A secondary effect of living abroad is that I'm blessed with the exposure to
people from other countries. In this regard, I'm speaking more of fellow
expatriates living here for a variety of reasons. The irony of these
encounters is that many times they consist solely of criticism of the US. I
don't think my country farts pixie dust, I know we're fallible. I'm even
willing to discuss the various faults. However having an Australian lecture
me on the treatment of minorities in the US, especially the Native Americans,
with no digression toward the treatment of their own indigenous folks makes
the individual seem like they are trying to take down the rich kid on the
playground with very little regard for the truthiness of their argument. Heck,
I'm no fan of Bush, but Howard is little more than a clone of Bush with
loosely wound DNA -- though some how he seems to be a better speaker.
It isn't just criticism of verifiable actions of the US. I'm just as likely to
hear criticism for conspiracy theories. I mean how can one have a conversation
about something when the basis for the conversation is:
o Moon landing was a hoax
o The US government allowed the attacks on Pearl Harbor
to facilitate our entry into WWII
One evening I was having a conversation with an Australian Youth Ambassador,
the Australian counterpart to the Peace Corps. This was about the same time
that a school in England was telling a teacher that she couldn't wear a vale
in class. The AYA was appalled at how culturally insensitive her fellow
commonwealthers were acting. This is a paraphrase of the conversation we had:
Me: I think it can be hard for someone who grew
up in the west to pay attention to someone
and follow them when they can only see their eyes.
Her: Don't you think it would be great for your kids to
be exposed to another culture; wouldn't it be great
to expand their minds like that.
Me: I think it would be great for my kids to learn
English, math, science, history, perhaps a
foreign language. I think school should focus
more on teaching kids and less on cultural tolerance.
Her: Shouldn't children learn more than just facts,
shouldn't they grow as individuals.
Me: It's not the governments job to help kids "grow" and
it's especially not their job to help kids "grow" at
the expense of their education. If children don't feel
comfortable being taught by a someone in a vale, it's
it's not a failure of them or their parents. Heck some
kids are scared shitless by clowns [I know this I was
a birthday clown at Mc Donalds].
Her: How are kids supposed to learn about other cultures?
Me: If kids are interested in Islam they can take a class
on religion. Then the teacher can bring someone in who
can talk about the virtues of wearing a black tent
in the desert so that men don't get too aroused and
accidentally rape her -- a crime for which she may
be stoned to death.
I'm a live and let live kind of guy. I personally believe that abortion kills
a person. I understand that this is my belief and that there is no scientific
basis for this. I mainly chose this belief to be on the safe side of things.
However, because there is no way to define the moment that life begins, I'm
willing to concede that I may be wrong. So I have a set of morals that define
my behavior, and there is a set that I think should be applied to others.
Sometimes these two sets overlap -- murder for instance is something I think
is wrong and something I think the government should try to prevent. In my
mind, forcing kids to be culturally sensitive for their own good is not one of
these areas of overlap. If one person wants their children to be enlightened
then they can expose their kids to what they as parents judge to be
This conversation with the AYA was interesting. I had heard and read about
multiculturalism before, but this was one of my first experiences with it. From
the perspective of this ignorant and culturally insensitive American (where
America defines two continents but I use it to define my country which is a
small subset of those continents) it seems strange to see a countries
strangled to death in their own political correctness.