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What does American mean to you?

by Loren Booda
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Panda
#19
Feb7-07, 07:18 AM
P: 220
I would ask is your problem with being an American or being a Stereotypical American?

In my travels I have noticed that an American is not like Americans. There is a distinct difference between the views and actions of any individual American I have personally met and Americans I observe in Bath and American organisations.
Americans singular vary and have many views some I agree with some I don't.
Americans Plural give out this perception of being right because God said they were right.
I have dozens of examples from when I travelled into the US the month after 911, it was not a pleasant time to be foreign in the US, and I have never bothered going back.

I observed exactly the same attitude in Israel, Individually very nice people, In authority or on mass beligerent pains in the ***.

Australia in some ways is the opposite. On mass they are a carefree fun loving bunch of guys, Individually they whine a lot and are really bad loosers, but not as bad as when they are winners.

Most of Europe seems to split in social and ethnic groups that you can pick out once you have been in the country for a few months.
The Welsh, Scots and Irish seem to change dependent on which country they are in, but are generally

What concerns me is that occasionally when I see groups of English, especially from certain regions, they exude a stereotype of my Country that is no longer the amiable explorer but the obnoxious brat who runs down everything foreign without ever trying it.

The question is what sets this national personality if it is not present in individual personalities.
Jimmy Snyder
#20
Feb7-07, 07:28 AM
P: 2,179
Quote Quote by denverdoc View Post
But still curious as to who you think hates us and why?
As to why, my previous post gave the reason. As to who, I must admit, I don't know their names. However, paraphrasing Heller: If they don't hate us, then why are they trying to kill us?
denverdoc
#21
Feb7-07, 07:42 AM
P: 1,351
Quote Quote by Panda View Post
I would ask is your problem with being an American or being a Stereotypical American?
...

The question is what sets this national personality if it is not present in individual personalities.
You know Panda that's a damn good question. I haven't spent much time outside the US, but they may change here soon....

Americans have much to be proud of, but at times it takes on a collective arrogance thats offputting to say the least. We are the best..., God's on our side, bumperstickers and songs promoting God Bless America. Why not God Bless the World? Much of this by people who have never been outside this country in spite of greater than average means, and whose knowledge of the greater world and its history, generally abysmal.

As the recently circulating joke went, if you want to teach americans where some other country is, bomb the hell out of it. Whats most appalling to me, is the return to the "my country right or wrong"..."America, love it or leave it" mentality. You cannot critique anything these days. Even if its constructive, or meant to be. Wear the wrong tee-shirt, get arrested.

Instead we see the rising tides of xenophobia in an ugly manipulation of the age old fears. Building fences now along our borders? Its a bad idea in the ME, no better here.

But most problematic in the end is the lack of access to quality reporting that covers a true spectrum of views, and not the usual sliver. It is an insulating force, and whenever the range widens, we hear about the liberal press.

So from your perspective, what is most objectionable about the stereotypical american?
Jimmy Snyder
#22
Feb7-07, 07:43 AM
P: 2,179
Quote Quote by Astronuc View Post
I can find hundreds, thousands - even millions of immigrants from Mexico, Central and South American who work below minimum wage, have no health insurance, pay no taxes, and will never be rich, and are essentially segregated from mainstream America.
And who steadfastly refuse to go back despite the simplicity of doing so.

