“They hate us for our freedom,” is a common saying when Americans are asked about our perceptions overseas. While this may be the case in some instances, there are other probable reasons for our poor perception in other nations. Some of those reasons include our consumer culture (including obesity), our intervention in the affairs of other countries, and recently, the use of drones to attack enemy targets. What can be done to improve our perception among other nations and change some of the stereotypes others hold about Americans and American culture?
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I think there are two parts to this question. I think, on the one hand, many individuals in other countries "hate" (although they might object to the word hate and substitute a little less violent word ...) what Americans have become and have allowed our culture to become because of the cultural and social freedom that reigns here. Examples are the toxins we pollute our foods with and our indoor air with and the pollution we toxify the earth with and the unbridled plunge into the "wild life" American money makes it possible for so many young Americans to take. The judicial sentiment is that not all the freedom in the world can justifiably be so destructive.
I think, on the other hand, that there is great admiration for American (1) economic opportunity, innovation, creativity and regulation (e.g., labor unions, legislation); (2) educational opportunities that are available to all on some level or other (e.g., technical training, career training, universities); (3) lifestyle that puts cars and homes within reach to so many, many of our ordinary citizens (though not all, by any means.
There are definitely regions in the world where the United States is not well-loved, usually because we give too much freedom to our people. Totalitarian regions do not like that. However, many countries love us because we send tourists there, or import their goods, or export goods to them.
What can be done to improve our perception among other nations and change some of the stereotypes others hold about Americans and American culture?
As I often remind my middle school students, 'Don't worry about what everybody else thinks, just be the best 'you' that you can be,' the United States would be well-served in hearing similar advice. Sure, it sounds cheesy, but from a practical standpoint, the United States does not really need to worry about what everybody else thinks.
Instead of trying to be the world's police, our country should continue to uphold our reputation as an incredibly humanitarian, caring nation. We have provided millions of dollars in aid to countries in need during times of deprivation, natural disaster, and medical need, and not just from the government, but from individual donations. American donations raised almost three hundred million dollars in aid to the Haiti earthquake in 2010 in just the first week and donated almost a quarter of a billion dollars for the India tsunami in 2004. We have proven ourselves as one of the most giving nations in the world, and our reputation can only improve as our humanitarian endeavors strive to benefit those less fortunate.
I don't think this is true at all. The United States is an economic model for many countries, as well as the nation with the biggest consumer markets and influence over the world economy. What many in other countries don't like is the policies of our government overseas, and the military interventions we often employ, and sometimes it is only the government of those countries that dislike us, as opposed to the population.
In traveling around the world I have never been in a country where I did not feel safe (though admittedly, I have not been to every country, not even close), and where the population there did not like Americans. In general, I found most people did not want to discuss politics, and were much more interested in me as a person as opposed to my nationality.
Hate is a strong word, and while some foreign leaders (Fidel Castro in Cuba, Mahmoud Ahmedinijad in Iran) have sought to protect themselves politically by inflaming dislike and fear of the US, I have traveled to both Cuba and Iran, and was welcomed in both countries by the populations there.
I do not think that the world hates us, though this is a very vague way of asking the question.
I think that there are many people who do hate us just because the "top dog" is always going to be hated simply because it is on top. The US is much more visible than any other country and therefore will draw more hate. Any country that came to have as much clout around the world would draw the same mixture of envy, affection, and hate as we do. We can already see this with China as that country tries to project "soft power" around the world. More and more people in countries that are impacted are coming to feel ambivalent about China. This is simply something that comes with the territory of being a power.
Bullgatortail brings up an important distinction. There is a difference between individual citizens of the United States, or of any country for that matter, and the government of the USA or another country.
In my contacts with individuals from other countries, whether I'm traveling abroad or hosting foreigners in my home or place of employment, reactions toward me as an individual have been friendly, interested in learning about me and my way of life, and appreciative of the opportunity to engage in contact with another part of the world. When the discussion moves from discovering the commonalities shared by all people everywhere to political questions and trying to understand or justify governmental actions and policies, that is when the image of the United States starts to deteriorate.
Given that generalizations are dangerous and very seldom 100% accurate, I don't think the world as a whole hates the United States as a whole. I do think that the image of the United States government acting as a bully in some international situations is justified and has not endeared us to some groups. I also know that some tourists continue to live out the stereotype of the "ugly American" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ugly_American_(pejorative)who puts down all cultures and circumstances that are not what they are accustomed to in the United States - another situation that is not likely to endear the USA to persons being insulted by American visitors.
I did a great deal of international travelling between 1998-2006, and I was treated with respect from most of the people I met. Foreigners seemed to be enthralled with Americans, and nearly everyone had a story to tell about how wonderful their visits to the USA were or how their greatest dream was to visit America. They absolutely loved Bill Clinton. However, I noticed a big change during the Bush Administration years, and the international community seems to have taken offense to our nation's bullying tactics and the U.S.'s decision to become the world's policeman. I had more than one person attack me verbally about why any American would vote for George Bush, forcing me to explain that I never voted for George (or, for that matter, brother Jeb--then the governor of Florida). No one likes a bully, and that is the way many nations view the United States.
Some governments, groups and individuals do hate the United States, for as many reasons as there are stars in the sky. That being said, a lot of these same governments, groups, and individuals hate many other nations for the same reasons.
Yes, some governments, groups and individuals hate the United States for its freedom; it's more a case of jealousy and envy, and in the end its these countries problem, not the United States fault that they value the rights and freedom of the individual.
The violence exported by America, primarily by Hollywood, the music and video industry through throwaway violent movies, tunes, and social media videos is another reason hate arises in people, especially in more conservative nations.
However, people often overlook, ignore, or misunderstand the effect America's exporting of pornography has on the rest of the world. Sure, other people in other countries do this, but America is at the top of the heap when it comes to this product. This does not speak well of the United States and it certainly gives rise to hate against the country, coupled with the other above-mentioned reasons stated by the asker of this question.
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