USA Rant :) | Page 2 | Ask Benny | Forum

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USA Rant :)
November 23, 2011
17:55
Theomar
Copenhagen

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Benny, the post was great.

 

There are apparently a lot of sensitive people and a lot of sensitive issues on the Internet. But for some reasons most of these sensitive people tend to be Americans and most of the sensitive issues tend to involve the USA.

 

I have never set foot in the USA, but I remember from my trip to Canada that at least some of the issues exists to some extent up there as well. But I showed the article to my girlfriend who has been a summer school student in the USA and she found the article to be spot on.

 

What troubles me is seeing these problematic aspects of American culture spread to the rest of the world. I for one have begun to notice people outside of the USA embracing not only American TV and music, but manners and idioms as well.

 

Why on Earth would it be wrong to criticize another people or another culture? I will presume that every people, country or culture in the world has some issues that we all need to talk liberally about. If we become too averse to criticism and conflict, the discussion of genteel and erudite subjects will become impossible.

 

Anyone who has problem with a little critique and candour can go to Facebook and discuss the latest pop music and gossip.

November 23, 2011
18:22
kuikentje Jar-ptitsa
Wallonia, Belgium

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Maybe it's because the Americans do that thing when they put the hand on the heart and are patriotic in the school every day, therefore the nationality is very personal, and the criticism of America feel like a criticism of themself.

 

In Wallonia, everyday we are criticised: lazy, stupid, etc....by the Flemish, therefore it's a normal thing. If a person criticise Wallonia - or Belgium, which is my nationality, I don't mind, it's possible that the criticism is justified, therefore interesting. But if a person criticise me personally, then I'm devastated, not capable of receive well at all, but I know that it's better if you can cope with the criticisms.

 

I've noticed before as well, that the Americans don't expect or want negative comments at all about them or their country. In Belgium, we hear such things often, eveyr day, of course between Flemish and Walloons but also by French, germans, English etc.... the French say that we are the village idiot people, the English that Belgium is the most boring country of all the world, the Germans accuse that it's the 3rd world, the Dutch that we're stupid, slow etc.....But the USA is enormous therefore they havne't the neighbours so near who will criticise!!! or few neighbours, only Canada and Mexico.

 

But it's true what the Americans say about the Europeans' arrogance towards them: I've read often that the Europeans find the Americans stupid, ignorant, always eat hamburgers, fat, lazy, don't know languages or culture etc... This is nasty and snob, stereotype things. But some other criticisms are not like that, but they are after have had experience in the country and then they're interesting and valid I think.

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December 4, 2011
09:29
frankburnsjr
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I agree with everything Benny said, and I'm American.  The problem with most Americans is that they're blindly patriotic and believe that their shit doesn't stink.  It does, just like everyone else's.  

 

I especially agree with the smiling observation.  It's sickening really.  All I could think of was 90% of the white girls here who all try to look the same, pile 2 pounds of makeup on their faces, and show the same damn [Beware! This is SPAM posted by a third party] smile in every single one of the THOUSANDS of photos they take every year.  It's narcissistic and vomit-inducing.  People always ask why I don't smile in photos.  It's because, as Benny says, I smile when I'm truly happy or enjoying something.  I don't feel the need to plaster a [Beware! This is SPAM posted by a third party] smile on my face so I can join the flock of sheep on facebook showing everyone how happy I am.  The blind patriotism and consumerism is what will destroy this country.  

 

Regarding the comment of Europeans' elitism.  I believe (my opinion, of course) that the elitism is nothing more than a knee-jerk reaction to traveling Americans' complete lack of respect for other cultures, their never-ending tirade of "we're the greatest,"  and their need to be coddled wherever they go.  Think the French are rude just because their "French?"  How about the saying that they'd all be speaking German if it weren't for us?  A bit insulting, no?  I guarantee that if someone continually insulted me, they'd get a lot more than a turned up nose; they'd get a bashed in nose.  Until we learn to respect other nationalities, we cannot expect them to respect us.

 

I'm also sick of the constant need to be politically correct.  We can't say a damn thing here without getting pissed on by some group.  Grow some balls, and learn to deal with it.  Life's a bitch.  It's not all rainbows and sunshine like Americans seem to want it to be.  No matter how much you censor people, they're still thinking it.  How about letting them speak up and then having an intelligent discussion about it rather than trying to censor them and hoping the problem goes away on its own.  Ooh!  Just thought of a great idea.  Let's all pretend no one is different, ignore labels, and put on [Beware! This is SPAM posted by a third party] smiles so everyone thinks everything is A-OK.  Stupidest idea ever.  But, that's what most Americans are doing.  Don't blame Benny for pointing it out.  Blame yourselves for not wanting to face the [Beware! This is SPAM posted by a third party].  

 

I could continue, but I think Benny spelled it out quite well.  Keep telling the [Beware! This is SPAM posted by a third party], it's something everyone needs to hear. 

