My question: Has anyone collected data as to how many Canadians, New Zealanders, Australians, Chinese, Japanese, South Americans, etc have passports that was used to visit Europe et al? Isn’t it interesting how exclusively and carefully America is watched under the microscope while other nations are ignored all together?
The title of this entry is the all time biggest obsessed over complaint that Americans receive from the “morally superior” and “refined intellectuals” that come from Canada and Europe. Just as the “you’re the fattest” and the “you’re the stupidest“, the “Americans don’t have passports” argument in an effort to “humble” and “humiliate” Americans is equally weak and easy to debunk.
I don’t think we Americans have more or less curiosity about the world and other cultures than Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, China and other non-European countries. The continent of Europe is VERY similar to the country of the US regarding travel and borders. In Europe, kids are practically born with passports. It’s a necessity! Let’s say for example, if you live in England, you can just hop on the chunnel and be in France or many other places in a jiffy (as what’s done state-to-state in America). A LOT of countries in Europe are about less than half the size of California and border several other countries that border even more several other countries. (This also explains the multilingualism, but not necessarily the fluency.) You can probably visit a few countries in a day without getting too exhausted. Plus you have the luxury of sitting on a train instead of having to catch a plane or drive a car! What a convenience!!
I currently am living in Texas, and it takes 12 hours just to get OUT of the state! It takes forever to drive through Florida and California too. If the driving gets too much, we have to spend money for a hotel!!
But what about Australia that is a VERY large country?
As Aaron Hotfelder puts it,
Americans only receive (or demand) about two weeks off in vacation time per year, compared to a month or more in many European countries.
Many Americans don’t have the money to spend thousands of dollars to travel across the pond despite the rumors that we are all “rich”. Sometimes, we really, really want to but just cannot handle the finances involved. It’s not just the plane ticket, but the lodging, the transportation, souvenirs, entertainment, meals and etc. And who wants to rush while they’re on vacation? If I were planning a trip to Europe, I would want to spend at the very least, 10 days there.
Americans DO travel to Mexico and Canada. We used to not be required to hold a passport to travel there and to the Caribbean as well! Mexico is VERY famous for their beaches, for American honeymoons, and some Americans take a cruise (who have money) to Cancun. Canada and Mexico are our only borders. We DO travel to those places (including the Caribbean), but that’s the only variety we have unlike Europe (i.e. Germany shares borders with 9 countries.) And again, it’s about how much money and time we have to spare.
Furthermore, if you travel anywhere other than Mexico, the Caribbean, Asia, and Africa, you’re SOL if you expect to be treated like a person. The Americanophobes are somewhat notorious for ripping Americans apart in the street whether it be violently or verbally - you will get at least a few lashings (psst… yes, even if you voted for Kerry). If you just get one lashing, consider yourself lucky. Why do you think it’s so popular for Canadians AND AMERICANS (!) to wear the maple leaf on their backpacks when they travel to Europe? With that said, I find it quite ironic that Americans are bashed for not having passports. My question is… if YOU don’t like us, why would we like YOU enough to travel to your country? Some people have better experiences than others, though. Some even have 100% positive experiences. Lisa’s experience (an American from LLWorldTour) traveling throughout Europe wasn’t as bad as some others I’ve heard, and she shares her story here. She also debunks some common myths that the Europeans hold dearly about Americans.
Western nations are indoctrinated from birth to grow up hating Americans due to the grudges held over past wars (perhaps some to a lesser degree) – in the same way some people in the US are taught to hate black people, the Muslims and the French. (Some fall for the propaganda; some don’t.) Americanophobia has very little to do with Bush, Gitmo, Global Warming, Neo-Capitalism, Abu Ghraib, or the Iraqi War.
Last but not least, what’s wrong with Americans traveling WITHIN their own country? First you criticize us for not knowing enough about our own country, then you mock us because we travel within. I have done many cross-country travels in the US, and have lived in 3 different states. There is an extraordinary amount to be seen, a lot to be done, and a lot to be learned - something that an old textbook in grade school cannot begin to teach you. I guess some foreigners perceive the locals traveling within the US (that nobody has time to see in a lifetime) as yet another act of “patriotic arrogance”?
