How Europeans view America

America as seen through the eyes of a 15yo French Boy

I’m on Twitter a few days ago when I decide to search for the hashtag #patriotism.  Yes, I was shamelessly looking for ways to plug my posts here on BinaryBiker.com on patriotism.   My tactic, look over posts and, when it seems like it might be a fit for one of my blogs, I reply to the poster with a link to my blog.

This kid (@dakuten  on Twitter) said something about patriotism and he immediately responded with an crude insult.  Rather than engage in a flame war, I asked him who he was and what he stood for.  This was his response:

@ronsparks I am a 15 yo French, a young socialist, a bisexual, and I stand for me.

So, after a few more exchanges he told me what he thinks of America.  This was his response:

@ronsparks You work for a company which spoils the poor countries, you are protestant and you don’t get laid until marriage, you pray as much as you can, you are capitalists, you just care about yourselves, you love your country, you hate Islam, you don’t know anything about the world, you stay ignorant, you are fat, you eat McDonalds, KFC each day, you don’t play football, you like to be alone in the world, you are rich idiots, youn only speak on language, you live in a house which is the same your neighbour’s got, you don’t like metric units, yout don’t see 24H in a day, your economy is stuck, you contry is being destroyed by its cupidity, you belive in some god, you think animals, plants, were created, you hate different people, you like weapons, you organise a high school killing each year, well, there’s so much to say I can’t even remember everything 😀

Stereotype: French People Stink

Stereotype: French People Stink

Wow – quite a mouthful.  This kid’s view of America is based entirely on the worst stereotypes in the country.  I find it sad that this kid, not even yet a man, sees only the worst in a country – in America.  I did tell him that stereotypes are dangerous and should be avoided.  I made reference to how most other countries spread rumors about French personal hygiene.

This blog post is in response to this 15-year-old young man – in the same age group as my children.

You said:  You work for a company which spoils the poor countries

I don’t know what this means.  I assume you mean that American corporations ruthlessly exploit poor countries for personal gain.  Truth be told, my young friend, America has done more for globalization than any other nation in the world.  It is true that America holds a disproportionate amount of wealth than most other countries.  But then again, so does France.

You said:  you are protestant / you pray as much as you can

It is true that most American profess a belief in the God of the Christian Bible.  78.4% of Americans are Christian.  In France that number is 54%.  The average American has a belief in a Christian God, as does the average Frenchman.  So, my friend, you are the pot calling the kettle black here.

You said:  you don’t get laid until marriage

You REALLY don’t know American teenagers, do you?    No one, and I mean NO ONE, waits until marriage for their first sexual encounter.  By the time they finish high school, over 60% of American teenagers have had sex.

You said:  you are capitalists

Yes; yes we are.  To a young socialist this may seem an unforgivable crime but it isn’t.  Capitalism is not evil.  It provides valuable goods and services, fosters innovation, rewards hard-working people and imitative, helps raise the standard of living for all, and provides opportunities to realize dreams and goals.  But, just like any economic philosophy, it has it’s downsides as well.  Overall – it has served America well, though.

You said: you just care about yourselves

Now this is just not true.  Just off the top of my head – Haiti and the earthquakes.  Japan and the tsunami.  America gives BILLIONS of dollars every year to foreign aid.  Every major world disaster, it is America who leads the charge in stepping in and helping recovery efforts.  America is the MOST charitable nation in the world; we have the means, the resources, and the inclination.  We help on a global scale.

You said: you love your country

Yes, we do.  The ideals that America was founded on were revolutionary (literally) and provided the standard that the rest of the world is still trying to emulate.  Sure, we have our issues, just as France does – but the goals, ideals, and philosophy of America is not tarnished and still means something not just to America, but to the world.

You said:  you hate Islam

No, we don’t.  There is a strong minority in the USA who does indeed fear Islam, but they are not the majority. Just as in France there are factions that you are embarrassed by – most Americans are embarrassed by the fundamentalist Christians who spew hatred at not only Islam but any other religion.

You said:  you don’t know anything about the world

This has some truth.  The Average American doesn’t know much about European politics, the nations, or the issues.  Not because it’s not important, but because our own politics play so loudly that there is little room for others.  I don’t like it – but it is the truth.

You said:  you are fat, you eat McDonalds, KFC each day

America does indeed have an obesity crisis, but then again, so does France.  In fact, over 38% of French men are overweight.  Obesity is a global epidemic for rich countries like America and France.

