Tuesday, April 18, 2006

American image abroad needs green makeover

Rather than prescribing travel etiquette for the 'ugly American', those in the US Government worried about image should agitate for a green makeover. A genuine one, spin without substance will be short lived.

Before I post this link I want to say that we all have 'em - loud obnoxious fellow citizens who seemingly see it as their duty to evangelise on their travels about the worldview from their suburban lawn. And others who expect things to 'work the same way as back home' so loudly you sometimes cringe. Watching a bunch of Aussies clinging to lamppost and anything else that sways in Earls Court after all the pubs shut can help you see why the 18th Century Londoners banished their Antipodean ancestors to a land Down Under. Unless you are one of them, in which case the chunder Up Top is as much a part of the ritual avenging of our (in a few cases) wrongfully transported forbearer as is the ritual beating Australia meter out when we fight them on the 'beaches', and fight them on the rugby fields, and stomp them on the cricket pitches. I was only kidding about the beaches, a low blow, our surfers get their best competition from those countries whose South African, Kiwi, or American ancestors left their pathetic English beaches centuries ago for bigger waves, and better breaks.

But the American traveler can't travel a lightly as, say, the spewing Aussie playing up the larrikin. He or she has to lug their country's baggage around on their world trips the moment they open their mouths, or quite some time before depending on attire. An American barfs anywhere overseas and it is imperialism. If they barf at home but the patriotic yawn is shown on overseas television it is American cultural imperialism.

One reason why the bar is higher for the poor Yank is that the world does look to America for some sort of leadership. I can't really understand it any other way. I will always judge any American I encounter as an individual first, but if they are the type who takes photographs and leaves nothing but conspicuous carbon footprints then this only serves to reinforce my anti anti Kyoto Protocol prejudice, which you don't want me to get started on. Two stark facts stand against them; that they comprise 4.6% of the earth's population yet produce 25% of the planet's man-made greenhouse gases, and that they and Australia in a shameful carbon dioxide Coalition of the Unwilling are alone in the world in refusing to ratify Kyoto and constrain global warming emissions.

Here is the promised link: A quiet word to loud Americans.

The reputation of the ugly American abroad is not just some cruel stereotype. Rather, says the United States Government, it is worryingly accurate.

Now the State Department in Washington has joined forces with US industry to plan an image makeover by issuing guides on how to behave for Americans traveling overseas.

Under a program starting next month, several big US companies will give employees going abroad a "world citizen's guide" featuring 16 etiquette tips on how they can help improve their country's battered international image.

Business for Diplomatic Action, a non-profit group funded by large US companies, has met State Department officials to discuss issuing the guide with every newly issued American passport. The guide offers a series of "simple suggestions" under the slogan, "Help your country while you travel for your company".

Uncle Sam needs you ... to behave properly? So here is my call. If the American government took a leadership role and concentrated on achieving sustainable energy independence rather than illegally invading oil rich countries whose unsavoury regimes have fallen foul of favour, or threatening others into acquiring nuclear weapons, then they wouldn't need to implore it's citizenry to smooth things over as they leave the country. America then could experience a New American millennium, rather than just one bloody hot century.

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Guambat Stew said...

I fear it was drawn up by a bunch of Texas Bushies sitting around singing Kum bye ya or something like it, and I might have some insight having "grown up" there ("hook 'em horns"):http://guambatstew.blogspot.com/2006/04/go-on-yanks-leave-home-without-it.html

Wadard said...

Don't be like that.

If just one American read the booklet it will be well worthwhile - George Bush.

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