View Full Version : POLL: What does America stand for - for you?
Thu, 24th Mar '05, 2:20pm
Once again pondering about that miraculous nation overseas, I wondered what America stands for. What associations do people make in respect with America.
Having thought about it, I came to a point of view that is formed by what I do:
America stands for the rule of law and due process.
The reason why I see this so, is probably most of all the condemnation of the crimes of Nazi Germany and to a juch lesser extent, of Japan.
Of course, that was victor's justice and I'm still somewhat unpersuaded about the legitimacy of the court the victors assembled. Nevertheless, the sentences and accusations were generally right.
It was a very principled moral statement.
This poll contains 1 question(s). 51 user(s) have voted.
You may not view the results of this poll without voting.
Poll Results: What does America stand for - for you? (51 votes.)
What does America stand for - for you? (Choose 1)
* ... rule of law - 8% (4)
* ... freedom - 8% (4)
* ... the idea of being able to rise up from humble dishwasher to billionaire - 10% (5)
* ... a new start - 0% (0)
* ... God is on George Bush's side - 4% (2)
* ... a new Israel, redemption - 0% (0)
* ... the can-do-spirit - 16% (8)
* ... cool landscape - 0% (0)
* ... naked agression; center of all evil and of all ills of the world - 25% (13)
* ... none (please elaborate) - 29% (15)
Thu, 24th Mar '05, 2:46pm
How unfortunate tht the "rule of law" that America stands for is such an incredibly mutable thing, subject to the whims of whatever special interest group(s) that paid to elect the current administration.
Pardon me, but my cynicism is showing.
So Rags, what do you Germany as standing for? Can I request that posters from countries other than the US please indicate what they see their own countries standing for?
Thu, 24th Mar '05, 5:19pm
I voted the can-do-spirit. Rally has already covered how I feel. Rally, I'm beginning to think that we are soul-sisters.
Thu, 24th Mar '05, 5:34pm
I voted "none". The principles this country was founded on were undoubtedly admirable. Secularism, liberty, the right to dissent etc. But America has been on a backslide in recent years for a number of reasons.
For starters the internet makes information more readily available adn brings us all closer to each other and able to share views. This makes it much easier to dispell popular myths about certain minorites(re: atheists) and all manner of other subjects as well.
When people are brought closer together and are given a chance to get to know what others are about they are more likely to reject certain traditional, fear-based characterizations(re: gay bashing). I think this is having an adverse affect on the numbers of fundementallist religious folks(the most influential portion of the conservative voting block) and, like the Dansbury Baptists, they are in panic mode! But UNLIKE the Dansbury Baptists, tehy are not seeking a "wall of seperation of Church and State" to protect their interests. They are instead seeking to rally the masses for a sort of Alamo-like last stand against progressive ideals!
Have you noticed that they are recently attacking on all fronts? Public schools in Georgia and elsewhere trying to force Creationism into the science class. Various bills and constitutional amendments in support of the "sanctity of marriage" and "right to life". Environmental/EPA protocols being dismissed. Wars in the middle east. The bizarre and highly irrational reaction to Michael Newdow's Pledge challenge, etc.
In the end, we all know what is coming. America will be dragged, kicking and screaming into the 21st century and after we have been there for a while, we will see it is not the battleground for Armageddon and religious conservatives will then act like they never had any problem with these progressive ideals such as gay marriage and revisiting the secularism our country was founded on.
The same way that they now behave like they never opposed blacks rights to vote in the 50's and 60's and they never started a civil war over their "right to own slaves" and they never opposed the discoveries of Galileo and Copernicus.
Thu, 24th Mar '05, 6:14pm
Dream on RuneQuester! progressive (ie liberal) ideals are on the decline in this country. America will never be like the Euros, thank god.
Thu, 24th Mar '05, 6:29pm
I am not a supporter of of the current US administration and dislike immensely the direction the US seems to be going in the world but it kind of annoys when you hear others that are not citizens of the US criticize it. Not saying they can not have their opinions on the US but it is kind of like you can make fun and criticize yourself all you want but when someone else does it, it hurts/annoys.
I am new to posting but have been lurking quite a while before registering. I do not mean to offend anyone by my post, it is just an opinion.
Thu, 24th Mar '05, 6:50pm
Oddbean (cool nick, BTW), I completely share your opinion. That's exactly why I asked for non-US posters to include their opinions about their own countries, as well. Just trying to pull the discussion farther back from the brink of bashing.
Thu, 24th Mar '05, 7:08pm
I think this could be an excellent thread. The addition of what people think of their own country might be interesting, but may detract from the raw emotion of the post.
Let people bash away. I think there are a lot of Americans that really have no clue what the world thinks of them, and would be quite surprised at the range of emotions.
I still recommend ALL Americans read 'The Ugly American' before travelling abroad.
The Great Snook
Thu, 24th Mar '05, 7:16pm
I chose the dishwasher to billionaire option. There were many that I felt strongly about, but that one best matched my views about everything that is right and wrong about America.
Thu, 24th Mar '05, 7:33pm
Personally, I don't really care for applying broad labels but I guess I would describe the U.S.A. as being proud and loud.
Americans as a group tend to be very proud of their country and way of life - and are quite vocal about it. The U.S. government's dealings with other countries tends to reflect this. I'm not saying that Americans don't have a lot of things to be proud of, but people from other countries tend to get rubbed the wrong way by it.
