They Don't Hate Us for Our Freedoms, They Hate Us for Our Hick Tourists

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The State Department and a nonprofit called Business for Diplomatic Action have written up a "World Citizens Guide" for Americans who plan to leave the homeland. The Telegraph reports:

The reputation of the "Ugly American" abroad is not… just some cruel stereotype, but—according to the American government itself—worryingly accurate. Now, the State Department in Washington has joined forces with American industry to plan an image make-over by issuing guides for Americans travelling overseas on how to behave.

Among the guide's helpful tips: "Ask people you're visiting about themselves," "Listen at least as much as you talk," "Most people in the world have little or no interest in the World Series or the Super Bowl," and "What we call 'soccer' is football everywhere else."

Are American tourists impolite relative to other tourists? That hasn't been my experience at all—quite the opposite. And yet, as Business for Diplomatic Action's Web site frets, "Americans are often perceived by others as arrogant, loud and unwilling to listen, and a threat to national cultures." A national program to clarify the multiple meanings of football should clear that right up.

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  1. Waiters the world over love Americans.

    We eat, tip and get out.

    No matter how many times you tell some people from outside the USA how tipping works here, they will not tip appropriately.

  2. Soccer is a dumb name for the sport of football, but you will hear it used by the Aussies and less so by the Kiwis and South Africans. We aren’t the only ones.

  3. “Americans are often perceived by other as arrogant, loud and unwilling to listen, and a threat to national cultures.”

    So, maybe wearing a ‘Kerry/Edwards 04’ button on your shirt would help with that?

  4. “Americans are often perceived by other as arrogant, loud and unwilling to listen, and a threat to national cultures.”

    So, maybe wearing a ‘Kerry/Edwards 04’ button on your shirt would help with that?

  5. I don’t know if this will help our image abroad, but it will help to keep me from wanting to kill 20-30 people per day if Americans followed that advice here in the US.

  6. Are American tourists impolite relative to other tourists?

    I have heard that some people think that Australians are worse.

  7. Are American tourists impolite relative to other tourists?

    In my travel experience, I’d say we’re in a dead heat with the Japanese for most obnoxious. But that’s just my impression.

    I would also say that American tourists and Mexican tourists are about equally atrocious to each other when visiting the other country (I live near the border, so I’ve seen plenty of both.)

  8. Angolian tourist — whoo, don’t get me started.

  9. I have traveled a lot and I don’t find Americans to be bad tourists in general. Yeah there are jerk American tourists, but no more so than jerk French or German or anyone else. Generally, I have found drunken British youth to be more of a problem than anyone else, but even they aren’t all bad. I think a lot of it is a combination of some Europeans just being assholes and wanting to find any excuse not to like Americans and some Americans just being assholes and wanted to find any excuse to point to what louts the rest of the country is.

  10. I was walking around Campeche, Mexico one morning when a local fellow started a conversation with me from across the street. When he learned I was from Denver, all he wanted to talk about was John Elway!!

  11. Soccer. Also known as fagball.

  12. In all seriousness, we Americans are pretty bad, but it depends on where you live. When I lived in Prague the english were the worse by a long shot. Packs of 8-20 male enlgish, roaming the streets on a piss up, out of their mind and destructive, you could hear them from about 6 blocks away on a weekend speaking some unintelligible language involving the words: ‘cvnt’, ‘bangin’, and ‘fags’

  13. Of course most of my traveling has been in Europe and the Middle East. Maybe the American jerks don’t go to those places. I was in Cozumel once when a horde of locusts, I mean tourists, came in with the cruise ships. Most of them were pretty noxious and they were all American. It was enough to make me join La Raza.

    The other obnoxous tourists I have met were Canadians. They always wanted to engage me in a discussion about how horrible the U.S. is and how great Canada is. The can think what they want, but I can never get through to them that I just didn’t care and that most Americans are doing well to find Canada on a map and don’t care enough to actively plot Canada’s cultural destruction.

  14. ‘Soccer. Also known as fagball.’

    Have you ever seen american helmetball? Covered in armor and playing in quick, pussy-like 15 second spurts like asthmatic drama queens…

  15. “The other obnoxous tourists I have met were Canadians. They always wanted to engage me in a discussion about how horrible the U.S. is and how great Canada is.”

