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  #1  
Old 04-07-2005, 08:33 PM
XT XT is offline
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Europeans: How do you really feel about America?

Was watching a show on Discovery tonight...Discovery Spotlight. Basically this episode had an American journalist going to Europe to explore European attitudes towards American's. In addition, the reporter also interviewed various American students going to school in Europe (some in England, some in France and Germany). It was...interesting. The chasm between Europe and the US has never seemed greater than watching this show. Its seems much greater than the last time I visited Europe in fact (which has been a while admittedly...and on business so not exactly a leisurely trip).

So, what I'd like to ask Eurodopers is...how do you REALY feel about America? Not just about GW Bush, not just about the US government, but about America in general. Please, don't hold back...I'm really curious. Don't say whats politically correct (i.e. 'I really like America and Americans, just not Bush'...if you REALLY distrust America and Americans reguardless of GW).

Several of the people interviewed on the show (they interviewed folks mostly from France, Germany and England...but a few from Spain and some other places) claimed America frightened them. Several (many) made statements that they would be personally afraid to come to America, afraid of police harrassment, afraid of American's...just afraid. This seemed to go way beyond the war in Iraq. Many in fact put it in terms of religion. From the show, it seemed to go to some fundamental break between Europeans and Americans, a break that some folks interviewed doubt can ever be healed.

As a second part to this debate, American dopers who regularly visit Europe: Do you feel under attack or defensive when you visit America? What struck me, besides the interviews with various Europeans, was the near universal claims by US students of being under attack, of being constantly harrassed for what their country and president did or do....even those who are clearly against the Bush administration stated this. So, whats your take on this? For myself, I have to admit that when I go to Europe these days its usually on business, and I generally hang out with people I already know and am friends with. They certainly harrass me, but they are my friends...I expect harrassment from that quarter.

-XT
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  #2  
Old 04-07-2005, 09:08 PM
Ryan_Liam Ryan_Liam is offline
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I'm not personally afraid of Americans or their power, I generally regard US power as benign and think to myself of the alternatives to that power, thus being greatly thankful and reassured.

the people who just don't like America is because of one thing, its wealth and its resources, and the war, which I believe is doing great good for the people in that region.

Anti Americanism is not new, its been around for 60 years, it was just dormant for a while before 9/11.
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Old 04-07-2005, 11:03 PM
Imasquare Imasquare is offline
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Although for the time being I live in Australia I am actually a Brit and still consider England as my home. So I guess I'm European.

I had always admired the US up until recent times. Since the September 11 terrorist attacks the US seems to have become just a touch too right wing. And there is far too much political involvement from people I would consider to be religous zealots. And of course for these people to have the power they do, a large number of American must also think the same way they do.

On the other hand almost all of the Americans I have personally met have been thoughtful, considerate, and very polite. Definately not the stereotype common in the UK and Australia of loud, ignorant Americans.

I think the current political climate in the US is an abberation caused by a reaction to the horrors of September 11, and that sooner ot later things will return to normal.
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  #4  
Old 04-08-2005, 02:09 AM
Maastricht Maastricht is offline
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A Dutch writer said that Europeans imitate American's own anti-Americanism in much the same way they imitated wearing jeans and drinking Coca-Cola.

Besides, I wouldn't put too much credit in a TV-program like this. It wouldn't have made much of a show if every person interviewed had said: "America? Dunno. Okay I guess. "
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  #5  
Old 04-08-2005, 02:25 AM
gum gum is offline
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On this site, I found this:

"If a European is asked whether he opposes or supports the United States over Iraq, the majority will say they are opposed. But assume that a different question was put to them: Do you prefer to live in an integrated Europe dominated by France and Germany, or would you prefer to maintain a degree of independence by aligning with the United States on security issues? There the answer would, in the majority of cases, be for limiting European integration and relying on the United States for security."

-------------------

That might very well sum up the feelings of the [smaller] European countries.
There are anti-American feelings in the Netherlands, but they are mainly due to the large population of muslims. And there still are a few 'sandal-footed, head-in-the-sand, "LALALA, I can't hear you"-singers, who oppose America just because.


As for America in general and for myself: I like America.
No doubt about it.

I do not like the overly religious American people, but then again: I do not like religion, period.
I'm not at all afraid of America's power. I rather see the power in the hands of America, than in the hands of *coughFrancecough* or some banana republic.

And I like Americans.
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  #6  
Old 04-08-2005, 02:29 AM
Rune Rune is offline
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I think you suck
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  #7  
Old 04-08-2005, 02:32 AM
gum gum is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rune
I think you suck
hehehehe
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  #8  
Old 04-08-2005, 04:00 AM
aldiboronti aldiboronti is offline
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I for one welcome our new American overlords.
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  #9  
Old 04-08-2005, 04:06 AM
tagos tagos is offline
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Iím a Brit and probably like a lot of Brits I have a split view.

I love the energy, I love the innovation, I love many products of the culture. The best TV, some of the best films and novels, innovative social thinking, IMHO is from the USA.

But I seriously do fear the USA is now a threat to the survival of civilisation with its attitude to the environment and a huge threat to world peace with its current imperialist, might-makes-right tendencies. Frankly, the views of the Bush apologists on this board are one of the main drivers with their combination of ignorance of the world and the USAís foreign policy impacts, disdain for the poor and the weak and their Ďmight-makes-rightí attitude. Itís bought it home to me what a brutal attitude pervades what appears to be the dominant culture and manifested in your inhuman health system.