To contast that, I would say that Canadians, on the whole, tend to be every bit as proud but we are pretty quiet about it. We are proud of our country and our way of life but we typically don't go around boasting about it and thus implying that others' ways of life are somehow wrong or inferior. As a result non-Canadians seem to think that we are nice and polite people.
As far as most of the options on the poll go - some would apply but no more so than most developed countries.
Rallymama's comments about the laws pretty much matches my opinion about them, not that we are any better in that regard.
As far as freedom goes, I would have to say that the two party system of selecting which of two equally unsatisfactory groups of dictators will run things isn't any more impressive than what other countries have in place. As far as personal freedoms are concerned, given how paranoid the U.S. government has gotten post 9/11 and given the rampant religeous conservatism of certain areas I would say that the U.S.A. probably ranks fairly low on that scale actually.
The American dream is just that - a dream. For the most part the rich stay rich and the poor stay poor. Any amount of shifting between status groups is pretty much the same as most other countries.
Thu, 24th Mar '05, 7:45pm
Dream on RuneQuester! progressive (ie liberal) ideals are on the decline in this country. America will never be like the Euros, thank god. Right...we will sink into a Taliban styled theocracy before we let that happen :D . The odd thing is that it was America that inspired the prgressiveness of the "Euros" and it is now the "Euros" laughing at our little backwater country.
The only alternatives to progress are regress or stasis. Since we are never likely to be satisfied with the state of things(we will always strive for "better"), stasis is unlikely. That leaves regress. Let's look at what lies in wait for us in the direction of regress shall we?
* Slavery and general denial of the humanity of those who are unlike us in superficial ways(re: skin color).
* Superstition and voodoo as a medical treatment and general abhorence of scientific progress.
* Witch hunts/Crusades/Inquisitions
* Gang-rule over cities.
* Bowing to the Tyranny of a monarch or Pope/Divine Emperor
* Banning writings which contain "dangerous ideas".
* Wire hanger abortions
* Listening to nothing but Gospel and swing music
Did I leave anything out?
Edit: Also, trash the "Euros" all you want but they have most the good emerging scientists, get along with each other pretty well, are not hated by the rest of the world, don't have our ridiculous crime rate and do not have 2% of their population in prison because of antiquated drug laws.
Thu, 24th Mar '05, 8:53pm
Wow, RQ, you're list is so far over the edge of reason. What makes you think we'll head down any of those? I don't see a future like that.
By the way, you may want to rethink the 'most of the good emerging scientists' comment. I see very competent scientists throughout the world -- most of them have credentials from US universities. I certainly don't see any advantage based on geography in the scientific community. The US has its share of Nobel Prize winners.
Thu, 24th Mar '05, 11:21pm
I picked the rags to riches option. Don't be surprised that when an objective question about a general opinion is asked, there aren't really that many negative responses. Because no matter what Bush does, there are still several options on that list I'd go for before resorting to the negative ones. Just because we often criticize Bush doesn't mean we have a negative opinion about the whole of the US. That's a mantra I've been repeating for ages, but it rarely comes through to the people concerned.
As for what I think about my own country (Slovenia)... well, most of the issues I could talk about here are local, so you wouldn't really gain much insight from it. Same goes for most other European countries, I guess. But if you want a general assessment, I think we're doing pretty well for ourselves (recently getting into the EU and NATO). Progress is the key word. However, our government is pissing the entire population off because we are continually on the defensive, so our neighbouring countries are toying with us as they please. From Croatians continually provoking border incidents and attempting to fabricate history and landmark names so that they can fuel their nationalistic lust for a certain part of Slovenia's territory where border has still not been officially set, to Italians who recently shot a movie with completely fabricated historical facts making the Partisans into villains and the poor Italians and fascists into little lambs only trying to defend themselves during WW2. Such fabrication of history all around us is disgusting, moreso because the majority of the population of those nations actually believes it. The Italian revisionist movie has been shot, funded and showed on national TV there, presented as "historically accurate" to millions of Italians. To make a comparison, the movie is about as perverse as if Germany today shot a movie about the Nazis and turned THEM into the victims of the vicious nations all around them. Insane.
Germany managed to more or less effectively clean up after the shameful part of their history. Yet in Italy, the shame of their defeat in WW2 has been a blow not forgotten till this day. Even now the fascists are daily being glorified there, and the nations they invaded labelled as the aggressors. And yet our government is simply standing by and doing nothing, as if these insulting provocations and historical revisions had nothing to do with us. I guess they must be convinced that their silence will show them that we are morally superior to getting on even level with them. However, the effect achieved is just the opposite - now both Croatia and Italy are convinced that they were right all along. After all, no one but our press is disputing their fabrications!
Just in case you thought I hold our government in any high regard... :heh:
Thu, 24th Mar '05, 11:42pm
I went with the "rags to riches" scenario too...it seems most to embody personal accountability, opportunity and freedom.
@RQ The same way that they now behave like they never opposed blacks rights to vote in the 50's and 60's and they never started a civil war over their "right to own slaves" and they never opposed the discoveries of Galileo and Copernicus. You seem to continue to be very confused about American History...last time I checked MLK was a Methodist pastor...still. And didn't the abolitionist movement find it's roots in Northern religious fundamentalists? :rolleyes:
Faith and persons thereof have played a tremendously vital role in the development of our nation...and they always will. It's a pity that the only choice that embodied that in any way utilized the ignorant and worn out "God talks to 'W' " motif.