    Oh man do I know what you’re talking about. I have cousins from Canada and when they’re here I swear to god they won’t shut the fuck up about how clean their public transportation is.

  16. Canada has a culture? Could’ve fooled me.

  17. Spur,

    I wouldn’t call it fagball, but any sport that inspires its spectators to riot and trample one another and ends in a nil nil tie more often than not, isn’t for me.

  18. My brother and I may be the only people in a ten-light year radius who like both American football and soccer. I prefer the former, but the latter is pretty good, too.

  19. “The other obnoxous tourists I have met were Canadians. They always wanted to engage me in a discussion about how horrible the U.S. is and how great Canada is. The can think what they want, but I can never get through to them that I just didn’t care and that most Americans are doing well to find Canada on a map and don’t care enough to actively plot Canada’s cultural destruction.”

    Agreed.

    Canadians seem to have a massive superiority complex.

  20. i have found that most people will perceive exactly the type of behavior that their previously conceived notions would suggest they would – whether that behavior was actually evidenced or not.

    if you travel to europe expecting them to be rude, you will return home with tales of how rudely you were treated. if a european comes to the states expecting a bunch of hicks, he will no doubt perceive many instances of american cultural dumbassery.

  21. “Canadians seem to have a massive superiority complex.”

    It’s not a superiority complex. It’s what I have previously described on this post as the Jan Complex. Canada is the equivalent of a Jan and the USA would be Marsha. From the Brady Bunch obviously.

    Marsha Marhsa Marsha!

    When I brought this up last time somebody else came up with a great name for Canada and Canadians. Janada and Janadians.

    Hilarious!

  22. I agree downstater. People always say the French are rude, but I have been there several times and met nothing but nice people there. Maybe I am just lucky or maybe the people who are convinced they are so rude went looking for an excuse to confirm what they already thought.

  23. the japanese are only bad tourists because they always seem to travel in ENORMOUS groups that crowd out anyone else around.

  24. I never understood why you would go out of your way to slam on someone’s country the way Canadians do to Americans. I can’t imagine sitting accross from a German on a train and starting the conversation with “so, you should feel really guilty about that whole Nazi thing and you guys are sure regimented and boring.” Canadians in contrast think nothing of doing just that to unsuspecting Americans.

  25. Soccer is a dumb name for the sport of football, but you will hear it used by the Aussies and less so by the Kiwis and South Africans. We aren’t the only ones.

    We prefer to call it “poofball”, particularly when our accents have reverterd to their wonderfully penetrating ways.

  26. If you’re away from the front lines (Cozumel’s docks, the Champs-Elysees, etc.) and don’t act like you own the place, people are pretty friendly.

    I’d recommend that tourists a)learn 9 or 10 polite phrases in the local language, b) don’t discuss politics, c) don’t try to rush people.

    It’s not rocket science.

  27. I agree downstater. People always say the French are rude, but I have been there several times and met nothing but nice people there.

    Me too … but they were sorta rude, standoffish, until they found out that I was an American, and not English.

    A French guy claimed that Americans think the French are rude and snotty because most Americans go to Paris, and Parisiens(sp?) are rude and snotty to non-Parisiens, including other Frenchies.

  28. I’ve met good and bad from most places. I don’t think some of the comparisons above are apples to apples. If outside factors make it likely tourists will be large groups of sports fans as opposed to a family unit then you would expect differences regardless of the country of origin.

    I would say that US culture is more informal than most others, especially between new acquaintances or strangers. This is not good or bad, but while it can come across as friendly, it can also come across as brash or even arrogant where more formality is expected.

    Unfortunately I have to say though that I feel a tendency for (not all) H&Rers to be very quick to ridicule any country/nationality not America/n. Its almost a feeling that this is a group where you could just say a country’s name out loud and that would be the whole joke, punchline and all, and group tittering would ensue.

    Flame away 😉

  29. In the Med, my experience has been that Brits are the worst… and continental Europeans anywhere there’s a beach – the fat middle-aged Mitteleuropean in a speedo is the curse of modern civilisation. Ugh.

  30. Uruguay!

    bwhaahaahaahaahahaaa!