December 25, 2011
16:20
Cameron
Den Haag, NL

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I read Benny's post, and his various responses to its critics, and I must say that I'm a bit disappointed. I read the article and wasn't particularly affected by it. It seems that Benny and his defenders consider the post to be a ground-breaking look at the U.S. that will make every American "take a hard, long look at themselves", while his detractors see it as anti-American propoganda and an attack on U.S. culture (I was particularly exasperated by the gun lobby that showed up to proselytize).

I didn't find the post to be particularly insightful or representative, but I also didn't think it was a venom-filled hate post either. To me it was the rather short-sighted opinion of an average European that fails to take into account the great diversity of culture and behavior that exists in the United States. I understand that these are his personal observations, and that he has spent a good bit of time in various places in the U.S., but I'm sure there are many instances where his observations do not fit that he has conveniently forgotten.

For example, if you heard 20 different people say "awesome" in San Francisco, and heard only one person say it in Austin, you could choose to claim that "everyone" in both cities say it "all the time". It's just not credible. You simply cannot pigeon-hole 310 million people, no matter how many observations you have made in any number of far-flung places. Being a U.S. citizen from Montana, one would expect me to hunt/fish/drink/rustle cattle and own an arsenal. I have never hunted, I hate fishing, I haven't had alcohol since the first time I tried it on my 18th birthday (I'm 29), I have not rustled a single cow, and I've never owned any firearm.

 

That all being said, if Benny was just the "average" European I would have not given his post a second thought, but this is not the case. Benny purports himself to be a globally-minded international person (who has his multilingualism to prove it), that is what makes his post about the U.S. so disappointing and, frankly, hypocritical. He is normally a very positive person who encourages people to be open, friendly, and engage with strangers, but this negative post critisizing an entire country's culture runs in stark contrast to the attitude he claims is so important for language learning.

Furthermore, nothing positive came from it. No American re-evaluated their culture, and it only bolstered prejudices that any readers may already have had. Benny defends the post by saying that "it's just my observations", and "I have the right to say where I don't want to live". Both of those statements are completely true, but it doesn't change the fact that Benny is violating his own advice to be positive and open-minded, and poorly representing himself as an international person.

In his most recent post detailing the best posts of the year, Benny clarifies that the United States is exempt from his positive promotion of cultural understanding "because Americans already have big enough egos". Benny uses a stereotype (that he will no doubt defend by saying that he "observed" it) to justify framing an entire country in a negative light and endorsing other stereotypes.

 

As I said before, if Benny was just another "average" European, this post would have been forgotten as soon as it was read, and I wouldn't care in the slightest. But the [Beware! This is SPAM posted by a third party] is, Benny serves as a (mostly) good example of how people who wish to be truly international should behave. His post tells people striving for their global goals that it's still okay to denigrate Americans "because they have such big egos". Benny is telling us all that Americans are just a little bit less worthy of respect than people from other countries, and that is where his hypocrasy lies.

People probably won't believe me, but this I am not just some overly-patriotic American who thinks the U.S. can do not wrong. I am a gay man married to an Austrian. I had to leave my country to live with my husband because the U.S. doesn't recognize my right to love whom I please. The U.S. is not a perfect place, but nowhere is. If Benny had written the same post about any other country, I would have been equally disappointed.

Ultimately, Benny is free to have his own opinions and post whatever he likes on his blog, but (in my opinion) he should realize that he is a role model for the people who read his blog and that he has a responsibility to practice what he preaches. When I first read his blog, I respected him very much, both as a person and as a language-learner. Now my respect is solely for his linguistic abilities, but not much else.

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December 25, 2011
23:27
Kevinpost
Orlando, Florida, U.S.A.

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Cameron said:

If Benny had written the same post about any other country, I would have been equally disappointed.

I completely agree Cameron. Thanks for the well written post. 

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December 26, 2011
03:48
duckshirt
Koblenz, DE

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I don't think Benny meant his post to be nearly as harsh as people are making it out to be.  He said he never wants to live here (permanently, I assume, since he comes here frequently).  If and when he does settle down to live in one place, if the US isn't his #1 choice out of 200 countries, that's not saying a whole lot.  He also didn't say everything on the list is our fault because we're bad people (maybe some is); I doubt he wants to live in Iceland year-round either but that's not the Icelanders' fault.

 

I would have to say I enjoyed the post too, even though I don't agree with everything.  I thought he said some more observant things than what you usually hear from Europeans (Americans are fat, their government is evil but they follow it like sheep, and they only speak English, which they do way too loudly, dangit).  The best points were about the oversensitiveness and dishonesty with each other, something I have been trying to fix.  Other parts I already agreed with; it bothers me how you can't walk from your home to a nice restaurant or public square.  Then again, I'm not sure that's our fault; most US cities developed when space was abundant and cars were becoming popular, so they designed them that way, without the foresight that global warming would come and we'd have to import oil from the Middle East.  I disagreed with some too; as a runner who eats a lot, I will never consider large portions of food at a lower price to be a bad thing. laugh

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December 26, 2011
10:11
Cameron
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duckshirt said:

I don't think Benny meant his post to be nearly as harsh as people are making it out to be.

