All that is wrong with the world…

August 11, 2011

A defense of American tourists

Filed under: Travel — Tags: , , , , — allthatiswrong @ 10:15 pm

In all my travels I have noticed a common recurrence. Namely unfounded criticism against American tourists. I hate this because it’s just so hypocritical. Europeans tend to be the worst, followed by Australians and New Zealanders. Despite never having gone to the US, they feel they can know the country authoritatively and by extension can judge people from that country. It was amazing to me when traveling through Europe how rude people would be when they assumed I was American by default, only to suddenly be helpful and apologetic when I made it clear I was not. A good example of this is when I was in Rome and ran out of money to get my bag out of storage. I managed to get access to my bag to get a carton of cigarettes which I sold outside the airport to get enough money to get my bag back. I tried selling to taxi drivers who simply insulted and laughed at me, however when proving I was not from the US they all bought a packet and so I was able to get my bag back.

It’s pretty bad in the UK and Australia as well. When American tourists ask questions or remark how things are different they tend to be insulted, like they should be expected to know these things. Yet, most people from the UK or Australia have no idea about the US except from what they learn from each other and the media, which is to say they have a wholly inaccurate depiction. Yet, despite not traveling they somehow feel superior to these American tourists being exposed to a different culture for the first time. The fuck?

When I’m in New York, I deal with tourists every single day in my job selling comedy tickets. There are a great many idiotic tourists from Europe or Australia. People who can’t figure out how the streets are numbered on Manhattan, people asking for directions to a store that has huge signs lit up right behind them, or the worst is people being convinced that selling comedy tickets is illegal despite us doing this every day and police standing near us and being on friendly terms with us. Honestly Australians can be the worst as xenophobic as they are in a city as packed and diverse as NYC.

The anti-US sentiment is some of the worst groupthink and idiocy I have encountered in my travels. Only 30% of Americans even have a passport, yet those who decide to travel and learn tend to be criticized by those who haven’t even left their own countries. I assume part of it is just being defensive….a lot of these countries are smaller and many of the people feel the need to prove a point, that their countries are not small or backwards as they think Americans might think, when that isn’t necessarily the case at all. It’s far less likely to be the opinion of those who actually travel.

Another example of this irrational US hate is a Taiwanese guy I met when I was in Canada in January was terrified of the NYPD despite never having been to NY. He was very happy with the Toronto police despite the huge criticisms against them and their history, such as the G20 riots. The NYPD in my experience have always been helpful and friendly. Sure, people will have different experience but on average it seems the NYPD have a better reputation than the Toronto PD. Yet, simply because it was American, this guy thought the NYPD were going to be far far worse.

Another example would be an Australian kid on a forum I used to frequent, who was convinced that Americans were offended by the word mate. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth, but he was convinced of this after he called someone mate and they punched him. I’m sure there was more to the story as this kid tended to be ignorant and argue for the sake of arguing about things he didn’t comprehend and someone probably had enough. To draw the conclusion that any American will be offended by calling them mate is just idiotic.

It’s amazing how little people know of the US yet they feel they can criticize it as an expert. Most Europeans or Australians have no idea just how diverse the US is with climate, culture, laws, language, cuisine and more. Many areas of the US have a strong dislike of other parts, to the point they act like different countries sometimes. The US is more than twice the size of the EU and the third biggest population on the planet, yet all too often people dismiss it as a homogeneous cauldron of stupidity lacking in culture what so ever. It’s this that I don’t understand.

Not to mention the ridiculous political criticisms. Yes, the US has many problems when it comes to politics, but so does the EU. From mass surveillance and limiting photography and journalism in the UK to out of hand censorship in many countries, France banning Burquas and privacy concerns raised by the Data retention Directive? The EU acts like a country without any of the checks and bounds a state provides, so I consider it worse in many respects. However, that is another discussion (and post) entirely.