  31. Germans are the worst tourists because when in they are in Bali they like to fuck very loudly and obnoxiously in their bungalow facing the hotel couryard at 2 in the afternoon while everyone else in the hotel is trying to relax in the courtyard by drinking beer and not picturing two pasty overweight Germans having sex.

  32. Sure Cartman, as long as the country is Canada

    Just Kidding!

  33. Soccer, of course, is an English word developed in England by Englishmen for Englishmen.

    The two predominant types of football in late 19th century England were called Rugby Football and Association Football. Each were generally referred to long form or by their shortened form “rugger” or “soccer”.

    The proximity culturally between late 19th century England and late 19th century America was quite close. The world’s oldest football club outside of England was in Boston.

    Anyhow, the idosyncracies occurred when different forms of football became dominant in different countries. In England the association brand of football became dominant and in the U.S., led by Harvard, the rugby form of football became dominant. The end result is that in both countries the dominant form of the sport became to be known by the simple term “football” and the less dominant form known by its other name “rugger” or “rugby” there, “soccer” here.

    Flash forward to the modern day and most countries where there is a form of football more dominant than the association kind (e.g. Aussie Rules, Irish Football, American Football) known simply as “football”, in those countries you will see the word soccer used with some regularity.

    In short, if Europeans hated the word “soccer” so much, they shouldn’t have invented it. If you’re going to sneer and look down upon people for using the word “soccer,” I think it takes some nerve to use the adjective “ugly” to refer to them.

    Do they give Italians grief for calling it “Calcio?”

  34. Chinese and Brazillians have been the worst in my experience.

  35. Again, right on. Looks like a big part of that was copied and pasted, though, as that looks awfully familiar. At any rate, it’s the best way to explain it to the Euros and Americans alike without getting too bogged down.

    Re: liking football AND soccer, I used to as a kid, but grew out of and learned to hate football. The Browns being stolen in my high school years may have had something to do with it. It also may have been the idiot football/basketball coaches in high school who insisted that I should give up soccer so I could play tight end (and people call soccer “fagball”…). My refusal probably came from wanting to spite them as much as it did from the fact that I had played soccer all my life to that point.

    It was particularly funny as I was probably stronger than half and fitter than nearly all of the football team, which was a perennial state finalist. First they wanted me as a kicker, then as a tight end. Hilarity.

    Then, in college, I really began to despise the game of football itself and think of it in a different way, kind of like as an outsider. It just began to look really stupid and overhyped. All that body armor and tight pants. Yeesh.

  36. Semi-serious question: is football like an authoritarian indulgence of libertarians? Because there’s virtually nothing about the nature of football that’s got anything whatever to do with liberty or freedom. Just about everything is dictated from On High (battery of coaches – the Elite?) and is executed in a prescribed, machine-like manner.

  37. Parisians are the worst I think, and they aren’t even tourists. They even look down on other French that don’t live in Paris.

    I was riding in a subway one time, and an old Parisian lady started talking to my friend. When she found out my friend was a Spanish teacher back in the States, she went, “feh, the Spanish,” with enough vehemence to curdle milk. This was just two weeks after the train bombings in Spain.

    Anecdotal evidence to be sure, but it was well mirrored by the rest of the population. But the food was good, I admit.

  38. What I’m wondering is this: are some American tourists better than others? How do New Yorkers stack up against folks from Flyover Country?

  39. “Canadians seem to have a massive superiority complex.”

    Because Americans make it so easy?

  40. Are American tourists impolite relative to other tourists?

    I don’t know if we’re more or less rude than tourists from other countries, but anyone who judges the culture of a country by people on vacation is using a strange sample. …I mean, doesn’t that skew to George Castanza’s parents?

    And yet, as Business for Diplomatic Action’s Web site frets, “Americans are often perceived by others as arrogant, loud and unwilling to listen, and a threat to national cultures.” A national program to clarify the multiple meanings of football should clear that right up.]

    When traveling Europe, Canadians used to sew maple leaves onto their backpacks to differentiate themselves from American kids. …Does picking fights with them in the hostel count as “arrogant, loud and unwilling to listen”? …’cause I used to… I mean…I had a friend that used to do that.