Fri, 25th Mar '05, 3:35am
My current dominant view of America is "living beyond your means" or "live for today, worry about the future later".
Fri, 25th Mar '05, 4:06am
I don't particularly care for this country. I am moving to New Zealand as soon as I am able. My major problem with this country is the ultra-conservative party. They are the most vocal members of the Republican party, or maybe I just hear more from them because they can't shut the hell up. Anyway, I do not believe this country is honoring what it has stood for since its creation. We are moving if not backwards, then sideways and to the rear.
Fri, 25th Mar '05, 4:46am
New Zealand has some problems of its own, although we are arguably more concerned over the performance of our national sports teams than politics! :)
* Listening to nothing but Gospel and swing music*Shudder!*
Chandos the Red
Fri, 25th Mar '05, 7:35am
Anyway, I do not believe this country is honoring what it has stood for since its creation. We are moving if not backwards, then sideways and to the rear. I could not agree more. But don't give up, Ravynn! Keep the faith just a little longer.
"A little patience, and we shall see the reign of witches pass over, their spells dissolve, and the people, recovering their true sight, restore their government to its true principles.
It is true that in the meantime we are suffering deeply in spirit, and incurring the horrors of a war and long oppressions of enormous public debt.
If the game runs sometimes against us at home we must have patience till luck turns, and then we shall have an opportunity of winning back the principles we have lost, for this is a game where principles are at stake." —Thomas Jefferson, in a letter of 1798. "The energies of the nation... shall be reserved for improvement of the condition of man, not wasted in his destruction." --Thomas Jefferson: Reply to Address, 1801. And consider this:
"If Jefferson was wrong, America is wrong. If America is right, Jefferson was right" - James Parton
Fri, 25th Mar '05, 7:53am
I think America stands for having the freedom to rule your own personal kingdom.
Don't like your church...?
Create your own.
Don't like your job...?
Create your own business.
Don't like your spouse...?
Get a new one.
Don't like your politian...?
Get a new one or become one yourself.
Do you like people...?
Live in a city...you are allowed to move there.
Do you not like people...?
Move into the woods; they still exist here...at least for the time being.
Fri, 25th Mar '05, 8:21am
Don't like your house? . . . get a bigger mortgage.
Don't like your car? . . . take out a loan and get a newer one.
Don't like your cash? . . get a credit card.
Fri, 25th Mar '05, 9:47am
Uh...America stands for "home" as far as I'm concerned. I don't think there's any nation I'd rather be living in. England, Canada, Aussieville, or New Zealand maybe, but...
Fri, 25th Mar '05, 2:05pm
My current dominant view of America is "living beyond your means" or "live for today, worry about the future later". I totally agree with this, Harbourboy.
There's also a touch of arrogance and ignorance in there in my opinion. Which I suppose pretty much falls in uder the 'live for today, worry about the future later' thing...
Fri, 25th Mar '05, 2:39pm
I dont really know what view to have of America really, when it all comes down America is pretty much like the other Western countries. The biggest difference is that the US views itself as superduperspecial and unicque and that no other place in the world have the same wonderful oppurtunities and freedoms they have.
As for Sweden, I dont know really. One word that comes to my mind though is pragmatism. Swedes and Sweden seem to be, comparably, more pragmatic and less prone to controlled by emotions.
Aldeth the Foppish Idiot
Fri, 25th Mar '05, 3:54pm
My current dominant view of America is "living beyond your means" or "live for today, worry about the future later". Great point, HB. This was actually a talking point on "Real Time with Bill Mahr" this past week. It was the general premise of how Americans feel it's OK to "fix it for now". The idea that we don't care if it's worse off 20 years from now, fix it for me now. Call it fast food politics and social issues if you like. I don't care if that cheeseburger is full of fat and will kill me in 20 years. I want it fast, I want it now, and I'll worry about the problems it will cause in 20 years when it's 20 years from now.
Fri, 25th Mar '05, 4:36pm
Because I do not know nor could I care less what America stands for I'm going to leave comments on that for other, but I guess I can say what Finland for me stands for.
Finland stands to me for equal possibilities. No matter how poor your family is you have the chances of getting an equally good education. You don't have to be a lot better than the rich kids, since money don't get you into universities in here. Our education has been in many tests rated as one of the best educations in the world and from what I've seen of other education systmes in other countries I can't help but to agree on that.
Fri, 25th Mar '05, 8:47pm
I voted "Other" for a plethora of reasons, both good and bad. The short description would be, "Smug, yet fearful. Proud, yet insecure." And keep in mind that these words are from the mind of somebody who's lived in America for a full decade of her life (though I use "they" instead of "we" in reference to Americans because I do not consider myself one).
Smug -- America is always acting self-assured, like they know what's best for everybody else, very rarely repenting for any misdeeds, when what they really need to do is fix their domestic problems before they even think of tackling perceived problems in other nations.
Fearful -- Americans wouldn't be lobbying to ban things like homosexual marriage if they weren't afraid of them. Or at least I assume they wouldn't. (See also: "Insecure")
Proud -- (See: "Smug.")
Insecure -- Americans are insecure about other nations having nuclear weapons, and yet America still has more of them than all other nations put together. I think Albert Einstein said it best: "The more a country makes military weapons, the more insecure it becomes: if you have weapons, you become a target for attack." Insecure about perfectly natural things like human sexuality, too. (See also: "Fearful")
Feel free to refute any of these points with valid, logical arguments, or to ask questions, which I will answer to the best of my ability.