I appreciate your opinion, but when someone says "I'm usually positive about other cultures, but in the case of the U.S. I'm not because they all have such big egos", it is clear that the true intension of the post was to be insulting. This would apply no matter what country he was talking about.

duckshirt said:

He said he never wants to live here (permanently, I assume, since he comes here frequently).  If and when he does settle down to live in one place, if the US isn't his #1 choice out of 200 countries, that's not saying a whole lot.  He also didn't say everything on the list is our fault because we're bad people (maybe some is); I doubt he wants to live in Iceland year-round either but that's not the Icelanders' fault.

The point to consider is that he didn't say anything about Iceland, he chose to specifically write his "I don't want to live there" post about the United States. We can probably assume there are quite a few countries where Benny would not like to live, but he chose to discuss the U.S. only. That's why this excuse doesn't hold water. It's just a smokescreen to justify framing America in a negative light. Like I said before, for any "regular" European, this would be par for the course, but for someone like Benny it's just hypocrisy, plain and simple.

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December 26, 2011
14:21
Randybvain
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He had bad experiences in USA, perhaps. And he hasn't been to Iceland, I suppose. And he doesn't consider himself as a role model, I daresay. Why to care what some Benny fellow thinks about Americans? Why to care what some Randybvain fellow thinks about Americans? Everyone has right to have opinions on their own...

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December 26, 2011
21:57
NKellyEmerald
Dublin, Ireland

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Cameron said:

The point to consider is that he didn't say anything about Iceland, he chose to specifically write his "I don't want to live there" post about the United States. We can probably assume there are quite a few countries where Benny would not like to live, but he chose to discuss the U.S. only. That's why this excuse doesn't hold water. It's just a smokescreen to justify framing America in a negative light. Like I said before, for any "regular" European, this would be par for the course, but for someone like Benny it's just hypocrisy, plain and simple.

Personally, I would think if Benny were to have heard quite as many over-patriotic Icelanders who openly judge (or worse, criticise) other cultures over the course of his 8 years experience travelling the world, I'm sure his post may have been aimed at Iceland, and why he might not like to live in Iceland. (Or maybe not, as far as I know he's never been to Iceland, but I hope you understand my point.)

 

The problem lay in the fact that a fair amount (not all, of course) of American travellers seem eager to openly criticise other cultures because "that's not how we do it in America...", or take to holding stereotypes as the gospel [Beware! This is SPAM posted by a third party]. I lose track of how many times I have been to the Temple Bar area here in Dublin and been asked by idiotic Americans that "Heeey, it's almost midnight, shouldn't you Irish be completely wasted by now?", or "Go on, say it! Say the Lucky Charms thing!". If I went to anywhere in Alabama and asked any random person to shout "Yeehaww, my mother is also ma' sister!" and fire several shots into the air I would expect them to harbour some resentment towards me. 

 

The only (and I think, ONLY) reason Benny posted that, and what he means by saying Americans have an ego, is that it's all too often to hear American tourists (and I'm not saying they're ALL the same) boasting about how much better it is back there in 'the land of the free'. Why not let the one European give them a taste of their own medicine, so to speak?

Native:   Gaeilge,  English Studies:  Polish On Hold:  Spanish Next:  Italian
Is cainteoir dúchais Gaeilge mé. Same with English. Zacząłem uczyć się polskiego, y ahora, he dejado aprender el castellano.
December 27, 2011
02:28
Cameron
Den Haag, NL

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Randybvain said:

He had bad experiences in USA, perhaps. And he hasn't been to Iceland, I suppose.

That misses the point. Having bad experiences in a place doesn't make it universally bad. Whether or not someone has a "bad" experience somewhere depends largely on their own perceptions, much more than what actually occurs. I personally wouldn't consider hearing the word "awesome" a lot or people smiling as the makings of a bad experience.

Randybvain said:

And he doesn't consider himself as a role model, I daresay.

Whether or not he considers himself a role model, he is one to those who read his blog. I actually strong disagree with you, though, because Benny is actively trying to sell a guide on how to behave like him for the purposes of language learning, and he also gives paid lessons via Skype. He wants people to pay him to be their role model! As chief among his language strategies are a positive attitude and cultural openness, he betrays himself with his "America Rant" post.

Randybvain said:

Why to care what some Benny fellow thinks about Americans?

As I said before, he is not just "some Benny fellow". He is someone who is in a position to influence how people perceive other cultures. You might think I'm over-inflating his importance, but I only mean it in a microcosm. People who read his blog take him seriously, and he should be mindful of his hypocrisy in this instance.

Randybvain said:

Why to care what some Randybvain fellow thinks about Americans?

No offense, but I don't particularly care.

