Thursday, February 09, 2006

We're different

... and that's a good thing. "We" meaning Americans. The recent ginned-up Islamic Outrage du jour has got some folk worried and saying thing about apocalypses and end of civilization and so on. The situation is serious, but not dire. This is more like a bad case of food poisoning, not Ebola. It's worse in Europe for a number of reasons, and I think the fundamental differences between (many) Europeans and (many) Americans are being obscured by words that don't have the same meaning to everyone. We think they have been translated, but the term "class differences" has a completely different reality in Europe than in America. Europeans wouldn't even SEE our "class differences". Class, status, elitism. Real. They bite. Case in point. Your humble Snarkatron has the right to put some letters in front of her name, signifying an advanced degree. This is something in America which is not (in the profession I gained them in) a big deal. The number of people who know what that advanced degree is is rather small, because I don't haul it out to be admired in every conversation. (It freaks the mundanes.) In Europe, you put it on your bleeping Christmas cards, casual notes to the mailman, EVERYWHERE. It is an official Big Deal. And that created some friction, when a few not-so-quick-on-the-uptake Europeans showed up where I used to work thinking that their degrees would produce instant respect. Americans really, really, REALLY dislike being told what to think. Especially by the gummint, so don't think a few don't-offend-the-Muslims laws will make a damn bit of difference. On the other hand, we take people as individuals -- and if they are worthy of respect, we respect 'em. Even if they are garbage collectors. Ask a European how many of their friends work with their hands.

The other difference is talking about rights and freedom of speech and so on, and living them. Yeah, I know the US newspapers haven't been pulling their weight with the Comics of Doom, but we of the blogosphere have never had a very high opinion of the MSM -- and if you're reading this blog, you have doubtless come across a jillion others that HAVE printed the twelve (authentic! do not accept cheesy fakes!) cartoons. You see? The word gets out.

I have faith in the sheer cussedness of Americans. It will win through in the end.


Blogger John of Argghhh! said...


What's up, Doc?

1:15 PM, February 13, 2006  
Blogger Justthisguy said...

I'm not as eloquent as some of you other people, and I can't draw for dog poo, but I did buy a Plumrose Danish canned ham and a coupla big chunks of Havarti this evening.

I puts my money into where my mouth is.

6:59 PM, February 18, 2006  

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