Mcbean is from Australia and often writes about health and politics.
An Outsider's View on the USA
It is human nature to assume that everyone sees you in the same light that you see yourself. It can come as quite a shock when there is a difference between these two perceptions. America's international standing appears to be one such area, and the gap is wide at times.
This articles is about perceptions. Some of these perceptions will be more based on fact than others. Some may have little basis at all. The question America needs to ask itself, in the event that a perception is incorrect, is, "What caused this perception in the first place and what can we do to correct it?"
The following list seems to focus on the negative—and it does. That is because it looks at the differences between internal and external opinion. The positive aspects of America tend to have little difference.
Gas-Guzzling Environmental Vandals
America has the cheapest fuel of any developed country. The 'bigger is better' mentality is a major cause of concern around the world. Americans are seen complaining about $5 a gallon gas when elsewhere the price is double. Cheap fuel promotes the use of inefficient, large-engine vehicles.
At the 1992 Earth Summit, George H.W. Bush declared, "The American way of life is not negotiable". Add this to the fact that a country with more than 4% of the world's population uses around 20% of its oil (according to 2018 data), and the perception is that the United States is ruining the planet for the rest of us.
Rather than take the role of the responsible leader, the USA is refusing to make the hard decisions everyone else is making for the sake of driving their big cars.
The Americans are famous for telling the British, "You'd all be speaking German if it wasn't for us".
In some ways this is true. But in others it highlights certain factors that result in the United States being seen as self-centered.
Hitler is the poster boy for evil. He's probably the most famous villain in history. He had been rampaging through Europe for 4 years while America watched. The Holocaust continued for all this time and America watched. Tiny nations as far removed from Europe as can be fought against the Nazis. New Zealand had little more to offer than its fighting age men, but they were there from the start.
The Allies were begging the Americans for help but none was forthcoming.
When did America become involved? When they were attacked. Six million dead Jews later and with both sides of the war on the brink of collapse after 4 years of struggle, the Americans rode to the rescue.
This point is a perfect example of the gap in perceptions. Americans think that all of Europe is grateful for their heroic actions. Europe remembers their contribution but wonders why the U.S. sat on the sideline while so many died.
America is perceived as a very religious country—but not necessarily religion as others know it. There seems to have been some dislocation of traditional religious values where being labelled a Christian does not always have a lot to do with the teachings of the Bible.
In his book Religious Literacy, Stephen Prothero makes the following observation:
"In other words, we had already taken one giant step toward the contemporary era in which morality is the essence of religion and the term Christian connotes opposition to abortion and gay marriage rather than faith in the incarnation and the redemption—an era in which having a relationship with Jesus is more important than knowing what he actually did, in which believing in the Bible matters more than knowing what the Bible has to say."
The foreign perception of America is a land where politicians must be 'believers' regardless of actual belief. Again, from Prothero's book:
"And then there was the hapless Howard Dean. When asked during the course of the 2004 presidential primaries to name his favorite book in the New Testament, the former governor of Vermont stammered and finally blurted out “Job,” a book located for centuries squarely in middle of the Hebrew scriptures."
The worldwide community sees things differently. British Prime Minister Tony Blair summed up religion after he left office, "You talk about it in our system and, frankly, people do think you're a nutter." His former communications director, Alistair Campbell has been quoted as saying, "We don't do God."
Many parts of the world see Iranians mixing religion and politics and see America in the same category. When people with bombs and guns speak religiously, most of the world gets scared. It also seems that the War on Terror and its Islamic fundamentalists appear to being pitted against an increasingly Christian fundamentalist United States. Again, this may or may not be the case, but it is how the world is perceiving it.
As a 1997 poll found, 12% of Americans thought that Joan of Arc was Noah's wife.
Team America: World Police
As was highlighted by the movie, America has a reputation of being very involved in foreign policy. This is a huge are to discuss so in the interests of keeping it simple the international perceptions of Americas foreign policy tend to be as follows:
- They will get involved anywhere if there is something in it for them—usually oil, sometimes strategic positions.
- They will not get involved in often more significant incidents if there is no direct benefit to the USA. This is regardless of loss of life, genocide, etc.
- In situations of no direct benefit, the United Nations are expected to step in.
- When there is a benefit and the United Nations do not agree with the American stance, they are not 'invited'.
Obsessed With Perfection
As the centre of the world's entertainment industry, America gets more than its fair share of blame for the celebrity culture that has swept the world. Plastic surgery is most closely associated with America despite being a national pastime in Venezuela.
To me this perception is effectively blaming the United States for the world's cultural changes. Many of the countries that would say this about America are just the same themselves. Britain's obsession with 'celebrity' is a prime example.
America has a reputation as being a land of ignorant people. This is one of the easiest arguments to refute as I believe I am right in saying that California is responsible for a large proportion of the world's patents. America is indeed a nation of technological advancements and centres for higher learning, unfortunately this is not how it is perceived.
