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The most predictable reaction ever?
October 18, 2004 4:31 AM   Subscribe

KEEP YOUR FUCKIN' LIMEY HANDS OFF OUR ELECTION. A follow up to this post.
posted by sic (129 comments total)

 
Living in Europe, I have actually heard more than one person say that they feel that they should have some say in the US Election since the outcome directly affects them. To which I have always replied: DON'T HOLD YOUR BREATH! It's astonishing that they seem to truly be surprised at how outlandish their sentiment is. Anyway, in my opinion the Guardian iniciative is truly absurd, despite good intentions, as it will do more harm than good. New demographic for the polls: the Spite Vote.
posted by sic at 4:37 AM on October 18, 2004


Who in their right mind wants a foreigner telling them what to do, let alone who to vote for? Just look at what the Iraqi people think of it!!
posted by DrDoberman at 4:46 AM on October 18, 2004


Yeah, I saw this coming. I suppose we've got noone but ourselves to blame, but dismantling a superpower's always going to be a messy business.

Ugly americans are still prominent, we're just staying home more.
posted by Busithoth at 4:51 AM on October 18, 2004


That's hilarious! And Americans wonder why they have the 'gun totin', beer swillin' redneck' stereotype!
posted by metaxa at 4:51 AM on October 18, 2004


Maybe the guy's onto something.
posted by shoos at 4:53 AM on October 18, 2004


The true comedy in the piece is that very few of the respondents noticed that this whole caper is supposed to be funny.
posted by influx at 4:56 AM on October 18, 2004


I'm sure the Guardian got exactly what it wanted out of the stunt - irate response letters to show how scary and backward Americans are. My favorite of the bunch:

My dear, beloved Brits,
I understand the Guardian is sponsoring a service where British citizens write to Americans to advise them on how to vote. Thank heavens! I was adrift in a sea of confusion and you are my beacon of hope!

Feel free to respond to this email with your advice. Please keep in mind that I am something of an anglophile, so this is not confrontational. Please remember, too, that I am merely an American. That means I am not very bright. It means I have no culture or sense of history. It also means that I am barely literate, so please don't use big, fancy words.

Set me straight, folks!
Dayton, Ohio

posted by snarkywench at 5:02 AM on October 18, 2004


I have actually heard more than one person say that they feel that they should have some say in the US Election since the outcome directly affects them. To which I have always replied: DON'T HOLD YOUR BREATH!

Would you say that to the Iraqis? You can't claim to be the leader of the free world and then complain when the free world has an opinion about the leader of the free world.

I wish someone would remind those who sent all the messages along the lines of 'YUO STINKY BRITISHERS KEEP OUT OF OUR POLITCZ!!' that Fox News is run by an Australian.
posted by tapeguy at 5:08 AM on October 18, 2004


How and when did this whole "British teeth" meme start? I know the joke has appeared in things like Austin Powers and The Simpsons, but how did it start?
posted by Ljubljana at 5:10 AM on October 18, 2004


Makes me proud to be an American. I love telling off the Brits.
posted by ajpresto at 5:10 AM on October 18, 2004


Not being in America, I have been surprised at the level of general interest in these elections. Unlike previous elections, everyone seems to care, and have an opinion. The question is why should us non-American feel like we have such a stake in the outcome? Is it because America started a war? I seems to be that though the issues dividing the candidates may seem huge to Americans, and especially to partisan Americans, I suspect the election result will change very little in the world, especially my part of it (Asia).
posted by dydecker at 5:11 AM on October 18, 2004


The Guardian trolling Americans. Priceless.
posted by Blue Stone at 5:14 AM on October 18, 2004


Would you say that to the Iraqis? You can't claim to be the leader of the free world and then complain when the free world has an opinion about the leader of the free world.

That's not exactly what I meant. The people I 've spoken to have alluded to having a right to vote in the election, which bespeaks of a profound ignorance of the nature of America. Although it should be logical. If you consider that similarly, Great Britain wouldn't ever consider letting say citizens of Iraq vote in their elections, even during the Iraq mandate period, where British decisions even more directly affected their lives than US decisions affect European lives.
posted by sic at 5:28 AM on October 18, 2004


My dear, beloved Brits,
I understand the Guardian is sponsoring a service where British citizens write to Americans to advise them on how to vote. Thank heavens! I was adrift in a sea of confusion and you are my beacon of hope!

Feel free to respond to this email with your advice. Please keep in mind that I am something of an anglophile, so this is not confrontational. Please remember, too, that I am merely an American. That means I am not very bright. It means I have no culture or sense of history. It also means that I am barely literate, so please don't use big, fancy words.

Set me straight, folks!
Dayton, Ohio


Well I hope the glorious irony is not lost on him.
posted by ed\26h at 5:29 AM on October 18, 2004


Or on you, ed\26h.


The English bad teeth meme and the French body odor meme are both ridiculous. Not to mention small minded.
posted by sic at 5:35 AM on October 18, 2004


Well, I think it is true that American presidential elections have a disproportionate influence on the rest of the world. There are other powerful countries whose elections have significant international impact, but none, in this day and age, that come close to the US. So isn't it rather unfortunate that so many Americans simply do not care what our policies feel like in the rest of the world?

I'm not saying we have to bow to other countries' every will. A simple recognition that the rest of the world exists and has real problems of its own would be a good place to start. I certainly have my fair share of disagreements with Europeans, but really balk at the level of arrogance some Americans show. At least most Europeans are trying to be responsible global citizens even if they can be misguided.
posted by caveday at 5:36 AM on October 18, 2004


You want to influence US policy? Do it as a nation... you know, via the global political venue.

To imply that citizens of other nations shoudl have the right to vote in the US election is fairly... well honestly it's sadly predictable. Why not? I mean they've managed to fail to remain powerful and relevant on their own, of course they would want to drag us down too.

Hey, keep it up. This sort of thing just shows how problematic for US sovriegnity the Kerry presidency would be. The world thinks it should run the US and he agrees. No wonder they love him.
posted by soulhuntre at 5:39 AM on October 18, 2004


How and when did this whole "British teeth" meme start?

It started way back, when it was noticed that British people (especially the guys) have piss poor dental hygine. Grey, greeny-brown or yellow stained teeth stand in stark contrast to the Hollywood style chemically bleached pearly whites of the Americans.

We all know that in stereo-type-world, Americans are fat, the French don't fight, the Italians are also cowards, Germans like wars but are humourless, the Irish are thick and eat potatoes, Scots are tightfisted drunks whereas the Australians are stupid drunks and the British have brown wooden pegs for teeth.
posted by DrDoberman at 5:39 AM on October 18, 2004


This whole 'British = bad teeth' thing is something I've only ever heard of that's applied as a derogatory term by Americans. What I mean by this, is we don't have Germans, Aussies or Italians making fun of our teeth - just Americans. Whereas it's a universal stereotype that all Italians are greasy, and that all Americans are fat.

