The United States often draws a lot of flak from the rest of the world for everything from its foreign policy to the way it runs its domestic affairs. In fact, it seems like there are few things that can divide the world more evenly and more strongly than asking people what their opinion is of the United States. It seems like there is no middle ground. Everyone has an opinion. Even in the same city, you’ll meet people who fall on the extreme sides of the spectrum.
Typically, it goes something like this – either they will respond with, “America is messed up. I would never go there, not even to visit.” Or, they will respond with something along the lines of, “I love America. Its government can do some whacky things, but the people are great, and it’s a beautiful country!”
Take your pick. It’s one or the other. But, what exactly is it that causes America to be so “messed up?” Even America’s own politicians can’t seem to stop talking about how messed up things are. Well, today we’re going to take a deeper look. Are things really as bad as everyone seems to think they are? These are 25 common misconceptions about the United States that simply aren’t true!
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Americans are ignorant about the world.
Americans are held to an unrealistic standard. Since the rest of us watch their movies and listen to their music, we know a lot about their country. But let’s be honest, we never studied it. We complain that Americans don’t even know that Czechoslovakia doesn’t exist anymore. But neither does half of the United Kingdom…and they’re on the same continent! It turns out that all of us are pretty bad at geography.
America spies on everybody.
True. But who doesn’t? Germany, France, Switzerland, Japan, Iceland, and all the rest of us spy on each other.
America is racist.
Racism definitely exists, and it makes the news. But you know what else? America also has a vicious media, and all of us watch it (sometimes more than our own media). When cops shoot black people in most of our own countries, it won’t even make the back page. Once you’ve traveled around Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, and South America, then we can decide who is the most racist.
Americans don’t use public transport.
While it’s true that they use cars a lot, many regions in America have great public transport, or at least just as good as Europe. Besides, what good is a train if nobody can afford it? We’re looking at you UK.
America does/has/is *fill in the blank*
America is far from being a unified entity. Each state has its own laws, cultures, and quirks. Some states have the death penalty, some don’t. Some have strict gun laws, some don’t. Some have free college, some don’t. Some have tax, some don’t. So just like you can’t say that Europe is so-and-so, you can’t say the same about the US.
Note: States are far more independent than many of us realize. In fact, every state even has its own military (known as the Guard). Furthermore, some states pass legislation that directly contradicts the federal government. This is because in the US, the federal government is not the highest authority…the states are. Here in Europe, our central governments were formed by limiting the highest powers (usually monarchies), while in the US the federal government was formed out of nothing. The states decided to give it very limited power, and anything that wasn’t explicitly specified in the constitution was left to the states. In Europe, those sorts of things would typically fall into the domain of the central government.