All of the intelligent work is so easily undone by figures such as "20% of Americans can't locate the United States on a map" (a statistic that is not actually true, though it's persistently quoted). To make matters worse, headline-catching footage like that of Miss Teen USA's South Carolina contestant offering her view on the subject (see video above), undo the work of the nation's universities by clouding international perception.
America is famous for its lack of health care for its poorer citizens. The World Health Organization used to publish a table of the best health care systems in the world. (It stopped doing this in 2000 due to the complexity of the task). The Superpower that is America came in at 37th. Twenty-one of the top 25 positions were European, with France occupying the top spot.
The world sees the size of the American economy and cannot understand how there is no free health care system in place. Things have improved since the Affordable Care Act passed, though, and a 2019 survey showed that 90% of the population had health insurance.
The ongoing resistance to health care reform reinforces the view that large corporations have too much political power. It is perceived that the rights of the corporation go above the rights of the people to have access to health care.
If you are American it is hard to read details such as these. What seems like page after page of criticism that in cases is lacking in evidence.
A lot of the points made are not true and a lot lack the full story. This article does not claim to be stating fact or judging America. The same exercise can be done with any country.
The primary aim is to inform American of the way there country is (at times) seen.
It is quite likely that your main reaction to this will be that anyone forming these opinions is themselves ignorant. That may or may not be the case, but ask yourself why they have formed this image of America and what your leader and citizens can do to portray the real side of American life.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
Mike on October 22, 2019:
Too many people think that the people of America are synonymous with the government. From what I have seen and experienced, the average person in America has little input in how the government decides to apply its might. If the people were able to vote on each of the important decisions that are made, things would probably be different.
While we technically vote for our representatives, the majority of those elected do not represent the needs or wants of the populace. The government does what it wants / when it wants.
DOn't ask for my name on September 07, 2017:
Listen i'm not defending America. We've screwed up bad in the past. We've had bad elections and leaders and unfortunate events happen to our "beloved country", but it's articles like this are the reason other country's get country's pissed off and starting wars. So if we all kept to ourselves it would be best for the rest of the world.
Lawyer on August 19, 2017:
Go into our courts and find out how few rights you really have. Big business runs the courts and the judges are IMMUNE from liability even if they act maliciously or corruptly. So is government. This means that if the courts or govt totally ignore the law, deny you every right and take your kids, property, liberty or life, then too bad for you. This means there is no law if it can be ignored. Pierson v. Ray. We deserve the world perception because we do not even understand that we have no rights at all. After the Const., Convention, Franklin was asked what we have a Republic or a Monarch? Franklin said we give you a republic if you can keep it. We couldn't keep it because a Republic depends on honesty. We do not have a Republic or even a Democracy. Because the citizens have been playing with their latest Iphone, and don't care to watch over their government,. .. Welcome to the Monarch of the U.S.
Demas W Jasper from Today's America and The World Beyond on February 27, 2017:
I appreciate the time you took to put this together. Thanks.
Alex on October 17, 2016:
I like how at the bottom of the article there was an advertisement for deep fried twinkies, extra large pizzas, and assorted cupcakes.
Ana Maria Orantes from Miami Florida on September 07, 2014:
I like your article and your open discussion . I love U.S.A. I found this country an amazing place to live. Other countries do not have the laws and the security that we all the people have here in the U.S.A. And other things, we enjoy every day. You did an excellent hub mister mcbeam. One of the things, I like the most. It is the freedom of speech.
pramodgokhale from Pune( India) on July 15, 2013:
After WW II USA was growth engine to world economy, but same time biggest military power and 50% of global agricultural and industrial output. So poor nations or third world were afraid of the strength but USA
helped poor nations .
Cold war began and two super powers had direct collision by proxies and USA became villain for some countries.
I hope USA will come out of crisis and global economy again bloom
Slug on March 30, 2013:
Much of what you say is true but what what really gets me is how everyone (other countries) want it both ways. They want us to leave them alone but as soon as they have a natural disaster or invasion they sure as hell don't turn us away then.
jimmy on March 14, 2013:
ive gotta say most of these fit perfectly but only with select parts of america. religion is most important in the bible belt ignorance is a scattered group but are more a product of our schools tendency to leave some behind and exalt others. the largest group of idiots in our nation is sadly our government. i live in Oregon and as far as i'm concerned california is a redeeming quality and texas is a damning one. texas isn't even technically part of the union due to a typo in their charter.
psudeoman on February 13, 2013:
Your article rings true for a lot of America, but just like every culture, there are self aware Americans, as well as intelligent Americans, the perceived notion that Americans are ignorant people may stem from the old adage "Stay silent and be thought of as a fool, open your mouth and proove that you are a fool".
