Meaning All Are Wealthier Than (none / 0) (#64)
by tudlio on Sun Dec 23, 2001 at 12:31:57 AM EST

I agree wholeheartedly that the market economy does a piss poor job of equitably distributing its wealth. I agree, too, unequitable distribution of wealth can be a Bad Thing.

However, I think people around the world can agree that having "wealth" means being able to obtain the things you need and want. And by that definition, the free market generates more wealth for everyone than any other system.




insert self-deprecatory humor here
[ Parent ]
My wacko view of the world, part 1 (5.00 / 5) (#61)
by ka9dgx on Sat Dec 22, 2001 at 01:33:52 PM EST

I believe that the people of the world are good, helpful, kind souls who are trapped in a sociopathic set of interlocking systems that has it's own set of goals.

Most of us just want to enjoy our lives, helping others if it's not a huge burden to ourselves, learning, loving, enjoying the beauty around us.

We have several barriers to this simple goal. We have civis, which started as a force for good, to keep our bad instincts in check when we're together. However, civis as it exists in civilisation isn't as nice as it should be. It is part of a system used to repress more than necessary, to induce conformity to those that rule the cililization, instead of merely protecting us from ourselves.

We live in an age where free inquiry is repressed, fed a constant stream of propaganda from the media, who cater to the interests of those in power, and not to the people they say they serve. This is a steady stream of lies which inhibits the forming of a sound basis of opinion on which an informed, self ruling populace is supposed to act.

We don't know what the truth is:
We are fed poll results, yet never get to see the source data, and many of the more interesting results disappear. Stories disappear from news based websites at a whim. (Fox found some interesting things about phone taps, which has been yanked).

We are now being asked (told, actually) that we have to give up the rest of our rights to support this supposed "war" against an unseen, dubious, self created enemy.

We, the citizens of the US, have tolerated a system which has us now in a very slippery slope into armageddon. If we don't act soon, take of the blinders, and act to expose the situation as it is, we're all doomed.

I hope the rest of the world can forgive us, and keep their own eyes from being shaded by the same forces that enslave us.

--Mike--

Phone tapping (5.00 / 2) (#67)
by greenrd on Sun Dec 23, 2001 at 06:07:24 PM EST

More info on the story (that Fox pulled from its website) about Israel tapping US phone calls in a massive spy operation can be found at http://www.whatreallyhappened.com .


"Capitalism is the absurd belief that the worst of men, for the worst of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all." -- John Maynard Keynes
[ Parent ]

i hate america. (2.00 / 2) (#65)
by diego on Sun Dec 23, 2001 at 08:40:42 AM EST

I hate what is stands for. You were enginered by your capitalist system, years of brainwashing by your leaders and a patethic patriotism. you are a super power now because the olimpyans want you to be - because they can control you.

Some time ago, I wanted to show 'the light' to the people. NEVER again. If you cannot work it out yourself then you are worthy of the fate the 'elite' has in store for you.

die.

My own experience... (4.50 / 2) (#69)
by theboz on Wed Dec 26, 2001 at 06:51:25 PM EST

A few weeks ago I decided to go into a chat room that a friend of mine haunts and see what is going on there. A guy from Pakistan joined the channel and the discussion came about to the U.S. involvement in Afghanistan, and I think we suprised each other.

First of all, he was suprised that an American had some knowledge of the problems going on between India and Pakistan, and actually had friends from both countries. He was also suprised that I was not happy with some of the things being done by the U.S. government.

Unfortunately, I was suprised too. I found that despite what I said, he didn't believe it and continued to say that no American would ever understand their situation. He explained to me how his view of Americans are according to the stereotype a lot of people in Pakistan feel is true. He also believed in that stereotype and wasn't completely convinced by what I said, at which point I ended the conversation.

It's a shame, that with all the technological advances we make and even the fact that we are learning to speak each other's languages, people all over the world prefer to believe in fairy tales and their own preconceived notions than to learn the truth. A simplistic viewpoint is much easier to comprehend than to think of each person as an individual. I doubt that all of the potential good that can be accomplished with the tools of technology will ever be able to beat this problem that occurs in the human brain rather than due to a lack of people being able to communicate.


Stuff.