Mon, 28th Mar '05, 11:23am
I don't really go for the 'Rags to Riches' option it seems that big brands are given preferences over small local businesses. This is not an insiders point of view as I have lived in the US for several years.
I don't think the US is very accepting of other cultures. Everything has to be remaid to be acceptible such as British television (coupling, changing rooms, the office and the remake of faulty towers). Even movies have been changed, such as Mad Max being redubbed with American accents! I could mention movies based on history and fantasy. Even food is commercialised, from the battery hen factories to the way the food is 'cooked'. I expect a fastfood Indian chain to become available within the next 10 years.
As for N.Ireland, I think we have great equal opportunities. Everything is looking up these days. We have a good balance between industry and nature, our politics are now balanced (though we never had a 2 party system), we are relying on ourselves these days, we are better educated than the rest of the UK (the only thing holding us back is a lack of universities), we are understanding our history, not simply learning specific parts to re-enforce certain political beliefs, but our terrorism problem is still there, however, its no-where the same capacity as it was during the 70's and 80'. Things can only continue to improve.
Mon, 28th Mar '05, 1:13pm
America stands for three things in my opinion: money, power and mass stupidity.
Mon, 28th Mar '05, 1:36pm
In the 80's it was Sex, Drugs 'n Rock 'n Roll.
These days I would say it is more like Guns 'n, Drugs 'n, Jesus.
Mon, 28th Mar '05, 3:52pm
@HB: I concur. However, I see the US credit balance as part of a global credit imbalance, as 1) the US is not alone in having a credit bubble and for example the BBC runs a story every week or so about the UK housing bubble; 2) the US wouldn't be on a credit binge if other countries weren't lending to it; and 3) other countries lend to the US because they need the US to buy their exports, as either their economies are stagnant or they don't have enough domestic demand. So, sadly, if the US credit bubble bursts, the fallout will be global.
@JSBB: At this point, having lived in Canada, having known a number of Canadian "intellectuals," and having studied a number of Canadian writers on technology, I almost feel like I could write a thesis on Canadian identity and the US in the 20th C. The funny thing is how old the debate is, and how similar the terms of criticism were in the past to today. I would probably argue that the fact that so many Canadians have written incisively about the social effects of technology stems from their discomfort with the perceived american-ness of much of that technology. George Grant, a conservative Catholic contemporary of McLuhan, is especially interesting here, for example "Technology and Empire" (1969). However, I did think that Canadians can also be "loud" about their nationalism, for example in displaying the Canadian flag on nearly everything, perhaps even more so than Americans, if that's believable. And the big discrepancy between the national identities of the US and Canada is the extent to which the Canadian identity is based on "we're not the US," while the thought of Canada barely crosses most Americans' minds. In fact, following the earlier discussion of the "War of 1812" or British-American War, or whatever, most Americans think of this as a war against the British Empire, and don't really think of it as an American-Canadian affair at all...
In general: wow, lots of people chose the "The US is the Center of All Evil" option. Seems a little overblown and silly to me...
Mon, 28th Mar '05, 4:00pm
It's hard to generalise. You're so big and while outside it looks like one huge country the size of Europe or Australia, internally it's more like 50 semi-independent provinces that don't necessarily love each other, so there's hardly a uniform pattern in anything.
Except paranoid security means in the recent years, maybe, and cops with God complex in general, along with retarded security guards who are cops in their own mind.
Guess one good all-States-wide quality would be that it's easier to get a job than in Europe, especially around here. Perhaps it isn't going to be something matching your qualifications, but it still pays better than what you would get here even if you were lucky. On the other hand, prices are also higher and the work market probably has its own problems which aren't immediately apparent to an outsider's eye.
There is also the false blessing of the rule of the law or rather the courts. About law enforcement I already spoke less than favorably a couple of lines before, but there is the whole lawsuit culture on a different level from just the police and other services. What a European values is certainty of the law and you don't get that in the States. Ideologies, politics, you name it. But it's hardly the law, let alone alone justice, what many of the judges are administering.
Yet another striking tendency is high levels of violence. Violence of all sorts.
Next is sex. On one hand, it's a puritanical society which looks on Europeans as at best frivolous but sex is everyone and of the kind that most Europeans wouldn't accept easily. It's practically a commodity to sell like any other on the market and something like watching TV or working in the garden outside of market situations. Sometimes it makes me wonder if people will ever bore with it. Lots of cheap sex everywhere, a pressure to lose virginity about after a girl's first moon and people talking about sex casually when setting up the first date. At parties and events, everyone seems to be out to lay or get laid. I don't understand that.
Then there are obesity figures. More and more people become obese and more and more people tell them it's genetic and unrelated with the amounts of junk food they eat or physical activity they perform.
If we are at it, telling other people what they want to hear seems to be the norm. On one hand, every sort of obscenity will be protected by the freedom of speech or expression but the same freedoms will be nerfed heavily in the name of political correctness by not even the government or courts but private businesses and people.
