Sunday, January 13, 2013

Hating America


Bruce Bawer's 2004 piece for the Hudson Review entitled Hating America is a must read for anyone in the "I need to leave America as soon as possible" mindset. On the coat-tails of yesterday's post the article supports my argument that while it may be a stereotype that Europeans reject American culture, they in fact eat it up. I find this quote quite compelling:
I’d always taken for granted, or even disdained—among them a lack of self-seriousness, a grasp of irony and self-deprecating humor, a friendly informality with strangers, an unashamed curiosity, an openness to new experience, an innate optimism, a willingness to think for oneself and speak one’s mind and question the accepted way of doing things. (One reason why Euro- peans view Americans as ignorant is that when we don’t know something, we’re more likely to admit it freely and ask questions.)
I recall one time at Sunday lunch with my German host family when the topic of the French language came up. I asked why the French represent large numbers by grouping certain numbers together. My host-mother's boyfriend snapped back "Well why do Americans count a different way"? I admitted I did not know. Later I learned that the French use a different sort of base number system for larger numbers. Still, the incident stuck out as an example of what openly asking questions could get me in return. At times in Germany, I felt asking inquisitive questions about my environment could get a browbeat response reminiscent of a school-yard child's opportunity to put own another in front of the other students.

Expanding into anti-Americanism after making comparisons between Europe and the U.S., Bawer got me thinking furthermore. How many people had I met that while criticized the U.S. had never set foot in it, or had bothered to learn enough about the country to know that New York City was not the capital, or that George Bush had not won the popular vote? They had not gone one to think critically outside of the taling points they learned. Futhermore, America's culture being perhaps it's major export, there is simply not one thing in Western Culture, perhaps the world, that somebody does not like about American cultre. Even Saddam Hussein and Bin Laden had Mars bars, and Coca Cola in their hideouts, respectively. Outside of the movies, television, food, drink, clothing, candy, products, guns, sports, universities and research, computers, and pornography, is there anybody left that feels excluded?

Bawer waxes on just about every point with excellent arguments. HE expands on education, food, the war in Iraq, television, anti-intellectualism, bi-bilingualism, and more. If you consider yourself a disenfranchised American, the article is a must-read.

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