Randybvain said:

Everyone has right to have opinions on their own...

Just because someone has the right to say something, doesn't always mean they should. I have the right to walk up to a homeless man and tell him that he is poor and smells bad, but most people would agree that I shouldn't, even if it is true.

(For the record, I am not comparing the U.S. to a homeless man, and I am not saying Benny was right.)

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December 27, 2011
03:12
Cameron
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NKellyEmerald said:

Cameron said:

The point to consider is that he didn't say anything about Iceland, he chose to specifically write his "I don't want to live there" post about the United States. We can probably assume there are quite a few countries where Benny would not like to live, but he chose to discuss the U.S. only. That's why this excuse doesn't hold water. It's just a smokescreen to justify framing America in a negative light. Like I said before, for any "regular" European, this would be par for the course, but for someone like Benny it's just hypocrisy, plain and simple.

Personally, I would think if Benny were to have heard quite as many over-patriotic Icelanders who openly judge (or worse, criticise) other cultures over the course of his 8 years experience travelling the world, I'm sure his post may have been aimed at Iceland, and why he might not like to live in Iceland. (Or maybe not, as far as I know he's never been to Iceland, but I hope you understand my point.)

I do understand your point, but I respectfully disagree. I don't think encountering a small sample of people of a particular nationality gives anyone the authority to pass judgment on a whole country. You imply above that openly judging (or worse, critisizing) other cultures is wrong, and yet you condone it when Benny does it. It is because Benny is saying it, or because he was talking about Americans?

I was travelling with Canadian friends in Barcelona, and we met an Irish fellow at a club. He asked us where we were from and my friends answered first. The Irish fellow assumed I was also Canadian and said, "Oh good, I prefer you lot!" I then asked, "Prefer us to whom?" to which he replied, "Americans". I asked him, "Why do you prefer Canadians?" He sputtered a little bit and looked confused, but finally asked "Don't you all hate Americans?" We all answered "No". I asked him again why he preferred Canadians, and ultimately he said "I don't know". One of my friends decided to be cheeky and said, "Let's go guys. I prefer the English anyway." That pretty much ended the conversation.

I tell this story to illustrate something that I have have observed from my many years in Europe. Being anti-American is chic, and people just do it because they perceive that everyone else does it, and they collect negative observations to share with others, completely disregarding any positive experiences they may have had. People who are truly open to cultural differences (like smiling, tipping, being proud of one's ethnic heritage, etc.) and are truly mindful of their prejudices (and actively suppress them) would never write such a post as Benny did. Unfortunately, because bashing the U.S. in en vogue, especially in Europe, he can get away with it.

NKellyEmerald said:

The problem lay in the fact that a fair amount (not all, of course) of American travellers seem eager to openly criticise other cultures because "that's not how we do it in America...", or take to holding stereotypes as the gospel [Beware! This is SPAM posted by a third party]. I lose track of how many times I have been to the Temple Bar area here in Dublin and been asked by idiotic Americans that "Heeey, it's almost midnight, shouldn't you Irish be completely wasted by now?", or "Go on, say it! Say the Lucky Charms thing!". If I went to anywhere in Alabama and asked any random person to shout "Yeehaww, my mother is also ma' sister!" and fire several shots into the air I would expect them to harbour some resentment towards me. 

As I explained before, I am from Montana, and therefore subject to a lot of false assumptions from not just Americans. Additionally, being a gay man also comes with a truck-load if assumptions, so I know how frustrating it can be. I still don't think it justifies painting an entire nationality with the same brush. Please also keep in mind that Americans do not have a monopoly on stupidity. Europeans have a lot of horses in that race, too.

NKellyEmerald said:

The only (and I think, ONLY) reason Benny posted that, and what he means by saying Americans have an ego, is that it's all too often to hear American tourists (and I'm not saying they're ALL the same) boasting about how much better it is back there in 'the land of the free'. Why not let the one European give them a taste of their own medicine, so to speak?

Benny post did not give any of those Americans "a taste of their own medicine". Chances are, if an America reads this blog, he or she is interested in learning about other cultures and their languages, and is therefore the least likely to exhibit the negative "American tourist behavior" you describe.  If Benny was trying to "strike back" at the "ignorant Americans" that he has encountered, he didn't reach his intended audience because they aren't reading his blog. All he's really managed to do is lose the respect of some Americans (like me) who come here looking to extend their linguistic and cultural reach in order to be a more global citizen.

It's people like Benny who make it harder to be an American outside of the United States. Perhaps more Americans would be interested in the world outside our borders if we didn't have to worry about being discriminated against for simply being American.

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December 27, 2011
03:33
Kevinpost
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Many of you make great points and in Benny's defense he has criticized the Parisians as well as the Dutch in some of his posts. I just don't agree that anything good came of his rant on the U.S. except maybe his blog's view count. If anything he potentially lost some clients as a result. I believe the reason why many Europeans tend to be 'openminded' about all other cultures except that of North America is due to the fact that mainstream culture from the U.S. for decades has been force fed down their throats. I can't blame them, I would be pissed off if I was continuously fed a super power's propaganda for decades. And then for decades when the dollar was strong Americans traveled to these European countries acting like arrogant assholes expecting everyone to speak English and act like them. I get it.

