Monday, March 21, 2011

All the Cool Kids Hate the USA


Hating Americans isn't a new thing. As a traveler, it's kind of something you just get used to.  I try to not get offended and to understand the viewpoint of the natives.

The thing is, we Americans can be annoying. We are everywhere.  We're in politics, cinema, television, internet, and Twitter. We are a force that can not be escaped.  That and the majority of our citizens' lack of knowledge about the rest of the world can make us a bit much to handle.

I think that's fair enough.  But some reactions Obama's visit to Rio de Janeiro really pissed me off. Hell, I blocked my husband's cousin from my facebook because of it. Yes, I'm that mature like that.  I just can't handle someone saying that my president should "F**k off" because he "ruined a peaceful Sunday for Cariocas."

I'm sorry but when the hell is anything peaceful in this city?!

It brought me back to one of my first bad experiences with a Carioca. I had finally started being able to have decent conversations in Portuguese and was excited to go out with a group of friends and friends of friends.

Imagine my surprise when some dude showed up wearing a shirt that said, instead of I heart NY, I *two planes flying towards the twin towers* NY.

I almost threw my chopp at the bastard's head but that's considered alcohol abuse in this country.

Instead, I finally managed to enter into a civilized conversation with him. How very British of me. I asked him if he had ever been to the US. Of course he hadn't because he doesn't like the US.

Amazing how that works out. It seems totally acceptable to declare your distaste for my country without ever visiting. Fine.  Benefit of the doubt.

He said he also hated Americans. I informed him that I am American. He said I seem ok. I asked, do you know any other Americans? No he didn't because he doesn't like Americans.

See the problem with this line of thought?! You hate a country and a people based on ZERO personal knowledge of them.

I like to call these people Hater Sheep. They hate because they think that it's cool. They follow someone that they once met who actually knew why they hated something and followed. It's fairly common due to the fact that passionate people with strong beliefs are quite magnetic.

I think it's fair to say that I did not like this man, this hater sheep.  At the very least he should have had some sort of political standpoint that would justify such open distaste as to wear a shirt like that. He had nothing. NOTHING.

Funny thing is, he reminded me exactly of the type of American he supposedly hates.

And I saw a lot of this with Obama's visit. I actually got a phone call from a close friend complaining that she was in traffic because of my president. I informed her that she was in traffic because of all the damn Brazilian lookie loos and the lack of organization in this city. She said she couldn't disagree with my logic.

And because of my president.

As pointed out by Mr. Rant, many visitors have come and caused chaos in this city. Many visitors who are openly guilty of far more than Obama*. Did they get crap? Nope.

Then again, it's only cool to hate the USA.  It's like a Chanel Suit, never goes out of style.

I'm putting out an ad. It goes like this: USA seeking new scapegoat for world. Please contact us at Givemeafreakingbreak.com or haveyourforgottenaboutNorthKorea.biteme.org

*note my lack of saying the US as there is considerable question about our guilt in reference to many many things. 

17 comments:

  1. I can understand the short fuse some people have with the USA. Our governments over the years have earned us the enemies we have. And the arrogance of some US Americans while traveling (or even when talking with someone who does not look like them) also earns the disgust it engenders.

    When Luiz and I entered Turkey one quiet morning (via a ferry from Greece) we sat in a café to plan our day when an angry Turk came up to us and slammed his newspaper down on our table. Screaming, he let us know he was not happy with the USA. On the front page of the paper were the first photos published of the abuse in Abu Ghraib in Iraq.

    The guy had a point.

    There were very few anti-USA demonstrators at the Theatro Municipal event. Way less than I suspected (and WAY, WAY less than there would have been if it were George Bush making a speach. That's for sure.)

    It's also worth separating the country (its people, culture, etc.) from the actions of its government. For example, I certainly have nothing against Jewish people, but I have no love lost for the Israeli government.

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  2. I agree with you Jim. The people who annoy me are the ones who are uninformed and hate to hate. We have a lot of them in our country too. Hater sheep are all annoying!

    I also find that Brazilians are well informed and are still open minded, the vast majority anyway. On top of everything, they have to deal with a large amount of annoying American tourists!