  41. Just lay back on the couch, Timon19, and recount for me your earliest encounter with football. Did your parents pressure you to play? Can I get you a cup of decaf?

  42. That was a little much, wasn’t it?

  43. Next time a Canadian hassles you about being American, just listen and nod politely. When they finish mention how nice Canadians are and what a great reputation they have for cutting done vast numbers of trees and digging enormous, toxic holes all over the world.

  44. The most obnoxious tourists? Papua New Guineans hands-down, IMO.

    They don’t know how to tip. They are pushy and rude in lines. Also, they kill you and take your head.

  45. The US State Department earnestly advises:
    When abroad or with a broad abroad, use the schtinke finger judiciously and expeditiously.

    We’re all in this together.
    We’re rootin’ for you.

  46. Flame away 😉

    Shut up, fatass!

  47. Here in Japan, western tourists (Americans included) are adored. It is Chinese tourists that are loathed.

    Having lived in both Japan and Europe, I have never had a problem with anti-Americanism, and find that ignorance cuts across all nationalities.

  48. Chad,

    Koreans are pretty bad tourists too. They are very pushy and agressive, the total opposite of the Japanese. I went to Korea once and had a stop over in Tokyo on the way there. Everything and everyone in Japan was very ordered and polite. Everyone waited their turn in line and seemed to go out of their way to be respectful to everyone else. Korea was the polar opposite. Soul was like New York on steroids. People would think nothing of pushing you aside and no one ques up for anything. It is the law of the jungle. I actually grew to really like the Koreans but I have to believe their demenor must drive the Japanese insane.

  49. “Most people in the world have little or no interest in the World Series or the Super Bowl”

    This is only because foreigners are backwards, and therefore don’t know anything about them. So when Americans travel, instead of listening to the locals drone on about their stupid tourist attractions or the disgusting local cuisine or whatever it’s important to lecture them about the Super Bowl.

  50. Ken Schultz-

    Used to? Canadians so far as I know still haven’t abandoned their quixotic quest to avoid being mistaken for an American. The patches remain on their backpacks.

    This is an impolitic comment, and I expect to be lambasted with charges of anti-Semitism, but to me the least pleasant travelers are Israelis. I live in Asia, and on both my visits to Thailand, Israelis were snotty to the other travelers, arrogant, extremely rude to the Thai people, and in general, very hard work.

    I’m not the only one, lo, who believes this- so there you have it.

  51. Listening to my daughter who has spent the last school year in Spain the ugly American has to be the American college student. Uninterested in the culture, language or history of their host country their lives revolve around alcohol and boorish behavior.

  52. I’ve always enjoyed meeting yanks in Oz, they certainly give the best blow jobs! Perhaps it is a cultural thing, I have found that the more religiously oppressed a people are, the more they put out…or is it that your government sucks, bigtime?

  53. I think a bit of humility while touring another country goes a long way to ingratiating yourself with the locals. I don’t speak french or german or italian, but I try and fail regularly to speak a little and never have had someone get mad, they are always seemingly more willing to help.

    The easiest thing to do is just be pleasant and a bit apologetic. And then after 4 beers, it doesn’t matter what language you speak, they’ll all be glad to be your friends.

  54. So what was his name greginoz?

  55. Coming from a town where tourism is a big deal, I think I know what the problem is:

    ALL tourists are seen negatively by the locals. Every now and again, one hears of banners being put up on highway bridges on I-95 South at the end of Labor Day weekend telling the departing tourists “Good Riddance”, or worse.

    That’s why I discount the stereotype of the French being rude. They just don’t like tourists any better than we do.

  56. (oops, forgot to mention I’m in Maine. To better understad the relevange of I-95 south. it’s darn near the only major road out of the state, unless you’re heading to Canada or somewhere in the central or northern parts of New Hampshire.)

  57. Very true about locals Shawn. But the interesting thing is that many of them move there knowing it is a tourist town and make their living from the tourist. Its almost as if they choose to be annoyed just so they can have someone to look down upon. Locals in the Colorado ski towns are the worst. The fact that they couldn’t have a job there and be ski bums without the tourists’ money never seems to matter.