However, it doesn't do any good to be arrogant to and ignorant about Americans which I think is now common occurrence. I think it's silly when Europeans compare the U.S. to their respected home countries because simply put you can't. I feel more at home in Latin America (where a lot of people smile by the way) than I do in Western Europe (I am Floridian after all).

My best advice to you as a native Floridian of the United States is to be exemplary. When you meet some ignorant American who doesn't know any better (unlike you we don't have that great of a public education let alone a worldly education) take a few minutes of your time to educate that person with a smile (yes, I admit, we love smiles smile). By taking that one minute to educate instead of criticize that ill educated person you have forever changed their perceptions. It's no secret that in many parts of the U.S. (not ALL parts of the U.S.) people are brought up to be P.C. and sensitive. Is it their faults? Not necessarily. So why insult them and become the lesser person? Why not educate that person on a personal level?

The reason we have these forums, groups, international exchanges is to learn from each other and not attack another culture when they don't know any better. If any of you ever decide to make it to Florida you will meet ignorant douchebags (there are people from all over the country looking for a nicer climate but end up complaining how hot it is :P) but also make friends for life if you allow yourself to and discover things you never expected. 

Thanks for reading, I have enjoyed reading your thoughts on the matter.

Attentively,

-Kevin Post 

P.S. How many states (some of them might as well be their own countries) can you name off the top of your head excluding California, Texas, New York and Florida wink

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December 27, 2011
03:57
Kevinpost
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Cameron said:

Being anti-American is chic, and people just do it because they perceive that everyone else does it, and they collect negative observations to share with others, completely disregarding any positive experiences they may have had. 

I certainly feel that way too a lot of the time. 

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December 27, 2011
17:53
tobreit
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"P.S. How many states (some of them might as well be their own countries) can you name off the top of your head excluding California, Texas, New York and Florida"

 

55 or 56 on a good daywink

 

It all come down to this, Benny wrote the article for blog hits, simple as that.

December 28, 2011
03:06
Benny
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Are you guys STILL talking about that bloody post? I have an opinion. Get over it. It was relevant because I always write about my cultural experience, and yes Americans don't need to hear how great they are.

As NKelly said:

"Personally, I would think if Benny were to have heard quite as many over-patriotic Icelanders who openly judge (or worse, criticise) other cultures over the course of his 8 years experience travelling the world, I'm sure his post may have been aimed at Iceland, and why he might not like to live in Iceland."

Precisely.

I don't give a shite about what's chic, my motivation for writing the post was given at the start. This was not a plea for traffic - I write every post hoping it will be read/watched by as many people as possible (except perhaps the one that will come this week - you'll understand when you see it wink )

Americans abroad whining more than anyone else annoys the hell out of me and I vented my frustration back to them in a blog post after dealing with their annoyances to "give them a taste of their own medicine". If you ignore my decade of many many such experiences, you miss the entire motivation behind why I wrote the post. I don't regret it in the slightest. Since no other culture in the world has been more deservant of what I wrote because of this (in my opinion), I doubt I'll ever write a post like this again, but I will share my frank thoughts when it's relevant.

Frankly if you keep ignoring the REAL reason I wrote the post, and start claiming that I'm just doing it because complaining about America is the hip thing to do, or because it's my only idea to desperately get traffic, then your head is in the clouds and you need to examine what I said about sensitivity and reacting to honesty, and the importance of retrospection and seeing yourself from foreign eyes.

I've said it before and I'll said it again; do not hold your breath on an apology from me for writing that post. The last thing you'll get from me is politically correct watered down apologies in case I've offended anyone. You're a big boy America, you can take it.

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December 28, 2011
06:55
NKellyEmerald
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Cameron said:

Randybvain said:

He had bad experiences in USA, perhaps. And he hasn't been to Iceland, I suppose.

That misses the point. Having bad experiences in a place doesn't make it universally bad. Whether or not someone has a "bad" experience somewhere depends largely on their own perceptions, much more than what actually occurs. I personally wouldn't consider hearing the word "awesome" a lot or people smiling as the makings of a bad experience.


I never at all said anything of the sort. If you read the post, you might notice there are quite a lot of other reasons given as to why America was a bad experience. I think I went out of my way to say I don't believe Americans to be universally bad... I even put that part in brackets for your benefit.

 

Randybvain said:

And he doesn't consider himself as a role model, I daresay.

Whether or not he considers himself a role model, he is one to those who read his blog. I actually strong disagree with you, though, because Benny is actively trying to sell a guide on how to behave like him for the purposes of language learning, and he also gives paid lessons via Skype. He wants people to pay him to be their role model! As chief among his language strategies are a positive attitude and cultural openness, he betrays himself with his "America Rant" post.