Lucia on February 07, 2013:
I found a great deal of this article to be true. Though some "perceptions" are unjustified. Many Americans are interested in travel, but the cost of travel overseas is ridiculously expensive. $1,000+ just for a plane ticket to Europe if your lucky. Secondly, why should my religious views matter? Religious tolerance is a strong-point in the US. No one should be telling others that they are practicing their religion wrong. There is no "wrong way" to practice personal beliefs. Lastly, I highly agree on the point of fuel. Americans drive big cars and often commute from city to city for work, guzzling tons of gas.
Catherine on November 14, 2012:
Hmmm...interesting article. I just found this site and wanted to check it out..call it curiosity. Yes, some of the History is off the Mark..you also emphasize many problem areas we have, and I agree ...to a degree. When you say this is how America or Americans are perceived, it just proves the point that Europe is just as uninformed about us and our way of life as we are about them. I am not ignorant of other Nations overseas or their cultures...being a Veteran has enabled me to travel some...I just prefer my own Country. And I am fully aware of other Nations and their high minded opinion of themselves, and poor treatment of Americans...the French and Spanish especially. As a Continent away from Europe with a vast ocean between leaves little money for "Leisurely" travel With my job (I get 1 week vacation time--yes I can use more, but not within the same time frame)...so why on earth would I spend that few and precious time wandering aimlessly around the world just to prove to some folks I am aware of them and their culture, when I prefer to take care of my family and spend that time with them? It seems that perceptions overseas are off the mark by a long shot thinking everyone in America is "Rich" with no family values. Oh...and I can't for the life of me figure out why my belief and observance of my faith gives anyone the right to perceive me as a radical or a fundamentalist because I adhere to the Principles, morals and values?? Perhaps the world needs to learn toleration and respect, not to mention more than a few Democrats within our own Society. In essence...I prefer to live Free and I don't really care if other Countries like us or not. Perception is a tricky thing and changes with every individual based on his/her knowledge and experience...I love my Country with all her faults and all her goodness...it's more than I can say for Countries I have visited in the past. I can go on and on about the Perceptions I have on France, Spain, Japan...but I'll keep my opinions to myself and just say I'm glad my time was short.
Bruce on October 22, 2012:
I can't take this article seriously when there are missed spelled words and your grammar is messed up in a lot of places
Brett on July 26, 2012:
I am an American: so add this to your list "our arrogance." This might seem arrogant: America was once the envy of the world. Now, we are feared. Most other nations CANNOT protect themselves from other nations, or other groups of nations without us. We can destroy pretty much any nation we choose, and we can protect pretty much every nation we choose. Our technology is so far advanced that we cannot be stopped. We invent. We sell ideas. You are buying our OLD technology from us, while we keep our most advanced technologies secret and keep them military ... until we invent something more advanced, of course. Then the story repeats: we sell you our old technology when we truly possess something more advanced. Again... kept secret for military use. And you just hate that because YOU DON'T INVENT. While you complain about how we spend our money and how me educate, you should be LEARNING, TEACHING, and INVENTING stuff. Then, you can protect yourself and you won't need us, you won't fear us... Then, you can actually sit at the table and play.
Ana on June 16, 2012:
I agree with much of what is said here, but would like to make a couple of amendments. For example, one of the main reasons why many Americans don't travel is simply because it's too expensive. As was stated before, gas is cheap in the US, which facilitates road trips; however, airfare, by comparison, is incredibly expensive. While European countries can hop between themselves within an hour or so, American (and the rest of the western hemisphere) must sit in a plane for eight hours. Combined with the fact that the US dollar is weak compared to the Euro and the pound, many Americans feel that international travel isn't worth the trouble.
On the subject of the Holocaust, America is not the only country with blame for having "sat on the sideline." The UK was also aware of the train cars bringing Jews to the death camps, but neither country bombed the tracks. Both were at fault.
Religion is a tricky subject in America. I live in the Washington D.C. area, where there are many religions, few of which are taken very seriously. This might be because the area is highly educated. Personally, I am ethnically half Jewish and half Catholic; in practice, I am neither. Nevertheless, this may not be typical. As was stated before, the United States is a vast country with subculture that varies from area to area.
While America is not perfect, it is also important to remember that the country has the third largest population in the world. It gives more to charity than any other country in the world, and works harder as well. It's true that there are many problems it has to deal with, some of its own making. It's true that it can be irrational and sometimes plain stupid. It's also true, though, that America is put in an awkward position sometimes. No one seems to want it to pull out troops and influence, while at the same time nobody seems to want them to stay.
In conclusion, it's a complicated issue, and it's important to remember the good with all the bad. Thank you for your time.
James on June 15, 2012:
I am American, and I am a libertarian. I constantly am surprised to see how many American's have no idea that we (and England) invaded the democracy of Iran back in 1953 to get cheaper oil. We put in the Shaw. (Just another reason to significantly cut CIA funding).