And Iím staring askance at the hold religious superstition still has and its pervasive brake on progressive social policies.

Personally, I love Americans for their open and generous attitudes. You could do with being a helluva lot less trusting though and stop letting truly malignant forces manipulate your good intentions and use it as a cloak for the worst sorts of real-politick. You donít have a Manifest Destiny and you are not the greatest society on Earth etc.

I finally lost faith with the last election, which from my perspective was clearly stolen with the most blatant vote-rigging. Thatís two strikes now and you surrendered any claim to being a democracy at that point. Here again your basic open and honest nature combined with blinkered patriotism and this belief the USA is somehow morally superior blinds you to whatís going on under your noses. You somehow just canít bring yourselves to believe it happened just as you canít seem to see you were lied into a war and this allows the Right to act with impunity.

There are a lot of worse countries and threats to the planet but the USA has always been something to look on with respect even when protesting the shameful war of the sixties and the disgraceful dictator and torturer loving foreign policies of the 70ís and 80ís.

Now the hypocrisy is just so blatant, the contempt for the rest of the world so obvious among the Right and their supporters, again as evidenced by some of the posters here, that that respect is replaced by both a well-founded fear and a profound sense of loss and disillusionment.
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  #10  
Old 04-08-2005, 04:27 AM
owlstretchingtime owlstretchingtime is offline
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There is a huge ambivelence towards America in Britain and Europe (no it's not the same thing!). In many ways we see you as the bratty younger brother that has done rather well for himself, but we still think you're bratty.

Good things about America:

Films
Music
some TV
literature (I'll forgive you an awful lot for James Ellroy)
Annoy the French

Bad Things:

Too much religion
Blinkered world view
All fat
Too commercial
Frankly mad. See Janet Jackson's tit, and OJ Simpson getting away with murder.
Insanely preoccupied by race
Rubbish food (and this is from an englishman)
That whole "American Hair" thing.

In general I would say that most Brits have a fairly positive, if rather condescending, view of America and Americans. However on the continent things are not so rosey.
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  #11  
Old 04-08-2005, 05:22 AM
Mycroft Holmes Mycroft Holmes is offline
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I'm a German living in the Netherlands that grew up in the U.S. My feelings are very ambivalent. There are many things about the U.S. that I love, and many that I don't like or have me worried.

First, the things I love:

- The people are usually friendly and open.
- The country is so huge and has so much room and empty spaces.
- The scenery.
- The incredible choices you have when it comes to junk food. There are aisles the sizes of an entire European supermarket with just the various kinds of potato chips!
- The incredible mix of cultures. In any larger city there are so many ethnic neighborhoods and restaurants.
- The freedom you have in most everything. You can basically say, do, read, watch, etc. anything you want (at least in your own home, you can). Most European governments seem to involve themselves in the day-to-day lives of their citizens more than the U.S. government does.


The things I don't like or that have me worried:

- The fact that some vocal minorities (the religious right) have such power. The majority of Americans are not like the born-again Christian right-wing nutters that are all we hear about here in Europe.
- I think there is still a lot of latent racism in large parts of the country.
- The complete lack of culture in large parts of the country.
- The fact that most small towns are turning into strip-malls and Wal-Marts.
- The dying out of the middle-classes. The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. Another fifty years, and the U.S will look like Brazil without the bright future.
- The dumbing down of the average American. The country has the best institutes of higher education in the entire world, yet people graduate High School while being functionally illiterate. This is tied in with the previous problem. There is a lot of socio-economic discrimination in the U.S.
- The "American Dream" is bullshit. How many dishwashers actually become millionaires? The richest people in the U.S. have not worked their way up from their lower class roots. They already started out in highly privileged situations compared to some kid growing up in the projects.
- I seem to sense a lot of fear in most Americans. Europe has lived with terrorism and war for ages, yet one (admittedly horrible) attack on American soil has put your entire society into panic mode. Headless chickens usually do not make sound decisions.
- The paradoxical behaviour when it comes to anything having to do with sex. Americans are randy buggers (just look at some of the threads on this board), yet they go completely haywire when they see boobies on TV. It's as if they want to get kinky but feel guilty about it.
- The fact that you can get a drivers license at sixteen, join the armed forces at eighteen, but have to wait until you're 21 if you want a beer. This is one of the main things that leads to so much binge drinking when the kids finally go of to college.


All in all, I still love the U.S., and I would like to go their on vacation again soon. However, I am worried about the future of the country. I really think that the country is in a downward spiral and badly needs to fix some of the problems I mentioned above. Considering all of this, I would not want to live there permanently, and I especially would not want to be old or poor there.
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  #12  
Old 04-08-2005, 06:04 AM
Latro Latro is offline
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Well, yes I mistrust the US.


As a society you come across as:

Shallow
Sexually frustrated
Undereducated
Violent
Rampant crime
Over religious
Money hungry
Xenophobic
Chauvenistic
Blunt to the level of boorish
Hypocritical

As a country, interacting with fellow earthlings, there are:

Unjust wars, starting with 1812, 1848, through Philipines to Iraq.
The handling of the natives
Dirty OPs
Mercantilism
and again, the hypocracy


I wouldn't feel so disillusioned if all the powergrabbing in the world hadn't been accompanied with so much lying, propaganda and dirty tricks.

