Mudcat Café message #212337 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #20308   Message #212337
Posted By: Hollowfox
15-Apr-00 - 04:24 PM
Thread Name: BS: Do Americans know II
Subject: RE: BS: Do Americans know II
Some few years ago, Jim Strickland (a Scot transplanted to Toronto) and I were amusing ourselves by invading a snooty sorority tea at my university (ask me about it sometime, he'll probably admit to it as well). He remarked that these fluffchicks were what the rest of the world saw as typical Americans, thanks to television, mostly. I replied "No wonder they hate us." Years later, he told me that this happened on his first visit to the United States. I still get a small, proud smile when I think of my part in dispelling the stereotype, just a bit. Two years ago I travelled out of North America for the first time (To Turkey. Dad paid for the ticket). I was dismayed to find that the only English-language tv stations available were CNN and MS-NBC, both of which made the USA look like a pack of nitwits. These stations are probably used to teach the English language throughout the world. Oh, goody. Our fellow members of the tour, by and large, didn't help this impression. Out of two dozen people on that tour bus, I was the only one with a phrase book. When I ordered lunch from an outdoor vendor (something like two sandwiches, one Coke, one water, please") the vendors actually broke out in applause. A few days later, one of my travelling companions tried to get a straw for her can of cola by tapping on the top of the lid and saying "straw" in a loud voice to the bewildered cashier. My phrase book cleared up the mystery, at least the girl knew what the crazy American woman was bellowing, at least. And then there was the special diet crowd who tried to get that message across in a restaurant during the lunch rush, while the tour guide was taking care of something else, in English. //If I have to use an adverb fro my nationality, I sometimes use United States-ian. Awkward, but it makes'em think. //Kelida, you've pretty much got the picture right, but here's my extra bit. No one generation is ever going to make everything right and just. People get tired, distracted to other projects, co-opted, etc. Any generation's/movement's activists are the minority out of the whole population. And that's just as well; when something is accepted by too many, it it becomes merely fashionable (this applies to most of the things discussed on the 'Cat; folk music, justice both large and small, you name it). When the fashion changes, the work remains undone, and the movement gets relegated to embarressed little moments of nostalgia. ("When we were young and foolish, and marched against the Vietnam War") The value of whatever the project was/is gets weakened. //Make sure you'er doing something for the right reason, because if you're successful, you won't likely get thanked by grateful future generations. For example, while I was in college, after years of work by the students, the administration finally changed its rules - boys no longer were limited to a waiting room on the first floor of a girls' dormitory, and vice versa. The next year, the incoming students took this as a given, since it was in place before they arrived. Some of the activists felt a bit miffed.//Oh, yes, I think the USA is the best place -for me. Most other 'Catters would probably say the same about their respective Western Democracies. It doesn't mean that it's perfect, though, and I see it as the job of any citizen in any country to fix the parts that are wrong in their country, whether it be injust laws, hurtful traditions, or bad environmental practices. When somebody starts ranting about the faults of the USA, ask them which country has no faults. When I went to Turkey, I didn't fault my guide for her country's practices dealing with Kurds or Armenians, and she didn't lecture me about Native American rights, African-American civil rights, or German tourists getting shot in Miami.