I was pushed to the ground by a Romney supporter while voting for delegates in Georgia. Then the police came and I was arrested for trespassing. The man running show closed assembly after ignoring the vote and claiming Romney won. Well the rule is that majority must reach consensus to end the meeting. He failed to reach requirements. So we stayed late and videotaped ourselves running the program without him,I was released without charges, but it was a clear violation of my rights. I want America to be America again. We also videotaped the whole assembly.
Most American's have been brainwashed into believing we are the greatest country ever. Sure, we have a good quality of life. I think all countries have their flaws.
Joey on June 08, 2012:
The US thinks they're the life of the party and everyone else finds them annoying. Every other nation sees itself through rose coloured glasses as well, though. Don't refute criticism, look at it objectively and if there is merit, work on improvement.
To the person who stated that the US was involved in WWII from the beginning by providing Britain with weapons. They didn't exactly give them away... The US made a ton of money by selling to BOTH SIDES in the beginning of the war. The lend-lease program with Britain didn't start until 1941, which still left Britain in debt to the US until 2006, when they finally paid it off. So, the reason "the US won the war" doesn't sit well with many is because the US is seen as being war profiteers and only got involved when they had to.
Aitch52 on May 03, 2012:
I'm a Brit who has worked, in the UK, for a large US corporation for the last 13 years. In my job I have travelled quite extensively to the US. Previous to my joining this company I travelled on business to a number of European countries, mainly north western Europe including Scandanavia. In non-english speaking countries I am, at first, concious of the fact that it is a foreign country but very soon feel comfortable. My expectation when visiting the US for the first time was that I would have none of this discomfort; they speak English (albeit a little different). Indeed, there was no initial discomfort. Got through the infamous imigration without any trouble and the taxi driver was pleasant and talkative. He did say how we Brits p***ed him off by not really valuing our National Health Service and I had to agree. After I had been there for a short while I began to realise that this was a very foreign country. The culture is markedly different. British culture is far more like that in France, Germany, Norway etc. than the US but don't expect that.
A simple illustration of this is a conversation I had with a US colleague. I had know him for a number of years and when he came over to the UK we always went out for a few good (as he put it) beers. On one such occasion I asked how things were and was his family ok. He said that they were but that they had a new priest (or vicar, pastor, I can't remember) at their church and he said "you know what an impact that has on the area." Well no, I didn't because if the vicar at our local church changed, 95%+ of the local population wouldn't even know. Here was a guy with whom I got on well, we came from similar working-class backgrounds, university educated and held similar, realtively senior, positions but came from places where the predominant view was massively different.
My point here is that the US is, to ALL other countries in the world, a very foreign place. Why should it not then be viewed as different. We don't expect countries in Asia to be the same as those in Europe so why America.
My personal view of the US is that it is like a quite bright adolecent. Strong, energetic, full of ideas, enthusiastic and sometimes headstrong and gulible (look at how many people profess to believe in creation!) but also lacking in true self confidence and wisdom.
Bob on April 25, 2012:
Brett on April 24, 2012:
"The primary aim is to inform American of the way there country is (at times) seen."
James on April 05, 2012:
Thanks for the good read it helped me with my Social Problems paper greatly. Wish it had more indepth look but then that would have made my research to easy.
human being on March 18, 2012:
The objective was to create discussion. Too bad nobody thought of solutions to any of these imperfections unless no matter what? No country is perfect ?
.... on March 07, 2012:
meh stopped reading your article after you screwed up the history part so badly.
-US was helping UK from the beginning as far as i remember, with weapons and food and the such.
I also seem to recall Hitler not attacking UK right off seems like it was Poland and the checks and a few other smaller countries while UK and everybody else watched as well and did nothing.
pot calling the kettle brown?
US foreign policy is way different from what the people tend to want as pointed out in the above comments.
It is always a foolish move to judge a countries peons by what the blue collar and brass do/want.
uncle sam on February 26, 2012:
It's a travesty that the US healthcare system is so bad for so many, and that the insurance companies rule the US congress. The argument is that the government should not be in the healthcare business, but isn't the gov. supposed to be the people? Maybe that's the problem.
Claire on January 01, 2012:
Sorry I'm 14 so I make a lot of typos -.-
Claire on January 01, 2012:
You forgot fat ;)
There are so many stereotypes in America based on a fraction of the population which is a shame. I still don't get why the government spends billions on the armed forces to protect use yet there is no free healthcare which is much more vital.
As for the education system, they need to stop focusing on purely American history and instead teach children about different cultures and how they help make the word a better place. If they were tought more about the world they might be more encouraged to travel and see those places for themselves.
