Sunday, January 25, 2009

Why Do They Hate Us? - REACTIONS from the IIJ Foreign Correspondence students

Cultural Differences

By Jeff Bennett

The global community displays a vast spectrum of diversity, providing opportunities to grow together in learning and friendship. However, it unfortunately also leads to malevolence through disparity. In the case of anti-United States sentiments, cultural difference perpetuates hatred for a myriad of reasons.

As technological advances facilitate cultural contacts, Celia Shortt believes the increased access creates a need for people to become aware of various global cultures. As for animosity from the Middle East with increasing interaction, one should expect trouble when he or she tries to insert their values into an alien society while not remaining objective, said Shortt. As seen, when objectivity is absent, the cultural gap is not bridged but instead widened.

According to Ellen Schnier, Americans are non-responsive to variance. “We do not value the differences … we think that if other countries are anti-American, that is not our fault, we did nothing to deserve such criticism, and they will eventually come around,” said Schnier.

This particular mindset exacerbates anti-Americanism. “To some cultures Americans therefore might seem as self-centered,” said Carolin Biebrach.

Both prejudiced attitudes and cultural misconceptions need to be quelled to form accords. This can be accomplished “by learning about other cultures … some of the misunderstandings between nations have a better chance of becoming understood,” said Sally Cruikshank.

American imperialism is evident in the unwillingness to accept cross cultural differences. This dark hubris breeds extreme rancor against the American disposition and should not come as a surprise. While the United States continues to force its culture upon those unwilling to accept it, enemies will emerge.
Photo above by blogrodent - Flickr © Some rights reserved


By Jeff Bennett

“They hate us because since September 11, Middle Easterners have been interrogated in our airports, and Islamic temples in the United States have had bricks thrown through their windows, have been burned, and bombed,” said Ellen Schnier.

American forms of bullying are neither new nor reserved solely for citizens of the Middle East or those of the Islamic faith. Nonetheless, the American presence abroad, even if in good intentions, is typically viewed as the overextension of its militaristic authority and democratic attitude. In the context of the Middle East, the forced democratization of Iraq caused numerous nations to view the U.S. as a bully.

“In the current war, the world – especially the Middle East – saw an unprovoked invasion by a Western power,” said Cristina Mutchler. “This caused other countries to be concerned that it could happen to them for no apparent reason.”

According to Kristin Eckert, the U.S. foreign policy of being the city on the hill – spreading its own brand of democracy, capitalism and consumerism with a missionary zeal – does not reverberate positively with cultures where happiness is defined otherwise. The Iraqi example shows the United States’ dedication to stamping out dictators in creation of a government mirroring the American system breeds hostility from the Iraqi citizens, journalists and nations sympathetic to their plight.

In agreement with this perspective, Lu Tang said “[American] unilateral foreign policy … acting like world policeman, policies to intensify the gap between rich and poor countries should account for the anti-Americanism to some extent.”

Put quite simply on why some hate the antics of American bullying, “[American and Middle Eastern] cultures are different and Western liberalism has a tendency to eat others,” said Lacey Curtis.

They don’t hate ‘us,’ They hate the Leadership

By Jeff Bennett

It is a common misrepresentation that foreigners who advance anti-Americanism hold contempt for every U.S. citizen. In fact, it is more likely anger is reserved for the creators and enforcers of domineering foreign policy.

“I consider 9/11 as a tragedy that American people paid the cost for the foreign policy the U.S. government made,” said Yilei Cheng.

In terms of negative foreign sentiments, some believe the former-presidency provides an insight into the backlash of ill-will and intermittent acts of violence.

“The way in which the Bush administration has diminished the cultural significance of the rest of the world has shown light on the U.S. government's ignorance of the past eight years,” said Natalie Cammarata.

Albeit the negative reactions observed toward the U.S., much of the hatred is not focused at the common citizen. It is “a rejection of the politics of the Bush administration which many people also differentiate(d) from feelings toward U.S. residents,” said Kristin Eckert.

Adding a similar position, “I believe that the people within [foreign] countries can differentiate between the government and the citizens,” said Sally Cruikshank.

The policies of American institutions – from pre-9/11 encroaching capitalistic multinational corporations to post-9/11 closed-door policies and the propagating fear towards foreign cultures – create the visible antipathy from abroad against these same establishments, not the citizen.

“I don’t think people around the world would hate Americans, they just don’t like American foreign policy,” said Jung Lee.
Photo above by Berd Whitlock - Flickr © Some rights reserved

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