Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Will Miss #265 - (generally) liking Americans

One thing I learned pretty quickly during my first job in Japan, among which I had a plethora of coworkers from other English speaking countries, was that many people dislike Americans. They haven't been to America, nor are they particularly well-educated about it, but they don't like us. They think we are our politics, our politicians, our business practices, our fast food, our laws, and our wars, and they think consuming popular entertainment or selective bits of news is authentically educating them about America. They don't seem to realize that we are people, just like everyone else, and it's not fair to hold us as individuals responsible or to blame for the larger aspects of our society which are just as out of our control as similar aspects are out of theirs in their home countries. These are the sort of people who would react to assertions like "I hate Indians/Mexicans/Japanese" with the (quite justified) response, "bigot", but fail to see the hypocrisy in their knee-jerk dislike of Americans. The most common America-haters are Canadians, but they are kept company by Australians, the British, and New Zealanders.

Japanese people, on the other hand, generally like Americans as a first response and Japan is one of the few countries that you can visit without fear of anti-Americanism quickly smacking you in the face (provided you aren't around too many other foreigners), and I'm going to miss that.