Finally World War II was, in a sense, partly Americas fault. At the end of world war I the UK, France and America created the Treaty of Versailles which limited Germany's power. The gave away most of their land and had their army limited to 100,000 troops and they weren't allowed an airforce at all. They lost virtually all their power just so America would let cargo ships go there and stop millions from starving to death. It really is no wonder Germany were happy to let the Nazi party take control when their main aim was to get back what was once theirs.
America is a big country so it would be unfair to judge all Americans on a stereotype created by other nations.
Anonymous American on November 25, 2011:
The sad thing is that I agree with this, and I am an American. The thing about stereotypes is that whenever you see them they seem proven right. Just don't bundle people like me in to the group. In my culture people who are smart get that are often quite and let the people with nothing to say outshine them. It really is sad.
Another point: My father went to China last week and my mother has lived in Rwanda for three or four years, and one of my friends goes to Spain every other summer. My neighbors have lived in France for the last two years. Europeans You have to remember that America is big, like fourth largest in the world, and that traveling out of country is a big deal.
I hate this article simply because it is right, and I wish I could change it. I can't even win an argument with my friend of an extremely rude joke that involved the Muslim religion (In my opinion all religion is sacred)! I can't stand how selfish some of my fellow Americans, and how just one group of people can change the way the world views us.
melrose on August 31, 2011:
I love america very much. But world war 2 the president wanted to go to war but congress wouldn't allow it and also we didn't need to go to war because it wasen't our, war why kill our army men when we really don't need to.Plus american's are always getting picked on but when we go to war other contries always ask for help and america always helps them, so what we didn't help first at world war 2 but when we did we kicked everyone's asses.We helped so many people but they can only remember the bad time's like when we didn't help them at first. Plus our ancester's fought so we could be free and most other contries moslty free.Plus don't put if you don't like the article than don't read it well it's a free country and I can do whatever I wan't because my ancester's made it so I could.So all the american's hwo agree with this article who actually don't agree you just don't want to get hated it's okay express how great america is it may not seem like it but you can do so much better thing's in this country than in others.That's why so many other races come to America because there getting held back in there counrty and they deserve a chance where they can get that and america helps them achieve that! And other people can say what they want because in amereica you can do that so I am very proud to live here and I don't hate other countries I just dislike peole who hate america for things that happened almost over a houndred years ago,or because we all are differen't or we don't beleive in the same things.And if you fought us in a war you shouldn't still hate us you can do whatever you want like we fought germany but I don't hate germany it wasn't even germany's fault it was Hitler's so let's not hate others ok.
Ikebrazil on May 30, 2011:
You are worried about the image of USA...
The image of Brazil is 1000x more terrible than this. The worst thing is that the American media supply this destruction of the brazilian international image.
For example, CNN located Brazil in AFRICA, they said that Brazil is the country´s economy is based on BANANAS and SOCCER, and that the capital is RIO DEL JANIERO!!! JANIERO!! WE DON´T SPEAK SPANISH, FOR THE SAKE OF GOD!!
I didn´t mentioned the sensationalized news about "favellas" (again, in spanish), the street children (there isn´t more than 2.000 street children in Brazil, considering that the country has 200.000.000 inhabitants...)... Just because it´s easy to go to Rio, stay at the beach watching girls and drinking coconut water... And them chose a favela and film it, making the most horrible and irresponsible sensationalism that is possible.
tommy on April 14, 2011:
An old man, a young boy and a donkey are traveling across the country. As they arrive at their first town, the old man is riding the donkey and the young boy is walking. As they went through town the town folks say "what is that old man doing letting that young boy walk like that!" The old man say, "maybe they are right." And got off the donkey so the young boy can ride it. They arrive at the second town and as they were traveling through the town, the people there said, "what is that young boy doing, why is he letting the old man walk like that!" He said, "maybe the are right." He got off the donkey and now they are both walking. As they arrive at the third town, the people said, "what are they doing, a donkey is meant to carry, what are they doing walking like that?!" The old man and young boy said, "maybe they are right." And both got on the donkey. As they arrive to the next town, the people said, "look at that poor donkey, supporting both that old man and young boy. That's animal cruelty!" The old man and young boy said, "yeah, they are right." And got off and started carrying the donkey on their back.
mcbean (author) from A planet far, far away on April 08, 2011:
I value your opinion more than all others because a wise man once told me:
"When Chuck Norris goes swimming, he doesn't get wet. The water gets Chuck Norrised"
Chuck Norris on April 07, 2011:
You are a complete moron and this is probably the worst website I have ever been too. May God have mercy on your soul.
mcbean (author) from A planet far, far away on April 01, 2011:
Sure you didn't miss the point?
American Romance from America on March 31, 2011:
Yes Yes, Go ahead and Bash America, The French asked Colonel Powell once, what do you ask of us? Powell answered we have never asked for anything except enough dirt to bury our dead here! So you look down on the greatest minds, greatest power on earth? All through history the entire world cries for the US to come to their aid! All the while the liberal European countries cant get their own houses in order nor build a military with any might because of their panty waist liberal ways! They have lost sight of individualism while uniting to screw their own governments into oblivion and bring down the rest of the world with them! Your hub is a joke my friend!
