God save the Queen, bless the USA, and neglect the French

Back from England. Sorry for going so long without a blog entry. Partly this is as a result of the lack of computer access. But I've been in c-bus since Monday, had access twice, and I haven't blogged. That must be breaking some sort of cyberspace regulation. Anyway, England was amazing. The conference was on the philosophy of biology (rousing topic, that one) and I was glad to learn as much as I did. But more than that, I got to meet other graduate students from 13 countries, all of whom spoke excellent English. And the experience of organic multi-culturalism, rather than the forced type it seems happens all the time in the US was transcendent. All of the accents (including the gratingly nasal American one) harmonized. It made me regret going back to my homogeneous midwestern non-cosmopolitan surroundings where even a Canadian seems exotic. Everytime I go out of the US, the silly and destructive parts of our culture seem ever more glaring. One Belgian woman regaled me with a tale of her first experience in the states. On successive days she was scolded for sunbathing topless alongside a private, enclosed pool (she didn't know that was unacceptable here). Then she was propositioned by the same man that scolded her. She was confused--if it was a strictly Puritanical culture, or at least a rigorously moralistic one, why was this man first offended by her non-sexual nudity and immediately afterward aggressively pursuing her. She was 16 at the time, a fact that makes the guy's behavior even more suspect. In any case, Europeans don't hate us. They're just confused. We "lead the world" in democracy, proclaim liberalism and individualism, the rights of everyone no matter race, creed, or degree of obesity, and then we detain people without trial, export vast amounts of exploitative porn, and have such deep seated problems with race and gender. We promise aid to suffering peoples but never deliver it. We villainize nations that disagree with us. We are simultaneously rhetorical geniuses and diplomatic morons. Not that there is a perfect country or government. But it made sense to me that all these educated Europeans could not figure the US out. They didn't know whether to fear us or trust us. I really didn't have any assurance to give them, unfortunately.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


this is a great comment on the paradox of being an american. we are such a mixture of diveristy of people/opinion/opportunity etc, that leads to misunderstanding. they best way to do it is by experiencing america is first hand and making a persoanl choice. the reverse holds for americans to travel to other places and respect their culture/traditions, etc. i just wish that the world was a bit safer so that really cool places would be open to us. like cuba, saudi arabia, syria, jordan etc. there is so much history, culture and tradition in these anti-us countries that americans would be benefitted greatly in seeing life outside the us. i will never forget how my worldview changed when i saw a young greek boy begging on a street in plaka athens, greece. his chest cavity collapsed on his lungs and you could see the palpitations of his small heart. this motiviated me to altruism when i returned. the best part is that i was not a christian and experienced it outside the lense of faith.


6/01/2005 12:08 PM  

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