Growing up in the 70's- 80's, the brief period where you were humbled by the defeat in Vietnam, the image of the USA was of a very modern country that had very high moral values on freedom and wanted to ensure that the rest of the world lived in freedom too. Both on national and individual levels.
It was a country with new, fresh ideas about how society should be, with cool cutting edge technologies. Superior to the Europe of the colonial era and stuck-in-the mud communism.

About the time of the presidency of Reagan this image started to change as it turned out to be so much propaganda. The dirty stuff you had pulled in the more distant past, the recent past and the stuff that was still being pulled, in Nicaragua, Chili etc..
All the time shouting FREEDOM and DEMOCRACY.
We Europeans gave up our colonies and power and wars under US pressure and for these 'nice' ideals, trying to create a better world. Only to wake up and see the US simply having taken over. Not overtly but sneaky, sneaky, behind the scenes.
All the time shouting FREEDOM and DEMOCRACY.
Turns out FREEDOM is for people where you want to earn some big bushels of money. All the while expanding and having to 'defend' this growing empire, dirty and behind the back, with brute force if 'necessary'

So I have a distinct sense of disillusionment and a feeling of having been betrayed.




And yes someone will come along and say that 'Old Europe' doesn't come out of history smelling of roses either. Pointing out some nasty stuff pulled by one of our countries, therefore we should shut up and it's all kettles and pots.

But see, we were all giving up on that stuff, the iron curtain came down and the future seemed bright once more. After this long shadow of the threat of atomic war things were starting to look good for the world. Look, see, we can live in peace and harmony.

Now it's back to power games and grab what you can.
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  #13  
Old 04-08-2005, 06:52 AM
Mycroft Holmes Mycroft Holmes is offline
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I forgot about another thing I don't like about the U.S. It's the death penalty. Posts like this one:

Quote:
Originally Posted by NutMagnet
While I don't necessarily agree with the thrust of this, I don't read it as an "outright call to kill your political opponent".

And Walker isn't a political opponent. Nor is McVeigh. They're murderers.

The Liberal left has to realize that they can be be killed just as easily as anyone else by nut-jobs like these, right-wing nut-jobs and garden-variety nut-jobs.

If the death penalty isn't invoked for these types of crimes, there will be more of them.
Which was in response to the following Ann Coulter quote:

"When contemplating college liberals, you really regret once again that John Walker is not getting the death penalty. We need to execute people like John Walker in order to physically intimidate liberals, by making them realize that they can be killed, too. Otherwise, they will turn out to be outright traitors."

in this thread, frighten me.

Both what NutMagnet and Ann Coulter are saying here is morally repugnant IMHO.
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  #14  
Old 04-08-2005, 07:01 AM
TwistofFate TwistofFate is offline
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I like your country.

I'm frankly scared by how much influence Religion has. We should have as high a regard for it so as to keep it out of as many things as possible.

I'm scared at the direction your government is leading the world.
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  #15  
Old 04-08-2005, 07:17 AM
Walker in Eternity Walker in Eternity is offline
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I like a lot of American exports - films, books, comics etc.

You have a great country, but lots of injustice.

Like Owlstretchingtime says, religion dominates far too much of your politics.

I echo the first half of what Lagos said, but disagree that the US is no longer democratic.

I find it worrying that a lot of Americans who appear in the media are completely unaware of the world around them, even the ones in power seem to have a very blinkered picture of the world.

I have never actually been to America, so I don't know a lot of Americans, but the ones that I encounter on this messageboard give me a positive view of Americans, although how representative you are of the whole population I don't know.

I also think that Hollywood and American TV have contributed to the dumbing down of the population in general, we don't need any more dumbing down, our own institutions (BBC, schools etc) are already doing a fine job of that.
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  #16  
Old 04-08-2005, 07:40 AM
cosmosdan cosmosdan is offline
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Yes but

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rune
I think you suck
This could be a slam or just wishful thinking from a gay European?
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  #17  
Old 04-08-2005, 07:58 AM
enigmatic enigmatic is offline
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Things that worry me

Your goverments very short sighted environmental and fiscal policy.

The general apathy to revelations about things which would just about sink any government over here. (at one point these seemed to come about once a week)

The astonishing level of poverty that exists for a large percentage of people in America.

The rather blatant links between corporations and politicians in both parties and the resultant legislation which often seems to make huge concessions to big companys.

The erosion of workers rights.

The culture of fear (I don't think this a recent thing either).

Contempt for the opinions of other countries.(I think this is going to bite your current administration in the butt in a big way)

The lack of credible political opposition that presents any real alternatives. ("I'm not Bush" is not a credible campaign strategy)

The increased influence of the religous right.