Josh on February 28, 2011:
Yes its true we are a bit self centered but I believe us Americans are starting to realize this and change the way we interact with the world community. Its great to be an American, were very fortunate.
Kirstie on February 19, 2011:
I think the reason Americans don't travel abroad much is BECAUSE of what others think of us. I know a few people who would love to visit France, Italy, Germany ect. But it's impossible to do so without a Canadian sticker on your luggage. A lot of us are frightened by the thought of being harassed. Unfortunately for stereotypes, the way people see a country automatically applies to a single citizen. I've hardly met anybody who fits in these categories. But I guess it's really hard to change others opinions.. :/
137153163 on February 18, 2011:
mcbean - I found your article very interesting. You should probably touch up on your history though, as your entire section on America being Selfish/Heroes is just plain inaccurate. I suggest you research the Lend-Lease Act, and also take into account that the first concentration camp wasn't discovered until July 1944, by the Russians. As far as New Zealand's noble act is concerned, it's not like they had a choice.
mcbean (author) from A planet far, far away on December 03, 2010:
It was hard to write this without sounding like I was having a go at America. It wouldn't be hard to make a list like this for every country. The English in particular have a mountain of stereotypes based around some of their cultural characteristics. They too would have a significant gap between how they see themselves and the opinion of the global community.
Brandon on December 01, 2010:
Another yank chiming in. I have to say that this list is the very things I have hated about many of my fellow Americans. About the only surprising thing on this list is regarding the passports. You are largely describing "red states" and its truly sad that the rest of the world views us based on that fact.
Rose West from Michigan on November 30, 2010:
Very interesting to read the perceptions the rest of the world has about America. It is easy for us to be so wrapped up in ourselves that we don't even think about everywhere else and what they think of us. Your points are all generalizations, however, and can't be applied to all individuals. All the same, I enjoyed reading this!
mcbean (author) from A planet far, far away on November 17, 2010:
I think the true test for America is yet to come. For many years it was the undisputed leader, a true world superpower. While in many ways this is still true the gap between the US and the competition is rapidly dwindling. China is not going to go away and I feel the whole Superpower thing is deeply ingrained into the American culture. How will America and Americans deal with being number 2 or still number 1 but only just? Time will tell but it is sure to be interesting.
E on November 17, 2010:
Everything that was stated is, unfortunately, very true. But, I also think that America has the potential to turn all of that around.
mcbean (author) from A planet far, far away on November 02, 2010:
Any nation the size of America has regional variations and they tend to form a spectrum within a framework that defines the country. Australia has 90% of the country with next to no people residing in it. It is not dissimilar in size to America but has 22 million people. Perth in Western Australia are thousands of miles from the next significant city. Despite this the people of Perth fit in to the same spectrum of attitudes and values that apply elsewhere in Australia.
Country folk are different to city folk but it seems the same rules apply through the country.
I do find it interesting the way this works out.
Michael on November 02, 2010:
I think its also important to note that America is a huge country. The values and ideas of people in New England are very different from someone in the south or someone in the north/south west. Also important to note is that the values of people are also VERY different in rural America vs. urban vs. suburban America.
Texasbeta on September 08, 2010:
Folks, I totally agree that America needs to start with educating our children as to what the rest of the world is and has gone through, realize that the world didn't start here, and we are no better than anyone else. Most of our (America's) problems are ones we caused ourselves. Radical Islam? We created it. Take a look at the Iranian history during that 20th century and tell me Islamic terrorists are not our children. The further problem is academically, America is going backwards. Half of our country hears the word evolution and is entirely against it immediately. They want to teach that Adam rode a dinosaur. I want to be hopeful, but then I read some of the posts on this site and turn on reports of the tea partiers and think, yep, we're done, and we deserve it too.
Rocky Malanga on July 27, 2010:
There are several challenges for America that are not widely discussed; only because many Americans might not consider them factors in the global equation. By the way I am American, all be it foreign born. I served in the US Military for 11 years and I presently employeed by a large company out of Washington D.C. America is still a predominately young society and country, considering some other countries have been in exsistence for thousands of years, with estblished laws and religions in place. America has evolved dramaticaaly compared to the rest of the world, which is a good thing, however along with social evolvement; America has also been reluctant to accept or embrace cultural diversification on a national level. I agree with the remarks made, that if its not in our best interest we want no involvement, Americans want other countries and cultures to bend and change to our satisfaction, however, America does not want to bend, change or assimilate for anyone. We have a way of justifying the term "Ugly American". Sometimes it is my opinion that we truly beleive that our issues will be resloved by throwing money at it. We are offended at some countries by the way they deal with there youth and their criminal justice system, however, in many countries respect for parents and elders seem to be at the forefront. In some foreign countries the criminal justice system as barbaric as it appears, provides protection for the victims and law enforcement; unlike here in America, where victims and law enforcement have to fight tooth and nail for rights and liberites taken away by our court system.