WHY DO YOU KNOW MORE ABOUT US THAN WE KNOW ABOUT YOU?
The US is a superpower and we are involved with many countries in both good ways and bad ways. Our government’s decisions effect the people living in countries all across the globe. So, naturally your media will be monitoring our every move, breath, cellulite crease and heart-beat under the microscope. You simply cannot escape us. You turn on your TV, you’ll find an American TV show or the news talking about us. We are decorated all over your newspapers. For those countries that are particularity disgusted with our current administration, all the more you’ll hear about us on the news and in the print media. It’s only natural for the media to cover our dirt. Not only that, but it’s also part of your media’s job to sensationalize whatever wrongs we commit on the world stage and conveniently leave out the good stuff. You don’t know anything good about us simply because your media doesn’t cover it. If you don’t already know now that bad new sells (cha-ching!), you’ve been living under a rock all of your life. And here is something else to consider:
Sure, the US has very little international news when compared to China, but that’s mostly because it’s illegal to report on negative domestic news in China. The news in other major Asian countries is just as inward-focused as that of the US.
The above quote was in response to this article written by a Chinese Americanophobe. From having lived in Japan for 6.5 years, I can testify that this is correct.
As one of my Canadian commenters has pointed out,
Additionally, American Globalization has a lot to do with your knowing more about us than our knowledge of you albeit it all being about stereotypes, mind you.
It is actually true that local channels (not cable) don’t cover as much world news as does Europe. But for the love of all that’s holy, there’s a reason why.
“USA citizens are not given world news in the same way as most the other developed nations, and may well be genuinely unaware that much of the world is as poor as it is. European news is highly world-centric, whereas due to its size most USA news does not have enough time to cover news in all neighbouring states, let alone news from around the world. ” –Vexen Crabtree
And finally, all of your “research” on “other countries” is …:::limited:::… to the United States (out of 194 independent countries in the world). Why? Because you’re obsessed with America and are looking for any reason and any flaw to put us down. It would be one thing if you had your facts consistently accurate about us, but even THAT is not the case! For the record, there are 193 other countries out there to explore – including your own. To avoid sounding hypocritical, you ought to study them too.
WHAT ABOUT OUR KNOWLEDGE ABOUT YOU?
Only unless you make a move that will effect everyday American life, will we pay attention.
People, please be realistic. Everyone (and I mean everyone – no matter what country you’re living in) only listens to and learns about what matters to them and what effects their immediate lives. I don’t care how “intellectual” that you think you are or you want me to believe you are, this is the reality. Human beings, by their very nature, are a selfish species. Like it or not, nature dictates that our interests come first.
Ever heard of the Arkansas Mafia? It’s not very likely a Canadian or a Brit has heard of this. Urban legend or not, it’s just more proof that you only learn what your media and parents feed you.
Is “learning” about another country from the news media really learning about another country? Actually all media systems are responsible for four things:
- reporting the facts
- sensationalizing and exaggerating them to keep you focused, hot, and bothered
- twisting the facts subtly to meet a particular agenda
- and leaving certain facts (good stuff!) out that could possibly give you a balanced perspective.
Besides your obsession with tabloids, is this how you Americanophobes learn about the lives of all 300 million Americans?
It’s unfortunate to bring this news to you, but it is not just Fox news et al that are guilty of brainwashing and having political spins. Your media outlets are guilty of the same. Reporters across the world are only doing their jobs, and it is those 4 key points that I bring up – that is part of what they HAVE to do!
Once our presence in the world is usurped by another nation (and I can’t wait for this to happen so that everyone will STFU!), EVERYONE’S focus will be shifted. If history teaches us anything (keeping the British Empire and Imperialization in mind), it teaches us that the most powerful nation on the world stage is the most talked about, the most “learned” (<—notice the quotes) about, and the most hated. History has also taught us that everyone wants to be the most influential and powerful and that once that power is gained, it will be abused. This is life. Just open up a history book.