The quite incredibly bewildering notion that dissagreeing with your government is unpatriotic/unamerican (I personally think this might be the most dangerous one on the list)

I have to say that the above is based on my following the news over here, talking to visiting Americans and my friends who have been working in America recently and listening to you guys bitch on this board, I haven't actually been to America for quite some time. Almost every american I have met over here has been polite, intelligent, and fairly svelte

I hope many of the things I've listed above are temporary abberations, I am concerned that if not they could be laying the groundwork for unpleasant things. I am very concerned about some of the things that 51% of American voter might let happen at present, although I'd hasten to stress that I'm not talking about the present administration (I hate the Bush administration with a passion, but I don't think they are as crazy as a few people on this board seem to think)
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  #18  
Old 04-08-2005, 08:09 AM
Rune Rune is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryan_Liam
Anti Americanism is not new, its been around for 60 years, it was just dormant for a while before 9/11.
Anti-Americanism is considerably older than that. It goes back more than 100 years. Everybody loves when they can find someone else to blame for their own pathetic incompetence and weakness, and itís just human nature to hates those that are more better off and successful than themselves. Remarkable, anti-Americanism is a thing Chamberlain, Hitler and Stalin as well as a host of contemporary Europeans could come together with in heartfelt agreement. And Americans are the near perfect scapegoat since they for some strange, if endearing, reason really sincerely, if somewhat naively, do seem to want to be loved by everybody, and generally will repay hatred & disdain with puzzlement and attempts to reform themselves, rather than the more natural; enmity. No that it will avail them anything, since obviously anti-Americanism, much like anti-Semitism, is not a based on logic and has more to do with those revelling in it than those being hated and absolutely nothing Americans themselves can do will really change anything about them being hated.

I, being European, am not overly concerned about what European anti-Americanism means and do for Americans; sure itís unfair but such is life and an honest appraisal of human nature will tell you that the strongest and richest nation on earth could hardly expect anything less. I am, however, very concerned about what it means for Europe. Anti-Americanism poison the mind and cloud the intellect. Europeans indulging in it will avoid addressing the failings of their own societies and rather focus on those imagined ones of America. And thus we will keep falling back. And I do not want to see Europe descend to the abject stupidity of the Arab world, always droning on about Israel, the US, the west being the cause of all their self-inflicted misery, pathetic culture and idiotic rule.

Fear and hatred as well as feelings of superiority over Americans is pathetic. And saying things like the US isnít democratic, Americans are shallow, xenophobic (from a European no less!), chauvinistic and hypocritical (the mind boggles that you donít see the contradiction), Ö just to pick a few, is just fucking pathetic. Europeans should take a good long look in the mirror before commenting on the US.

Despite how can you be scared of a people with such a complete lack of fashion sense? And they talk funny too. And then theyíre so cute when they try to act all cultured and all, and when they get their panties in a twist over a pair breasts. awww so cute, just like children. We just have to teach them to behave like adults is all.
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  #19  
Old 04-08-2005, 08:26 AM
Mangetout Mangetout is offline
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Disclaimer: I've never been to America, so my views are quite likely to be rather skewed by media, entertainment and dumb tourist influences, as well as by my own cultural background.

I'm often tickled by references to 'right' and 'left' in American politics; they all look quite a way to the right to me, to the extent that I have trouble telling the difference between the parties. (Ok, so British politics has gone this way a bit too since New labour).

There's this other thing that's hard to describe, but comes across basically as a sort of culture of selfishness and wastefulness; borne, I think out of a wide range of factors, such as the general capitalist ethic, heightened sense of personal rights, the dream of personal empowerment, the forces of media/advertising/market culture etc.
Hard to describe this because it is subtle and in order to point it out, one is forced to exaggerate; and all the while I'm conscious that it's deeply coloured by my own perspective - which is probably an odd blend of wimpy liberal tree-hugger that wishes for a fairly authoritarian framework.

I've met a number of Americans and on a personal level, I've found all of these to be rather nice, intelligent people. They don't seem to understand us all that well, particularly our taste in humour, bless 'em.

I don't mean any of this in an unkind way and I hope you'll understand that this is more a way of detailing what opinions I might hold, if I were not prepared to critically and contextually examine incoming data, than it is a description of my actual opinions.
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  #20  
Old 04-08-2005, 08:39 AM
Latro Latro is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rune
Fear and hatred as well as feelings of superiority over Americans is pathetic. And saying things like the US isnít democratic, Americans are shallow, xenophobic (from a European no less!), chauvinistic and hypocritical (the mind boggles that you donít see the contradiction), Ö just to pick a few, is just fucking pathetic.
Counter arguments would be nice, Rune, instead of just calling it pathetic.


Quote:
awww so cute, just like children. We just have to teach them to behave like adults is all.
These cute children of yours just invaded another country, killing thousands of actual human beings. For no reason but for plunder.
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  #21  
Old 04-08-2005, 08:47 AM
owlstretchingtime owlstretchingtime is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Latro

These cute children of yours just invaded another country, killing thousands of actual human beings. For no reason but for plunder.

What plunder pray? You may not like this but the simple fact is that the Yanks invaded Iraq because they thought it was the right thing to do. That's also why we helped them.

The real villains in Iraq are the French and Russians who broke the blockade and the UN with it's corrupt officials.