For example, it's all right to feed the unwilling public with anti-Christian Satanic or pagan crap and the Christians' feelings don't matter here, but a priest goes to prison for five months for saying rosary in front of an abortion clinic because it awakens the mothers' conscience and makes them feel uncomfortable. The Decalogue is now politically incorrect and unfit for public display because people don't want anyone to say out loud what's good and what's bad. Why? How does it hurt them - do they really care? Apparently they do. They want to be told that what they are doing is right but they are not willing to follow any moral standards for it. They just want affirmation. In a highly capitalistic environment, this is given to them as a commodity. And they are willing to pay. Hard work is still in esteem, but positive qualities are replaced with a positive view of oneself. In some people, it looks like a paradox between total disregard for anyone else's opinions and wishes on one side and a desperate cry for attention and craving acceptance of others on the other side.
In this world's temporal matters, I am a staunch believer in logic. This logic used to be firm in the States. It was a simple and sound logic, easily penetrable and consistent. Now this logic is missing. It is being replaced by the logic of the market which knows no laws other than profit. It is always a sad sight when crystal clear and demanding but achievable and fairly judged standards lose field to political correctness and economic gain or even the elusive comfort of being pleased with oneself.
I fear the world is losing the country of cheerful hard-working and righteous people.
Mon, 28th Mar '05, 4:38pm
@Chev: the tensions between market, morals, tolerance, and religion has a long, long history in the US, and many of the same battles seem to be played out again and again in different contexts. The puritans were also shrewd business men, as Max Weber pointed out in the Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, and the relationships between market liberalism and social liberalism and conservativism are by no means clear. Many newcomers to the US, raised on a diet of US movies and pop music, have been surprised at how conservative many Americans are. And it's often funny to see critics of the US oscillate between painting the US as religiously or socially conservative, and so mired in tradition, at the same time as they accuse the US as undermining moral traditions through the spread of pop culture and the market economy. Somewhat of a paradox, I suppose.
The Decalogue is now politically incorrect and unfit for public display Actually, I think The Decalogue is eminently suitable for public display, and I've probably seen it about three times in its entirety; Kieslowsky was a genius! ;)
Tue, 29th Mar '05, 5:49am
To me, America is like a flashy car, or a flamboyant sportsperson or entertainer. The glamour and glitz is all there, the confidence and presentation is immaculate. It's reaching out for everything material it can lay its hands on, all the sex and money and advantage it can find, and there doesn't seem to be any consideration of "well, what is it for?". Unless you stop to ask or look closer, you don't notice that it's nowhere near as grand as it pretends to be. I'm not sure that it even believes its own illusion any more. I think more and more people are seeing through the lies they've been raised to believe (and this is a general statement, not an indictment on the GOP) and asking why. I don't know where that will lead, but as Bion pointed out, the Protestant Ethic seems to have survived, but still doesn't stop to ask why: one's success and wealth are a measure of Providence and spiritual esteem, and therefore wealth is its own reward, both in this life and the next.
As for Australia, I'm not sure. I'd have to say innovation, intransigence and the "she'll be right, mate" attitude that no matter what happens, things will sort themselves out. Those three seem to be somewhat contradictory, but I think they sum up the Australian psyche reasonably well.
@ Chev: No argument here (well, except about logic - I tend to believe that it only gives one the ability to be wrong authoritatively). I was under the impression that the US was all about freedom, in its infancy as a colony, as a young nation, and today. Now it seems more and more like that freedom is not the freedom to be who you want or believe what you want; the number one freedom these days is your freedom to choose which brand you want.
Tue, 29th Mar '05, 8:25pm
I completely agree with that view. That's all I've got to say.
Thu, 31st Mar '05, 4:10am
Threads of this nature simply amaze me. Everyone loves to jump on the bandwagon -- and it leaves me scratching my head as to the purpose of threads such as this. I guess I just don't get it. Oh, wait.....I must be part of the "mass stupidity" that was mentioned earlier...that explains it.
Is it that the have-nots can't stand the have's? Is it that people just love to have something or some people to bash? That's sure what it looks like to me.
And Rally, your comments fall on deaf ears, unfortunately.
Thu, 31st Mar '05, 7:55am
You make a good point, but my intention was not just to bash (well, not for the sake of it). I don't think anyone can deny that the US has been remarkably successful as a nation, all things considered. Having never been there, I have only an outsider's perspective and would very much like to be wrong about it. Success is part of the US image; my view is that success is seen as an end in itself by too many people, but is particularly noticeable in this case. I don't doubt that a substantial proportion, heck, maybe the vast majority of Americans don't fit that image; however, it is the one I see from where I sit across the Pacific.
Then again, I have a desk calendar of "Bushisms", so I figure people can draw their own conclusions on me from that. Better check the wheels of this wagon I'm on...
And I suppose what is not specifically stated in my earlier post is more damning of my own country than anything else. After all, who didn't grow up idolising the sports star, or wanting the flashy car? The way things stand right now, Australia sure did. Heck, I did as well; I loved it until I started seeing the darker side of the image, both in the US and in Australia. I'm as proud as any non-Liberal Party voter could be of my country, but it's still a long way from ideal.
Thu, 31st Mar '05, 9:37am
Spellbound -- I thank you for saying in better words exactly what I wanted to. Although I usually don't respond to threads like these as I view attempts to reason with those who already hate America as a pointless endeavor, I can't help but feel the need to say I'm dumbfounded by some of these labels slapped on my country as if it's a can of sardines (or worse). The "mass stupidity"-type comments, specifically, are the ones that burn me. This is probably why I respect Morgoroth's post so much. Although the nature of this thread is indeed focused on labels, I hope this isn't the extent of some folks' regards to individuality.
The center of all evil? Please...
