Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The View From Down Under: America as seen by the Australians and the New Zealanders

The View From Down Under

Most Americans I think have a high regard for Aussies, based on our traditional mutual support of one another in our common wars. These positive views were I believe re-enforced recently with the rather sudden appearance of a whole bunch of first-rate Aussie movies in the 70s -- among some of my favorites would be Gallipoli and Breaker Morant. Then of course everybody loved Mel Gibson and Crocodile Dundee. Aussie culture quickly became the latest rage with the American in crowd.

But Americans really don't know what Aussies think about them. And I think they might be surprised. I for one was very much surprised by the amount of support and honest affection for America coming from down under -- especially considering that our own leftist media has us all thinking that everyone in the world hates our guts.

So I approached my good friend and fellow collaborator KG at Crusader Rabbit in Australia.

Now, anyone who has had the pleasure of visiting CR already knows about their loyal band of regular commenters, smart, outspoken, fearless, and surprisingly well-informed about the state of affairs in the good ole US of A. So why not ask them? Why not give them the chance to voice their unique opinions about this beleaguered country of ours? Both the pros and the cons. Without their being filtered through the notoriously biased medias of both continents. Just plain old fashioned straight talk between fellow bloggers, just regular guys and gals who just happen to know what the hell they're talking about. So our good KG bought the idea and here we go. I hope my American readers find this as enlightening as I do.

Although, perhaps unfairly we too often use the all-emcompassing term Aussies, we are, as you shall see, equally blessed to have many good friends and loyal readers from New Zealand as well. And obviously we look forward to your opinions with the same interest.

So, without further preamble, here are a selection of some of the comments we have thus far received, the good, the bad, and hopefully not too much of the ugly. This is a brand new venture so we haven't really developed any rules -- just the usual deleting of obscenities and overtly anti-American rants. This will be for now at least an open ended posting; if more comments come in, we will simply add them to the article.

Thank you all for your kind enthsiasm and your thoughtful offerings. We begin with a nice compliment from Katie:

It is a great idea. I too would love to hear the opinions from you guys.
Katie Homepage

Well Katie, I've made my feelings very plain for years now, but I'll kick off with this:There are millions of us worldwide who aare "American, just born in another place" as someone once said. We admire America for her liberties, her principled stand for freedom, for the decency and integrity of the overwhelming majority of her people. We see American airplanes and ships first on the scene of natural disasters, helping out with typical generosity and efficiency those who very often have had nothing good to say about her.We also see an enormous military that for all it's fearsome efficiency still manages to be extremely careful to distinguish the innocent from the enemy combatants, and takes casualties as a result.A powerhouse of innovation, inventiveness and productivity, a country where alternative viewpoints aren't subject to State terror.The list goes on and it's a damn long list at that.Do I regard America as perfect? Of course not--no country ever is nor ever can be. But I regard her as the closest thing yet to a free society and still the gold standard for liberty. It'll be a grim day indeed for the world should America ever fail to lead.
kg Homepage 08.27.08 - 10:05 am #

As Richard Jeni said: "America - fifty million illegal immigrants can't be wrong". And as I say: If America is really the "Great Satan", an awful lot of people seem to want to dance with the devil. Wake Up 08.27.08 - 10:48 am #

I like Americans. In general they are polite, truthful and VERY patriotic. They would rather live in their own land rather than anywhere else (like us Aussies. Milk and cookies and a good knowledge of their nation's history is evident.Their election process worries me. It seems to be more about the availability of money for a campaign than actual issues. If I was an American I WOULD vote even though it is not compulsory. The Democrats will send the country to the shitter especially in these time when military might is paramount.The Brits have disowned us in defence (shafted us in the past) and we need the USA as our big brother.I worry that sometimes the Americans are too self absorbed and don't know enough of what goes on in the outside world. They have a huge country so it may be that there is no need for them to look outside their borders for the average citizen.Americans are portrayed on TV and in film as stereotypes. Stereotypes are few and far between. It is the plebeian public that chooses to accept what is portrayed through the media.It's only a small contribution KG but I hope it helps.
Anonymous 08.28.08