 

Arse. I'm sorry, that's just stupid. As much as I respect Benny and his methods of language learning, as much as I love being a member of his site/forum and as much as I love reading his blog posts, he is NOT a role model for me. I personally reserve the right to disagree with anything he writes if I have a different viewpoint to him, and any free-thinking person should as well. Those without minds of their own to form their own opinion, well... who cares what they think then? And to be honest, I'd be willing to bet that Benny doesn't care whatsoever if I disagree with him or not... it's not his problem, and it's not mine either.

 

Randybvain said:

Why to care what some Benny fellow thinks about Americans?

As I said before, he is not just "some Benny fellow". He is someone who is in a position to influence how people perceive other cultures. You might think I'm over-inflating his importance, but I only mean it in a microcosm. People who read his blog take him seriously, and he should be mindful of his hypocrisy in this instance.

 

He does not influence how I perceive other cultures at all. I take him seriously, but I also have the sense to understand that this is just HIS OPINION, nothing more. I may agree with him or disagree, doesn't matter. Anyone who needs a blog to decide what their opinion of another culture is, is a complete and total rube who frankly shouldn't be taken seriously anyway, so what's the problem?

 

Randybvain said:

Why to care what some Randybvain fellow thinks about Americans?

No offense, but I don't particularly care.

 

Oh no, alert the Polish people so they can come here and be overly sensitive about how little Cameron cares about one of their fellow countryman's opinions...

 

Randybvain said:

Everyone has right to have opinions on their own...

Just because someone has the right to say something, doesn't always mean they should. I have the right to walk up to a homeless man and tell him that he is poor and smells bad, but most people would agree that I shouldn't, even if it is true.

(For the record, I am not comparing the U.S. to a homeless man, and I am not saying Benny was right.)

 

Wow, words cannot describe just how irritating I find that first sentence... It sounds EXACTLY like 'political correctness'. Why should anyone, from the smallest nobody, to Benny the blogger with a large following, censor him/herself just because somebody might be offended? The height of stupidity comes when political correctness is blindly obeyed.

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Is cainteoir dúchais Gaeilge mé. Same with English. Zacząłem uczyć się polskiego, y ahora, he dejado aprender el castellano.
December 28, 2011
07:20
NKellyEmerald
Dublin, Ireland

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Cameron said:

NKellyEmerald said:

Cameron said:

The point to consider is that he didn't say anything about Iceland, he chose to specifically write his "I don't want to live there" post about the United States. We can probably assume there are quite a few countries where Benny would not like to live, but he chose to discuss the U.S. only. That's why this excuse doesn't hold water. It's just a smokescreen to justify framing America in a negative light. Like I said before, for any "regular" European, this would be par for the course, but for someone like Benny it's just hypocrisy, plain and simple.

Personally, I would think if Benny were to have heard quite as many over-patriotic Icelanders who openly judge (or worse, criticise) other cultures over the course of his 8 years experience travelling the world, I'm sure his post may have been aimed at Iceland, and why he might not like to live in Iceland. (Or maybe not, as far as I know he's never been to Iceland, but I hope you understand my point.)

I do understand your point, but I respectfully disagree. I don't think encountering a small sample of people of a particular nationality gives anyone the authority to pass judgment on a whole country. You imply above that openly judging (or worse, critisizing) other cultures is wrong, and yet you condone it when Benny does it. It is because Benny is saying it, or because he was talking about Americans?

I was travelling with Canadian friends in Barcelona, and we met an Irish fellow at a club. He asked us where we were from and my friends answered first. The Irish fellow assumed I was also Canadian and said, "Oh good, I prefer you lot!" I then asked, "Prefer us to whom?" to which he replied, "Americans". I asked him, "Why do you prefer Canadians?" He sputtered a little bit and looked confused, but finally asked "Don't you all hate Americans?" We all answered "No". I asked him again why he preferred Canadians, and ultimately he said "I don't know". One of my friends decided to be cheeky and said, "Let's go guys. I prefer the English anyway." That pretty much ended the conversation.

I tell this story to illustrate something that I have have observed from my many years in Europe. Being anti-American is chic, and people just do it because they perceive that everyone else does it, and they collect negative observations to share with others, completely disregarding any positive experiences they may have had. People who are truly open to cultural differences (like smiling, tipping, being proud of one's ethnic heritage, etc.) and are truly mindful of their prejudices (and actively suppress them) would never write such a post as Benny did. Unfortunately, because bashing the U.S. in en vogue, especially in Europe, he can get away with it.

 

Well, what do you prefer? Would you like me, Benny, or anyone else to meet EVERYONE in the US before we agree that hearing the word 'awesome' 300 times a day is irritating? Or that, yes, there ARE advertisements everywhere? Or that it's annoying to have misleading prices displayed in shops? Or that it is very irritating to have to have a car to go anywhere? Frankly, the Irish have quite a few reasons to be sensitive about the English thing... up until only 100 years or so there were some incredibly brutal, inhumane treatments given to the Irish by the English. Thankfully, a lot of Irish people, myself included, have left that in the past. 