Thu, 31st Mar '05, 11:00am
I think the american media and Bush are to blame for the negative feelings towards the USA in the world today. Every time something crazy happens in the US it immediately gets broadcasted all over the world. Because no one knows (or cares) about crazy things happening in Finland, we don't get the 'mass stupidity'-type comments. And when Bush comes along with the "I'll do whatever I want, whenever I want and ain't nobody (except my advisors) gonna tell me what to do"-mentality it pisses people off.
But some of the greatest thing in the world have come from america: rock'n'roll, gibson guitars, D&D, Bioware (doh), Steven Erikson (doh)... ;)
Thu, 31st Mar '05, 11:28am
Now we've had two highly offensive generalizations in this thread already - one labelling America with "mass stupidity" and another callings critics of America "America haters". I'm sure War Nerve didn't aim to be any more offensive than Abomination, yet I am highly offended (as always), when a response to a criticism of America is "well, of course, you hate America". That isn't to say that the other comment is not highly offensive to Americans, it's just that nobody reported it to the moderators as offensive, hence it was not sanctioned. We've been droning on and on that such things should be reported, as per the AoLS rules, so the moderator team can discuss them and decide what to do about them.
So, people, try to have a bit of understanding for each other's feelings. A certain amount of generalization in a thread like this is unavoidable, but it really doesn't have to turn into a mutual bash-fest. Now that we've heard extremes from both sides already, please continue the debate in a more reasonable manner.
BioWare is in Canada, not US. :D
Thu, 31st Mar '05, 11:32am
And Rally, your comments fall on deaf ears, unfortunately. Sorry, I didn't see that.
OK, my views of New Zealand are:
- too outward looking (we spend too much time wanting to know what it's like in the rest of the world)
- living beyond our means (just like the USA, Australia, and UK - it can't continue)
- proud (maybe too proud sometimes without any good reason)
- tolerant (racial tension in NZ is nothing compared to most other countries, no matter what Maori activists might say)
- innovative (look at the recent impact of NZ on the world of cinema)
- complacent (I don't think many NZers really believe that bad things can happen here - look at our pathetic military defences)
Thu, 31st Mar '05, 12:52pm
@ Tal. So is Steven Erikson :D just my :thumb: to Canada.
+ I like the welfare system, education, healthcare... pretty much agree with Morgoroth.
+ Lots of forest, lakes, clean air, nature in general.
+ Open minded and tolerant (most of the time).
- Compulsory military duty, min.6 months or alternatively 13 moths civil service or 6 months jail. I don't think this kind of system has any place in a free democratic society.
- Cuts in healthcare and education.
- Politicians never doing what they promise, probably the same all over the world :)
- There are more negative things, but these are the ones that really annoy me.
Thu, 31st Mar '05, 5:47pm
Taluntain -- Although I can't see my post as an extremist point of view rather than a reaction, your assumption is correct in thinking that no offense was intended on my part, and I apologize to anyone who might have been offended. My post was not aimed at you, or anyone critical of the US for that matter (I'm critical), which is why I should have clarified that I was referring to those who chose the "center of all evils" option as being unreasonable.
Thu, 31st Mar '05, 6:50pm
Wow. This has turned into a good post. For all the Americans out there (of which I am one):
GET A GRIP!!!
Not everyone likes America -- get over it. Some people around the world (and a rather significant amount ) DO believe America is center of all evil. Any Americans that don't realize this are just deluding themselves. The real value in posts like this is seeing how people feel -- raw, unedited emotion. You can't argue about how someone feels about something -- it's a part of who they are (no amount of arguing will change that).
I think this is a great opportunity for people to vent and for the naive Americans (of which there are more than a few of us) to sit back, read, and learn.
While you're at, read The Ugly American.
Thu, 31st Mar '05, 7:27pm
T2Bruno -- I don't need to sit back and listen to people slamming the US OVER AND OVER AGAIN. And what you call "venting" isn't much different that a "bashing" event, imo. There are quite a few Americans here who are tired of it -- and I'm one of them. And at first I took the attitude that I will just go be quiet somewhere and let everyone else rant on how the US is the source of the world's ills, let people attack the country and its citizens at will -- but I was wrong. I'm NOT going to just shut up and go away. I will yell loud and long -- criticism is one thing -- calling the US "mass stupidity" is highly offensive to me and I won't pretend I didn't see it. I'll leave that to YOU.
Thu, 31st Mar '05, 8:05pm
T2Bruno: If you're going to encourage the aforementioned raw emotion, fine. But, while doing so, please don't scream "GET A GRIP!!!" as soon as you see someone on the other end of the table who doesn't appreciate it. You might think this is just the perfect little learning experience for everyone, but I really doubt we're going to witness anything here that we haven't already heard before. This is hardly a case of denial.
[ March 31, 2005, 20:20: Message edited by: War Nerve ]
Thu, 31st Mar '05, 8:31pm
I feel the need to clarify that I live in America and the only reason I agreed with NonSequitur was because of what I've seen in my own country. I do have to admit... I haven't seen enough of my country to make such a blanket judgment but when that's pretty much the view shown to you over the media you do form an opinion on it.
I am completely aware of the fact that a lot of people don't like America, and I can live with that. I also have to side with Spellbound on this one, it gets irritating hearing about how everyone thinks of you when you already know. I could take it a step further but this is supposed to be a civil discussion and I'm not about to ruin it.
Thu, 31st Mar '05, 9:40pm
While it is perfectly fine for one to dislike America, to make blanket statements about Americans demonstrates a level of ignorance that negates the rationality of your dislike.