Your posturing is giving us Europeans a bad name!
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  #22  
Old 04-08-2005, 08:50 AM
E-Sabbath E-Sabbath is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rune
And Americans are the near perfect scapegoat since they for some strange, if endearing, reason really sincerely, if somewhat naively, do seem to want to be loved by everybody, and generally will repay hatred & disdain with puzzlement and attempts to reform themselves, rather than the more natural; enmity.
You know, if we have to be stereotyped, there are worse ones. I've always liked this, that people do believe we're generally well-meaning. Gives hope for the future. Sure, it makes us look like marks and saps, but it's hard to truly hate someone who you expect will try to work with you.
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  #23  
Old 04-08-2005, 08:52 AM
Odesio Odesio is offline
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I often wonder if threads like this actually accomplish anything thing other then kicking up a hornets nest and generating bad feelings. Is there something constructive to debate or should this thread just be moved to IMHO or better yet The Pit?

Let's start some other fun threads. How about "What Americans think of Europeans" or "What Americans think of What Europeans Think of America?"

Marc
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  #24  
Old 04-08-2005, 09:00 AM
owlstretchingtime owlstretchingtime is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MGibson

Let's start some other fun threads. How about "What Americans think of Europeans" or "What Americans think of What Europeans Think of America?"

Marc
If you really wanted to get things going you could do "what europeans think of each other"

We've had millenia to get pissed off with our neighbours - you're just new kids on the block.
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  #25  
Old 04-08-2005, 09:09 AM
Evil One Evil One is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Latro
These cute children of yours just invaded another country, killing thousands of actual human beings. For no reason but for plunder.
Were you opposed to the medium range nuclear weapons coming to Europe in the 1980's?

Did you think the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were a bad idea?

Did you disagree with Reagan walking away from Gorbachov in Iceland in the late 1980's?

If any of the above answers are "yes" than perhaps you'll see my point.
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  #26  
Old 04-08-2005, 09:09 AM
Latro Latro is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by owlstretchingtime
What plunder pray? You may not like this but the simple fact is that the Yanks invaded Iraq because they thought it was the right thing to do.
Why was it necessary to do anything at all?

The threat from WMD ?
Bollocks, there was no threat.

Saddam was EEEvil?
Sodd that too, were's the involvement with other humanitarian hot spots?

Take these two away and what exactly was the reason for war???

With no answer, all I saw was rebuilding contracts being handed out to Yankee firms. And how big does the Halliburton elephant need to be?

Quote:
That's also why we helped them.
Why your poodle jumped in so readily is still a big question mark.
As is why the Dutch are in. Our % of the population that was anti-war was even bigger than Britain's. Yet there we are, on the ground. How did that happen??
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  #27  
Old 04-08-2005, 09:22 AM
owlstretchingtime owlstretchingtime is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Latro

Why your poodle jumped in so readily is still a big question mark.
As is why the Dutch are in. Our % of the population that was anti-war was even bigger than Britain's. Yet there we are, on the ground. How did that happen??
I have no idea why the Dutch are there - that's for them to work out (to be brutally honest I wasn't aware the dutch WERE there - that's my ignorance though. Did they do any fighting?).

Why are we there? Because our friends and allies the Americans asked for our help. When the chips are down we know that our interests and values broadly resemble those of the yanks.

The people of Britain get a chance to get rid of Blair in four week's time (and God willing they will), that's a luxury the Iraqis never had with Saddam.
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  #28  
Old 04-08-2005, 09:32 AM
Evil One Evil One is offline
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Is the Conservative Party still the main opposition to Labour in the UK?
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  #29  
Old 04-08-2005, 09:38 AM
owlstretchingtime owlstretchingtime is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Evil One
Is the Conservative Party still the main opposition to Labour in the UK?
Yes. By quite a long way.
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  #30  
Old 04-08-2005, 09:42 AM
Latro Latro is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by owlstretchingtime
Why are we there? Because our friends and allies the Americans asked for our help. When the chips are down we know that our interests and values broadly resemble those of the yanks.
That's all very noble but it doesn't answer why there was a war in the first place.

Btw, wasn't it only just recently that Britain fulfilled its last payment for the help it received from its friends and allies the Americans during WWII?
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  #31  
Old 04-08-2005, 10:03 AM
Sattua Sattua is offline
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I guess that Americans are allowed in this thread, because the second part of the OP asks if we feel uncomfortable in Europe. I've been in France, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy in the last 18 months and my answer is: only in France, and I don't know if every single meal we ordered had a problem and every single night we were locked out of our hotel rooms because A) some of us were American, or B) some of us were Israeli, or C) the French are completely incompetent. Everywhere else people seemed to be completely uninterested in us and there were no problems.

I would also like to quietly, without vitriol, point out what several European posters have already noticed: Americans are frequently being criticized for not knowing anything about the rest of the world, and yet quite a few of the opinions about Americans expressed here reveal that the Europeans who hold those opinions know nothing about America, aside from what the media tells them.

And we don't understand your humor because it isn't funny.
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  #32  
Old 04-08-2005, 10:11 AM
XT XT is offline
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For the most part I'm going to stay out of this thread. I don't want to inject my own comments or thoughts on what others are writing but truely just want to watch the discussion. Its been very insightful so far...I appreciate all the comments. Keep em coming.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MGibson
I often wonder if threads like this actually accomplish anything thing other then kicking up a hornets nest and generating bad feelings. Is there something constructive to debate or should this thread just be moved to IMHO or better yet The Pit?
I think its worthwhile to get an outside view of what others think of our nation. It helps put things into perspective and shows where there are disconnects between what we perceive as reality and what others do. I wasn't trying to kick a hornets nest over or provoke bad feelings, but I DID want honest answers...even if they were painful to me and my fellow American's on this board.

