Monday, August 18, 2008

Don't confuse us with facts

One of the many accusations levelled at Americans (all Americans, all 370 million of them) is that they are completely ignorant of the world outside their own, admittedly very large and varied country. Actually, the ones who tend to be ignorant of both the world outside and the United States itself are the sort of "liberal" semi-intellectuals our own media and analysts love to talk to.

Two things come to mind: people in Britain asserting with a snigger that "ironically" those who were killed in the twin tower and Pentago attacks did not even know anything about the people who attacked them. It seems a little incredible that people who worked in various companies in the World Trade Centre or in the Pentagon had no idea about the rest of the world. What was ironic was that many of those sniggerers would, themselves, have been hard put to find Afghanistan, for instance, on the map.

The other chestnut is Americans know nothing about various rather unimportant British and European places. "They think Hull is just outside London," - someone said to me indignanttly once. Well, if you look at the distances, Hull is not far outside London to an American eye.

More to the point is why anyone outside Englans should want to know where Hull is. After all, the person who complained did not know where Seattle was and that is of greater importance to the world.

But, anyway, the natural assumption is that Americans know nothing about the rest of the world and that is why they blunder around. Whereas the sophisticated Europeans and, of course, British do know and do understand. In particular, they know about the United States and that is why they are entitled to make judgements about that country. Right? Well, up to a point, as Glenn Reynolds points out on Instapundit.

Actually, he links to an article in the Daily Telegraph but I tend to eschew that newspaper's American coverage because it tends to be so ignorant, out of date and biased, particularly as its correspondents in the US have made themselves into cheerleaders for Senator Obama.

This article, however, is of interest. Based on a recent opinion poll conducted by YouGov/PHI showed that on almost every subject there was a complete ignorance of the truth among the British respondents.
A poll of nearly 2,000 Britons by YouGov/PHI found that 70 per cent of respondents incorrectly said it was true that the US had done a worse job than the European Union in reducing carbon emissions since 2000. More than 50 per cent presumed that polygamy was legal in the US, when it is illegal in all 50 states. ...

The survey showed that a majority agreed with the false statement that since the Second World War the US had more often sided with non-Muslims when they had come into conflict with Muslims. In fact in 11 out of 12 major conflicts between Muslims and non-Muslims, Muslims and secular forces, or Arabs and non-Arabs, the US has sided with the former group. Those conflicts included Turkey and Greece, Bosnia and Yugoslavia, and and Kosovo and Yugoslavia.

Asked if it was true that "from 1973 to 1990 the United States sold Saddam Hussein more than a quarter of his weapons," 80 per cent of British respondents said yes. However the US sold just 0.46 per cent of Saddam's arsenal to him, compared to Russia's 57 per cent, France's 13 per cent and China's 12 per cent. ....
There is more about internal matters but not, perhaps, enough where many of these ignorant and erroneous opinions come from. Could it be the bulk of our media?

Let us not forget that opinion and the media that shapes it also influence policies. The reluctance to support the United States and acknowledge that the West should stick together or the importance of the Anglosphere has led, indirectly, to the crisis we are facing now in the Caucasus.

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