But hey...we're all friends here, right? ;)
Thu, 31st Mar '05, 10:14pm
So long as you can find "the rest of the world" on the map. ;)
It's not so much the centre of evil as the centre of attention. You guys are like fifty countries spanning over a Europe-sized area and forming one front on the international area... You're bound to get half the world's attention. Sure, I do bash you a lot. I tell American jokes, I will complain about practically all administrations you ever get and occasionally I will make nasty generalisations, but you don't get half the pounding, joking or serious, that my own Poles and Polish governments get from me.
Thu, 31st Mar '05, 10:16pm
I apologize for the presumption of my post -- it seems most of the angst was caused over a particular post. I mistakenly thought it was just a 'let's attack the anti-Americans' type of thing. Once again, I apologize.
Actually, I thought there were a lot of great statements here -- with only one or two really 'bashing' comments. Only one comment I saw appeared to go outside the AoLS rules, but nobody else jumped on that bandwagon so I didn't think it really mattered (otherwise I would have used the link at the top of the page).
Edit: Chev -- geography, now THAT'S a distressing subject in America (too many high school students can't find Canada on the map).
Fri, 1st Apr '05, 2:30am
- Politicians never doing what they promise, probably the same all over the world Sticker, no matter who you vote for, the government always gets in...
As Chev said, I'm sure most of us non-USA folks bash our own country longer, harder and louder than the US. However, I'm in a better position to tee off on Sydney, Alan Jones (not the racing driver, the other one), the Liberal Party, or the mandatory detention policy for asylum seekers. What I see and hear about the US, however, leads me to my position, and since we very rarely get posts about politics in other nations which generate as much interest, people's opinions of the USA will keep appearing on the forum. Again, as Chev so accurately stated, you guys are the centre of attention.
I am sympathetic to people like Rallymama, Darkwolf and Spellbound (and maybe you too, Hacken Slash), who may feel like it's just one endless anti-American tirade that they're sick of. I almost know how you feel; I'm more centre than Left, but I'm in an Arts faculty at university. Guess how popular some of my comments are, even when they're only thrown up to stimulate debate and thought in the tutorial rooms?
In some cases, we get a bit too heated - I know I was over the line during the US election, and I copped the same back. Abomination was over the line too, as well; there are more diplomatic ways of saying that sort of thing. Most of us with those opinions have never been to the US; as I said earlier, I would like to be wrong about my opinion, and don't doubt that it applies to a more visible slice of America rather than the whole entity.
T2 has a good point, though; perception is as good as reality here. Of course, changing that perception is probably beyond the power of any of us, short of actually working to increase our understandings. Then again, that's off-topic for this thread.
Fri, 1st Apr '05, 3:24am
The USA is a great place to go for a holiday. I have been there several times and had lots of fun. Some of the highlights of my holidays in the USA have been:
- Las Vegas - crazy crazy crazy - you can't help but have fun
- Disneyland - loved it. Looking forward to having kids old enough to go back with.
- Grand Canyon - awesome
- Yosemite National Park - spectacular
- small towns - such wierd little towns that seem so isolated from the rest of the world. Fascinating
- Texas - never seen steaks so big. Plus I actually saw people there who wear cowboy hats and do line dancing in real life
- New York - amazing place. Loads of deja vu from all the movies I've seen which are set there.
So, one positive for me is that USA is a really great holiday destination.
Fri, 1st Apr '05, 3:36am
Reasons why I think America is stupid: The entire legal framework of America is possibly the most horrible system of democracy I have ever seen. Nobody knows who has the true power (government or the courts?), everyone is appealing everything else (aw, we lost - appeal!), people sue for the most pathetic reasons (emotional damages, urgh), everyone has/needs a shrink, they call the baseball league that only their teams take place in the 'World Series' (what brainiac thought that one up?) and trust me the examples go on and on.
People asked for my opinion and I gave it. If you're offended by the fact that I think most Americans are stupid it's not exactly my fault that America presents itself as such to me. However it IS just my opinion, I could be wrong (and most probably am considering what a sweeping statement I made - I'm certain there are very many intelligent Americans out there but proportionatly...) but I'll always look at America as being a rather stupid country. So many improvements could be made but nobody dares to touch those hundreds year old pieces of paper called the constitution.[edit: Sure, they change a few things. But why are the gun laws still there? It's possibly the first law they should have amended after the war of independence. In New Zealand we have no and I mean NO act or law that limits parliament in such a manner.]
Study the NZ legal system, you'll see it's simply so much better than the American.
[ April 01, 2005, 14:07: Message edited by: Abomination ]
Chandos the Red
Fri, 1st Apr '05, 4:03am
To defend my mass stupidity comment I should explain why I think so. There is not much to explain, especially since your "explaination" has only got you in deeper here. It is still in violation of the forum rules: [Warning PM sent].
Then you said:
The entire legal framework of America is possibly the most horrible system of democracy I have ever seen. Well, you may be pleased to know that Tom Delay has called for a Crusade against the American legal system - you know the most "horrible in the whole world." :rolleyes: That's right, the guy who let his own father die is now going to hold "those men accountable." I guess he means those "other men." I am going to craft a separate thread on the impeachment attempts that some in Congress are planning, as this story is still developing, I will wait until Delay can get this off the ground. :eek: If he can. Expect to hear a lot about the "culture of life."