Pamela Lipscomb from Charlotte, North Carolina on July 10, 2010:
You are so right! America needs an attitude adjustment and I think we are going to get one real soon.
jblue on June 29, 2010:
I am an American and proud of it. But be honest with yourselves, what country will look at its own history and acknowledge its shortcomings? Everyones history is sterilized and glorified. Every country's interest is solely itself. This is EXACTLY why so many people die in ongoing genocides in Africa and throughout the world. If there were huge amounts of untapped mineral deposits in these areas, you can bet your ass that the whole world would be "coming to the rescue". As far as being isolated from the world, MAYBE GEOGRAPHY HAS SOMETHING TO DO WITH THIS. MAYBE WORK CULTURE HAS SOMETHING TO DO WITH THIS. I am a Customs Officer in a major US port of entry, and I see many, many people entering the US from all over Europe, especially UK. It boggles my mind how so many families can come to the US two or more times a year, yet be unemployed!!! Americans work their asses off, and are given very little vacation (holiday) time, not the "fortnights" you receive. Yes we enjoy our cars, large homes and our theme parks. We have a large part of a continent to ourselves and we also have our North American neighbors upstairs and downstairs. We have compromised and have preferred to obtain tangible goods in place of spending on international travel. Unfortunately the rest of the known world exists in your side of the pond. You have many neighbors and they are very accessible. And as far as socialized healthcare, our neighbors upstairs are doing just that, and it can take them MONTHS to get a dentist to remove an aching tooth. No thanks. Our educational system is lacking, but in my daily work experience, I see UK teenagers who cannot even fill out a Customs Declaration! This is more than just the governments fault. It is an example of how technology is making our youth stupid. Even though this article speaks of negative perceptions the world has of America, I can safely say that we on the other hand, love the Brits, English, Irish, Scots and everything in between. Outside of the UK, we like almost everyone (except the French and some parts of the Arab world).
mcbean (author) from A planet far, far away on May 27, 2010:
Thanks for the comment Rebekah. I spent 10 years travelling the world and have had my perceptions changed by this. You never know a country until you spend time in it meeting its people. The worlds perception of America is very different from the reality of America and the American people. For me, America was in parts just as I expected and in others completely different. I think the great regional variations in culture add to the appeal of the country.
The best advice to people with pre-conceived ideas about the USA is to get on a plane and make your mind up from first hand experience.
rebekahELLE from Tampa Bay on May 26, 2010:
I found this hub again and read through the comments. I would have to say that Sean's typical American example is very sad.
I honestly do not know one of my America friends who would ever say that or act that way. Although we have our share of 'less desirables', I find it sad that that is how we are perceived. There are so many amazing people here, regardless of how differently we believe, Americans are very generous, compassionate people. If you've never been here, it's quite hard to have a true feeling for who we really are, just as it is for us if we have not been to your country.
Sean on May 13, 2010:
I live in Ireland and I have a huge respect for everything good that the United states has given the World.
I have had mostly good experiences with American citizens. They can be some of the most polite and generous people yet the 'typical' American is never too far away.
I queued in line for an hour to see the statue of David in Florence and an American man in his 50's stepped in front of me and turned and said 'I only wanna go in see this damn statue then get the hell outta here'. That my friends is the typical American that Europe loves to hate. He soon discovered that an angry Irish man will put you firmly in your place.
More focus on education, more focus on the people rather than company profit, a bit more humility and responsibility and American will be the envy of the World.
American children need to be taught that through education and experience you earn the right for your views to be considered important and through hard work you earn the right to be comfortable and happy. You shouldn't be born expecting these things.
bob on May 04, 2010:
Good article. How would you separate the views -- if you could -- of America with the American People?
Tracy Anthony on February 24, 2010:
When I look at this article, I see that alot of different thing happing like gas price Americans gas price are 5 dollars a gallon but elsewhere its like double and 20% of american cnt locate american on a map and dat like disrespectful and think that the us are bein seen ass the bad guys....
Best's best student on February 11, 2010:
Americanized and Bestized!
amurica on February 10, 2010:
A Carnivorous Bird on February 10, 2010:
Holdin it down in Nazi occupied poland!
LINDBERGENATOR! on February 10, 2010:
THATS RIGHT SONNN!! LETS DOO THIS!! CAFFINATED AND READYY!