I just wish the hypocrisy and unfounded criticism would stop. All countries are different, and many countries in Europe are backwards in several respects. Just as the US is. If a tourist makes an observation it can start a discussion or be a chance to provide information or correct an incorrect assumption. People need to stop the thinking all Americans are idiots and their countries are better than the US because they have socialized health care and lower crime rates. The issues are a lot more complicated than that and in any case, why does it make sense to judge people from a country because of the government that represent them? When someone travels and wants to learn about the world that is a good thing and should be encouraged. At the moment it would seem that many Americans might have the idea that people of other countries are ignorant, backwards and insecure. If people keep acting the way they do towards American tourists, then they would be right.

11 Comments »

  1. Great post. I agree. People that venture out of the comfort of their home country should be encouraged and applauded. Americans have a really bad reputation it seems everywhere and people love to judge us. However, mostly all the countries I’ve been to love all things American! They love American music, they try to dress like Americans, they have McDonalds …

    They should learn to get to know Americans before turning their noses up. Maybe we’ll get there one day.

    Comment by travelingmad — August 12, 2011 @ 12:05 am

    • Indeed. I often feel it is a great indicator of a person when they start badmouthing the US with authority despite never having been there themselves.

      Comment by allthatiswrong — August 12, 2011 @ 3:10 am

  2. […] A defense of American tourists (allthatiswrong.wordpress.com) […]

    Pingback by A Rickshaw, Oakleys, and When Not to Wear a Burqua in Kandahar | Hamsters on the Titanic — August 13, 2011 @ 3:20 am

  3. Who is American? American is a person who became a citizen of US or who was brought by parents from another country and grew up in US. So, basically, any American is in his/her root can be from Australia, New Zealand, UK, Italy, Poland, Russia, Germany, Spain, Japan, China, Korea, Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Argentina, Brasil, Canada, Scotland, Romania, Chezh, Israel, etc. People from Australia came there from other countries as people of US. Another case is government and its politics. Yes, they want to be everywhere and control everything. Or, maybe there are people from Australia, New Zealand, UK, billionairs who live in US and would like to control the world from there? Just think about it. We are citizens of the world, there are nice and rude people everywhere, you can’t hate other person for his/her government unless he/she supports what they are doing.

    Comment by Yuriy Kolerov — September 6, 2011 @ 5:44 pm

    • An American is not simply someone who was brought by their parents to live in the US…..all people in the US come from immigrants, but that’s true of many countries, if not all.

      Comment by allthatiswrong — September 10, 2011 @ 2:10 pm

  4. I just stumbled upon your blog and I’ve had rejoicement in finding someone with a similar view on the world and mostly just good common sense and this all worded very effectively and precisely better than I could have done myself.

    As a young European who was found guilty in the past of being part this collective anti-Americanism I understand where it comes from but I also see now, possibly due to being slightly less young, how generalizations are rarely any good in a personal encounter and that a huge chunk of Americans are just as good and some obviously better than the average joe anywhere else and that this condescending attitude must be extremely annoying. There’s some more thoughts I had on the subject but I’ll keep it as is for the moment.

    Now what I actually wanted to ask you was your opinion on the banning of Burquas in France. Obviously you see it as a terrible thing but I wonder why.
    If you don’t mind I’d first like to show you why I don’t see what’s wrong with it.

    First of all, France and most of the more important European countries have always been a beacon of culture and mindset each independent of each other for as long as they existed and have always been very protective about it. This can be seen today for example by the dubbing of foreign films, creating own vocabulary for important ideas/products etc solely to preserve the language.

    The same applies to immigration, they’ve always held policy of: if you come here we expect you to adapt to us rather than the other way around, which I personally feel is as reasonable as you can get.
    Which maybe hasn’t been possible overseas since such a diversity already existed and would be just too hypocritical anyway.