So many improvements could be made but nobody dares to touch those hundreds year old pieces of paper called the constitution.
Wow, first you go out on the line and say America presents itself as a "stupid country." Then you go and display your own ignorance of the Constitution. The original document has been "touched" 27 times - they are called "amendments." Perhaps you have heard of them. They represent changes that have occured to the document over the last 200 hundred years.
[ April 01, 2005, 05:12: Message edited by: Chandos the Red ]
Fri, 1st Apr '05, 10:26am
Heh, no offence here Chandos my man but 27 times in 200 years isnt all that often, really. I think the Swedish constitution, the one in use now is from 1976 iirc and it has probably been tweaked more than 27 times.
You have to admit, you are rather reverent over that constitution document, for good or bad.
Fri, 1st Apr '05, 1:16pm
This is all off-topic, so please get back to the original topic, or open new threads to discuss it.
Fri, 1st Apr '05, 1:19pm
Yes, joacqin, we are reverent about our Constitution. It is not easy to change it. After congress has passed an amendment, then 2/3rd of the states have to ratify it. Amendments have been passed by Congress but not ratified by the necessary number of states therefore not becoming law.
I am glad that it works that way. Because of this an Administration can not easily change the Constitution to suit its own agenda.
edit: Sorry, Tal, I was typing when you posted. You are right it is off topic.
[ April 01, 2005, 13:36: Message edited by: Nakia Nightshadow ]
Fri, 1st Apr '05, 3:39pm
To somewhat elaborate on Abominations comment,
it's not exactly my fault that America presents itself as such to me. He has a very good point which I think was missed. The vast majority of exposure that we get (in Britain at least) to seeing the lives of real American's is, alas, the talk shows like Jerry Springer. Surprisingly enough, this is not a good advertisement for your country; the vast majority of people on the shows come across and ignorant and uneducated.
Now it's possible that these are the main shows we get to see because we like to feel superior and the TV shows are merely satisfying that need. Alternatively, it's just because we make our own more intellectual programs, so there isn't the need to import them.
I voted "none" but in reality a lot of them apply. Despite being labelled anti-American at least twice on these boards, it has to be said I like both the country and the people. It's certainly not the centre of all evil, though they have their fair share (I sometimes get the impression that this is not recognised however). In truth, despite my occasional tirades, I'm not even particularly anti-republican - I just think that Bush is the most dangerous man on the planet. I agree with Abomination w.r.t. an intense dislike of the American system of law. Some of the supposed (I recognise not all are truthful) cases of successfully suing people for the most ludicrous reasons don’t help the impression of stupidity. (I'm sure there is a version of the Darwin awards that comes round occasionally.) What’s worse is that this is insidiously spreading to the UK. People are no longer willing to take responsibility for their own actions; trip over a crack in the pavement? SUE. (Alternatively, just look where you’re going you damn fool). I also have issues with the amount of power held by the big corporations as they appear to have the power to dictate government policy.
It's probably just me, I've always found it easier to criticise than praise, but here goes:
Israel & Palestine: Probably the most positive action that the US is doing, especially as they are not supporting Israel “come-what-may” as has previously been the appearance.
People: Best service industry I’ve encountered (Except the local O’Neil’s pub – foot of the BT tower in London if anyone is interested - which is beyond par) People are extremely friendly, if sometimes a little hazy on geography and accents.
Too much praise, I’m getting palpitations.
Running out of time now, I’ll return later to turn my ire on England.
Sat, 2nd Apr '05, 3:35am
Carcaroth - I think you have hit on the fact that it IS easier to criticise than to praise.
And you are right that we are bombarded every day with messages about bad things in the USA - the military policies, the fat people, the bulging debts, the Jerry Springer guests, the fast food, the people interviewed in Bowling for Columbine etc etc etc.
A very bad picture of the USA is painted for us all over the world and that colours our initial reactions to a question like: 'what does America mean to you'.
Sat, 2nd Apr '05, 3:56am
Well, as I made up this thread in first place, I think I have to post a clarification, much more after :rolleyes: the usual suspects :rolleyes: , unavoidably, and as I probably could have foreseen :rolleyes: , wrote the sort of useless replies they are renowned for.
Well, this thread is really about things America symbolises for you. I was in first place interested to see how Americans see their country and how foreigners see it.
Kept in a civilised way and tone such an exercise could benefit both sides.
It is not meant as another opportunity to reiterate the pointless nonsense a la "Reasons why I think America is stupid". That (a) isn't aswering the question of the thread, and (b) it is destructive.
When one thinks America's legal system could use reform, fine, I would even agree there, but leave it at that or open up a respective thread. Going on like "America is stupid because it has a silly legal system", well, is an abomination, quite literally.
The direction I wanted this thread to develop should have been quite clear by a simple look on the questions in my poll. So, please, get back to topic and to a civilised tone.
Mon, 4th Apr '05, 12:35am
It is not meant as another opportunity to reiterate the pointless nonsense a la "Reasons why I think America is stupid". That (a) isn't aswering the question of the thread, and (b) it is destructive. The direction I wanted this thread to develop should have been quite clear by a simple look on the questions in my poll. So, please, get back to topic and to a civilised tone.Yet an option in the poll was "naked agression; center of all evil and of all ills of the world" and you're saying that isn't destructive? And I don't appreciate the usless replies jab either.
Mon, 4th Apr '05, 1:06am
I agree with JSBB on all points with his first post.