As for the choice of forum, this seemed most appropriate to me. If the mods think it should be in IMHO then they are free to move it there. I HOPE this isn't bound for the pit...that would be truely dissapointing to me.

-XT
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  #33  
Old 04-08-2005, 10:17 AM
aruvqan aruvqan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Latro
Well, yes I mistrust the US.

Unjust wars, starting with 1812, 1848, through Philipines to Iraq.
The handling of the natives
Dirty OPs
Mercantilism
and again, the hypocracy
War of 1812 - Well, we had just told the Brits to sod off, and managed to make it stick. We had been a free country for less than 50 years, yet the brits kept kidnaping our men to serve on their naval vessels. Kidnaping is not the kinder, gentler manner of getting sailors.

War of 1848, Mexican-American War - Texas had ceeded from Mexico in 1836 to become the Republic of Texas and had been accepted into the US. Mexico wanted the land back, we decided to keep it. IF you accept that a territory can ceed from a country and make its own decisions, then you must allow that territory to maintain its freedoms, including letting it decide to joining a larger and different union. If not, then the US and many other countries would still be colonies.

Oddly enough, 'manifest destiny' tended to keep us more or less busy in the continental US rather than going to other parts of the world and getting into scrabbles. Almost every military action we did overseas was in response to problems involving our merchant fleets, or our citizens overseas. As to the treatment of natives, I might point out the colonial agressions found in aftica, australia, asia and india...pot, kettle. It was originally started by the Brits when they first came over to the americas in the US, the spaniards and portugese were no strangers to genocide. I might also point out that the slave trade in aftica was well established LONG before the US was any sort of entity. Blacks were selling blacks to us, we simply bought a commodity to make our lives more easy. We did not just show up in africa, bash people on the head and load them into ships. We bought them 'fair and square' in slavers markets.

There is no country that is totally removed from this, all countries derive from historical political arrangements. The whole world is not responsible in the present for actions that occurred 500 years ago, or even 75 years ago. I cannot hold my friend Christian [german, retired military pilot] responsible for bombing London, or for Auschwitz, and he cannot hold mrAru responsible for the finances of the state of New York in the 1700s making it *necessary* to push the native americans west to gain agricultural lands. I can't hold my friend Yuki responible for the death of my father's cousin in Bataan, and she cant hold me responsible for the oppression of the anglo-saxons in the 1200s, despite our getting given lands by William the Bastard. It just does not work that way.
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  #34  
Old 04-08-2005, 10:37 AM
Gaudere Gaudere is offline
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[Moderator Hat ON]

This is more of a poll asking for people's experiences, so I am moving it to IMHO.

[Moderator Hat OFF]
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  #35  
Old 04-08-2005, 10:43 AM
choosybeggar choosybeggar is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by enigmatic
Contempt for the opinions of other countries.

What are you, some Frog? A Kraut? Some Brit with bad teeth? We saved your ass in WWII and couldn't care less what you think!!


















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  #36  
Old 04-08-2005, 10:50 AM
Mycroft Holmes Mycroft Holmes is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xtisme
I think its worthwhile to get an outside view of what others think of our nation.
Like I said, I grew up in the U.S. I spent twelve of my first twenty years there, and I still consider it home a lot of times. I still love the U.S. and most Americans very much, but some things have me worried.

I have been doing some more thinking and the four main things that have me worried are the following:

- The gradual worsening of education. Just a generation ago the rate of literacy was higher than it is now. Too many children are getting a bad education and the children really are the future. What will happen another thirty years from now, when the general population knows even less about the world than it does now?

- The growing gap between rich and poor and the shrinking middle class. In the early twentieth century there was also a lot of poverty in the U.S, but by the end of that century almost all households had a TV, a fridge, plumbing, etc. The middle class was huge and the future seemed to be bright. Now, those that haven't made the next step in economic prosperity are being left behind.

- The culture of fear in the U.S. I don't think it will ever lead to fascism or ultra-nationalism as I have seen some posters speculate in other threads, but I think it will lead to more gated communities, more seperation between the well-to-do and the poor.

- The fact that very little thought is given to the future. Everything needs to be done now and here. Very little thought is given to the environment and the immense debt. It's like the Americans are all saying: "Ah what the heck, let our grandkids worry about that crap."


Now, it's not like I think everything is going to hell in a handbasket right now. There is till time to correct these problems, and I think a lot of people are becoming more and more aware of these things. I think the future for the U.S. is still very bright, but just not as bright as it might have been thirty or even twenty years ago.
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  #37  
Old 04-08-2005, 12:52 PM
Zsofia Zsofia is offline
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As an American, I've never at all felt uncomfortable in any other country because of my nationality (except maybe in Paris, but it seems even other French people sort of feel that way about Paris. And there were plenty of nice people there too.) In fact, I've never felt more welcome anywhere in the world than at the Hungarian National Museum when I (perhaps un-Americanly) showed a lot of interest in the history and culture. Then again, the dollar spends real well against the forint.

I didn't at all want to hijack the thread, which is really interesting, but I have to ask, what's American hair? Because I'm scared I might have it and I need to know.
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  #38  
Old 04-08-2005, 01:01 PM
kunilou kunilou is offline
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I haven't been to Europe in 35 years, so I can't bring anything to the discussion about current attitudes.

