Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Do you "get" America?

Just a short one this time. I've been way to busy and tired to blog lately! Hopefully that will be changing very soon!

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It's a mixed bag, but I have found in my online discussions that, on the whole, foreigners--particularly the ones who have never lived in the US--don't totally "get" us. While they tend to be far more educated about our history and political system than most of the US natives I talk to (pathetic and shameful for us), they don't necessarily understand our attitude and mentality in more than a superficial or stereotypical way. There is just something about being steeped in our mindset, our notions about individuality, and our freedom culture that you can't glean from a book, I suppose. I truly think that this is a big part of the confusion that people overseas have vis-a-vis our second amendment rights.

I will say that the foreigners who do "get" us really get us. They tend to be people who have actually lived here for a while. The example that comes to mind is Christopher Hitchens. His drift from hardcore Marxist socialist toward more classically American values* was mystifying to many of his fellow Brits, but entirely predictable to most Americans, given the time that he lived here and the fact that he became a biographer of both Thomas Jefferson and Bill Clinton.

It really serves, I think, as a reminder of how unique the American experiment is, and how different the American tradition is, even among the democracies of the world.


* I won't say "conservatism," though that's what many of his horrified colleagues like Richard Dawkins thought when he came out publicly in support of the Iraq war. In reality, I would say his later-life views more closely mapped with classical liberalism.

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