You said: you don’t play football

I assume you mean what we call soccer here in the states.  This is not true.  We do play soccer.  In fact, my sons have been playing their entire lives on their school teams.  As spectator sports goes, it is growing in popularity, but American football, NBA basketball, MLB baseball, and NHL hockey are still the top-ranked sports in America.

You said:  you like to be alone in the world

Please see above where you claimed we don’t help anyone in the world.  Same answer applies.

You said: you are rich idiots

Back at you.  France is one of the richest nations in the world.

You said:  youn only speak on language

It might surprise you to know that there is no official language in the United States.  Sadly, though, most Americans do only speak English.  I myself am semi-fluent in German.  I sued to be very fluent, but years of disuse have made it so I will have to relearn much of what I knew.

You said: you live in a house which is the same your neighbour’s got

Ah – the suburb syndrome.  Yes, in the suburbs many houses look the same.  Still, America is more than suburbs.

You said: you don’t like metric units

True.  Those lousy British infected us with their measures.

You said: yout don’t see 24H in a day

What?  Not sure what this means.

You said: your economy is stuck

Yeah, along with the rest of the world.  Including France.

You said: you like weapons / you organise a high school killing each year

Indeed.  I myself own three handguns, numerous knives, and other instruments of death and destruction.  Guns don’t kill people though; people kill people.  However, France has 8.093 murders per 1 million people.  The United States has 5 per 100,000 or 50 per million.  So yes, our murder rate is higher than France’s.  The USA also has 3x more people than France does .

Bottom line, my young friend, you seem to have a very skewed version of America in your head.  You have a stereotype of America being like certain areas of Texas in what we call the “Bible Belt.”  That is not all America is.  Let’s not forget the scientific, medical, economic, and social advances that entire world enjoys, including yourself, because of America.

Oh – and you asked me one last question:

You said:  you don’t have free insurance ? Really ?

Really.  We are just now passing universal healthcare laws, thanks to President Obama, but the sad fact is that insurance is expensive in the USA.  As a cancer patient, I know this to be true.  If I am not employed, I have no insurance.  If my cancer comes back and I can’t work, I would lose my insurance – and I could die as a result.  Fortunately I am on my wife’s plan – so she covers me if I lose my job.  But if she wasn’t working either, I would be screwed.  This is why universal healthcare is a big issue in the USA right now – with a lot of people supporting it and a lot of people fighting it.

To my readers – what do you think?  Is dakuten correct?  Is he wrong?  Is he close?  Is his view of America typical for Europe?  Do you agree with it?  I am proud of this young man for having an opinion and the ability to carry a cross-continental debate – even if I don’t agree with all of his points.  Sound off and tell us what you think!  Answer the poll and comment on this post.

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3 Responses to “America as seen through the eyes of a 15yo French Boy”

  1. I will say this, he is not alone in his views on America. I have a young adult friend who is also from France. He comes to the U.S. every year for an internship and I do my best to show him American culture. Until he met me, he always ate at McDonald’s because he didn’t believe that it was possible for Americans to have good food. Now, I’ve at least showed him a few good (non-chain) restaurants, and I will say he was impressed. Am I rambling? Yes, I’m rambling.

    But yes, I know many Europeans from different countries, different generations, different walks of life, and yes, even if after living here for years, many of them agree with the 15 year old French boy.

  2. You may not like it but this it what a lot of non-americans think about the USA. You can argue that this boy is basing his opinions on stereotypes, but this is because of the type of media non-americans are exposed to. All I see on my country’s news is stories about how your own president was forced to provide his birth certificate, how america has the worst healthcare and the worst crime statistics. I absolutely hate the war in Iraq and think that it makes the country look like brutes who solve all their problems with blood. This doesn’t reflect well on your country as a whole. I read articles online almost every single day about how politicians do not understand their own constitution. About how people are seriously considering voting these people to be the president of one of the most powerful countries in the world! This terrifies me because like it or not, the fate of your country impacts so much on my own countries politics because we are so small. We don’t get to see all the ‘good’ bits about the USA, we are exposed to all the bad bits and this is definitely going to change people’s opinions.

    • Hi Envy;

      You’re right; we may not like it but that’s how we are perceived. I have always said that our last president, GW Bush, did more damage to the world’s view of America than any president in history. That, and the highly polarized and partisan politics that are driven by lobbyists and right-wing fundamentalism make America very confusing and scary not only to the outsiders looking in, but to the rest of us as well.

      Thanks for replying.

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