The media is a good starting place to learn about other nations, however, if you truly want a balanced and well-informed perspective on an issue, you need to do your research using a myriad of sources and literature. Ever hear the expression, “there are two sides to every story”? What ever happened to asking questions, critical thinking, objectivity, and open-mindedness? Yeah. This is why I’m outraged when pseudo-intellectuals have the colossal nerve to call Americans “ignorant“.
If what you people knew about us wasn’t distorted information, than I’d say, good on you! But that isn’t the case. Every time I speak with an Americanophobic Canadian or Euronationalist, I am met with the same clichés and ignorance. However, this Canadian who has lived in the US for 5 years seems to have a clue:
I’m a Canadian who has lived in the USA for the past 5 years, and I’ve also travelled throughout Asia during this time. In my experience, most people in most countries are most concerned with what is happening closest to them, and almost always think for some absurd reason their own news deserves to be heard around the world. The fact of media anywhere (including state run media like in China and Canada) is that it is an industry built to sustain those who it directly feeds. In the case of the USA, the fact is that Americans don’t look outside their own borders for media content because they simply don’t need to; there is ample sensational material at hand. In contrast, the fact is that, for example, in Canada, very little of the sensational nature actually happens, which makes for pretty boring television. Hence, CNN is popular with Canadians, but Canadians get pissed off because it lacks much Canadian content. Whatever.
And finally, there’s one more point that I want to make. The last time I checked, traveling is supposed to make one more open-minded and tolerant. Am I right? However, all these cultural elitist snobs that hail from other countries love touting their 955100258787 page passport while (ironically) having a fierce xenophobic attitude toward those simply being guilty of having been born in the United States. Not everyone who travels acts like snobs – only some do. But the difference between those people who travel and snobs that travel is one thing: curiosity.
There are just too many people out there that flex their passport muscles. But its pointless. These people haven’t learned from traveling. They are still small minded, petty, and ignorant. Traveling doesn’t make you a better person. Curiosity does.
As Annie Rhiannon states in her blog as an English citizen,
90% of Americans don’t even have passports
Why is it always the British who use this (greatly exaggerated) statistic smugly, as if it somehow proves us to be so much less ignorant than them? Um, it doesn’t. We need passports just to get over to France for 40 quid on the Eurostar — otherwise we’d end up camping in our own gardens twice a year.
AMERICANS TALK BACK!
After reading the comments on this blog entry written by a Brit, there appears to be more insight as to why Americans are so… “insular” and “Amerocentric”.
Hear from the Americans here for the short-cut version.
Edited to add: TO SET THE RECORD STRAIGHT TO THE SELF-RIGHTEOUS CULTURAL ELITISTS WHO KEEP COMMENTING HERE, … YES, I HAVE LIVED IN ANOTHER COUNTRY AND HAVE TRAVELED TO SEVERAL PLACES AROUND THE WORLD. IF YOU’D READ MY BLACK BOX DOWN BELOW, YOU’D KNOW THAT. BEFORE YOU MAKE INANE ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT SOMEONE YOU DON’T KNOW….. R-E-A-D! If not, your own comments won’t be read in full and will automatically be deleted! I have no patience for people that comment on posts that they haven’t read, and no patience for those who haven’t read my disclaimer!
UPDATE II (courtesy of Phil Gyford)
Here is a source for the above figures, the Canada Tourism Commission research report ‘The Potential Impact of a Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative Passport Requirement on Canada’s Tourism Industry’ (500K PDF). They conducted “household surveys” in Canada and the US with the results summarised in a table titled ‘Passport possession in the United States and Canada’ on page 4:
2005 Survey Results United States Canada General population (18 years and over) 34% 41% Same-day travellers (transborder) 44% 60% Overnight auto travellers (transborder) 50% 70% Overnight air travellers (transborder) 67% 75%
The percentages of passport holders among those who travel between the two countries might help to make better comparisons with Europeans travelling between countries. (21 Nov 2005)