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  3. I'm Brazilian and have been living in the U.S. for the past four years now. Much like Brazil, the U.S. has its good, bad and ugly but a lot of people love to give me crap about living here, about the imperialism, capitalism and so many other things they have no clue about. The same people that love to hate the U.S are always the first ones to ask me to bring American goodies, because you know, "I live in a very consumerist society." It's utterly annoying!!!

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  4. Thankfully, I'm not surrounded by any of the "US Haters" here in Brasil. I have only once seen some grafitti on a wall that basically said for McDonalds to stay in the US and out of Brasil. I can actually agree to that one, since I hate the poisonous food. But otherwise, the people/strangers I've been in contact with either want to immediately practice their English on me when they find out I'm an American, or they exclaim, "Que chique!", inquire about life in the US and ask why in the world am I living here and not there. I'd say the "worst" thing is to see all these misguided fools walking around wearing their Che Guevara t-shirts like he's someone to be proud of. I guess even murderers have a fan base.

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  5. Ahh... hater sheep. What an appropriate name.

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  6. Just read the comments on any piece in O Globo online that centers around the US and you'll see that virtually no one comments on the contents of the article yet they will go on and on about how the US is destroying this or that.

    I have many qualms about the US (culture and govt) but I don't like baseless trash-talk. If a Brazilian trash-talks the US based on his/her own experiences and knowledge, then that's A-OK in my book. In the same way, I can trash-talk the Brazilian minimum wage because I lived (with) it.

    Heck, I've even met many many foreigners who understand the world more than Americans do. When I tell them things I had to learn through my own research, which school didn't teach me, they tell me that's common knowledge where they come from. The best advice, though, is to listen to both sides, search out even a third side, and then make up your own mind. Like that Buddha quote goes, believe nothing unless it goes with your own instinct and judgement.

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  7. wow, famous people stop traffic everywhere. I mean after all Obama is the first black president in the U.S. and I think (one reason)Dilma and Obama want to work together for their interectionality (Dilma first woman president).

    When I lived in New Orleans, Brad Pitt going to the ninth ward to visit his low income housing in umm a city which he is a resident of stopped traffic across the city for hours. When the cast of twilight came to Brazil, it caused problems too. Rich and famous people close stuff down and don´t need to worry about regular people. But New Orleans is super unorganized and half of the problems that ocurred on that day could have been avoided.

    People hate the U.S. and Americans but want their clothes, cd, video games, and movies-- to go shopping in the u.s. and travel throughout the u.s.. I just think if you hate something or disagree, you don´t have a right to bitch about it unless you don´t use or buy American products.

    Just to be brief.

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  8. Here in Holland it surprised me the complete admiration for all things American: politics, pop culture, military power... (they are also fascinated about Australia, btw). Even in children's songs since the 50's they sing "Amerika" as being a glorious land. Most Dutch singers build up careers singing in English only and the Dutch actors are exactly like American actors. The talk show formulas, news... an American copy. Dutch people are very proud when they discover American expats having a good time in the small NL. As a result an American expat always makes quickly friendship with lots of Dutch locals. It doesn't happen the same with Asiatics, Africans or South Americans expats.

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  9. I used the 2002 Pew Research Group's "What the World Thinks" report as part of my Master's Thesis that focused on an element of rising Anti-American Sentiment in the world. (Of course this was shortly after 9/11). I found exactly what Nina said to be true.

    While the world cannot stand our politics (not that every other country doesn't have its problems either), they love our pop culture, movies, music, clothes, etc. That said - the movies and some of the music doesn't always portray us in a good light. A lot of that (and I'll just say it) "junk" coming out of Hollywood portrays Americans as increasingly violent, greedy, sex-charged, and "everyone carries a gun right?" (as I was asked in England one year).

    That said, having spent much time abroad, I find also that, yes, many American tourists do maintain that arrogance and ethnocentric behavior that is embarrassing. Don't get me wrong - I love my country and served it for 25 years - so dammit, I've earned the right to speak up when someone opens their uneducated mouth about the USA who's never even been there.