 

As for my stance on Americans; I have never been to America, so I have no idea what the country itself is like... living in the capital of Ireland I have had the pleasure of meeting and spending time with people from many countries, Italy, France, Spain, Poland, Germany, China, Japan, Canada and even America... but my god, I have NEVER been so subject to stereotype than when an American is around. Never. Never has a French person ever asked me why I am not drunk by midnight. Never has a Spaniard asked me to say anything related to lucky charms. I base my opinions on my own experiences, and I'm sorry, but Americans have been very poorly represented in my experience. Though I will say, I have met many very, very nice American people (I have even had great times playing in a band with one particularly lovely man from Boston, whose outlook on life I found really inspiring.).

 

NKellyEmerald said:

The problem lay in the fact that a fair amount (not all, of course) of American travellers seem eager to openly criticise other cultures because "that's not how we do it in America...", or take to holding stereotypes as the gospel [Beware! This is SPAM posted by a third party]. I lose track of how many times I have been to the Temple Bar area here in Dublin and been asked by idiotic Americans that "Heeey, it's almost midnight, shouldn't you Irish be completely wasted by now?", or "Go on, say it! Say the Lucky Charms thing!". If I went to anywhere in Alabama and asked any random person to shout "Yeehaww, my mother is also ma' sister!" and fire several shots into the air I would expect them to harbour some resentment towards me. 

As I explained before, I am from Montana, and therefore subject to a lot of false assumptions from not just Americans. Additionally, being a gay man also comes with a truck-load if assumptions, so I know how frustrating it can be. I still don't think it justifies painting an entire nationality with the same brush. Please also keep in mind that Americans do not have a monopoly on stupidity. Europeans have a lot of horses in that race, too.

 

Again, I never said Europeans were exempt from stupidity, and again I ask; When should I begin to have an opinion about a nationality? Do I have to meet everyone in America before I form my opinion?

 

NKellyEmerald said:

The only (and I think, ONLY) reason Benny posted that, and what he means by saying Americans have an ego, is that it's all too often to hear American tourists (and I'm not saying they're ALL the same) boasting about how much better it is back there in 'the land of the free'. Why not let the one European give them a taste of their own medicine, so to speak?

Benny post did not give any of those Americans "a taste of their own medicine". Chances are, if an America reads this blog, he or she is interested in learning about other cultures and their languages, and is therefore the least likely to exhibit the negative "American tourist behavior" you describe.  If Benny was trying to "strike back" at the "ignorant Americans" that he has encountered, he didn't reach his intended audience because they aren't reading his blog. All he's really managed to do is lose the respect of some Americans (like me) who come here looking to extend their linguistic and cultural reach in order to be a more global citizen.

It's people like Benny who make it harder to be an American outside of the United States. Perhaps more Americans would be interested in the world outside our borders if we didn't have to worry about being discriminated against for simply being American.

Ahah, right... I'm sorry to have to tell you, but there are many people all around the world who are FAR less open minded than Benny, I would think it is people like THEM who make it harder for you, to be frank. Americans (if you've read any of the comments beneath that blog post) have written in agree with Benny's observations, and there are more agreeing than disagreeing. I'm afraid you seem to be in the minority of people who seem to have lost respect for him. Until you can come here with your halo glowing bright above your head and tell me that there is absolutely nothing that you dislike about any other country, then please, stop worrying so much about the opinions of one person and learn to just deal with it. 

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Is cainteoir dúchais Gaeilge mé. Same with English. Zacząłem uczyć się polskiego, y ahora, he dejado aprender el castellano.
December 28, 2011
08:26
bri thought
Tokyo, Japan

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I liked the post, and I found it interesting to see what an outsider (with experience, not based on stereotypes from TV) thinks about my country. There are some Americans I know who I really wish would read it: some of the people who studied abroad with me when I was a student and took to criticizing every aspect of the country, some expats here in Japan who regularly offer suggestions about how the Japanese can do things better (read: more like America), some ignorant people back home who have never been abroad but are blindly convinced that the USA is the "best" country in the world and everyone wants to be us (and this is in liberal, multicultural California)... I haven't met all 300 million citizens of the U.S., but I have lived there almost all my life, and it really disturbs me how so many of my fellow countrymen and women hold up the U.S. and American culture as the standard for everyone in the world to emulate. Not only is it irritating and disrespectful to people from other countries, but at a higher social/political level it can also be dangerous when it's used to justify intolerance or to meddle in international affairs. The way I read Benny's post, it wasn't about hating on Americans, but it was basically saying, "No, your culture and your way of doing things is not the standard to which everyone in the world aspires. You guys have your quirks and annoying points and inefficiencies, too." It's something we as a country need to recognize in this increasingly global world so we can live and let live.

