Thursday, November 23, 2006

With extreme prejudice

The past few weeks have really been a series of extreme experiences, culminating in a hot, dry landing in outback Queensland [Australia]. From the cold and wet rural region behind Vancouver to the dusty dry ‘Western Downs’ on the edge of the great outback.

Rural types a fairly typical, anywhere; with insular being a standard attitude. But having just returned from North America I have been struck by an almost mindless prejudice towards Americans.

As one person put it, fairly bluntly; “I don’t trust yanks! You can understand why!” No question, just the assumption of agreement. “No,” I said. “I don’t understand why!”

Not that I was willing to debate ignorance, just curious to know why. I know, particularly here in Queensland, there is a residual animosity over General Douglas Macarthur and his plans to usurp this northern part of Australia. But that was well over sixty years ago, and hardly seems relevant now.

Then I observed some of the TV these people are watching. Forget that there are 300 million people we are talking about here, from this town of around 1100. Forget that there are many different cultures within that population, many who would bristle at being called yanks. I’ve heard Texans singled out, for example, presumably because of their ‘braggadocio’ but can’t imagine them being happily described as yanks!

TV shows, much of the footage American, even when overlaid with local presenters, invariably show the dills and losers, the extremes which apparently make good entertainment.

To be sure, the Australian shows and characters receive to same groaning animosity, but then in this area if you are not local you are called a Kiwi! Prejudice they might be, but it seems to be against everyone. The ‘Yanks’ are singled out, in the light of these nonsense TV presentations, with words like; “And they think they are powerful!”

It was Prague Twin and the "Angry Rant Aborted" that threw up the perspective, in that case the unthinking wingnuts and rightist apologists. I suspect the mechanisms are the same; insular thought and fear of even trying to understand the world beyond their limited vision.

As ugly as prejudice is, it does seem to be universal, transcending race, colour or any other artificial barriers. Simply not being “one of us” is enough.

6 comments:

Kvatch said...

But that was well over sixty years ago, and hardly seems relevant now.

Well the Norwegians hold on to a fair amount of animosity toward the Swedes for letting the Nazis march through Sweden and into Norway. So...guess it doesn't really surprise me.

We're celebrating our Thanksgiving holiday today. Would be odd to wish you happy holiday, but I'm glad to know that your safe back in your native land.

Cartledge said...

Kvatch, oddly enough I feel out of time and place here now. I get to give thanks at 4:30 am when the birds start squawking at the rising sun.
But there is a world out there that I really miss in the safety of my native land.
Like General Douglas Macarthur I can confidently claim: I will return! So will might still get that beer one day.

Praguetwin said...

Thanks for the links! I have to get back into my routine. I keep forgetting you are writing even though you are commenting over at PT. Gotta clean out the cobwebs.

Anyway, I'm glad I can be of some inspiration. It is a good feeling.

And finally, I know all about feeling like a stranger in one's own homeland. It gets worse for me every year.

Cartledge said...

PT, no wucking furries mate! I'm not really back on the planet, the grip is extremely tenuous at present.
I'm trying to keep writing, though the brain is sluggish and generally uninspired.
"And finally..." Yes, its odd feeling displaced, but I'm working to fix that. The next adventure will be the US itself, enough of the provinces!
One man's meat...

Praguetwin said...

If you figure out how to fix it, please let me know. I'm planning to hit the states in March.

Cartledge said...

PT, sounds good to me :) Though the timing is in miracle territory I'm eager to return. There is a little unfinished business in Chicago.