But 1969 was a bad year to be an American in Europe. There was anti -U.S. graffiti sprayed on walls in every city we visited. We had rocks thrown at our tour buses when someone discovered we were from the U.S., and there were well-meaning Europeans who actually advised us to answer "Canada" if someone asked where we were from.

Of course, that kind of knee-jerk bigotry no longer exists on the Continent, does it?
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  #39  
Old 04-08-2005, 01:11 PM
Sevastopol Sevastopol is offline
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Next time there is a major terrorist attack in the US, I won't care much.
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  #40  
Old 04-08-2005, 05:00 PM
hildea hildea is offline
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How do I feel about America? That's a huge question, you know. The short answer is: Mixed. The long answer would be incredbly long, so 'll just share some random impressions.

I visited USA once (In 1990. For two weeks. ) and found the people friendly and nice to be around - including the girl who tried to convert me to her brand of Christianity, and seemed to have an incredibly naive view of atheism, but was willing to listen and remain friendly when I described my view of Life, the Universe and Everything. When meeting individual Americans, I'm prepared to like them.

Many of my favourite authors and favourite musicians are American. My bookshelves have more books in English than in Norwegian.

I'm very, very glad Norway is an ally of USA. But that's not because I see your country as a good friend, it's because I see it as a very, very bad enemy. (Yes, I can hear you muttering "We saved your ungrateful asses from the Nazis" over there. Well, so did the Russians. Can't say it gave me warm and fuzzy feelings towards the Soviet Union.)

I grew up close to a local NATO headquarter outside Oslo. When I was fourteen, more than twenty years ago, I once woke up in the middle of the night having heard some loud noice. For a split second, I was absolutely certain that the Russians had dropped the Bomb on the NATO grounds, and that in a moment I'd be dead. I wasn't even afraid, more of a resigned "Oh. That was that, then." Growing up as a neighbour of USSR and an ally of USA during the cold war didn't make me feel safe, it was scary.

When playing GURPS (a roleplaying game produced in USA) recently, one of the players said this about Norway's prime minister: "Bondevik has his tongue so far up Bush's ass that he's tickling his tonsils." There were general nods of agreement around the table.

In March 2004 I participated in a LARP (Live Action Roleplaying, a bunch of people dressing up in costumes and playing "let's pretend"). The setting was a modern, slightly alternate reality, the topic was terrorism, the genre was action sliding into catastrophy. Everybody were portrayed in a negative light - the European terrorists were completely psycho, the Israeli undercover agent was ice cold evil, the Norwegian police and government were spineless cowards - even so, I felt that the portrayal of the American soldiers was unfair and unrealistic. Torturing people just for fun/because of breakdown in discipline? Come on - I may be a rabid Euro commie, but that's a bit too much to believe, even for me.
A few weeks later, the Abu Ghraib scandal broke.

These days, if I notice that a product I'm about to buy is made in America, I'll look around a bit for an alternative. I never did that before the Iraqi war.

The occupation of Iraq started 9th April 2003. That date is a special one in Norway - 9th April 1940, Norway was invaded. I know that it's just a coincidence, but it's still chilling, and extremely weird to know that Norwegian soldiers have taken part in an occupation of another country. (I'm not sure if they're still in Iraq - last time I looked it up, there were a symbolic handful left.)

Before I ventured out on the wide, wild Internet, I used to believe that Americans and Europeans were, despite everything, basically similar. Same cultural background, joined in enjoying a wildly unfair portion of the wealth of the planet, all that. But when grazing various message boards, I discover every now and then some angle that make you seem completely, utterly alien. Not neccessarily bad (although I'm chauvinistic enough to, generally, see my own culture as best ), but completely different in an unexpected way.
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  #41  
Old 04-08-2005, 05:28 PM
SlyFrog SlyFrog is offline
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I'd be a bit uncomfortable in the Netherlands, fearing that I might be murdered in the street by religious extremists. I understand that the level of religious persecution and zealotry over there is truly frightening from the news I read.

Same thing with France. Man, I'd hate to be a jew over there.
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  #42  
Old 04-08-2005, 05:40 PM
ParentalAdvisory ParentalAdvisory is offline
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How about this. Everyone from every country has their share of assholes, fat people, religious whacko's, right/left/dictatorship government, racial problems, etc... Some countries just have more of it then others.

Someone mentioned that the U.S. is just the bratty brother of the Europeans. I'm comfortable with that. It sure beats the hell out of being the child molesting uncle of the family.

So fuck you all.
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  #43  
Old 04-08-2005, 05:43 PM
Kyla Kyla is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hildea
Before I ventured out on the wide, wild Internet, I used to believe that Americans and Europeans were, despite everything, basically similar. Same cultural background, joined in enjoying a wildly unfair portion of the wealth of the planet, all that. But when grazing various message boards, I discover every now and then some angle that make you seem completely, utterly alien. Not neccessarily bad (although I'm chauvinistic enough to, generally, see my own culture as best :) ), but completely different in an unexpected way.
I wanted to chime in to say that I agree. As a liberal American who despises George Bush and his war, I often find myself agreeing with European and Canadian points of view. However, every once in a while, something will happen that makes me shake my head in wonder and reminds me that I am an American. For instance, every time I am amazed to hear about European nations censoring Nazi propaganda, or denying a visa to...whatshisname, that nutty Holocaust denier guy. What about First Amendment rights?!?!