    As for the Burquas themselves, it has always been against to law to hide your face, to wear anything on the head in school and so on. So even if it doesn’t justify it, it was already there.
    So even if Muslims are tolerated and since Church and State has properly been divided (if you don’t mind my criticism: at least it has effectively been done so here, we don’t “In God we trust”) eventually the French culture has a right to exist in its own roots and if you want to be French you should respect that. It’s not a question of racism, the same would be true for Germans, English, Italians etc trying to force their own culture on France.

    If you think this is intolerant behavior then consider the following: why can’t you import your culture and are a lot of your culture/religious habits outlawed in a lot of the emigrating countries? If they expect to be able to export their culture but not the other way around then that makes them hypocritical.

    This can be further be seen in how VISA’s are given. For an average joe, you’re prohibited to stay in most other countries for longer than a certain time to visit it, but you’re not welcome to stay because you don’t “belong” there. Exceptions exist on certain conditions but the general rule is still there to prevent it in most cases.

    I’d like to note tho, and this might sound a bit contradictory, I believe in personal freedom, I think no one should be prohibited from believing in what they choose, neither do I believe Islam is inherently bad nor do I esteem myself better than immigrants.

    In other words: I don’t believe in multiculturalism. Different cultures have different expectations, different mindsets and therefor clash. If you immigrate anywhere, you’re supposed to adapt, not bring your own culture along.
    I look forward to your point of view. Because, as I’ve said, from what I’ve read so far I value your opinion.

    Pardon me, this turned out longer than expected.

    Have a lovely day!
    Cheers,
    Timothy

    Comment by Timothy — March 26, 2012 @ 4:51 am

    • Hi Timothy,

      Thanks for your reply.

      I think the burqua law is racist, because it was made purely in response to Muslims. It really only affects muslims. I’m pretty anti-religion but the problem I have with the law is that it tried to force people to go against their religion, which isn’t the answer. That’s only going to make people angry. Women need to be educated that the Qu’ran does not dictate women go to such lengths to cover themselves, that it isn’t necessary. Have them voluntarily free themselves instead of legally forcing them to forgo something they still believe they need.

      The burqua law isn’t a solution, it just creates further problems. What does it say about a society that legally tries to eliminate a cultural trait that people are doing of their own free will and isn’t hurting anybody?

      Comment by allthatiswrong — December 11, 2012 @ 3:40 am

  5. […] A defense of American tourists (allthatiswrong.wordpress.com) […]

    Pingback by People's Republic of Snarkistan | A Rickshaw, Oakleys, and When Not to Wear a Burqua in Kandahar — January 31, 2013 @ 7:08 am

  6. I live in Australia but came from asia and i dont see nothig wrong with Americans. Infact the opposite is more true: the most hospitable, open and sharing kind of people in this planet that makes me have an urge to be spoiled one.😀
    They defend what is good and say sorry for a mistake i didnt even notice!
    God bless America.

    Frank

    Comment by Frank — December 24, 2013 @ 7:27 pm

  7. You must be aware of this. Most of the world does not know the USA. Even though most Europeans and Asians are very worldly and have traveled and lived in the USA for several years, they really do not fully understand the USA. A non-US Citizen has to live in the USA for 20 years, visit at least 20 states, read up on government structure, basic history and economics, and read up on basic everyday lifestyles to obtain a basic understanding to the USA. Unfortunately, the news/internet sources are no longer reliable; they are biased and very anti-American.

    About the Burqua issue, it is not racist. Racism is bigotry based on biology and that can only be defined by science. Scientists have not definitely defined race. That being said, Islamic terrorism is real in Europe and Islam is the most intolerant religion in the world. It is the Muslims that must assimilate and not the French. Plus, they want to establish a theocracy in Europe. Theocracy is an evil form of government under all religions.

    Comment by Joe Cool — March 31, 2014 @ 11:45 am

  8. […] A defense of American tourists (allthatiswrong.wordpress.com) […]

    Pingback by A Rickshaw, Oakleys, and When Not to Wear a Burqua in Kandahar | Sunny in Kabul — May 25, 2014 @ 10:24 am


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