Incidentally, I do nothing to help dispel the 'bad-teeth' myth. I'm 26 years old and have never been to the dentists in my life. Conversely, my teeth are white and I have no rot, fillings or pain in my gums. How's that figure?
posted by metaxa at 5:44 AM on October 18, 2004


1. Write letters to some American hicks.
2. Publish foul-mouthed responses.
3. Profit!

Pure genius.
posted by Meridian at 5:44 AM on October 18, 2004


I mean they've managed to fail to remain powerful and relevant on their own, of course they would want to drag us down too.

HELP! I've been transported to the FARK comments section! I can feel myself gettin stoopid er bye the secnd...!
posted by sic at 5:44 AM on October 18, 2004


i couldn't resist

"I think it's a wonderful idea that your country's subjects are advising us how to vote. To return the
favor, I am currently contacting plastic surgeons who will be advising you on how to make the Royal
Family better looking."
posted by pyramid termite at 5:45 AM on October 18, 2004


sic: HELP! I've been transported to the FARK comments section! I can feel myself gettin stoopid er bye the secnd...!

sic wins the thread, everyone move along to the boobies links.
posted by Meridian at 5:48 AM on October 18, 2004


The English bad teeth meme and the French body odor meme are both ridiculous. Not to mention small minded.

I'll buy "small-minded" for the smell of Francos. By our standards, they (at least the men) often smell unwashed. But it could be that we're obsessed with hygiene beyond what's strictly healthy. So "stinks" is definitely relative. But it's not ridiculous-- according to the general American standard (that they have no reason to care about), French men are pretty smelly.

The English "bad teeth" thing is just a holdover. England did catch on to cosmetic dentistry much later than America did. But so what? They were better off not caring, not wasting money on it, and not noticing that some smiles are (wildly) imperfect. But the'yve caught up to us now.

(I also secretly believe that the Angles, Saxons and Jutes had crooked teeth that they passed on to their descendants. At least that's what my orthodontist told me as he was waiting on the phone to speak with the NASA scientists who consulted in my braces and expanders.)
posted by Mayor Curley at 5:51 AM on October 18, 2004


You want to influence US policy? Do it as a nation... you know, via the global political venue.

Soulhuntre, that's pretty much the idea. The United States has been borrowing money from these Europeans you distrust so much. We've been borrowing more and more lately, and at some point they're going to start collecting, if only because they're not keen on funding a bellicose group of fucknuts who think they don't need to justify their actions. Especially when we're only exacerbating the problem.

As far as failing to remain strong on their own, you seem to think that there shouldn't have been such an investment in the United States to defend them against the Soviet Union?

Bush has proven our strength is limited, in fact demonstrating exactly where the limits are (we can overturn any regime, after that, well...)
posted by Busithoth at 5:52 AM on October 18, 2004


Those replies were hilarious.
posted by Orange Goblin at 5:53 AM on October 18, 2004


Walt Disney had wooden teeth.

I love the whole
- Brit: "Americans are really shallow"
- Yank: "Well, at least we're not ugly"
argument.

Fills me with a warm glowy feeling of superiority
posted by seanyboy at 5:53 AM on October 18, 2004


In the spirit of further derailing...I always thought that it was a take on the wonders of American health care, like:

they have universal heathcare, and look at their teeth! ah ha we have the greatest health care system in the world! ignore American's high infant mortality rates...the british have bad teeth! We r00l!
posted by goneill at 6:16 AM on October 18, 2004


I hope that every last American that complained about people in one country interfering with an election in another votes for Kerry come the election, because, presumably, they apply the same standards to Iraq and will object to President Bush's undertakings there.


I have a considerable interest in the outcome of the election, but I don't think that I, as a Brit, should have any say.

That said, if the chaps from The Black Watch do have to decamp to Baghdad at the request of Bush, and serve under a U.S. chain of command, I think every last one of them, and their immediate families, should have three votes apiece.
posted by nthdegx at 6:18 AM on October 18, 2004


Fills me with a warm glowy feeling of superiority

psst--that warm glowy feeling isn't superiority--it's much more like enabling and codependency. ; >
posted by amberglow at 6:32 AM on October 18, 2004


That said, if the chaps from The Black Watch do have to decamp to Baghdad at the request of Bush, and serve under a U.S. chain of command, I think every last one of them, and their immediate families, should have three votes apiece.

Yes, three votes each in Pennslyvania, Ohio, Florida and Wisconsin.
posted by sic at 6:34 AM on October 18, 2004


But it could be that we're obsessed with hygiene beyond what's strictly healthy.

I remember a Monty Python skit where an American General is in a studio giving an interview and everytime they cut to him he's sniffing his armpits or shoes suspiciously searching for odors. By the end of the skit he's surrounded by bottles and cans of deodorants and obsessively spraying himself all over.
posted by sic at 6:39 AM on October 18, 2004


From "Political Science" (Randy Newman)

No one likes us
I don't know why.
We may not be perfect
But heaven knows we try.
But all around even our old friends put us down.
Let's drop the big one and see what happens.

We give them money
But are they grateful?
No they're spiteful
And they're hateful.
They don't respect us so let's surprise them;
We'll drop the big one and pulverize them.

Now Asia's crowded
And Europe's too old.
Africa's far too hot,
And Canada's too cold.
And South America stole our name.
Let's drop the big one; there'll be no one left to blame us.

Bridge:
We'll save Australia;
Don't wanna hurt no kangaroo.
We'll build an all-American amusement park there;
They've got surfing, too.

Well, boom goes London,
And boom Paris.
More room for you
And more room for me.
And every city the whole world round
Will just be another American town.
Oh, how peaceful it'll be;
We'll set everybody free;
You'll have Japanese kimonos, baby,
There'll be Italian shoes for me.
They all hate us anyhow,
So let's drop the big one now.
Let's drop the big one now.
posted by 327.ca at 6:58 AM on October 18, 2004


I'm sure the Guardian got exactly what it wanted out of the stunt - irate response letters to show how scary and backward Americans are.

I agree, they were essentially trolling for some good, real-life American jingo hick material to run on a slow day. ah, the frisson of superiority a certain kind of newspaper reader feels when confronted with other people's stupidity. same reason stories about Darwin-award zany deaths are so popular.
not that it changes the fact that Bush seems to have more than a few ignorant, unhinged, not-so-crypto fascist supporters. but that we already knew.

again, one wonders how many of the good men and women who took the time to dis the UK have actually visited the damn place. or any other country besides Canada and Mexico (in day trips, of course

__________

I'll buy "small-minded" for the smell of Francos. By our standards, they (at least the men) often smell unwashed.

this I find quite interesting, certainly much more than the Guardian story: Mayor, how many hours have you actually spent inhaling deeply in the presence of French men?
me, I have visited France many, many times and I regularly do visit, have lived in Paris for three months in a row when I was younger, but frankly I couldn't discuss extensively on generalizations of the way the French smell. same for the Brits: I've been in London a lot, but I don't have any general opinions of the English' dental issues.

maybe I catch too many colds and my nose is not working properly, and maybe I don't look in people's mouths (like one does with horses) enough.

but maybe, just maybe, we give too much credit to this whole Fat-Fascist-Americans, Smelly-Coward-French etcetera generalizations.

good dentition is usually a privilege of the affluent (or relatively affluent). the poor -- everywhere -- have bad teeth because they prefer to spend the little money they have on groceries, insted that on (expensive) dental care. silly them.
posted by matteo at 6:59 AM on October 18, 2004


I'd like to point out at this juncture that Britain, too, is full of fucking idiots.
posted by nthdegx at 7:02 AM on October 18, 2004


Even americans who have lived/worked/played in Europe for over a decade can get unnerved when Europeans come up with their US election angst and the whole "the entire world should vote" nonsense.

Perhaps even more so than Americans back home, after all expats *live* in foreign countries, often pay their taxes, obey by the bureaucratic rules, study, marry, fall sick, use public transport and in general participate in all the moments of a regular citizen's life, except the vote.

How can someone who has only at best visited the US as a tourist seriously consider him or herself entitled to vote in the US elections while permanent expats who contribute to their chosen country's economy/polity/society are denied the privilege?
posted by ruelle at 7:16 AM on October 18, 2004


Just when I thought I couldn't possibly be any more embarrassed to be an American.

Thanks, countrymen!

I think I oughta run for president on a single issue platform. If elected, I promise to detonate a neutron bomb in each and every U.S. city or town that lies more than 100 miles from the east or west coast. Does that make me elitist?
posted by bashos_frog at 7:17 AM on October 18, 2004


As much as I want Bush out, I can't disagree with the sentiment expressed by many of the letter writers. My fellow American has every right to tell me who he thinks I should vote for - but some guy across the pond? Please.
posted by owillis at 7:21 AM on October 18, 2004


Maybe that was too harsh. Maybe I would just round up all the mouthbreathing, inbred, ignorant, religious nuts and send them to Guantanamo or something.

It may be the tequila talking, but I am so sick of the fact that the major cities of the U.S, are subsidizing these stupid hicks instead of euthanizing them. And they get to shape the image we project in the world.
posted by bashos_frog at 7:23 AM on October 18, 2004


I know the Guardian intended this as a joke, but I bet they didn't plan on the 250,000 copies of their solicitation which will soon be circulating among the gun clubs and churches of Ohio, Wisconsin and Minnesota as evidence of a foreign conspiracy to oust President Bush.
posted by MattD at 7:28 AM on October 18, 2004


America has become like the big belligerent drunk guy at the party. His girlfriend can't control him, and he gets pissed off that anyone might dare to suggest that he's had enough already.

You know what happens to countries that ignore world opinion? Regime change.

Hopefully it will be voluntary, rather than imposed by a willing coalition of Chinese, Russian and Europeans.
posted by bashos_frog at 7:30 AM on October 18, 2004


nthdegx: Absolutely! This was never in question.
posted by metaxa at 7:32 AM on October 18, 2004


LOL very amusing post, I read almost the whole thing.
posted by Addiction at 7:33 AM on October 18, 2004


Though I still love the castles!
posted by mr.marx at 7:35 AM on October 18, 2004


I wonder if anyone spellchecked their letter to the Gruniad.
posted by Vidiot at 7:36 AM on October 18, 2004


Listen to nthdegx. He speaks truth.
posted by bifter at 7:42 AM on October 18, 2004


I used to visit the UK every year. I love the history and culture of your country. But after I heard about your campaign to influence our elections, I've decided that neither myself, nor my family will ever visit again.

Read: I will never buy your product again! Tremble before the power of my economic vote!

Now that is a truly deluded american response.
posted by sic at 7:46 AM on October 18, 2004


"HEY, SHITHEADS, REMEMBER THE REVOLUTIONARY WAR?"

um... yes, i remember learning about that one in school. isn't it the one that we would have lost if the french hadn't stepped in to help us? funny how we americans forget that, because it doesn't fit our snooty large-nosed stinky effeminate coward french stereotype.
posted by caution live frogs at 7:49 AM on October 18, 2004


I posted this over on the other thread by mistake...but I meant to put it here...so pardon the double post...

What an insane idea. I'm a huge Anglophile, lived in England for a few years, have always longed to live there permanently, and I would be quite annoyed by getting a letter from a Brit telling me how to vote.

Hell, I'm a Texan...I'd get mad if a neighbor told me how to vote. I mean, I understand and share the concern of the letter writers...but I find it the height of imperial arrogance to imply that they they some right to infringe on the elections of another country...especially America...a country that still celebrates overthrowing the Royal Prerogative.

Good lord, sort of sending redcoats to land in Dayton, I can't think of anything that would have pissed Middle America off more. The Guardian is due some presents from the Bushies...cause they just won the regime a whole lotta votes.
posted by dejah420 at 7:51 AM on October 18, 2004


As much as I want Bush out, I can't disagree with the sentiment expressed by many of the letter writers. My fellow American has every right to tell me who he thinks I should vote for - but some guy across the pond? Please.

Why not? Don't you believe in freedom of speech? You still get to pick who you vote for. Do you think that talking to foreigners turns you into a mindless commie automaton?
posted by biffa at 7:55 AM on October 18, 2004


when it was noticed that British people (especially the guys) have piss poor dental hygiene.

Some do, but not in general. It's simply that teeth, even clean and healthy ones, aren't naturally white. What you're seeing in most cases is simply normal teeth that haven't been adjusted to fit some collective cosmetic delusion.
posted by raygirvan at 8:00 AM on October 18, 2004


I eagerly await the reaction here when a Scaife paper exhorts its readers to flood, say, some town in Canada with mail telling them to vote for someone who isn't a dirty communist.
posted by darukaru at 8:02 AM on October 18, 2004


Maybe if more Americans had pulled their heads out of their asses and listened to their neighbors here and across the pond, we wouldn't have such a fucked up little dictator wannabe for president.

No matter how badly this rubs you the wrong way, remember - it wouldn't be happening if we Americans as a people had shown just a smidgen of responsibility with our elections and subsequent actions around the globe.

We gave the drunken asshole the car keys, now we can't complain just because the folks in the back seat are scared out of their wits, as we head for the cliff.
posted by bashos_frog at 8:05 AM on October 18, 2004


I eagerly await the reaction here when a Scaife paper exhorts its readers to flood, say, some town in Canada with mail telling them to vote for someone who isn't a dirty communist.

It doesn't work that way. We don't need to exhort their readers, when we can just send in the CIA/special forces to overthow their government. See also: Chile, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Phillipines, Hawaii, Iran, Iraq, El Salvador, etc.

Maybe that's why this bothers Americans so much - it is a faint shadow of the type of interference we practice around the world everyday. How dare they try to exert some influence in America! Don't they know who's in charge of the world?
posted by bashos_frog at 8:12 AM on October 18, 2004


I used to visit the UK every year. I love the history and culture of your country. But after I heard about your campaign to influence our elections, I've decided that neither myself, nor my family will ever visit again.

Read: I will never buy your product again! Tremble before the power of my economic vote!

Now that is a truly deluded american response.


Actually, I think that's a smart response--the only power we really have in the world as individuals is with our pocketbooks. We're all consumers now (those of us that can afford to be), whether of tourism or Big Macs or Zara or H&M or Hollywood or Bollywood.
posted by amberglow at 8:12 AM on October 18, 2004


I find it the height of imperial arrogance to imply that they [have] some right to infringe on the elections of another country

I hope that's meant ironically, considering the long history of CIA vote-rigging: Iran, Guatemala, Chile and Greece (check out the Church Committee proceedings).
posted by raygirvan at 8:13 AM on October 18, 2004



posted by troutfishing at 8:29 AM on October 18, 2004


I bet they didn't plan on the 250,000 copies of their solicitation which will soon be circulating among the gun clubs and churches of Ohio

If it wasn't that, it would be something else like, say, liberals banning the bible.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 8:42 AM on October 18, 2004


My fellow American has every right to tell me who he thinks I should vote for - but some guy across the pond? Please.

Yeah! Thank goodness those swine don't have our 1st Amendment rights to express their stupid opinions! We should all follow George W. Bush's sterling example and ignore any opinion emanating from the wrong side of our borders. We should all be deeply suspicious of all them foreigners—all we need to hear from them is whether they're with us or against us.
posted by rushmc at 8:43 AM on October 18, 2004


Actually, I think that's a smart response--the only power we really have in the world as individuals is with our pocketbooks. We're all consumers now (those of us that can afford to be), whether of tourism or Big Macs or Zara or H&M or Hollywood or Bollywood.

On one level, Amberglow, you are absolutely right, but in this context that particular letter was truly misguided. Great Britain is not a brand, its citizens are not salespeople. For Americans to wield their "economic vote" as a threat or chastisement of the opinion of a group of Guardian readers is rather, pointless and even somewhat arrogant I daresay. You can't apply the rules capitalism to everything. Try as we might.
posted by sic at 9:17 AM on October 18, 2004


But a patronizing exercise in futility (which this Guardian thing was) deserves no better, you might say.

Great Britain is a brand, and is continually being sold exactly that way to us. Apparently, it's a big deal even within Britain. Should We Rebrand Britain? --"Absolutely, countries are brands," Landor UK's managing director Charles Wrench told In Business.
"I would say that anything for which you can construct a mental inventory is a brand.
"But I don't think we can transform Cruel Britannia back into Cool Britannia with a new logo.


You might want to tell your Tourist Authority.
posted by amberglow at 9:32 AM on October 18, 2004


I agree with you on the Guardian's "project", and the Guardian, as a business venture, would be theoretically vulnerable to an economic vote punishment. (although I suspect their readership will eat this article up).

However, just because marketing wonk Charles Wrench describes Britain as a brand doesn't mean that the majority of his countrymen feel that they need to watch their tongue so as not to offend potential American tourists. Just for laughs, apply the rules of marketing to your personal behavior Amberglow, do you think that brand NY suffers from loss of bible belt tourism because you are an outspoken commie pinko?* Or, even better, could you care less if it did?




*I mean that in the best possible way!
posted by sic at 9:44 AM on October 18, 2004


First off, we can swear in FPP's? Damn, I'm wasting my best stuff in the comments!

I see no problem with other people letting us know how they feel about the coming election, it affects them. I do have a problem with some of the fury directed at them for doing so.

I love reading about superiority from people who can't spell, don't realize that CAPS LOCK can be turned off and can't be bothered to actually think about the intent of the other party.

But then, we live in a nation of people who think Jerry Springer is good entertainment and plastic looking stupid blondes are a good ideal to work towards.

The anger of the response emails is ugly and does nothing but reaffirm the world's view that Americans are crass, loud mouthed assholes who don't give the first damn about anyone but themselves.

I heard a news report that said that most people outside the US have unfavorable views of Bush and his administration but generally have good views of America. And its strange how similar my own feelings are.
posted by fenriq at 9:57 AM on October 18, 2004


Actually, i do care, and so does almost everyone i know. For all our bitching about tourists taking up the sidewalks and not walking fast enough, and how 42nd St. has been turned into a mall, hundreds of thousands of us here in the city depend on them--i know many people that were laid off post 9/11 exactly because of the drop in tourism. Even our mayor's misguided attempt to turn protestors into tourists during the RNC should have made it clear how important tourism is.

Visitors to NY (from elsewhere in the country, at least) expect us all to be commie pinkos or rappers or criminals or something else weird--it's part of the branding. ; >
posted by amberglow at 9:58 AM on October 18, 2004


Hello, USA. We've heard about this "world opinion" that bothers you. Well, I have a simple solution -- stop thinking that you should run the whole world, and the whole world will stop thinking that it should run you. Seriously, it's that simple. We're not interested in your elections because they're particularly interesting (and frankly if we had elections where our two choices were Bush and Kerry we'd try and run them secretly, for fear that people should get the impression that they are the best the country has to offer), but your constant meddling in world affairs is forcing us to follow this shit of yours on our local evening news every four fucking years. I propose we go back to a position where you have nothing to do with us, and we'll return to having nothing to do with you lot.

Cheerio,
Rest of the World
posted by clevershark at 10:06 AM on October 18, 2004


Ah, well then. My mistake...!





But I'm still not sure that your average english bloke gives a hoot about American tourism in his country. I guess it just goes to show how economically backward those rotting tooth islanders are!
posted by sic at 10:07 AM on October 18, 2004


Hooray for the Guardian!

--"Absolutely, countries are brands," Landor UK's managing director Charles Wrench told In Business.

Talk about knowing the price of everything but the value of bugger all. :) Soul before bank balance!
posted by plep at 10:10 AM on October 18, 2004


(Comments such as those made by Mr. Wrench are one underlying reason why many people in the UK are fed up to the back teeth with the whole Blairite style of management, which prioritises marketing and 'spin' above content and truth to a quite obscene degree. This type of presentation-obsessed thinking helped to get us into the whole Iraq mess with the 'dodgy dossier' et al. A society is better built on trust, not marketing, and it certainly isn't a 'brand').
posted by plep at 10:16 AM on October 18, 2004


plep, you've also hit on quite alot of what I think is wrong with the Bush regime here. Its not honest. It tries to tell you what to believe at every turn, even in spite of first hand knowledge to the contrary.

"If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State." - Joseph Goebbels
posted by fenriq at 10:24 AM on October 18, 2004


The Guardian is due some presents from the Bushies...cause they just won the regime a whole lotta votes.

So, Americans won't be influenced by other countries. Instead they'll vote for whoever the other country doesn't like? Surely I'm not the only one seeing the deep irony of that behaviour.
posted by clevershark at 10:47 AM on October 18, 2004


"Soulhuntre, that's pretty much the idea."

Then all is well. See how nice that is?
posted by soulhuntre at 10:53 AM on October 18, 2004


Where is that good ole American outrage over this?

Guess its okay when "foreigners" side with your own candidate. Especially undemocratic foreigners.
posted by Boydrop at 10:56 AM on October 18, 2004


Plus you know, they did such a good job of ousting there own leader, who, you know SUPPORTED THE THING THEY HATE BUSH FOR!

Look, I think we should drop the whole 'leader of the free world' bullshit because it's not a free world if they don't get to vote for their leader. But I don't think anybody takes that seriously. It's grandstanding.

OTOH, if they want Bush out, they should work on getting rid of the pople that Big B can point to as some sort of retarded attempt to prove he has international relations skills.

Physician, heal thyself, and all that.
posted by lumpenprole at 11:26 AM on October 18, 2004


My favorite:

Please be advised that I have forwarded this to the CIA and FBI.

So, they're going to fix it even though they need you to call it to their attention?
posted by joaquim at 11:26 AM on October 18, 2004


Side issue -- what are British lefties proposing to do about Blair? Strategic alliance with the other oppositionists (Tories? SNP? UKIP for goodness sake?) at the next General Election? Labour Parliamentary Party ousting Blair as Leader and putting in a leftist as Leader, and, hence, PM?
posted by MattD at 11:38 AM on October 18, 2004


I'm just wondering why 'tea-drinking' is deemed an insult? I just had a lovely cuppa myself. Of course, my foul, gangrenous teeth instantly curdled the milk, but you get used to that.

While we are on the topic of us uppity Brits patronising dumb American hicks, I'm reminded of an anecdote (possibly spurious) a friend told me about a Cambridge University professor. Upon hearing an American student's accent, he asked exactly where in the US the student was from. "Iowa", the student said. "Ah," replied the don, "WE call that Ohio".
posted by rikabel at 11:40 AM on October 18, 2004


Surely I'm not the only one seeing the deep irony of that behaviour.

Stupidity isn't ironic, it's just...stupid.
posted by rushmc at 12:01 PM on October 18, 2004


Shame on you for using the people of Ohio like this. The US presidental election isn't just about foreign policy, it's about healthcare, taxes, education, transportation, natural resources and all manner of issues with little to no impact on the people of Britain.

Amen. From the outside, I suppose it's easy to forget that there are a slew of domestic issues at stake in this election, not just foreign-policy issues.

If I remember correctly, 12 years ago the majority of Europeans favored Bush Sr. over Clinton because of his foreign policy. They were dumbfounded that the American electorate voted for Clinton instead. "It's the economy, stupid" didn't apply to them.
posted by Tin Man at 12:37 PM on October 18, 2004


Ooh - I have a better idea. How about we give the Iraqis the vote?

MAY YOU HAVE TO HAVE A TOOTH CAPPED.
posted by scarabic at 12:45 PM on October 18, 2004


*cries*
posted by Tlogmer at 2:26 PM on October 18, 2004


You know, I just hope they've canvassed their backyard, and are getting all Expats there to vote.

Kee-rist.
posted by Busithoth at 3:41 PM on October 18, 2004


...and are getting all Expats there to vote.

Expats are just as fired up as we are--maybe more. And they've been reading real international news for the past 4 years.
posted by amberglow at 4:05 PM on October 18, 2004


did somebody throw a dead-tree copy of the guardian into boston harbor yet?
posted by girlinblack at 4:19 PM on October 18, 2004


Yeah! Thank goodness those swine don't have our 1st Amendment rights to express their stupid opinions!

Theyve got a right to express what ever opinion they want, and these folks have a right to call them "Morans". The thing is, it comes off as yet another European lecture and Golly Gee Aren't We Better Than You Yokels.

As some other people have posted here, I wouldn't dare to think of telling some Brit whether to vote for Blair or not - even though I think his poodle like behavior with Bush warrants him being removed - because I'm not a Brit. Their country, they get to decide. Our country, we get to decide. This is just another form of all the stuff we hate about America imposing its will on other nations.
posted by owillis at 4:30 PM on October 18, 2004


But the thing is: I don't really care who the britons vote for, since their PM will dance to the POTUS's tune in any case. Maybe that's why they want in on the POTUS election? Because it's 2-in-1?

[ducks]
posted by scarabic at 4:59 PM on October 18, 2004


Well, I read this article in an actual paper Guardian (well, G2) earlier, and thought it was brilliant. And my American friend liked it too... but then it seems like all the Yanks who come to live in London are die-hard Bush-haters anyway.
posted by reklaw at 5:12 PM on October 18, 2004


> I love the whole
> - Brit: "Americans are really shallow"
> - Yank: "Well, at least we're not ugly"
> argument.

I am in San Francisco for 6 months and can't help but notice that the girls here are much much uglier than the girls in Britain.
posted by catchmurray at 5:35 PM on October 18, 2004


As a *legal* aside, recently the EU promulgated rules that make the use of cultural humor a no-no. That is, the English are no longer permitted to make fun of the French, etc. Comedians, especially, found this to be terribly disturbing for obvious reasons. I think it is still up in the air as far as the law of the land yet.

However, it does raise a point: could a paper like the Guardian troll Americans to make fun of the French, and then publish their responses and get away with it?
posted by kablam at 5:38 PM on October 18, 2004


Sad, but true, scarabic. They know it as well.

catchmurray, go south or come east for goodlooking folks. ; >
posted by amberglow at 5:44 PM on October 18, 2004


I think it's insufferably arrogant that so many US Americans disregard "the world's" opinion of the US President.

There is a reason Bush is hated 'round the world. It is not based on irrational fear, envy, or other facile excuses.

It is simply because Bush is bad for the world.

Think outside your box, Americans. There are umpteen billion people you gotta co-habitate with.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:02 PM on October 18, 2004


We know Bush is bad for the world, fff. He's been bad for America too.
posted by amberglow at 6:05 PM on October 18, 2004


I am in San Francisco for 6 months and can't help but notice that the girls here are much much uglier than the girls in Britain.

Really catchmurray? Because when I moved to the Bay Area from England I thought the very opposite. Well, not the very opposite because I don't think California girls are "much much" prettier, just prettier.

Meg Griffin: "You could kill all the girls who are prettier than me."
Death: "Well, that would just leave England."
posted by Devils Slide at 6:49 PM on October 18, 2004


Just be happy America was founded on 4 year terms, that way no matter how incredibly fucked up a president gets, they can't stay in power for way too long.
posted by Keyser Soze at 7:38 PM on October 18, 2004


and term limits too.
posted by amberglow at 8:21 PM on October 18, 2004


If I remember correctly, 12 years ago the majority of Europeans favored Bush Sr. over Clinton because of his foreign policy. They were dumbfounded that the American electorate voted for Clinton instead. "It's the economy, stupid" didn't apply to them.

Crock.
posted by nthdegx at 1:52 AM on October 19, 2004


and term limits too

nope. without term limits, three-term President Bill Clinton (impeachment and all) would be running for his fourth term, were it not for his heart trouble.
without term limits, in 2004 we'd probably have Vice President Gore running (defensively) against Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida, with the GOP accusing the whole Democratic Party of treason for removing the Taliban but not attacking WMD-laden Iraq.

and George W. would be back home, running another business into the ground, like he did his whole life.
this, assuming (for the sake of the argument) that 9-11 would have happened anyway under third-termer Bill Clinton.


on a sidenote:
Reagan would have probably managed to get a third term in '88, but the already-evident Alzheimer symptoms would have put Vice President Bush (the Father) as the (soon-to-lose against Bill Clinton) Republican nominee in '92.
After that, 3 Clinton consecutive terms (old lecherous Bill wouldn't have fucked up his 2000 campaign as bad as Gore did -- no need to throw the election in the GOP-ruled SCOTUS. George W would never kick Bill Clinton's ass in a national election. maybe for Texas Senator, who knows. but not in a national election).
posted by matteo at 2:28 AM on October 19, 2004


Nah, Reagan would still have won in 1992; 'he looks like the kind of driveling lunatic you could have a beer with'.
posted by biffa at 3:50 AM on October 19, 2004


I think Reagan would have been voted in a 3rd time too, alzheimers or no...Clinton never would have gotten the chance.
posted by amberglow at 5:21 AM on October 19, 2004


...a third time and a 4th... (forgot that.)
posted by amberglow at 5:22 AM on October 19, 2004


it comes off as yet another European lecture and Golly Gee Aren't We Better Than You Yokels

Only if one is predisposed to think of international relations in antagonistic terms, I think. Test: Do you go around proclaiming how the French are snotty cowards, too?

Their country, they get to decide. Our country, we get to decide.

I don't think anyone is disputing that. But entering the discussion, expressing an opinion, and even attempting to persuade in no way constitute trying to force an outcome. You come across as wanting to limit debate to only a subset of those affected by the outcome, which strikes me as both wrong and, frankly, preposterous. What are you afraid of?
posted by rushmc at 8:37 AM on October 19, 2004


Devil's Slide:

Most definitely. I know that all of this is arbitrary -- not to mention slightly vacuous -- but I'd say that the proportion of girls in the UK who could be classed as conventionally 'good-looking' would be at least 50%/50% in the UK as opposed to the rather lame 15%/85% here.

A good few of my friends have agreed. It is a crying shame. I feel bad for using the word uglier now. Maybe that was too harsh, they just aren't as pretty.
posted by catchmurray at 10:11 AM on October 19, 2004


You come across as wanting to limit debate to only a subset of those affected by the outcome, which strikes me as both wrong and, frankly, preposterous.

I would not presume to advise Britons on how they should vote except in very general fashion, i.e., "vote for the candidate that you agree with on most of the issues that matter to you." I know the name of exactly one current officeholder in that country, and am completely ignorant of the issues that matter to British voters. Hell, I don't even know enough about their voting system to know whether I should warn them of the pitfallls of "spoiler candidates" -- for all I know they may use Condorcet or some equally exotic-to-us-Yanks system for all their elections.

It is equally presumptuous for the British to advise us on how we should vote. It is, first of all, none of their business whatsoever, and the fact that the results of our election will affect them does not magically make it their business. Secondly, no one should vote based on anyone's opinion of the candidates but their own. That applies to one's own countrymen, too, but it goes double for foreigners. Third, said foreigners most likely have as much feel for what life is like in Ohio as I (a former Buckeye, incidentally -- how many Brits would know that "Buckeye" is a nickname for Ohioans?) know about life in England, giving them no sense of what issues matter to that state's voters and thus no means of determining the proper advice to give them.

How much of the blame would these meddling Brits be willing to shoulder if Kerry is elected and turns out to be, on whatever scale you want to use for measuring the competence of presidents, even worse than they think Bush is? None, I'd wager. This is exactly how much consideration Americans should give their input, and most Americans fortunately seem to know this instinctively.

Although many of the Americans who wrote to the Guardian suggesting in profane and insulting terms that the Brits mind their own business were tactless and are arguably an embarrassment to their country, that doesn't make them wrong.
posted by kindall at 2:22 PM on October 19, 2004


Kindall... I understand that you wouldn't presume to do that, but I hope that you understand that England is being adversely affected by the actions of your president. He is very widely disliked there, and in most other countries around the world.

Obviously what we should be doing is voting Blair out. That is what I believe many people will do, although we are angry about it now, and we have to wait a little longer before we can vote.

Remember that here in the US it is slightly harder for people to see Bush's wrongdoings. Many US citizens (generally) watch local news where the British watch world news. Unfortunately, we know who Scott Peterson is, yet most people in the US don't know who John Bigley is. That speaks volumes.

As a personal opinion, there is no way that Kerry can be worse than Bush in terms of foreign affairs. This is simply because he acknowledges that two terrorist attacks in 8 years should not result in the kind of action that has been taken -- especially when it has undisputedly turned out to have been taken on a largely innocent party (in the context of exactly what we are discussing here). Secondly, Kerry is well aware of America's perception around the world. In the time that I have spent in America, I have been struck by how much apathy some of the people here have toward their world image (and that is in 'liberal' SF). The 'world police' tag that is being applied to America is not some South Park joke. It is real and deeply unsettling.
posted by catchmurray at 3:56 PM on October 19, 2004


I hope that you understand that England is being adversely affected by the actions of your president. He is very widely disliked there, and in most other countries around the world.

Of course I understand that. I just don't understand why that makes them think they should be giving Americans unsolicited advice about who to vote for. Americans must vote for whoever they think is best for America, not who is best for "other countries around the world."

Obviously we have a lot of interests in common with other countries, so what is good for us is often good for our allies, but that doesn't mean that when we as a country make a choice that is good for someone besides ourselves that we did so for anyone's benefit but our own. If American interests should conflict with the interests of other countries, American voters are obligated to consider their country's interests first and foremost.

If voters re-elect Bush, and that turns out to be bad for Britain or any other country, they will have my sympathy. What they will still not have, however, is any business meddling in our election.

Don't get me wrong -- I like the fact that the U. S. has allies and I would prefer to keep them. But because of our economic and military strength, keeping our alliances strong is not a foreign policy imperative for voters here to the extent that it is for many other countries. If Bush is re-elected, it will be with the full knowledge that it might well mean we'd have to go it alone, whatever "it" turns out to be, and it will further mean that most voters are generally okay with that and believe we can do it.
posted by kindall at 4:37 PM on October 19, 2004


I'm not done yet, I guess. Reading the Guardian's letters page, it is clear that some Americans are so desperate for their candidate to win that they welcome foreign interference in our elections. I find this dismaying, disquieting, disturbing, even disgusting. And many other words beginning with "dis."

Imagine if, say, the North Koreans decided to call American voters and exhort them to vote for Bush. What would you think of the handful of conservatives who, desperate to win, welcomed this?

It should send shivers down your spine even to think of it, regardless of who the hypothetical meddlers are, what candidate they support, and whether that's your candidate or not. If it doesn't, you have lost your soul, and I don't say that lightly, considering I'm an agnostic materialist who doesn't literally believe we even have souls.
posted by kindall at 4:48 PM on October 19, 2004


I appreciate everything you say regarding the interference of foreign citizens in your election.

This is what people are wary of though...

because of our economic and military strength, keeping our alliances strong is not a foreign policy imperative for voters here to the extent that it is for many other countries

This is not a foriegn policy issue -- this is a cultural difference betweens Americans (who live in a playground and enjoy it -- the 'I don't care if I'm fat, I'm happy' attitude) and the rest of the world.

Maybe it is better for people who are genuinely concerned about that nation -- who is throwing it's weight around in what can be clearly seen as a breach of international law -- to write to voters from Ohio, than for some countries to leave the alliance and others to impose trade sanctions.

The economic situation in the US isn't actually that great. The strength of my pound is making the stay I have to make here very much easier.
posted by catchmurray at 4:57 PM on October 19, 2004


Oh ferchrissakes, get over it already! No one really believes they're influencing your vote. We non-US Americans are all just blowing off steam. Your President has been a globefucker from the get-go, with an atrocious reign of error in almost all matters that affect the world, from environment to social rights, and we're calling it as we see it.

I've no doubt at all not a single one of you whingers hesitate to say nasty things about other country's leaders (like, ooh, Saddam), and freely voice your opinion about elections in Mexico, Chile, Columbia, etc.

And even if you are lily-white, your government certainly has never hesitated to screw with other's elections, even to the point of funding terrorist actions against democratically-elected leaders. That is appalling, and The Guardian's stunt doesn't even begin to compare.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:06 PM on October 19, 2004


Imagine if, say, the North Koreans decided to call American voters and exhort them to vote for Bush. What would you think of the handful of conservatives who, desperate to win, welcomed this?

It wouldn't send shivers down my spine at all. The influence that the Saudi's already have in The US makes that seem totally inconsequential.

Being objective does not equate to soullessness. I most certainly haven't lost my soul -- and am not too keen on the subject arising in a discussion about a country, an election and a president who clearly have.
posted by catchmurray at 5:06 PM on October 19, 2004


> even to the point of funding terrorist actions against democratically-elected leaders

Absolutely, and if I hear that it is clever for Irish people to smuggle bombs over borders disguised as babies in pushchairs (strollers) in this country, I'm going to go ballistic.
posted by catchmurray at 5:12 PM on October 19, 2004


(as I have already heard repeatedly)
posted by catchmurray at 5:14 PM on October 19, 2004


The economic situation in the US isn't actually that great. The strength of my pound is making the stay I have to make here very much easier.
Bingo! That's going to be a, if not the, deciding factor in the election--it always is. I'd venture to say that's true of Brits when they vote too.
posted by amberglow at 6:55 PM on October 19, 2004


I'd also add that most of us are probably isolationist to one degree or another, unless attacked--I see it as good, and until now, it acted as a check on the more insane schemes of our leaders, past and present.
posted by amberglow at 7:00 PM on October 19, 2004


It is equally presumptuous for the British to advise us on how we should vote.

No, it seems to me that what is presumptuous is your assumption that all British maintain the same level of ignorance about the U.S. that you do about their country.

the fact that the results of our election will affect them does not magically make it their business.

I don't know what you were trying to say there, but what you actually wrote is not only demonstrably false, it's inane. Things that affect one are by definition one's "business."
posted by rushmc at 8:38 PM on October 19, 2004


American voters are obligated to consider their country's interests first and foremost.

Wow, nationalism is freaking ugly. I would have expected better from you, kindall.

Also, what fivefreshfish said.
posted by rushmc at 8:41 PM on October 19, 2004


No, it seems to me that what is presumptuous is your assumption that all British maintain the same level of ignorance about the U.S. that you do about their country.

Can a typical Brit tell me (without looking it up) approximately what proportion of Americans favor a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman? I would be extremely surprised if this were common knowledge even among those Britons who are now calling for Bush's removal.

How many times have I seen non-Americans asking Americans online to explain that wacky electoral college thing to them? Many times.

Nobody who doesn't live here is as qualified to determine how a citizen should vote as someone who does. (Edge cases such as recent immigrants and emigrants excluded.) There are things about America you just don't know unless you're steeped in it.

I don't know what you were trying to say there, but what you actually wrote is not only demonstrably false, it's inane. Things that affect one are by definition one's "business."

Except for things that are already by definition not, such as how other people in sovereign nations cast their votes.

Obviously, people outside the U.S. are welcome to have opinions about the United States and to express them. But if citizens of other countries start contacting individual American voters directly and attempting to sway them, I say there's a line being crossed that should not be crossed. The Democrats and Kerry should be very leery of accepting campaign contributions from foreign nationals, which is essentially what we're talking about here.

Wow, nationalism is freaking ugly. I would have expected better from you, kindall.

What, do you really expect me to think that I should vote for (for example) British interests over American ones? What sane person would do that? There's far too much at stake here for mushy sentimentality.

If I have a decision to make in my own life, I may solicit input from friends and family members whose judgment I trust. I may even listen to the unsolicited advice of strangers, although I would likely give it much less weight, as is only prudent. I would consider the effects of my actions on others, but if my needs and the needs of others come into conflict, sorry, when I am making a decision, my needs win. The decision is mine, as is the responsibility for the results of the decision. Letting someone else make an important decision for me is a cowardly shirking of my duty as an adult human being.

And when I am helping my country make a decision, the needs of its citizens must, in the end, win out. No country can be ruled by a consensus of other countries. It is good to be accommodating to your friends when you can, but when this is not possible, when you must choose your interests or someone else's, you choose yours. I am all for dialog and discussion, but if the foreign policy of the United States was to consistently put other countries' interests ahead of its own, it would not exist for long. Our government is explicitly chartered to serve Americans -- to establish justice for us, to insure domestic tranquility, to provide for our common defense, to promote our general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity. If the government is not looking out for its own citizens first and foremost, it is not doing its job. It is not our job to look out for British citizens -- as the U.K. is a liberal democracy, that's their government's job.

As I said, our interests often naturally align with our allies. That's why we're allies -- it is in our interest to work together. In the case of the British, most of us are also fond of them, but that's separate, and neither a necessary nor sufficient condition for putting their needs ahead of our own. The true foundation of our alliance is our cultural commonality and similar worldview resulting from shared history. For this reason, I am not particularly worried that U.S.-U.K. relations would be seriously damaged by another four years of Bush.
posted by kindall at 9:50 PM on October 19, 2004


Can a typical Brit tell me (without looking it up) approximately what proportion of Americans favor a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman?

Can a typical American?

How many times have I seen non-Americans asking Americans online to explain that wacky electoral college thing to them? Many times.

Again, ditto for Americans.

The Democrats and Kerry should be very leery of accepting campaign contributions from foreign nationals, which is essentially what we're talking about here.

Is it? That seems like a totally separate discussion to me, and was not at all what I was talking about, personally. There's a difference between having a conversation with someone and feeding a campaign money.

Letting someone else make an important decision for me is a cowardly shirking of my duty as an adult human being.

I agree. Who is asking you to do this?

If the government is not looking out for its own citizens first and foremost, it is not doing its job.

I think our major disagreement concerns what constitutes legitimate self-interest. By your argument (If American interests should conflict with the interests of other countries, American voters are obligated to consider their country's interests first and foremost), one would have to support, for example, the U.S.'s dumping of vast quantities of raw sewage into the Sea of Cortez because our interest in getting rid of it superceded Mexico's interest in not receiving the pollution and it's attendant health concerns simply because it was ours. And I would argue that no civilized person would make such a claim. No nation exists in a vacuum.
posted by rushmc at 11:50 PM on October 19, 2004


No nation exists in a vacuum should be the mot de jour for all governing bodies these days.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:55 AM on October 20, 2004


kindall, can you not see the difference between a non-US citizen walking a citizen into a voting booth with a gun to their head and a non-US citizen offering an opinion as to what the impacts of US foreign policy are, and asking citizens to consider this when they are casting their votes?
As to American voters are obligated to consider their country's interests first and foremost, is it not in the interest of America not to have everyone in the world think they are selfish, polluting, xenophobic psychotics?
posted by biffa at 8:58 AM on October 20, 2004


Their country, they get to decide. Our country, we get to decide.

That was rushmc's point, Oliver. No one has given the Brits a vote, so all they are doing is expressing an opinion. If someone gives you their opinion, you can heed it or you can ignore it. If these people don't want to listen to the damn ferriners, then they don't have to. They should more upset that someone SOLD their information to a newspaper in a foreign country, than about the letter that that action generated.

And the irony is that the US is setting up elections in a country they illegally invaded and now occupy. The outrage of these people writing to the Guardian should be focused on the hypocracy of our own country's actions.

And you know honestly, what is the harm with reading a handwritten letter? Sure beats the wasteful junk mail most Americans are used to receiving.
posted by terrapin at 9:02 AM on October 20, 2004


Or forget that stuff kindall, and explain to me why you think you have the right to restrict my freedom of speech?
posted by biffa at 9:11 AM on October 20, 2004


is it not in the interest of America not to have everyone in the world think they are selfish, polluting, xenophobic psychotics?

Well, that depends, really. If they think we're selfish, polluting, xenophobic psychotics, but they work with us anyway, then it barely matters. It is nice to be liked, but it is hardly mandatory. Fortunately, a country's leaders tend to be rather more pragmatic than its people. Our interests remain too closely aligned with our allies for them to break diplomatic ties with us over something as fleeting as a Bush re-election, or for that matter anything Bush might do in the next four years.

I'm not saying it's not possible that we might eventually begin to have real difficulty carrying out our foreign policy due to a lack of allies. But this is a long way off. America is simply too important and powerful a country for most other countries to turn their backs on because of a few years of arguably incompetent foreign policy.

If it turns out that for some reason we must alienate every country in the world in the process of ending Islamic terrorism, then that is probably what we will do. (I'm not, repeat not, at all saying that this is the case, I'm speaking hypothetically.) To be sure, if we fail, it won't matter how much anyone else likes us, because most of us will be dead. That is what failure means in this scenario.

Being the most popular kid in school is not, cannot, be a primary goal of American foreign policy. Alliances are means to an end, not an end in themselves.
posted by kindall at 10:01 AM on October 20, 2004


If it turns out that for some reason we must alienate every country in the world in the process of ending Islamic terrorism, then that is probably what we will do. (I'm not, repeat not, at all saying that this is the case, I'm speaking hypothetically.)

You are speaking hypothetically, however you are new to this terrorism lark, and your president doesn't understand the two simple premises of it.

If you show them you are scared, they have won.

If your governing body begins to rule your nation by fear, they have won hands-down.
posted by catchmurray at 11:38 AM on October 20, 2004


Alliances are means to an end, not an end in themselves.

There's more to life than a large-scale game of Risk. What it boils down to is that you refuse to acknowledge that "inalienable" rights belong as well to those beyond our borders. Of COURSE the government must sometimes make difficult and unpopular decisions in the course of enacting its policies, including those regarding self-defense. No one is questioning that, except for some Republicans who are trying to pretend that John Kerry doesn't believe that and wants to win some sort of "popularity" contest (you even echo their memes directly in your comments). Acknowledging other nations as partners in global governance != letting them walk all over us...are you so insecure in your interpersonal relations as well (rhetorical question, but a telling one, I think...)? There is no moral relationship that does not involve some degree of powersharing. One does not have to dominate ruthlessly to survive or even to thrive.
posted by rushmc at 5:39 PM on October 20, 2004


are you so insecure in your interpersonal relations as well (rhetorical question, but a telling one, I think...)

The only person a rhetorical question "tells on" is the one who asks it.

To get back around to the subject at hand, there's a line being crossed here. Concerned foreigners enganging Americans in discussion, fine, healthy. Foreigners organizing specifically to campaign for Kerry, not so much. It's a campaign contribution -- not in cash, but in kind. Just on principle, I don't like it one bit, regardless of the fact that the U.K. is our ally.
posted by kindall at 6:17 PM on October 20, 2004


Almost forgot:

If you show them you are scared, they have won. ... If your governing body begins to rule your nation by fear, they have won hands-down.

You know, it's kind of strange -- I hear more people talking about how afraid Americans supposedly are than I hear actual expressions of fear from Americans. I'm certainly not "afraid" and I don't know anyone who is. We're all concerned about terrorism, certainly, but that's a different thing entirely. I don't know why non-Americans assume we're all cowering in terror over here.
posted by kindall at 6:29 PM on October 20, 2004


We're not. Our politicians are trying to keep us scared tho, which is not working. (If it was, Bush would have 80% approval ratings, instead of 40%ish)
posted by amberglow at 6:36 PM on October 20, 2004


Foreigners organizing specifically to campaign for Kerry, not so much.

Why not? If they are spreading lies, that is, of course, reprehensible, but if not, what matter the source of truth?

I think most Americans would benefit from some direct exposure to international opinion to deepen their perspective on world affairs, which quite frankly tends to be simplistic, uninformed, and self-centered. But even if it weren't, when did it ever hurt to listen to other viewpoints? This concern you display for permitting others a voice baffles me...listening to someone does not give them the authority or power to direct your thoughts or actions. If Russia and Iran want to start "campaigning" for Bush, I have no problem with that. I doubt I would find their arguments very persuasive, but I'd certainly hear what they had to say.

I hear more people talking about how afraid Americans supposedly are than I hear actual expressions of fear from Americans.

Really? Cuz I see it all the time, both expressed directly and through their behavior. How odd.
posted by rushmc at 11:11 PM on October 20, 2004


The guardian's assessment of the whole Clark County project, and a selection of the best letters. The winners will no longer be heading for Clark County, you may be interested to hear, but will instead be spending US election night in Washington D.C.
posted by biffa at 5:44 AM on October 21, 2004


Americans must vote for whoever they think is best for America, not who is best for "other countries around the world."

Really and truly? That seems so strange. Maybe I've spent too much time singing the Internationale, but I, and most people I know who pay attention to politics, look closely at the various parties' stance on foreign policy, international development, or, especially, Europe, at election time in the UK. Maybe not as closely as we look at policy on issues that will have a more direct impact on us, but still, I honestly can't see how you can cast a vote in a country with a strong influence on international affairs without considering what is best for all those other countries around the world. Not in the sense of worrying whether your country is 'liked', of course, but in the sense of whether your country is liable to, putting it mildly, mess things up for folk abroad.

As for the Grauniad campaign, they pretty much fucked up - raising a smile with a mildly funny wheeze isn't worth it when, judging by the responses, that wheeze will have the opposite effect to that intended.
posted by jack_mo at 7:39 AM on October 22, 2004


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