Stodghill Says So

An opinionated posting on a variety of subjects by a former newspaper reporter and columnist whose daily column was named best in Indiana by UPI. The Blog title is that used in his high school sports predictions for the Muncie Evening Press.

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At the age of 18 I was a 4th Infantry Division rifleman in the invasion of Normandy, then later was called back for the Korean War. Put in a couple of years as a Pinkerton detective. Much of my life was spent as a newspaper reporter, sports writer and daily columnist. Published three books on high school sports in Ohio and Indiana. I write mystery fiction for Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and others. Three books, Normandy 1944 - A Young Rifleman's War, The Hoosier Hot Shots, and From Devout Catholic to Communist Agitator are now available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other booksellers. So are four collections of short mysteries: Jack Eddy Stories Volumes 1 and 2, Midland Murders, and The Rough Old Stuff From Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine.

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Thursday, September 07, 2006

Why do Americans behave obnoxiously when abroad?

On a message board I read regularly there was a post referring to a young child who wondered why people in other countries hate America. There were some good responses, then the post was deleted because hate is a taboo subject. Don't ask why because I can't figure it out myself.
If I were talking with that little girl I would tell her that America is hated only in certain countries, those in which politicians in Washington have acted in ways to make them feel that way. Most Europeans don't hate America although many also feel this country has too many heavy-handed policies, too many politicians with a we-know-what's-best-for-you attitude.
However, while they don't hate us a great many people in Europe can't stand to have Americans anywhere in the vicinity. Why? Because so many Americans that travel abroad are rude, arrogant, critical and far too noisy. You might say that they act just as they do at home. They dress like slobs, have loud, forced , unnatural laughs, expect everyone to treat them as if they were special and have little regard for the wishes or desires of anyone else. You can't walk down a street or enjoy a cup of coffee in a restaurant in this country without encountering that type so why expect them to act differently when overseas?
On a visit to old friends from World War II in the French-speaking area of Belgium we were treated like royalty. Patrick Daubie, a younger member of one of the families, served as our guide on a day-long sightseeing tour. He was a hotelier and as part of his apprenticeship spent six months in each of his employer's hotels in London, Paris, Rome, Athens and another city that doesn't come to mind. He was fluent in English and several other languages. He encountered many Americans wherever he went, of course. We had a great time that day, lots of fun, lots of laughs. At the end of the day Patrick said, "You two aren't like Americans. You're nice." Too bad, but that's the way it is far too often.
In Lucerne, Switzerland we were wandering the back streets as is our custom when at noon we saw what seemed like a nice restaurant. We always looked for one patronized by the locals, not tourists. This one was especially nice: white tableclothes, excellent service, for each of the regulars his favorite newspaper and personal napkin awaiting at his table. Dogs lying quietly under many tables, too, because European dogs are well trained and ignore all other dogs in restaurants. After a fine meal the owner came out from the kitchen and asked if he might join us fora moment. It turned out he was a graduate of the University of North Carolina. He asked how we happened to find his place and then said it was a pleasure to have had us there. "But please don't tell anyone else about us," he said. "We wouldn't want other Americans coming here." Too bad it has to be that way.
At the hotel in Bayeaux, France where we headquartered for eleven days the owner and his staff were friendly and cordial. The hotel restaurant has been in business for more than four-hundred years. They serve a highly regarded appetizer - although that may not be what they call it. It wasn't something we cared for so we ate a few bites and left the rest. Near the end of our stay an American couple just passing through town was seated at the table behind us. The woman tried the appetizer, then loudly complained that it was awful. Everyone in the place could hear her. The headwaiter, who had gotten to know us, walked by our table, grinned and winked his eye. After talking to her for a few moments and hearing her repeat again and again how awful it was the owner politely said, "It may be awful, but it's famous." All she had needed to do was not eat it. Too bad that wasn't enough to satisfy her.
We spent most of our evenings during our seven weeks in Europe relaxing in one quiet cafe or another. All too often we joined the locals in groaning when the door opened and several loud, boisterous people walked in. We'd look at each other and say, "Oh, no, not Americans."
But why should they behave differently abroad than they do at home? Too bad that so many Americans that travel overseas seem to be that type. Everything about it is too bad. So they don't necessarily hate us, young lady, they just hate having us nearby.

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6 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was involved in that dicussion on the message boards and I think PA was real nasty to pull it! This thread was refreshing and real, much better than the usual postings of all the 'ego salvers'. They just make me tired!

Well said, Dick!

See you at the boards!

5:53 PM  
Blogger E. Don Harpe said...

Dick, I too made what I thought was a very credible post in that same thread on that same website.

I fail to see why the moderators will pull an interesting and informative thread such as that one, and leave alone so many of the bland, mundane threads that are so prolific there. A couple of threads have gathered a thousand or so posts, and very few of them have anything to say. and yet the political threads and the topics such as the one you have broached here get deleted.

Perhaps we, you and I, are too old to easily over look these kinds of things, as I tire very quickly of any forum where freedom of speech is curtailed.

6:12 PM  
Blogger E. Don Harpe said...

Dick, I too made what I thought was a very credible post in that same thread on that same website.

I fail to see why the moderators will pull an interesting and informative thread such as that one, and leave alone so many of the bland, mundane threads that are so prolific there. A couple of threads have gathered a thousand or so posts, and very few of them have anything to say. and yet the political threads and the topics such as the one you have broached here get deleted.

Perhaps we, you and I, are too old to easily over look these kinds of things, as I tire very quickly of any forum where freedom of speech is curtailed.

6:13 PM  
Blogger Dick Stodghill said...

Just testing to see if this gadget is working.

1:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dick, I'm trying again.
just wanted to thank you for expanding on the subject on what was said concerning the child's question: Why do people hate America.
I like your posts in this forum, good straight talk.

ABe

3:47 PM  
Anonymous abemarch said...

Trying for the third time to get you a post. Just wanted to comment on your post concerning the "child asks".
Agreed with your thoughts on the matter.

Abe March

3:57 PM  

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