  58. Speaking of tourist towns…I used to live in a well-known East Coast resort town, and I can tell you firsthand: many of the locals were downright hostile toward the tourists (most of whom came from neighboring states). If they changed the town’s motto to “Welcome…fuck you, give us your money,” they couldn’t be more open about it.

  59. I have a German friend who had this to say.

    Parisians think they are better than everyone else.

    Vienese think they are better then everyone else.

    American’s don’t think they are better than everyone else – they know.

    Also, all other countries resent our international dialing code – 001

    John

  60. Soul was like New York on steroids. People would think nothing of pushing you aside and no one ques up for anything. It is the law of the jungle.

    Comment by: John

    Ey buddy, I’m sure you have TONS of experience with the rudeness of NY’rs.

    I’d like to hear one anecdote of someone who came to NYC and was treated poorly. It’s a meme. We’re far too busy minding our own goddamn business to care about tourists. The funnier line is how ALL the tourists go, ‘and everyone has been so NICE! not what i expected!’ Right. normally we rape the wives and eat the children, but for you, we’ve made an exeption. idiot.

    JG

  61. Timon19 – What’s that about the Browns being stolen? They’re drafting 12th in two weeks. Played sixteen games last year. Still have their name, their colors, their trophies, etc.

  62. ALL tourists are seen negatively by the locals. Every now and again, one hears of banners being put up on highway bridges on I-95 South at the end of Labor Day weekend telling the departing tourists “Good Riddance”, or worse.

    Bumper stickers seen in Florida:

    “Welcome to Florida – Now GO HOME.”

    and

    “Why do they call it Tourist SEASON if we’re not allowed to shoot them?”

  63. Florida exists for Yankees to send their aging parents. No wonder they object to tourists. 😉

  64. Whereas,

    They were still stolen, and last I checked don’t even remotely resemble a football team. The damage has been longer lasting than a simple move and re-instatement.

    I assume you’re a dirty Baltimorian?

    I have to say, the whole Mayflower-vans-in-the-middle-of-the-night thing was extremely heinous.

  65. Soccer, football? Mehhh ? the only sport I can get excited about watching is boxing and its variants.

    I was in Mexico (the Yucatan) shortly after the US invasion of Iraq. I was a bit worried how the other tourists would treat us (I knew the locals would treat us like gold hopeful we?d buy their junk). To make it more uncomfortable it was going to be over the 4th of July and I was afraid some American tourists might make matters worse by celebrating a bit too rowdily. No Americans celebrated and all I saw were very subdued.

    The Canadians, however, went nuts. Apparently there is such a holiday as Canada Day, who knew. Sweatshirts, face painting, flags on bobbly head gear; asinine ridiculous stuff.

  66. If “soccer” (from “Association football”) is a weird name for that game, “calcio” (what the field is marked with, chalk — calcium carbonate) is weirder still.

    Soccer does have that admirable quality of being easy to learn yet difficult to master. However, rugby (Union, not so much League) is more fun, both to play & intellectually. American & Canadian football don’t have as much participant draw, but are plenty of fun to watch if you have the patience. Australian Rules and, to a lesser extent, Gaelic football hardly even seem like team sports, rather than a relay of individual competitions.

    Want to know a form of football popular among young participants in North America, but absolutely unknown as a spectator sport? Speedball. People who’ve never played it usually are skeptical that it exists, let alone that it has a variant called speed-a-way.

    I’ve also had the pleasure to view a hybrid form of football played in the 2-year Amaretto di Saronno Renaissance Football tournament 2 decades back. And then there are the local forms of football that are fit to a particular playing ground, often with some feature like a fence or alley. Arena Football was a good idea, but hedged & force-fit too much to resemble 11s instead of a cage match like it should’ve been.

  67. What exactly do you mean by “intellectually”? I do enjoy watching Union when it’s on and pretty much understand what’s going on and most of the strategy.

    I feel soccer probably is the most flexible in terms of flow and strategy, while remaining simple. I find it the best of any of them to watch, some absolute stinkers notwithstanding. Union can get bogged down more often than soccer, IMO.

    I still wonder why (American) football is still the preferred code among people so much in love with liberty. It’s about the least liberty-friendly of any sport ever created. Strange paradox…

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