Three sheets to the wind in Kopenhagen (none / 0) (#70)
by schrotie on Thu Dec 27, 2001 at 04:44:19 PM EST

Hi all, I want to write about three things.
  1. I want to comment on the net (not?) helping to make things better.
  2. I'll say something about the ostensible reasons for the US geting most of the blame.
  3. I try an interpretation of what's behind the ostensible reasons.

1.
I am a German. Born here, living here. Just the arrogant asshole you might expect (man, I do have some prejudices about americans) ;->
If you look on a map of Europe you'll find Germany pretty much at the center of it (Europe extends to the Ural). Germany is - relatively to population - the nation with the second most immigrants (after the US). And Germans are the celebrated world champions at traveling outside of their country (I am not really sure about that one ... only pretty sure). German media are no way as Germany-centric as US-media are US-centric.There are regularly Turkish movies with german subtitles in the cinemas. We have Austrian, Dutch, French, English, American and Turkish TV-Stations in the cable nets.
And - because of our history - our education system is pretty much anti-nationalistic. "Patriot" is the next best thing to an insult here.
And guess what? We burn down homes of (accepted) asylym seekers (if we let them in at all, German policy has become pretty restrictive on the matter). Our turks will get no German passport. Neither will highly qualified foreigners of whatever other origin. One of the two majour political parties claims that the "boat is full" and we can't let any more foreigners in (even though everybody with a calculator must admit that this would break our pension system ... because of low birthrates).
To conclude this sad chapter - no I don't think the internet itself will change anything. Better education (not to be confused with indoctrination) might. Perhaps.

2.
Well it's obvious (and I think most has already been said in this discussion).
The america foreign policy is an extremely sad matter. I'd like to add one point to the many wars, Kyoto, Star Wars and so on:
The US very recently prevented another international treaty on the ban and controle of biological and chemical weapons.
There are a couple of reasons I point this out. One is that it's the latest news, even newer than Afghanistan. Another is that it bugs me mightily ;-)
Well, but the main reason is that it's so symptomatic for american foreign policy. Irak is bombed monthly for not letting UN peolple into their chem plants and the US does not sign that damn treaty for the very same reason.
US foreign policy is a bigot hypocritic greedy bloody mess. It sucks big time. And people around the world notice. And if they know that Americans are not inherently evil they tend to not give a shit. The foreign policy still sucks ;-) Oh and yet another thing: US foreign policy happyly destroys whole cultures, e.g. the coca planters in south america. Most people get kind of upset when their culture is destroyd. No amount of internet or rationality will change that.
Talkin about culture... Americans would not like anybody to broadcast porn through nickelodeon. Well, many people don't like what american culture broadcasts to the even the most removed corner of the planet.

3.
Obviously the US is only the heir of a long tradition of empires. The UK was not the only one. The Dutch, the Portugese, Spanish and French were just as bad. We installed the corrupt regimes that bother us now long before the US installed the Taliban. We took and still take lives and ressources from everybody who can't defend himself. We don't give away our medicines for production cost, we rather let the suckers perish.
We eat the meat that ate their wheat (wheew neat rhyme).
Actually it's not the US. It's European imperialistic tradition. It's not as if you guys invented capitalism or imperialism. The US is just the most prominent power these days.
Our culture promised wealth and health to everyone. And failed to deliver too often. Not only inside the so called third world but also in many more "developed" countries.
Capitalism does create wealth - as has been said. But it does not spread it. The majority is screwed.
The same goes for democracy. It failed to deliver. The most democratic state yet was what spawned the third reich. The burocracies got ever more blown up. We failed to protect peace. We failed to protect the environment and are going to pay dearly for that one (well hopefully the third world is - again - going to be the one to pay our bills). People seem to feel less powerful than ever. And identify less with their government (at least in Germany).
The system is slow and expensive and equality of opportunities is still as far beyond the horizon as it's ever been. Well no, I agree - in many nations more people have at least some (however small) opportunity than ever before. Still, the majority will never achieve what they are told to achieve by the best propaganda machine in all history - sales promotion.
Meanwhile one ideal after the other vanishes from public conscience.

America is not the sole country liable for all that. And certainly not the Americans. America is just the most visible and the self proclaimed icon of everything I talked about above.

Regards

Thorsten

The Roots of Resentment and Cross Cultural Understanding | 76 comments (75 topical, 1 editorial, 0 hidden)
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