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Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by IJ Reilly, Aug 27, 2007.
This is surprising. I would have bet a dozen donuts it was the other way around.
I'm amazed that France comes off so well. But it's not surprising that Britain, having been involved in Iraq, comes off so poorly. I think the power of government propaganda is partly at work there.
The bit about social integration and discrimination is also interesting.
I'm amazed as well, considering the riots they had there just a couple years back.
I'd guess that the attempted bombings in London and Glasgow by Muslim extremists just a month before this survey was taken might also have had something to do with it. Images of blazing cars at the airport will do that.
I'm mildly encouraged by the fact that Brits are happier to be friends with Muslims and apparently have a greater fear of the amorphous shadowy 'others' that those they know. It suggests greater integration and community than those who couldn't accept friendship or intermarriage in their immediate families.
As for the majority who think there will be a terrorist attack, I don't think that's particularly negative. I'm pretty sure there will be another attempt in London or elsewhere in the UK during the next 12 months. But I'm not particularly going to worry about it or change my lifestyle... but I'd think I was burying my head in the sand if I didn't honestly think that there were people plotting out there given events in the last few years.
When that attack comes, I'd be surprised if Muslim extremists weren't involved so I'd guess in this survey, I might be one of those who think Muslims are a threat to national security depending on how that question is worded. I don't think the average mosque-going, hijab-wearing Muslim is a threat to me or anyone else. It's the fanatics that worry me - and would do whichever religion/minority group were threatening violence. I have no interest in dying or being injured for anyone's extreme views.
Right, or so we've been told.
I'm seriously concerned by this. Is anti-muslim thinking to become the anti-semitism of the 21st century? This poll reminds me very much of one done in the US around 1940 asking Americans if Jews were a threat. 30% of Americans said yes.
It's not a matter of by whom, but as I'm sure you will recall, we've seen plenty of arguments here implicating Americans as being less tolerant and more likely to be bigoted than Europeans and Britons. I don't know why anyone should be surprised to find that it's not necessarily so.
This quote in particular...
Applespider hits the nail on the head. This survey was conducted just after the failed bomb attacks on London and Glasgow, when the newspapers and TV were full of stories wondering whether the NHS was now a hotbed of Islamic fundamentalism. Conduct it again in six months time and we'll see how the results have changed.
How, instead of if? Why are these kinds of attitudes regarded as part of the national character when we're talking about Americans, but merely transient where other nationalities are involved?
Now the Irish have finished blowing us up it's someone else's turn. This doesn't really surprise anyone and we're a fairly realistic/negative bunch, of course a large number expect an attack, given recent history you could hardly say we were unreasonable to expect the "terrorists" to be doing it all in the name of Allah too.
As far as I'm concerned, the same cycle of attitudes occurs in every society, the USA included. You only have to hang around here for a while and you see just how the stereotype of Americans is actually rubbish. You're as diverse a bunch as we are, only with bigger cars
Take for example the anti-Arab feeling in the US after 9/11 or the invasion of Iraq, a similar but more extreme parallel to our own issues of this year. Not so loud now is it? People sometimes just need a bit of time to get the extreme thoughts out of their heads and return to their typical balanced positions.
I think what you say is true. But by contrast, there's been a real pile-on quality to threads discussing the attitudes of Americans, to the extent that even some Americans seem anxious to participate. Apparently many abroad look at our inept president and take it to mean that we're all living an episode of The Simpsons over here.
I gather from the pin-drop reception of this thread that it conflicts with the self-image of superiority to Americans that many in Europe and Britain cultivate. Certainly, nobody has used this study to imply that Europeans or Britons are somehow fundamentally bigoted. OTOH, if we'd been presented with a poll indicating that only a bit more than half of Americans thought it was possible to be both Muslim and an American, we can be quite sure that this is exactly what we'd be hearing about Americans.
I think the French attitude as expressed in the article makes sense in that France has had a significant minority Muslim population much longer than the other countries being discussed. They have become more integrated into French society - more "native" French people have had personal interaction with their Muslim fellow citizens, and base their attitude on actual experience rather than hearsay, media hype or just plain ignorance.
And I have to agree with IJ about the "pile-on" phenomenon in threads discussing American attitudes.
That's probably it. There is a broad mistrust and dislike of the American government, which isn't true for the American people. However, people do confuse the two at times, me included.
Bookmark this one for future reference. That ought to shut us up
What may be missing from this perception is the broad dislike and distrust of the American government by Americans.
The cultural issues are complicated. I'm not sure we want to get into them here, but I do think the general perception of Americans on the part of Britons is distorted, in part from watching too much American TV.
Let's expand on that - I propose
"The general perception of Americans on the part of <insert country> is distorted, in part from watching too much American TV."
Hollywood + the Bush Administration = a disproportionate amount of America's global image.
why would this be a surprise? Muslim groups in the UK have been complaining about anti-muslim attitudes in the UK for years.
Well why not? But the British in particular get a pretty steady diet of our entertainment product, and it really does seem to color what they think of us. I've always wondered why The Simpsons is such a big hit in Britain. They couldn't be getting fully half the references. I suspect that while we view it as a satire, they see it as something closer to a documentary.
Precisely. The same goes for Family Guy and South park: They all portray a highly exaggerated stereotype of America for comedic effect. It can be funny, but the notion that many people may accept what they see as typical behavior in the US scares me.
Like any good satire, these shows contain enough truth to sting, but they are not a good basis for cultural education...
Almost all entertainment is exaggerated. Even so-called reality TV shows don't mimic real life. If real life were so entertaining, no one would be watch TV. I enjoy my life, but it is nothing like I've ever seen on TV. Although some characters on "The Office" (US version, I've never seen the UK version) come close to some people I've met...
I'm sure most foreign viewers of these shows would protest that they know that they're satirical and not accurate representations of America -- but by the same token, I think they do serve to confirm a preexisting sense of cultural superiority.
While it's patently obvious that some Americans are as cultured as anyone, there is seemingly a huge swathe of the country away from the coasts which (a) votes for loony neo-cons, (b) thumps bibles, (c) regards the rest of the world as expendable/exploitable/pollutable/invadeable, and (d) tends to provide the templates for the Simpsons/South Park/Family Guy stereotypes. I expect most of you have a "preexisting sense of cultural superiority" over the denizens of Jesusland, too.