Edit: I hope this doesn't leave the wrong impression. I welcome immigrants and propose a more liberal legal immigration policy. I understand the reasons that they don't want to go back and admire them for not doing so.
EL
#23
Feb7-07, 07:45 AM
Sci Advisor
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Quote Quote by jimmysnyder View Post
As to who, I must admit, I don't know their names.
This is part of the stereotype: The "famous" american paranoia!
I think many people are seeing the american stereotype as someone screaming out how brave they are, although most of their actions are based on fear.
(Myself I hate stereotypes.)
denverdoc
#24
Feb7-07, 07:50 AM
P: 1,351
Quote Quote by jimmysnyder View Post
As to why, my previous post gave the reason. As to who, I must admit, I don't know their names. However, paraphrasing Heller: If they don't hate us, then why are they trying to kill us?
Jimmy, I think you're wrong on the first account. Maybe envious? But that doesn't always translate to hatred, usually you need another term in the eqn. Often its lack of self esteem. If you're talking about Islamic terrorists, that is a really complicated question, some of its likely zealotry, some of it is distaste for the way in which western culture has taken roots and destroyed a certain way of life, a lot of it probably stems from a very lopsided foreign policy that disproportionately favors Israel. Theres a lot more to it than this simple analysis, undoubtedly. But I don't think its because we "are free" or even relatively rich. Again that's more about envy. As to who is trying to kill us, I guess you're talking about the above. I don't see a lot of Mexicans or Chinese or VietNamese on the rampage, which should be the case if your hypothesis is true.
denverdoc
#25
Feb7-07, 07:57 AM
P: 1,351
Quote Quote by jimmysnyder View Post
And who steadfastly refuse to go back despite the simplicity of doing so.
Because they can make 20 or 50 times as much, and send most of the money back home to support their relatives living in squalid conditions is one wild guess. Hey whatever happened to the "give us your homeless and downtrodden?
Mr.4
#26
Feb7-07, 08:02 AM
P: 42
When I hear America I'm reminded of...

Sex, Money, Hollywood and Iraq!
Jimmy Snyder
#27
Feb7-07, 08:09 AM
P: 2,179
Quote Quote by denverdoc View Post
Because they can make 20 or 50 times as much, and send most of the money back home to support their relatives living in squalid conditions is one wild guess. Hey whatever happened to the "give us your homeless and downtrodden?
I since edited that post.
denverdoc
#28
Feb7-07, 08:11 AM
P: 1,351
Quote Quote by Mr.4 View Post
When I hear America I'm reminded of...

Sex, Money, Hollywood and Iraq!
Hey 3 out of 4 ain't bad.
BobG
#29
Feb7-07, 09:32 AM
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Quote Quote by jimmysnyder View Post
America is the land of opportunity. People come here from the lowest levels of society in other countries. It is not the comfortable that come here. Those stay home and watch as their wretched and hopeless compatriots give up on a system that has failed them and come to America for a second roll of the dice. And look what happens. If you are an American, compare your life to that of your last ancestor that didn't come here. Compare it to that of those who stayed behind. No wonder they hate us. We escaped the fate they thought they had condemned us to and surpassed them in the process. If you are not an American, are you planning to become one? Are you comfortable where you are?

My ancestors were Jews from Belarus. I need not remind you of what happened to their neighbors as Germany came and solved the Jewish problem for the Belarusians followed by Russia who solved the Belarusian problem for the Germans. There is no comparison to my life here and what it would have been there, because it wouldn't have been there. What's your story?
Historically, immigration to the US increases as living standards improve. Immigration to avoid persecution and genocide make up a very small percentage of immigrants.

And by improve, I mean a larger percentage of the population survive to adulthood, which provides the resources to support industrial development, which never quite keeps up with population growth in older countries with nowhere to expand. You can track the surge of immigrants from England, across Europe to the Southern and Eastern countries, and on into other parts of the world such as China and India as improved living standards spread across those countries. The US had seemingly unlimited room to expand and only needed more people in order to turn industrial expansion into a reality.

While it might be a slight exaggeration to say "people come here from the lowest levels of society in other countries", it is somewhat true that high unemployment in their home country is the main reason people have come to America. If you compare them to the ones that stayed behind, you're comparing them mostly to the ones that were able to find work in their home country. Immigrants are usually better off in America than they would be if they stayed in their home country, but that doesn't mean they're significantly better off than the people who stayed behind.

After the surge of immigration has passed on to some other country, I don't think there's any hate or envy left among the folks that stayed in their own country, although people that have succeeded in their own country might be left with a condescending attitude about some myth of America being the land of opportunity (a myth from their point of view, since the issue has become largely irrelevant to them, even if not a myth to the unemployed in the next country down the line affected by the industrial revolution).

