An unexpected side effect of living in Korea has been a surge of my American pride.
America is not without it’s flaws (duh, I think we all know that), but it’s a very decent and livable country. So why do people hate it so much?
My experience with people of Asian nationality has been overwhelmingly positive. People in South Korea love America and are generally excited to speak English with us (or maybe that’s because my Korean is still pretty bad). People in China actually knew where Houston, Texas was (thanks Yao Ming!), so I got to discuss my home town briefly. However, when people ask where I am from I say: America, not Texas. That is, after all, what it says on my passport.
However, I recently came across this blog post deeply steeped in a misguided hate of America via Twitter, and I honestly wish I hadn’t.
His chief complaint seems to be that Americans, when asked what country they hail from, simply state “America” rather than tacking on the additional “United States of.” Which to me, is ridiculous — I am not a United Statesian. Of course, I am aware there are several of “the Americas” (if you are from the 1400′s and actually use the phrase “the Americas”): South America, Central America, and North America. However, within these continents are many countries. For example, in North America there are Canada (Canadians), Mexico (Mexicans), and the United States of America (Americans).
The blogger goes on to say that if we (Americans) were from another country we wouldn’t be “arrogant” enough to assume the name of a continent:
..if you were from those countries you’d be humble, and informed, enough to not give a region or continent as your nationality.
And ends with a plea:
So my AMERICAN friends, be informed, be less ignorant, be less arrogant and when someone asks you where you’re from. Tell them a country, not a f*cking continent.
Not to mention the additonal (unnecessary) stereotypical comments:
How about you – my stars-and-stripes, McDonalds eating, American-football-loving friend…
And my personal favorite:
Can you read guys? Probably not
I guess it might have irritated me less if this particular blogger wasn’t making money by being a “travel writer” or if I hadn’t already experienced some America hate while living abroad. But it does bother me. I’m really tired of this pervasive hate, this misguided arrogance regarding America. I’ve found that a lot of the more hateful sentiment stems from ex-pats (usually European, but not always) who feel the need to constantly complain about America and often other countries they’ve been to for no reason other than their own unhappiness. It makes you wonder why they decided to leave home at all since they seem to dislike everything so much. The logical answer is that they are just unhappy people, carrying their gray cloud of sadness with them wherever they go.
I’ve traveled — not as much as some people, and not nearly as much as I want to, but I’ve seen things. I live in South Korea, and I just returned from a brief trip to China. I’ve learned so much about each of the places I’ve been and the culture of the people who reside there. When I go somewhere, I try to learn a little of the language, I eat the local food, and I make it a point to smile at strangers in an attempt to show that we aren’t all bad. Other travelers constantly encourage us woefully ignorant Yanks to be culturally sensitive to the discrepancies in foreign cultures, but where is our sensitivity?
All I am asking for is a little reciprocity.
Stop stereotyping “typical” Americans as fast-food-addicted, small-minded idiots (I don’t even like McDonald’s!) — I’m not saying there aren’t ridiculous, misguided, ignorant people who do happen to be 1 of the 113 million who live there, I’m just saying we (Americans) aren’t all that way. So, please, the next time you are at a bar in a foreign land and want to start in on how you hate those “typical Americans” with their beer bellies and 5th grade vocabulary, be cognizant of the fact that the ex-pat next to you may be from Texas (a state larger than many countries, coincidentally) — and don’t laugh off their offense when they bring it to your attention.