:) I don't want to get into an argument about censorship or anything, that was just an example.

It's been a few years since I was in Europe (last time was in Italy in 1999). Never had any issues because of my nationality, I don't think.
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  #44  
Old 04-08-2005, 06:02 PM
Johnny L.A. Johnny L.A. is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hildea
The occupation of Iraq started 9th April 2003. That date is a special one in Norway - 9th April 1940, Norway was invaded. I know that it's just a coincidence, but it's still chilling...
Have you seen our helmets?
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  #45  
Old 04-08-2005, 06:12 PM
GorillaMan GorillaMan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kyla
However, every once in a while, something will happen that makes me shake my head in wonder and reminds me that I am an American. For instance, every time I am amazed to hear about European nations censoring Nazi propaganda, or denying a visa to...whatshisname, that nutty Holocaust denier guy. What about First Amendment rights?!?!

I don't want to get into an argument about censorship or anything...
...nor do I!!!

The "the constitution is correct in all possible ways" attitude is something that is very American. As is the people writing that document were absolute perfection, and the only misunderstanding could be through not interpreting them correctly.

Why doea mainland Europe, that which experienced the Holocaust, have a stronger desire to control Nazi imagery than in America? I'd like to hope this answers itself.
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  #46  
Old 04-08-2005, 06:42 PM
delphica delphica is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by owlstretchingtime

Bad Things:

Too much religion
Blinkered world view
All fat
Too commercial
Frankly mad. See Janet Jackson's tit, and OJ Simpson getting away with murder.
Insanely preoccupied by race
Rubbish food (and this is from an englishman)
That whole "American Hair" thing.
As an American, I agree with most everything on this list except the Insanely preoccupied by race item. Actually, we probably are insanely preoccupied by race, but one of the most striking things about the time I spent working in Europe was the number of Europeans who cited this as a difference between American and Europeans. I am honestly confused by this, I feel like I observed A LOT of bizarre preoccupation with race on the part of my non-American colleagues in the three countries where I spent the most time (France, the UK, Italy -- which I'm sure are as different from each other as they are from the US). I was told very sincerely that America has a shameful race problem (true), even as I heard white Europeans say things about Roma people with vitriol that I've never witnessed from a white American talking about Black people. I'm not saying anyone on any side deserves any medals in this area, only that we can all share the credit, as it were, for a good deal of racial anxiety on a societal level.

As far as individuals go, I had extremely good experiences with my colleagues and was never made to feel unwelcome or uncomfortable because I was from the US. Of course, that could also mean I was woefully clueless, but Americans are happy-go-lucky like that. Plus, we're complacent when travelling because you keep feeding us that great European food.
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  #47  
Old 04-08-2005, 06:45 PM
yojimbo yojimbo is offline
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America? Fuck thatís a big question.
The thing about America is that there are so many different aspects to the American experience. Itís like a little continent. Full of countries that while accepting federal leadership have their own history and cultures. They as a whole share core ideals and beliefs based heavily on the founders of the countryís writings. Itís very hard to talk about America without being so general your points become meaningless. So forgive if Iím general.

America is unique in the world. Built mainly by hunger and ambitious immigrants it has an amazing vibrancy about it. Some of the worldís greatest artists, thinkers, fighters and politicians have come from itís 50 States.

It was concerning to me to see a very large section of the population of the most powerful and influential country in the world support the Iraq war so quickly. The apparent support of policies that dismissed other countries opinions including the UN and arrogantly pushed for war. The re-election of Bush while not surprising was further reason to feel separated from American culture and beliefs.

The apparent strength of right wing, very nationalistic/jingoistic and religious lobbies doesnít fit well in my brain either.

That said it is still a country that can be held up as a shining light on the planet. Nowhere have so many people been as free to work for their dreams that in modern America even with all the faults in the systems. Every country in the world has faults and inequalities so America is no different in that regard. Humans will be humans after all.

*Yes I know I live in Ireland but I was asked about the US, not the little catholic, corrupt Island I live on
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  #48  
Old 04-08-2005, 07:06 PM
yojimbo yojimbo is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kyla
What about First Amendment rights?!?!
I fail to see what the provision that Extended to conflicts in which the State is not a participant the provision for a state of emergency to secure the public safety and preservation of the State in time of war or armed rebellion. in 1939 has to do with anything
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  #49  
Old 04-08-2005, 08:42 PM
Kyla Kyla is offline
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Well, I don't care about your First Amendment. Crazy furriner. :)
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  #50  
Old 04-08-2005, 09:19 PM
Soul Brother Number Two Soul Brother Number Two is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sattua
I would also like to quietly, without vitriol, point out what several European posters have already noticed: Americans are frequently being criticized for not knowing anything about the rest of the world, and yet quite a few of the opinions about Americans expressed here reveal that the Europeans who hold those opinions know nothing about America, aside from what the media tells them.
Are you reading the same thread as I am? Aside from the assertion that the War of 1812 was a war of American aggression, what I'm reading here seems spot on and spoken reasonably as well.
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