By the way, I'm living in Japan now, and I really do love it here, but I've decided I don't want to call it home forever. Some of the reasons are the way people are reluctant to express their feelings and desires straightforwardly, the gender role expectations, the rather anal cultural emphasis on the "right way" to do things, the lack of insulation in buildings and houses which makes for miserable winters, etc. I understand the reasoning behind many of these things, but it's just not for me. So I really do understand the feeling of liking a country in general, having a ton of good friends and memories there, planning to go back often, but finding yourself unable to live there because of a few things that really bother you or don't jive with your lifestyle. This, I think, is how Benny feels about the U.S. as well.

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December 28, 2011
20:17
Cameron
Den Haag, NL

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Benny said:

I don't give a shite about what's chic, my motivation for writing the post was given at the start.

I didn't say that you wrote the post because it was chic, I said you were able to write the post without a larger outcry because bashing Americans is chic in general.

Benny said:

This was not a plea for traffic – I write every post hoping it will be read/watched by as many people as possible.

Aren't you contradicting yourself here? You didn't write the post for more traffic, but you wrote it hoping for it to be read by as many people as possible? Isn't that the same thing?

Benny said:

Americans abroad whining more than anyone else annoys the hell out of me and I vented my frustration back to them in a blog post after dealing with their annoyances to "give them a taste of their own medicine".

You didn't give anyone a "taste of their own medicine" because the Americans you are talking about aren't reading your blog! It's like going to an Esperanto conference and condemning all the Americans in the room for being monolingual. Some Americans exhibit some of the qualities you describe in various combinations, but you picked the wrong venue if your goal was to give them a "taste of their own medicine".

Even if some of these "bad" Americans read your post, it's a bit arrogant for you to assume it will change them. Your revenge will not pierce their hearts and make them bleed for what they have done.confused

Benny said:

If you ignore my decade of many many such experiences, you miss the entire motivation behind why I wrote the post.

Well, I have three decades of being an American, so I think it's fair to say that I've met more of them than you have, both in and outside of the United States. I will admit, as I said above, that some Americans exhibit some of the behaviors you describe, but not all the time, and not in every instance.

Benny said:

I don't regret it in the slightest.

I neither want nor expect your regret. I just want to express myself, as you did.

Benny said:

Since no other culture in the world has been more deservant of what I wrote because of this (in my opinion), I doubt I'll ever write a post like this again, but I will share my frank thoughts when it's relevant.

By this statement you prove my assumption that you believe that American culture is the only culture that doesn't deserve respect. You can't deny that every culture has it's good points and bad point, but my belief is that they all in the very least deserve respect. You won't write another post like this because you believe all cultures deserve respect EXCEPT American culture. This is why you are a hypocrite.

Benny said:

Frankly if you keep ignoring the REAL reason I wrote the post, and start claiming that I'm just doing it because complaining about America is the hip thing to do, or because it's my only idea to desperately get traffic, then your head is in the clouds and you need to examine what I said about sensitivity and reacting to honesty, and the importance of retrospection and seeing yourself from foreign eyes.

I am married to an Austrian, I live in Europe, I have a large European family, and I work for an international organization. I do not need your help to see America from foreign eyes. Trust me.

Benny said:

I've said it before and I'll said it again; do not hold your breath on an apology from me for writing that post. The last thing you'll get from me is politically correct watered down apologies in case I've offended anyone. You're a big boy America, you can take it.

I do not want an apology. I just want to give my own opinion of your post and you can do whatever you want with it. The first time I met a girl from Pakistan when I was 18, I admit that I had some silly questions for her. She could have gone home and posted on her blog about how stupid Americans are, but instead she suggested that we get lunch some time so that we could have a cultural exchange. She ended up being one of my best friends for three years.

Instead of perpertuating negative perceptions like you did, she took the time to enrich my life. Obviously you can't do that with everyone you meet, but you could have done that with your blog post. Instead of saying "Americans have such big egos", "they DESERVE what I'm saying about them", "I'm getting revenge", etc., you could have neutrally described your observations, and explained how these behaviors are perceived by Europeans (in your humble opinion). But instead you decided to use provocative language and insults to "vent frustrations" and "give them a taste of their own medicine". Medicine is supposed to cure the problem, not exacerbate it.

Instead of trying to give "bad" Americans a "taste of their own medicine", you could have tried to give them an education. You had a chance to be the better man, and you blew it. You could have been an example of how truly open and globally-minded people should behave, but instead you became exactly what you ranted against. I don't expect you to care about what I have to say, but I'm satisfied that I have explained myself as clearly and respectfully as I can.

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December 29, 2011
00:17
Benny
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OK, now let's stop talking about it. I'm sick of repeating myself, and after reading your retorts I would just end up having to do just that if I answered your points. Honestly, you've totally misinterpreted/twisted my words or simply ignored a lot of what I've said in this thread.

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