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Americans: could this be any more offensive?

brian_eggleston
Posts: 3,347
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2/10/2011 12:09:18 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
"Explorers, speculators and adventurers embarking upon expeditions to North America will find on arrival that much of this once wild and perilous land has now been tamed – it is no longer inhabited by an unsavoury assortment of desperados, renegades and bandits who are engaged in an armed struggle to assert their dominance over the indigenous savages (which they confusingly refer to as "Indians" though America is just about as far from India as you can get, of course!)

Nowadays, parts of the North American continent have become so advanced that they could almost be described as "civilised", and with the exception of Quebec in Canada and, possibly, some of the southern states of America, a variant of English (that evolved from the Elizabethan tongues of the first colonists) is widely spoken so communication with the natives there is relatively straightforward.

Nevertheless, travellers will still find marked differences of culture and etiquette between those common in Europe and those generally observed in this particular corner of The New World.

Perhaps these differences are most notable at the dining table. The staple diet of a modern American consists of "hamburger" sandwiches (which, confusingly, contain beef rather than ham); portions of chicken coated in seasoned flour and deep-fried and oven-baked flatbreads topped with tomatoes, cheese and other savoury items (which the Americans call "pizzas" although any similarities with the famous Italian dish of the same name are slight indeed).

Americans do not trouble themselves with cutlery to consume these dishes, rather they are conveyed to the diner's mouth using his hands – a concept those intrepid travellers amongst you who have stayed with jungle-dwellers in sub-Saharan Africa, the hinterland of Borneo or darkest Amazonia will no doubt be familiar with.

That's not to say that cutlery is completely unknown to the Americans: knives have been a part of their daily lives since the first settlers arrived, though forks weren't introduced from Europe until the late 19th Century.

However, instead of holding the fork in the left hand, gripping it as one would a pen and keeping the fork-tines pointed downwards in the customary fashion, the Americans crudely grasp their fork as one might grasp a cumbersome lever or tool and use it, fork-tines pointed upwards, to shovel food into their mouths - sometimes having put down their knives and transferred the implement from their left hand to their right hand!

This ungainly and elegant method of eating is, of course, almost as barbaric as eating using one's bare hands to European minds, but when ‘dining' with Americans, it is probably best to remember that discretion is the better valour and refrain from remarking upon their want of etiquette or, worse, attempting to improve their table manners: Americans do not consider their way of eating to be in any way inferior to anyone else's and are likely to take offence at any suggestion that it is (you may recognise the voice of experience here)."

So, American members of DDO: could this be any more offensive, patronising or insulting?

Please let me know if you think it could be and give me your suggestions and I will revise the passage before inserting it into my new spoof adventure travel guide.

By the way, anyone fancy doing the entry for Great Britain? I can't do it myself, obviously!
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tigg13
Posts: 302
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2/10/2011 1:52:43 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
If you want to offend us, you need to attack our heroes. You know, the people that we all look up to like.....Umm. Gosh I know there has to be somebody.
tigg13
Posts: 302
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2/10/2011 1:57:52 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
You know what the problem is?

Pride.

We just don't have anything left that we're proud of.

We used to have things we were proud of, but I think we sold them all to China and OPEC.
tigg13
Posts: 302
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2/10/2011 2:00:22 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
I mean, look at us!

For most of us, our greatest aspirations include and appearance on either 'American Idol', 'Jerry Springer' or 'The People's Court'
PARADIGM_L0ST
Posts: 6,958
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2/10/2011 3:25:13 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
So, American members of DDO: could this be any more offensive, patronising or insulting?:

LOL! Yeah, that was pretty offensive. Funny, all the same. Good writing

By the way, anyone fancy doing the entry for Great Britain? I can't do it myself, obviously!:

I could, but I might have to do that later.
"Have you ever considered suicide? If not, please do." -- Mouthwash (to Inferno)
charleslb
Posts: 4,740
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2/10/2011 3:32:01 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 2/10/2011 12:09:18 PM, brian_eggleston wrote:

So, American members of DDO: could this be any more offensive, patronising or insulting?

Please let me know if you think it could be and give me your suggestions and I will revise the passage before inserting it into my new spoof adventure travel guide.

By the way, anyone fancy doing the entry for Great Britain? I can't do it myself, obviously!

Well, although I reside within the United States I don't identify with a nationality and therefore can't very well be offended by a bit of witty lampoonery directed at "Americans". I quite abhor nationalism and the parochial proclivity of people to ground their self-concept in petty tribal affiliations. The academic Benedict Anderson has called nations "imagined communities", because they're largely just political abstractions that we're socio-culturally conditioned to tie our sense of self into.

In other words, nationality is mostly just a notional kind of identity, one that can be instrumental for the agenda of ruling elites, i.e. it can be used quite effectively to unite people into a manageable body politic and to motivate them to do the bidding of their leaders. To put it simplistically, nationalism is just another bad ism.

The only problem I have then with your little exercise in national profiling and caricature is the way it buys into and reinforces a nationalistic mentalité that sees people not as people per se who share a common humanity, but rather divisively pigeonholes them according to nationality. On these grounds I must withhold any kudos I might give for your cleverness.

This being said, in the interest of being a good sport I would point out that you glaringly neglected to include anything about the quaint and idiosyncratic, vis–à–vis the rest of the Western world, "American" attachment to a Bronze Age mythology about a supernatural sky-god, and the large percentage of "Americans" who insist on teaching a literally-interpreted version of this mythology in grade school science classes, and who preserve the antiquated custom of attending houses of their mythological deity's worship, where they earnestly and enthusiastically submit to being evangelized.

But remember, although derisively stereotyping the cultures of other countries may provide some self-amusement it also helps plant and nurture the figment of national self-images and identities in the receptive soil of our minds. Ontologically speaking, no one is really an "American" or a "Brit" or a "Lichtensteinian", etc. We all share the same evolutionary heritage; the same fundamental human needs; and, to cosmically broaden our identity, we all partake in the same miracle of life and mystery of existence. The sooner we all jettison the concept of nationality and start identifying with our humanness, and more expansively, with all life and existence, the sooner we can start making common cause in an effective fashion to solve some of the world's perennial problems and avert some of its looming catastrophes.
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
Aibohphobia
Posts: 136
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2/10/2011 3:37:53 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 2/10/2011 12:09:18 PM, brian_eggleston wrote:

So, American members of DDO: could this be any more offensive, patronising or insulting?

Please let me know if you think it could be and give me your suggestions and I will revise the passage before inserting it into my new spoof adventure travel guide.

By the way, anyone fancy doing the entry for Great Britain? I can't do it myself, obviously!

Misse that part somewhow. Oops. In that case it's really good, nice job!