A tough table to follow, but you can see the general pattern of immigration to the US: US Census Bureau: Region and Country or Area of Birth of the Foreign-Born Population, With Geographic Detail Shown in Decennial Census Publications of 1930 or Earlier: 1850 to 1930 and 1960 to 1990
Panda
#30
Feb7-07, 09:47 AM
P: 220
Quote Quote by denverdoc View Post
So from your perspective, what is most objectionable about the stereotypical american?
The assumption that the whole world should marvel at American goods and services because they are better than any local product.

When travelling I have often been put up in Hilton and Raddison hotels. They are generally full of Americans on Holiday who will not eat food from outside the hotel. I could understand if it was the middle of the Congo, but it happens in Italy a place that has wonderful food far better than anything I ate in the US.

Whilst working in Canada we walked into a Mall to grab some lunch and there was an American school party who were complaining that these Canadian Dollars were too hard to understand. They were actualy the paying local price in US Dollars because they couldn't grasp conversion. Every where I travelled in Israel everything was priced in US dollars and hotels served US food even down to Bacon for breakfast.

A lot of the troubles today go back a long long way and they started with US companies flooding local markets with US products and turning Leaders to American Ideals. If the countries leader objected they just organised a coup and put in a pro-American leader.

When I saw the news about the protests in Mexico over Tortilla prices due to the amount of corn being taken out of the local economy by US Bio-Fuel companies I saw again this screw you its to the benefit of America attitude. When the poor of that country cannot eat they will look to a regime that can bring them food, that regime may not be pro-American.

And finally the lack of knowledge or even interest in World affairs. When I first travelled to New York I was amazed at the open support of the IRA. As somebody who grew up in London during the IRA bombing campaigns they were not nice cuddly freedom fighters. Why should the US fund terrorism against the UK and then get so upset when somebody funds terrorism against the US.

Seeing my local shopping centre blown apart, could give me a right to hate not only the Irish but also their American Fund Raisers. An Eye for and Eye and all that.
Jimmy Snyder
#31
Feb7-07, 10:44 AM
P: 2,179
Quote Quote by BobG View Post
Immigrants are usually better off in America than they would be if they stayed in their home country, but that doesn't mean they're significantly better off than the people who stayed behind.
For my family, I can say without fear of contradiction that we are much better off than the average Belarusian. I think for instance that the average Irish-American is better off than the average Irish, etc. Can you think of a country where the average person is doing better than the average among the immigrants and their decendants in the US from that country?

At any rate, this analysis slightly misses the point. People emigrate for opportunity, not for guaranteed results. People with energy but no opportunity will take a chance in a new environment and hope for the best. Not all who emigrate end up here, but here is really the "Land of Opportunity." That more than any other aspect is what strikes me as "American."

I'm surprised that the topic of freedom hasn't come up. We Americans abound in the stuff. (The Statue of Liberty: A gift from those who have too little to those who have too much.) Many people will tell you that it is the reason for the opportunity, but I doubt it. My experiences in Taiwan and the PRC bring me to believe that they have more freedom in their day to day lives than we Americans. Their laws may be more restrictive and the chances of being done in by arbitrary power are greater. But in the daily conduct of life, we Americans don't venture from our self-imposed restrictions in the way that they do. For them it seems that laws are for bad people only. Being good myself, why should I be bothered by them? The way people park their cars in Taipei constitutes the eighth wonder of the world.
Gokul43201
#32
Feb7-07, 11:17 AM
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Quote Quote by denverdoc View Post
Which part?
This one - the underlined part:
Quote Quote by denverdoc
A degenerate economic system that pumps wealth into the hands of a few while reducing the wealth of the majority.
Are you saying that there exists a majority section of the population whose inflation adjusted incomes have been "reducing"?

