On Fri, Mar 11, 2011 at 6:22 AM, Paul A. Tanner III <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> I replied in > > http://mathforum.org/kb/message.jspa?messageID=7403951&tstart=0 > > - --- On Thu, 3/10/11, Robert Hansen <email@example.com> wrote: > > > From: Robert Hansen <firstname.lastname@example.org> > > Subject: Re: Conservatives wrongly keep defecating on the US public > school system > > To: email@example.com > > Date: Thursday, March 10, 2011, 11:44 AM > > Paul, I think the "It's Poverty > > Stupid" analysis has been sufficiently exposed here... > > > > http://mathforum.org/kb/thread.jspa?threadID=2243924&tstart=0 > > This all seems pretty circular in that the analysis I've seen is along the lines of: "if North America is consuming 40% of the world's resources (a commonly cited figure that would need a real source), then it has no excuse for having the level of poverty it does, ergo (facile conclusion): the education system Americans use to brainwash themselves turns them into idiots and dolts."
At this point you get the usual litany of all the "idiotic" things Americans do and have done around the world (lots of human sacrifice to the war gods, egged on by TV shows).
There's chauvinism involved here, i.e. a kind of feel good nationalism. People who don't identify as "Americans" are eager to point out that other social systems (e.g. theirs) are perhaps less intellectually squalid and more equitable. This game has been going on a long time, ever since we had cheerleaders and pep rallies (an ancient tradition, going back to the Mayans and before).
Foreigners cultivate a superiority complex vis-a-vis the USA in particular, as Canada looks rather better managed in a lot of ways (in their minds anyway -- no out-of-control bully-boy troops, hardly any private military firms who make a living doing craven and cowardly things (as they see it -- why Afghans asked those firms to leave (but were ignored of course, as many well-paying jobs were at stake))).
For example, I was reading this book by a Singaporean diplomat, a pretty high up guy. He feels sorry for Americans, as they'd been a generous people (more so than the Brits). But now that they've blundered into being an empire, they've gradually sunk to the level of morons in their outward behavior. 'The Sorrows of Empire' (by an American) offers a similar thesis, with movies like 'Charlie Wilson's War' showcasing the mentality in question (see Notes).
I don't remember to what extent the Singapore guy blames the standard USA curriculum though, but I'd bet a lot (were I a betting man) that he considers Singapore's far superior. Here in Portland, high schoolers attach the most prestige to IB (over AP), an indication that anti-Americanism is alive and well here as well (Howard Zinn is required reading -- fortunately our household has quasi-unlimited access (lots of IB going on)).
In sum, the skeptics are having an "I told you so" field day regarding Americans, thanks to its uncoordinated / spastic invasions based on spurious / concocted data (in Asia too). Sneering ridicule is the order of the day. A lot of tourists buy "I'm Canadian" shirts and learn to say "eh" when traveling abroad.
The Iranians feel especially vindicated in having called the USA a "great satan" all these years, as the connotation in Farsi is of a foolish beast, a decadent numbskull, a thoroughly pathetic and despicable being, nothing to do with the Satan some USAers surreptitiously and superstitiously worship, as some wicked-smart intellect ala Anton LaVey. That'd be a big step up from the Iranian point of view, or so sources tell me (lots of Iranians in Portland by the way).
I think the grad schools still get a lot of respect, but then these have become supranational in flavor, depending on a global cast of characters at both the faculty and student level. Like many corporations, the sovereign flag these entities presume to fly has to be taken with a grain of salt (healthy skepticism) as under the hood their allegiances are more global than local. Like Ben & Jerry's is Anglo-Dutch (whatever that means). Remember when Burger King used to fly those giant Stars & Stripes, even though it was owned by a UK-based consortium at the time? Talk about bread and circuses for the Roman hoi polloi.
One could argue this was the fate of the USA to begin with, to lay a foundation for global infrastructure (e.g. the Internet). In that sense, there's still a lot of respect for that engineering prowess, but it doesn't trickle down to those Wall Street people, who just come across as uber-greedy and ignorant, for the most part. Most the engineers are in California and such places (yes, these are all silly stereotypes, but I'm trying to get across why a faulty education system is still to blame in many circles, and held up as an example of how *not* to do things if you wanna really succeed in this world).