Scrandy on February 10, 2010:
Mr. Best's class ftw
mcbean (author) from A planet far, far away on November 14, 2009:
One example would be the assistance provided to the East Timorese people by the Australian government. Their quest for independence would surely have failed and many more lives lost as the Indonesian government let militias slaughter the people of East Timor. America acknowledged the situation but decided against any intervention. The cynical would say there was no "up side" for them.
JD on November 13, 2009:
Can you give examples of how other countries conduct themselves differently?
JD on November 13, 2009:
Regarding the US not getting involved where it doesn't benefit us...
rebekahELLE from Tampa Bay on October 15, 2009:
just want to add something in light of perceptions. that's really all we have, correct? How anyone sees the world is with their own perceptions. Being American and living here, I see it differently than you, or even someone next door to me.
I don't think it matters if we're American, or English, or German, or whichever nationality we are, it's what has happened to us that shapes our belief system. I've traveled throughout the U.S., and people do live differently. It's part of what makes our country as diverse and wonderful as it is. I love America and I love living here, despite our weaknesses. There is an American spirit that is truly courageous and beautiful.
rebekahELLE from Tampa Bay on October 14, 2009:
mcbean, quite insightful and quite true. of course, not entirely. I am American and I do have a passport and I agree that Americans need to travel outside of the country in order to see that there is a world out there with different cultures and amazing people. In some respects to Europe, we are still young, maybe preteen?? Enjoyed reading, you have a new fan.
mcbean (author) from A planet far, far away on August 22, 2009:
Thanks for the feedback everyone. I was trying hard not to come across as having a go at America as that is not what I am about. This hub came about from my own cultural observations and some of the heated debates on a few forums.
Elena. from Madrid on August 21, 2009:
Hi, mcbean! I think this is a great hub, and I particularly like the final Hard Reading section. Regardless of supporting facts, I think you managed to fantastically explain how America is perceived and why. Generally, perceptions spring from observations, and you just put down quite clearly the potential observations that make the world perceive the USA the way they do.
Welcome to Hubpages!
Mr. Happy from Toronto, Canada on August 20, 2009:
Your post was good to say the least ... an improved education system can solve the problems with "ignorance", "isolationism" and/or religious fanaticism in my opinion.
jiberish from florida on August 20, 2009:
In defense of this country, it's easy for countries the size of one of our states to criticize our shortcomings, however true, but there was a time when we were the envy of the world. Not that it should matter, but, we are aware of other's perceptions, and there are some of us trying to steer towards that again.
I agree with most of your Hub, and welcome.
Sherri from Southeastern Pennsylvania on August 19, 2009:
Brilliant observations, whether based on hard fact or not. Your words constitute a wake-up call that will never be heard by most Americans.
We isolate ourselves from the rest of the world for reasons ranging from arrogance to ignorance to disinterest. Our media helps us do that, as do our schools, as do our politics. After all, we have the best of everything here, right? That is what we are told and that is what we believe, despite the realities of poverty, violence, and elitism. Why go elsewhere, or even think about elsewhere? This land is our land, and we know it's the best.
Welcome to HubPages...your view is refreshing and you have things to say that need to be heard.
ryankett on August 19, 2009:
A brilliant hub. A little about its foreign policy e.g. lack of diplomacy under Bush, wouldn't have gone amiss though. 10/10.
jayb23 from India on August 19, 2009:
wonderful hub mcbean. I liked the way you hav put your thoughts across. Keep up the good work.
Feline Prophet on August 19, 2009:
That's an honest assessment mcbean, but the point you make is perhaps true of any country in the world...we never quite see ourselves as others do.
mcbean (author) from A planet far, far away on August 19, 2009:
There are plenty of other examples but I needed to keep the length down. It should also be said that many Americans are aware of the perecption of others. I met a man in Argentina who described him self as a New Yorker, specifically saying that rather than American - mainly because of the reasons listed above.
Shalini Kagal from India on August 18, 2009:
The divide between one's own belief and outside perception might be greater where America is concerned than with any other country - it does exist everywhere though. Quite honestly, it's only after I spent time in the US that a lot of the perceptions I had faded. We tend to 'perceive' thanks to what we are exposed to most - American foreign policy - very often not a good yardstick to judge the American people by - as I learned :)
rainshadow on August 18, 2009:
You are so correct here. This is what should be shouted from the highest mountain! I have lived on five continents and worked in 7 different countries. I have lived what you described here. Thanks for the hub!
Susan Reid from Where Left is Right, CA on August 18, 2009:
I'd say you were a bit too lenient. Can't disagree with a single thing you've said about us Yankees. Must tell you though that I was expecting the line about California to end differently. I live here and yes, Silicon Valley and Intel and Apple, Google, etc. (and of course our brilliant friends who run Hub Pages) are all the exception. The average Californian is the product of an inferior education system -- another criteria you could have nailed America on but spared us.
Don't get me wrong. I love my country. I simply don't believe we are "better" than the rest of the world. That's elitist!
Great hub!!! MM