> We (europeans) have a certain idea of USA that doesn't match your
> picture. I am
> sure there's a lot of safe places to live peaceful livings in the
> USA, but in our
> picture, the opposite does not show up in "anectodal incidents".
> We have the idea
> you have pretty tough racial problems, for example, and (not so
> small) minorities
> being quite poor and unsatisfied with the system. And there are a
> lot more dark
> facets in our idea of USA, which I can't begin to list. Probably
> mass media have
> worked against USA outside USA for some reason, too, and the
> truth is somewhere in
> the middle between Hollywood's depictions and your optimism (or
> closer to one of
> the extremes). That's hard to tell.
As someone who lives both in the US and elsewhere, it is evident that the
reality of the US and the way it is depicted are quite different, as you
suggest. I think there are several reasons for this:
1. The US has done some pretty stupid things internationally, and so one of
the way our victims get back at us is to talk the US down. Quite
2. Our own media -- news and entertainment -- focus on the things that
aren't going so well: it is both a fascination with the underbelly, and it
is how we explore, come to understand and then seek to resolve the things
that aren't going well. But, in informational terms, the media thus
overstates through over-focus the magnitude and sometimes the nature of the
problem(s). It allows everyone to forget that the selected problem rarely
informs the lives of the vast majority of the people.
3. Americans are -- I think -- fad-prone. This year it is the stock market,
last year school violence, the year before that drugs, etc. We focus on a
problem, try to find solutions and then move no. There is a continous clamor
by groups concerned with an issue to get it on the 'national agenda,' and
each year two or three make it. No, this isn't a great way to manage a
country, but there it is.
Minorities may arrive as immigrants, but most make it into the mainstream.
Sometimes a minority will develop cultural attributes that make that
difficult and they remain marginalized. But we see a continuous movement of
minorities into the channels of power. E.g. the Republican party in Virginia
is right now actively seeking Hispanic candidates to run for state
legislative positions. Asians already disproportionatly hold positions in
the scientific and technical fields.
My hope would be, Keith, that you and others as thoughtful as yourself might
come to the US and visit a while and see things for yourself. I'll bet that
the US memebers of this list would be delighted to open our homes here to
you. You would be very welcome.
Lawry de Bivort
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