    But I won't discuss politics over here (I'm in Europe right now). My response: "You're not American, you don't live there, and there's more to the story than what you see in the news. We are not having this discussion as it will go absolutely nowhere." I also don't offer up opinions on the government of the country I'm currently in either - I'm not a permanent resident, and I respect that I'm not embedded in their daily living context.

    Sad that it's come to this, Rachel - but we even have people living in the US that hate it. That's one opinion I'm pretty free with - understand I went to war to protect the freedom of speech in the US, but I draw the line US haters/radical scumbags sponging off my country - to them I say freely - "You don't like it? Get the fuck out."

    Ouch - got a little fired up there - sorry about that. My point - we can't escape it, so we all have to find ways to deal with it. It's frustrating, I know.

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  10. Valerie - thank you for your service, but being critical is not being hateful, even when it is expressed loudly. Criticism of the government and the general culture is what keeps democracies alive and thriving.

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  11. I agree that much anti-US sentiment seems to be sort of knee-jerk anti-imperialism and anti-capitalism. We had flyers and demonstrations here at UFMG a couple years back denouncing the federal government's REUNI program (to expand access to the federal universities) as a US imperalist conspiracy! Perfect example of hater sheep.

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  12. I think the American cartoon character portrayed below the title (let's call her Sue) should mud wrestle her Brazilian counterpart (let's call her Ana).
    It seems Heidi from Switzerland also has some beef with Sue (our second bout of the evening) while Cristina from Argentina is not happy with Ana (ting ting). Raissa from the Ukraine resents Russian Veronika...

    Don't you just love hatred?

    Jim can ref.

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  13. If this were Facebook then I'd "like" your status (blog entry).

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  14. Rachel,

    I can totally relate to your "deleting" of a member of facebook. I haven't talked to one of Gil's cousin for many years after she told us "We asked for it", referring to 9/11, knowing how close to New York city we were emotionally and physically, she should have known better, but she is a typical sheep hater.
    I have fought many times when I hear these assholes say negative things about the US when they lack basic information to judge anything about the US.

    My Brazilian perspective:

    My perspective as a Brazilian is that usually the ones who hate the US are misfits themselves, they actually hate a lot of things, not only the US. They are your garden variety "troll".
    Thank God these freaks are rare and when I find one I make sure to educate them about what the US is really like.
    I admit we had a tough time when Bush was in power, but now that we have Obama as a commander in Chief, there is no excuse for crazy lunatics to give us a hard time with senseless hate.

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  15. I have been trying to figure out why there is so much hatred for Americans abroad and honestly the only conclusion that I can come to is that these countries are jealous. Sorry the US is the balls, sorry its rich, sorry its powerful, sorry its smart, sorry its the controller of the Universe, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry. I am tired of feeling sorry about it.

    All it boils down to is what I call winning the geographic lottery, that is the where you are born lottery. Its nothing else.

    Americans help alot of people, and yes they also make mistakes. But they help alot of people.

    Maybe instead of hating us maybe countries should try to learn from us. Understand some of the things we might do better. I mean the country is run like a finely tuned jet engine its no secret! Maybe we have something to share. Instead of always fighting it with ill will and bad feelings. Its a waste of time.

    We all can learn from each other.

    The US is not perfect their are alot of things I don't like. To much focus on work, to much focus on others business, to much focus on money. Personal lives are not considered important you must work, work, work! I want more quality of life, like other countries have.

    There are also alot of shameful things in our history.

    BUT!! With that said, it still is one the greatest counties in the world.

    Sorry guys! Have to state the truth.

    I will also be moving to Brazil soon. Maybe someday we can all come to an understanding.

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  16. Great post! I'm on the opposite end of the "America, F*ck Yeah" spectrum and was veeerrry critical of US policies during the Bush years. But, the reflexive "America is evil" attitude was always tiresome and intellectually bankrupt to me. Even worse is when an American tries to overcompensate in this sort of discussion with someone from another country and they'll agree with the bashing! They just roll over like puppies. It drives me nuts. The best one can do is be respectful and intelligent to counteract the belief that Americans are dumb, crass thugs.

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