Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

News What does American mean to you?

  1. Feb 6, 2007 #1
    What does "American" mean to you?

    Recent events have made me more humble about being an American. I acknowledge, though, that when the vast majority of the world criticizes Americans, they are actually referring to American leaders and U.S. policy, not individual Americans or their democracy.

    I am ashamed and troubled, however, when our political system bestows extreme destructive power into the hands of reckless bullies. I am more proud, however, that I am given the right to dissent, live free and wage peace with humankind (and the universe in general) in what has proved to be the country I love.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 6, 2007 #2


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    How about baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet? :biggrin:
  4. Feb 6, 2007 #3


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    Of course they're not referring to individual Americans, since that would be pretty stupid.
  5. Feb 6, 2007 #4
    " . . . of the people, by the people, for the people . . . "
  6. Feb 6, 2007 #5
    A big ogre that recently poked in the eye is on a blind rampage against the agressor, when more circumspect dealings with the little guys might have been sound preventative medicine.

    A country who once was the planet's shining hope, now tarnished, with ever diminishing credibility

    A great place to live

    Home of the free and land of the ignorant

    Once the bastion of scientific excellence, non pareil, has Hollywood and the music biz as its chief icons

    A bully incapable of moderation w/o the existence of a rival superpower

    A degenerate economic system that pumps wealth into the hands of a few while reducing the wealth of the majority

    A country that overwhelmingly prefers creationism and conspiracy theories to anything sound

    One of the more violent places on the civilized planet that has made this into a new economic frontier via an ever growing system of incarceration/slave labor.

    My home, and a place that can be still be improved thru the process of democracy, and progressive politics.
  7. Feb 6, 2007 #6


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    Lincoln got that from Theodore Parker - a Liberal clergyman and colleague of Thoreau and Emerson.
  8. Feb 6, 2007 #7


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Do you hold that this particular meaning is based in fact?
  9. Feb 6, 2007 #8
    Good: When something goes wrong people dont riot and have coups.

    Bad: We are myopic.
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2007
  10. Feb 6, 2007 #9

    Ivan Seeking

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I tried to answer this about five different ways, but in the end, I don't know what "American" means anymore.

    I know how I see it: The Constitution is "America", but this doesn't seem very important to 40-60% of "Americans". It appears that partisan politics now supersedes Constitutional concerns. I also see this as a greater threat to our way of life than any terrorist could be.

    I also think Americans are being sold out by corporations and their direct or indirect influence in trade agreements. When industry in Mexico or China has the same OSHA and EPA requirements, not to mention being subject to a respectable minimum wage, as we are here in the US, which they should be, then we can talk about unregulated free trade. At the moment we are being played as fools for the sake of stock dividends.

    While on a job in Peru, which is an up-and-coming country for industry, I oversaw the installation of a new system for the food industry. Their [Peru electricians] idea of wiring was to string 460VAC [up to a couple hundred amps] on wires of whatever size was handy, like clothes lines. I mean this stuff was hanging from the rafters like spaghetti, all around the installation!!! If an electrical inspector in this country saw an installation like that, the place would be shut down on the spot. But this is what US industry has to compete with in Peru. I have heard that in some places in Mexico, the workers just go outside and squat in the dirt when then need to relieve themselves - they don't even have restrooms. Here we provide special facilites for the handicapped.

    And even at Toyota in Japan, a freind told me of open batteries filled with sulfuric acid that were lying all around a work area with high current cables strung all about. How are we supposed to compete with this? Industry world-wide must be subject to the same standards as we for free trade to mean anything other than unfair competition. As it stands now, free trade perpetutates abuse of the working class and the evironment in other countries, and it promotes the widening separation of the classes and consolidation of wealth in this country.
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2007
  11. Feb 7, 2007 #10
    Inept government, playground diplomacy and bully boy tactics, corruption, lies, scandal, breach of personal freedoms and rights. Advocation of torture by signing law provided it's not on American soil; there are some good things but considering the last 6 years it's sometimes hard to remember what they were? It reminds me of the grip of facism really, they started edging so far right and using the idea of terror as a sort of scapegoat to restrict personal liberties and people bought into it, I just hope it's once bitten twice shy.

    Oh alright movies, Coca Cola,Dr peppers, Pepsi, Peanut Butter, the 4th of July, and an obsession with automobiles that defies logic.:smile:
  12. Feb 7, 2007 #11
    Which part? 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. Whether that's degenerate or the way it was meant to be, I suppose depends on one's perspective.

    What some studies (and being knew to this forum, I haven't bookmarked a backlog to draw upon) suggest is a strong negative correlation with the level of polarization and public physical/mental health. Notice I said, correlation; causality is trickier to prove because of so many coincident factors.
  13. Feb 7, 2007 #12

    That do you? :smile:



    Isn't elite meritocracy fun, well unless your poor of course.
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2007
  14. Feb 7, 2007 #13
    Q: What does America mean to me?

    A: Not what it once did.
  15. Feb 7, 2007 #14
    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?
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2007
  16. Feb 7, 2007 #15


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    Equality of opportunity is a myth - it has never existed.

    Starting out poor and becoming rich is the exception, with much the same probability of becoming a star athlete in the NBA or NFL or NHL.
  17. Feb 7, 2007 #16

    We know we have the same thing in most of Europe, it's not a big deal OK, that's why the western world is seen as so successful, whoop de friggin do, it may of been something to boast about 200 years ago but now it's just mediocre at best. Change the record already.
  18. Feb 7, 2007 #17


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    Funny - I know plenty of professionals from Europe and Asia, coming from moderately wealthy families, who came to the US for opportunities, but who engage in the international commerce, and spend time going back and forth between the US and Europe or Asia.

    On the other hand, 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.
  19. Feb 7, 2007 #18

    Jimmy, who hates us? Its my experience americans (except in maybe France) are generally pretty well thought of around the world. They don't always like our foreign policy, but my guess, is that most people are able to separate the two. Here in the US, it seems different, ie we have more difficulty separating policy from the people, so growing up it seemed hatred of the soviets, Red Chinese, was encouraged to some extent. And still is, only the names have changed, but evil this, evil that. Maybe I'm imagining it. But still curious as to who you think hates us and why?
  20. Feb 7, 2007 #19
    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 ass.

    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.
  21. Feb 7, 2007 #20
    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?
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook