Saturday, July 3, 2010

Reasons to Dislike the United States

1. Religious fanatics. There are not that many of them in comparison with perfectly reasonable, rational people. However, the fanatics are so vocal, scary and desperate to make the entire world live according to their weird beliefs that they often eclipse the rational folks.* (I put the unfortunate phenomena such as the Tea Party, Sarah Palin, George W. Bush, homophobia, hatred of women and other similar horrors under the rubric of religious fanaticism simply because without it they would not come into existence.)

2. Two-party political system. I can only imagine how much better the life in the US would be if we had more than just two political parties that had a say in politics. Or, at least, if these two parties were not sitting cozily in the pockets of the same companies.

3. Racism. When I first moved from Canada to the US, the first major difference I observed was the painfully pervasive nature of the US racism. It's so bad that it really hurts to observe it.

4. Overboard patriotism. There is a time and a place for everything, but American patriotism does not accept that. Nor does it accept any limits on its manifestations that are often so loud as to be completely unconvincing. I always see at least two flags from any point outside of my house. US patriotism really doth protest too much.

5. Rejection of other cultures. The number of people who speak other languages, have traveled to other countries, or have any knowledge of other cultures is extremely low. And that's a shame because in my experience as a foreign languages teacher, Americans are actually very good at learning other languages. I just wish they got to learn them more often.

6. Cars. Obsession with driving is a peculiarly American disease. It's doing so much harm to this country every single day but nobody seems to care. The reality where every single family member including 16-year-olds need a car to survive is insane. It leads to an unhealthy dependence on foreign sources of petroleum, to wars, to social and racial stratification.

7. Suburbs. This very American idea that people should strive to live in the suburbs as opposed to the cities is very weird. Why do we give away our beautiful American cities to the stupid headquarters of stupid corporations? Why do we agree to move out to the boring, drab, inconveniently located suburbs that lack any kind of culture or excitement? In Toronto, for example, there is a movement that displaces companies to the suburbs, while people come to live downtown, close to where fun, civilization, and culture are located.

8. Foreign policy. Do I even need to mention that the US foreign policy has been one complete freaking disaster both for this country and for the world at large for the last 112 years? I don't want to write about this at length because it makes me too upset on this festive day.

9. Pills. For being so affected by religion, the American people are strangely materialistic in what concerns health and well-being. The pharmaceutical companies are winning their war on the American people, and we are doing nothing to oppose them.

10. Food. You might not know it if you never lived anywhere else for a significant length of time, but the food in the US is pretty nasty. Finding fresh, healthy foods that haven't been processed or messed with to the point where they become outrageously dangerous to people's health is a tough proposition, indeed. The Midwest and the South are particularly sad in this respect. Of course, when people become obese as a result, they are blamed for being "lazy" or "stupid" instead of placing blame where it's due: on the horribly unhealthy food.

* Of course, these lists reflect my highly subjective opinions, so there is no need to leave comments stating the obvious: "Well, that's just what you think." Yes it is, and that's supposed to be self-evident. Feel free to add to the lists your own points, though.


Anonymous said...

Gosh, those are my top 10 reasons, too, although I might add the rudeness and general ignorance of people, compared to what one finds in a lot of countries, and the vindictive disposition of people.

As in, comments to an article I just read about a disaster in the Congo included a lot of mean ones from Americans about how the people who didn't get away from the blaze fast enough deserved their deaths.

Clarissa said...

In the spirit of full disclosure, I was born and lived the first part of my life in the Soviet Union. After that experience, a herd of raging bulls will seem nice and cuddly.

Clarissa said...

It's curious that this post has already had almost 6 times more hits than the post on reasons to like the US. What does that mean, I wonder?

Izgad said...

Taking down the two-party system would mean dealing with at least one open Christian-theocratic party.

Clarissa said...

Izgad: we already have one, so what does it matter to have one more?

Remember that Evangelical president we had for 8 years? You don't get more openly Christian-theocratic than that.

Amanda said...

I actually want to eventually livei n the suburbs.... because of the food. I live in a city now, in an aprtment, and it's nice and cozy and I'm not taking up too much space, but I really miss having a garden. when i was a kid, all our summer produce came from the garden in the back yard or a local farm stand. In the city, I don't have a yard. In a suburb, i would-- and in addition to the garden, I also want to raise rabbits for food, and possibly chickens as well.

Clarissa said...

That sounds like a fantastic and DELICIOUS plan!

Anonymous said...

Ah, the USSR, famously mean. Do you think the Soviet Union caused the meanness, or was it there for some other reason -- or can one tell?

Clarissa said...

Yes, I think the repressions and the fear made people angry and ready to erupt in violence at the smallest provocation.

V said...

I think part of what is perceived as USSR meanness is also related to collectivist propaganda (and other forms of influence intended to manipulate people into doing what government thought is necessary). It did not always achieve the officially intended goal of making people work for the common good, but it did mess up peoples ideas about what constitutes personal space and what is respect to personal differences.

Clarissa said...

True! This is also a legacy of those "communal" flats, where several families were forced to live together in the same apartment, sharing a kitchen, a bathroom, and a hallway. This effectively destroyed notions of personal space and created a lot of hatred between family members and neighbors.

Thankfully, I never had to live in one of those flats but the very idea makes me horrified.