Thanks Marc--it sure does.
kg 08.28.08 -

Go read here
Tiberius Homepage 08.28.08

And I didn't fuck up the link either!
Tiberius Homepage 08.28.08

Let me get the bad out of the way first, what i don't like about America
In a word, liberals. If you want me to list some of the things i don't like, bear in mind these aren't common to all Americans or confined only to America.Promiscuity.Materialism.Soft on immigration, i understand many Americans want strict controls, but there are enough who don't see the negative long-term effects of illegal immigration.The walls in apartment blocks are so thin.Have i mentioned liberals?You still pay tax.Aren't all the above the fault of lierbals, alright maybe not the walls, but you see why i don't like them don't you.
What i like about America.T he right to bear arms, yeah, yeah banging that old drum again.The armed forces of the United States. America is a force for good in this world. Free speech, and i mean real free speech, not the kind the rest of us think we have. It's a beacon for liberty and safety.I t's the least socialist country i know of. America knows what to do with evil scum.The help that Americans freely give to the poor and suffering around the world.America saves us the true cost of standing on our own.Americas military hardware, wow.
In America, you are free to succeed and free to fail. Everything is bigger in America. Americas' existence and success grates with Liberals the world over. America stands in the way of Communism.They killed those Nazi bastards. Didn't they save our asses in WWII. You don't pay as much tax in America. Fast food. Cheerleaders. The punisher. Cars are so much cheaper in America.What America has done in Iraq.The point of this post, Americans care what others think about them.
MK Homepage 08.28.08

What a nice post! at alla yaz!..I may just have to come to Australia this year!..MK's list is awesome too.
Angel Homepage 08.28.08

Tiberius, I "snitched" your beautiful commentary - gonna post it on a Marine message board {WITH attribution, of course!}, 'cause a LOT of my fellow Marines will appreciate it ...................

Now, for Roger's request:I'm kind of an exception as an American, in that I've had the opportunity to travel/live outside the U.S. {visited Mexico & Canada as a child, lived in Mexico recently, and was able to visit Morocco, the Czech Republic, Germany & Austria as an adult}. What I found, for the most part, was that the 'regular folk' in other countries offered the acceptance and kindness that I would like to believe most Americans would offer visitors from other countries when they visit HERE.In Morocco, I met a young Berber tribesman, who was sent to the city to sell the jewelry his tribe made while traveling the desert - he seemed to enjoy practicing his English with us, and just showed such a kindness of spirit that I wanted to hug him {of course, THAT was a no-no, since I'm an 'infidel woman' }.When we lived in Mexico, for the most part, we were treated well, with the exceptions of women working in a pharmacy, who commented that we 'should learn Spanish' before we came to their country, and the man who told me, because his wife was stupid, that I was the type of American who caused 9/11 - that didn't preclude his asking us to help him emigrate to the U.S. No gall there, nossir!!
In the Czech Republic, my husband would go to work, & I'd take the car he rented for me & drive to Kaufland's, a grocery store, park & walk across the river to the city center - always, always, ALWAYS, I was treated with kindness and respect, from the various stores to the InterNet cafe I frequented.I absolutely fell in love with the Graz region of Austria - the natural beauty is breathtaking, and the people are friendly - the Piber Lipizzaner stud farm is wonderful, and very English-language friendly.
In Munich, the people were pleasant & friendly, but there was a ................ 'discomfort' ............... there, that I attribute to an ongoing embarrassment regarding WWII - I may be completely off-base in that presumption, but there you are.
Would I go back to visit any of those places? In a New York minute! Because, "our" MSM to the contrary, I did not find resentment, or the perception of 'the ugly American'. I happen to believe most of that comes from the "elites" of any group.
Hope this helps!
Semper Fi'
DMDiamond Mair Homepage 08.28.08

I am American but have lived most of my life outside of my country. I can see the bad. Mainly, we are spoiled and take too much for granted. Lately, the youth seem to be willing to allow the government to provide for them in a way my generation would have been humiliated to accept. BUT, the good of our country outweighs the bad so very much. Having lived in Venezuela under the Chavez regime, I noticed the stark reality of the lack of the right to 'the pursuit of happiness'. We can achieve anything we dream of, if we pursue it, where as in many places that possibility does not exist.
Jungle Mom Homepage 08.28.08

Bad- liberals and Hollywood

Good West Texas Country music and the politeness of Texans in general.

