Thursday, April 23, 2009

Guess this guy's nationality

I found this quote in a recent issue of Conde Nast Traveller. The person to whom this quote is attributed is no one you'd know. This is from a sort of person-on-the-street type of feature. People from various countries described their experiences or feelings about traveling in America or Americans in general. I think this man's ethnicity is obvious from his comment. He said:
Americans have some problems understnad what's happening outside the United States. The newspapers here have no news from oustide the U.S. except from Iraq. It's a closed country. Americans go everywhere, but just to fight. Other differences: Here you need to tip, tip, tip. We are not used to this. And Americans say, 'Hi, how are you?' a hundred times a day! It's awful! They don't care about the answer.
I won't tell you where he's from but I'll give you some hints. In the last 100 years, we Americans have gone to his country twice "to fight" but not because it was our fight. We fought and died there because his countrymen couldn't or wouldn't do it themselves.

After our second visit to his country "to fight," at his country's invitation, we were invited "to fight" in Viet Nam. See, Viet Nam had been a colony of his country but it lost control of the colony and asked for our country to help save it from independence.

This is to say nothing of the many, many places his country has gone "to fight."

I agree that it's "awful!" -- dreadful! -- that we Americans ask, "How are you doing?" The nerve! I think it would be better if we adopted the practice of this gentleman's home city (here comes another hint) and treated tourists and guests rudely who do not speak the language or understand the local customs.

As for America being "a closed country," we obviously aren't closed enough. After all, we let this guy in for who knows how long. America has amazingly open borders. It's still the place people want to come for a better opportunity. They bring with them their cultures, religions and practices. America, for good and bad, is the global village.

In terms of news and information, there's not a freer, more open society in the world. Despite what our foreign critic believes, news of the world besides Iraq is easily found here. Perhaps what he does not understand is that many of us don't have the time to care about what his happening all over the globe at any given time. It's enough keeping track of our daily lives. There's no place in our lives for the goings on in Turkey or Malaysia or whereever.

Maybe what his real beef is that his country sees itself as the cultural center of the western world but it is essentially irrelevant in terms of global politics. It's a mere shadow of its former imperial self. His countrymen are so concerned about its slipping place in the world that they legislate cultural content for TV, radio and such. My "closed country" allows all sorts of political, cultural and entertainment content to be aired. We decide things here on merit more than country of origin.

So, did you guess this guy's nationality yet?

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