Skip to comments.Let us cleave these plucky little Americans to our bosom
Posted on 06/20/2004 11:46:21 AM PDT by ijcr
The Americans now see us, apparently, as 'introverted, arrogant bores who whip children and live in perpetual rain'
All generalisations are dangerous, even this one. But the worst kind, it's often seemed, are those about nationalities.
The French as dogbreathy bed-hoppers; the Italians as pretty cowards; the Aussies as irritatingly upbeat simpletons whose definition of 'cultured' is someone who gets out the bath to have a pee; the Bulgarians as torn-faced miserly cut-throat scum who would sooner slice open their neighbour's first-born than pick up a bar of soap; the Swedes as a kindlier, sexier yet strangely more suicidal version of the Germans... lazy generalisations, pat and trite and unhelpful, unless of course you're ever planning to go, quite unaccountably, to Bulgaria.
The Americans now see us, apparently, as 'introverted, arrogant bores who whip children and live in perpetual rain'. Not just any Americans, not even Americans with a bizarre academic interest in extrapolating national characteristics from the study of 1956 postcards of Weston-super-Mare? No, these respondents, we are told by a new British Council study, are America's young 'high achievers', the coming royalty of commerce. They think David Beckham plays 'hockey', and fewer than 5 per cent of them will ever want to visit us.
This, then, is the special relationship. US ambassador William S Farish was going on about it again yesterday, in a valedictory piece after three short years in Britain. His impressions, he told us, were that normal Britons see George W Bush not as a caricature but 'as a plain-spoken man of principle who says what he believes', which shows Farish as a man not above actionably deluded poppycock in the same way the ocean is not above the sky.
He went on again, fairly cynically, about the special relationship. They throw this phrase at us so cheaply, like dropped popcorn; it means as much as an empty promise to a mistress. No, not a mistress, a 'stalker'; we are the ones who know, obsessively, their tastes, their plans, their favourite films, and they are the ones with a dim recollection of poking us once in a cabbagey attic and an even hazier recollection of our name.
There is, though, one forgotten group of all-American heroes, and it is time for them to be feted. Not the high-achievers, with their ignorance of a country they never intend to visit, the trim wunderkinds with their buttoned-down God, and the naked whumping greed they call ambition, and their deeply unsavoury attitudes towards such human delights as alcohol and laziness and failure. Time, instead, to cheer the real American heroes: their tourists.
For decades, we've smirked. Tittered at their gaudy stomachs, their mispronunciations, their soft, keen, strangely sad faces. Grinned to ourselves, and not that quietly, at their kindness, and their interest. We should have been cheering them. At least they came. At least they wanted to find out 'something' else, about 'somebody' else, and if they took a slightly skewed vision and 4,000 shots of blurred fat thumbs back to Rumpshuck, Ohio, then no real matter.
Every couple on every cloistered flatulent coach trip, every vapid trotted tourist cliche, every dismal teacake in the rain, has been, we can now see, a proud and determined little blow against ignorance: and this summer we must talk to them, or at least stop sneering quite so openly; and see them as one last hope for a better American future, and bless their little polyester socks.
It's always nice to have someone else tell you what you think
I guess I'm in the 5%(that would be 15 million BTW) Not only have I visited them but I know Beckham is an overprice soccer player married to a spice girl. Woopie!
What an arrogant author. Full of BS and himself. LOL
He doesn't seem to like the Bulgarians either.
I didn't before, but I could be persuaded after reading this.
There's another thread on this study. Buried way down in the text is the fact that the respondents are all "people of color" and have no ethnic or cultural ties in their family histories to Britain or Europe (except as victims of colonization). Talk about slanted data.
Garbage in, garbage out, and it leaves a bad smell on your breath when you throw it up all over the printed page.
Also a distortionist. Didn't even bother to mention that the survey he cited was bunk...they only questioned high achieving minority students...far from the snapshot of what 'Americans' as a whole think.
Overpriced soccer player married to a spice girl and snogging his personal assistants.
Yeah, that little tidbit wasn't mentioned. This wasn't just a survey of young American "high-achievers". It was a survey specifically of black and Hispanic high-achieving high school students in, I believe, 3 or 4 states. I think California was one.
Not exactly a broad study.
*** the Bulgarians as torn-faced miserly cut-throat scum who would sooner slice open their neighbour's first-born than pick up a bar of soap; ****
I thought this was the French!
Euan complains about the stereotype and then proceeds to prove that in his case at least, the "arrogant bore" part is exactly right. Nice going, Jock. Feel free to let us stay the hell away from your bosom.
I would have had to think about who Beckham is, but I would have eventually gotten it.
Spice girl? Enh. Okay, points for a female boy-"band".
This writer is going to give Scottish groundskeepers a bad name.
And Scottish writers, too. The illogic and irrational hate of the NYSlimes columnists must be spreading.
What an ugly piece! (The article, too...) I don't have any of the views he thinks I have, but I do recognize him. He's just another bitter liberal, and if I want to see such a wretched waste of skin and air I'll save the plane fare and drive by the poli-sci pod on any college campus.
Coffee spew warning!
After seeing that plucky Italian fellow who showed Al Quaeda how an Italian dies, I sure dont see Italians as Cowards. Now the Frogs , Yes bed wetting cowards.
I've noticed that everyone loves to criticise the US but can't even take a hint about their own flaws. I'm not saying that those polls are a accurate assesment of the UK but they can't even seem to stand the thought that someone doesn't like them. You would think that it would make him think twice about forming the same stereotypes about the US and Americans.
He left out the fact that it wasn't a general sample of Americans. It was a poll of high achieving (A's and B's) minority college students with lots of extracuricular activities. As someone who fits that general description, I can tell you that most of us had a hell of a lot more to worry about than what some other country was really like. The kids that wanted to go to the UK either knew enough or found out enough to make an informed decision. I talked to several students who had studied abroad in the UK before I signed up for a semester at Oxford. As with any foreign country, it's not as good as the ol' USA.
Don't worry about it. All the liberty loving Scots were removed by the British government or left voluntarily 300 years ago. They came to the United States and were instrumental in fighting for the Revolution, and creating the wonderful Constutitional government that is our inheritance.
Pity the p'ur folk who were left behind.
"Overpriced soccer player married to a spice girl and snogging his personal assistants."
Not to mention the moves he tried to make on the Spice Girls' mother, Old Spice.
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