Let's not forget that due to the cultural war, we're virtually talking two countries these days. The horrible pseudo-liberal America epitomised by Hollywood, and the traditional America, which is the one we all revere.

Redbaiter 08.28.08

Hi Roger! I'm a NZer who lived & worked in the US from 1986-90 incl. I also lived & worked in numerous other countries for another six years, so there's a lot of basis for comparison.

I found that no matter where you go, MOST people are good people, and treat others accordingly.

Firstly, a bone to pick with MK & Red! An old bone, but one that drives me bloody crazy ... that constant misuse of the word 'liberal' .. something I blame Americans for, by the way! Liberal is derived from 'liberty' - something the left appears to despise - and yet they hijacked the term. (Guess 'dictator' rankles, eh!)

Is it because they're liberal with other people's money?! Grrrr. But I digress.

Good things about the US:

1. Thomas Jefferson & the brave FF
2. Constitution & Bill of Rights
3. NE in the autumn - nature at its most glorious
4. Grand Canyon
5. SF Bay Area (loved living there)
6. Military might
7. Overseas disaster relief
8. Sweet, generous, hospitable people

Things that drive me nuts:

1. Waste: food left in restaurants, taking a dozen napkins when a couple would do, etc
2. Ludicrous-sized food portions
3. Patriot Acts 1 & 2 - a disgrace
4. Judicial activism
5. Creeping socialism
6. Tolerance of badly-behaved kids & the ones who started this 'smacking is abuse' bullshit - the rest of the west has since caught up, of course. Thanks for nothing, Hollywood.
7. Vacuous celebrity worship
8. Home of political correctness that has since infected the rest of the world
9. 'African-American' .. drives me nuts, that. Nonsensical.
10. Crap fast food - trust dumbasses elsewhere to follow suit
11. Positively enormous govt ..

.. which is perhaps the worst of all:

The refusal by so many to realise that freedom is indivisible and that responsibility is the flip side to freedom; that you simply cannot have one without the other.

And that govt is not the solution, but usually the problem.

A fact not lost on Jefferson.

Sus 08.28.08 -

Gravatar My two cents worth:

The US is the light of the world.

And I say that as a patriotic Kiwi too.

The briefest of comparisons between NZ's and The USA's history shows that we have a lot more in common than just about anywhere, indeed I've talked to many who have lived, travelled and worked in the US (I myself have not.Yet!) and all who I talked to found that it took only a matter of days to acclimatise.

So in short, the US is a mate. And where I come from you stick with your mates.

Oh and I'm a big Rockabilly music fan too!

exocet 08.28.08

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - from the American Declaration of Independence.

These are such powerful words, and along with the US Constitution, have defined a nation like none other. It is the 'Greatest Democracy' - and this has created a society possessing confidence, strength of character and the will to help others.