I believe there are a wealth of sound data from a variety of sources suggesting that the stratification of wealth has increased steadily over the past 50 years and at a faster rate, more recently.
This is entirely different from what you said above.

1. What you said above = wealth of majority is reducing
2. What you said subsequently = share of wealth of majority is reducing

These are not the same thing. While the latter is true, the former is not.
denverdoc
#33
Feb7-07, 12:25 PM
P: 1,351
Quote Quote by Panda View Post
The assumption that the whole world should marvel at American goods and services because they are better than any local product..
Aren't they? I have the same problem closer to home, the chains are taking over and everything from good coffee to unique booksellers are rapidly becoming extinct.

Quote Quote by Panda View Post
Whilst working in Canada we walked into a Mall to grab some lunch and there was an American school party who were complaining that these Canadian Dollars were too hard to understand. They were actualy the paying local price in US Dollars because they couldn't grasp conversion. Every where I travelled in Israel everything was priced in US dollars and hotels served US food even down to Bacon for breakfast.
Have a country full of innumerates if you want my opinion.

Quote Quote by Panda View Post
And finally the lack of knowledge or even interest in World affairs. When I first travelled to New York I was amazed at the open support of the IRA. As somebody who grew up in London during the IRA bombing campaigns they were not nice cuddly freedom fighters. Why should the US fund terrorism against the UK and then get so upset when somebody funds terrorism against the US.
Well the lexicon here can be confusing: Freedom fighters are the good guys, (e.g. Contras), terrorists the bad. Sometimes our foreign policy seems concerned not by the means by which a group or individual gains power, so much as what will it mean for US/multinat'l corporations. So peaceful and democratically elected governments, whether in Iran, Chile, Haiti, and Venezuela are ousted by US sponsored coups, while we tolerate the worst of the worst (packistan) if its thought to serve these interests, all the while talking up democratic ideals. Its all nonsense and propoganda of course, but when the people can't find these places on a world map, much less know anything about them, well it does play pretty well in Peoria after all.
denverdoc
#34
Feb7-07, 12:44 PM
P: 1,351
Quote Quote by Gokul43201 View Post
This one - the underlined part:


Are you saying that there exists a majority section of the population whose inflation adjusted incomes have been "reducing"?

This is entirely different from what you said above.

1. What you said above = wealth of majority is reducing
2. What you said subsequently = share of wealth of majority is reducing

These are not the same thing. While the latter is true, the former is not.
Well if you're suggesting that we're all getting richer, only some more so, or even at a rate proportonate to their original wealth is an overall acceptable goal, I might agree. (Nevermind that such a scenario is unlikely. I don't believe wealth can be created out of thin air. Somewhere there have to be at least potential losses, maybe far, far away or in the future or both.)

I do indeed believe the standard of living for many has fallen relative to 1960. Exactly at what percentile ranking, not sure.

Or perhaps it is close to the same or marginally better, but at what cost. Very few stay at home parents these days, longer hours/more jobs for many, fewer benefits, greater insecurity, increased homelessness--so I'd say at least the quality of life has dropped, if not the absolute standard of living.

In other words many people including a sizeable proportion of the folk I see, are running faster and faster to stay in place, and many are dropping dead from exhaustion. I trust this isn't your observation and I'm about to see a bunch of stats explaining how much better off than I was than my parents and grandparents.
Anttech
#35
Feb7-07, 04:34 PM
P: 1,401
"ehh, America America" *waves hands*

In Italy if you say that, it is like saying *Yeah right in your dreams* due to the fact once upon a time many many moons ago, America was the place everyone though was the land of opportunities, and new beginnings. That perception is been eroded away day by day
Anttech
#36
Feb7-07, 04:38 PM
P: 1,401
Quote Quote by jimmysnyder
I think for instance that the average Irish-American is better off than the average Irish, etc.
And what are you basing that on? Have you been to Dublin recently? Are you aware of how wealthy Ireland has become? The Ireland that the Amercan-Irish moved away from is vastly different that Modern Ireland.


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