And this is evident in the Americans I have met. Of course there are the caricature Americans - loud, brash and wealthy - but they are the occasional rather than the rule.
mawm 08.28.08

The US is like a big brother who is a bit loud and embarrassing at times, but is the one we all holler for when there is a fight in the schoolyard.And he's our big brother and for his minor faults, we still love him!You can quote me on that!
Oswald Bastable Homepage 08.28.08

Read Emma Lazarus' poem "The New Colossus", WHICH IS INSCRIBED AT THE BASE OF THE STATUE OF LIBERTY. A few words from it:"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free;The wretched refuse of your teeming shore; Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me; I lift my lamp beside the golden door".What other nation, EVER, has had such an inscription on its front door?" NONE.
For that matter, what other nation has a Statue of Liberty beckoning the rest of the world?
If America goes, we all go.
Wake Up 08.28.08

A note from Radarsite: We'll keep this article open through tomorrow, just in case there are any more comments out there. And as I promised, we will continue to add new ones as they come in. Normally at this point Radarsite would offer a summing up of my opinions of the previous article. However, I'm not so sure about this one. Maybe it doesn't need a summing up. Or maybe someone besides myself might feel like offering their own summation. I guess we'll just play it by ear and see what happens. Right now I'm going to just enjoy reading through them all and seeing what I can learn from them about my own country. Thanks again for your encouraging responses. I'll keep you all up to date on further additions. And a special thanks to KG for offering his venue for this little experiment in communication.
Till later,
Your friend,
Roger G.
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29th August 2008


  1. It's amazing to hear how others view us without the intermediary of the MSM. That is a big part of the problem. The media tends to lump all foreigners into one category.

    Having lived outside the US, TDY while in the service to many lands, and hubby had a tour of duty to Germany (way before the wall fell), I made it my business to behave in a respectful manner to my hosts. After all, I was representing the United States (actually when in uniform and figuratively in Germany). I hope by my behavior and actions, the citizens of the nation I was in had a better opinion of Americans.

    We should take this into account when we do travel out of country. For the "Ugly American" in many cases has been all so true.

  2. Good points Findalis. I have yet to make it to Europe, but if I ever do, I will be as unobtrusive as a shadow.

  3. Firstly let me state that I am biased. My wife is from West Virginia and thus I am never going to loudly criticise the USA.I value my life too much.

    The good:

    Your forefathers said enough and stood up for themselves.
    There are still enough of you who will stand up when needed.
    Anything else is a bonus

    The bad;

    Those arrogant fools who tell others how to live their lives.
    Hollywood "stars" and Berkley.

    From my visits to the USA, the great majority live in small cities and towns, just like Wagga wagga, Bundaberg, Eketahuna and Palmerston North.
    Normal, nice people who are worried about their kids, their homes, their country and their society.
    Then of course you have the war zones, like parts of Los Angeles, Sth Auckland, Redfern and parts of Perth.

    The attitude of some of my countrymen towards my wife, because she has an American accent has appalled me. It is rare and as you would expect it comes from narrow minded morons. I could never be accused of being tactful and it has been amusing to watch some people when they realise the gorilla is grumpy.
    We are at present deciding where we want to be in ten years time and parts of the USA are high on the list.

  4. I always hear whisperings that the negative view of America on the world stage isn't as homogeneous as it's made out to be, but it's still great to hear it from the horse's mouth (no pun intended, mates!).

    I'm especially glad that there is negative sentiment appropriately directed at Hollywood culture. And I'm sorry its poison has leaked onto the world stage.

    Most enlightening, though, is how people from across the world seem to have a more direct understanding of what it takes to be free than some of us do. "...responsibility is the flip side to freedom; that you simply cannot have one without the other." You hear the word responsibility tossed around a lot, but hearing it from across an ocean gives it new meaning.

  5. Thank you Roger for caring what the rest of us think.

    For all the prancing and whining from the America-haters in the western world, i seldom hear them ask what anyone else thinks of them.

  6. These comments left me in tears. What a wonderful idea to post them! Thank you so much.

  7. I exercised a long time ago with U.S. troops, in Louisiana and was staggered by their warmth and generosity.
    Years later I went back for a visit and met nothing but kindness and consideration, something which continues to this day. An American friend has sent me books I couldn't afford to buy and others have offered friendship and support, with no possible hope of material gain.
    Kindness, consideration and honesty appear to be American's default settings and I for one never confuse the actions of a tiny minority with what is the core of America--an essentially decent, warm-hearted people.
    God bless you.