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Political Ignorance in Britain:

A recent survey shows considerable ignorance about US politics and foreign policy in Britain. As the Daily Telegraph reports:

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....

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...

Almost a third of Britons believe that "Americans who have not paid their hospitals fees or insurance premiums are not entitled to emergency medical care"; by law such treatment must be provided.

More than half the respondents believed that polygamy is legal in some US states, while it is illegal in all US states.

The survey results suggest that political ignorance about the United States is widespread in Britain. On the other hand, some of the survey questions described are relatively difficult (e.g. - the percentage of Saddam Hussein's weapons purchased from the US). Also, there is little reason for Americans to crow too much. Survey research shows that political ignorance is ubiquitous in this country as well. I haven't seen a recent survey of Americans' knowledge of European politics similar to the above survey of British knowledge about the US. But I have little doubt that the results would be no more impressive than the British ones, and quite likely would be even worse.

One could argue that knowledge of a foreign country's policies is less important than knowledge of one's own. This is true to an extent. However, the US and Britain are longtime allies, and the foreign policies of one have major effects on the other. And American and European domestic policies are often held up as either positive or negative examples for the other. So it would be valuable for British voters to possess at least minimally accurate knowledge about the United States and for American ones to have comparable knowledge of Europe.

None of this means that the British public (or the American one) is "stupid." Political ignorance is not stupidity. Rather, the problem is that it is perfectly rational for even most highly intelligent citizens to be ignorant about politics. However, as the Telegraph article notes, such ignorance can often influence public attitudes and government policy in harmful ways.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. American Ignorance About British Politics:
  2. Political Ignorance in Britain:
martinned (mail) (www):
Wow, I have to say that, despite following US politics quite closely, I would have gotten many of these questions wrong myself.

Just wondering about the wars between Muslims and non-Muslims question: Where does one put the wars between Israel and its neighbours? By my count, there have been at least four such wars, if you only count the big ones. With the possible exception of the Suez crisis, surely the US has backed Israel in all of these?

(I'm thinking that, in any event, the close historic ties between the US and Israel explains many respondents' answer to this question.)
8.18.2008 1:36pm
Malvolio:
Weren't there any questions wherein the Brits could display erroneously pro-American ignorance?

From TFA:
Most Britons were unaware of positive aspects of the US, such as the robust environmental movement or the social justice work of evangelical churches, he said.
Nice objective journalism there, Lou...
8.18.2008 1:45pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Arabs and non-Arabs

So is one of the wars they are counting the Iran-Iraq war? This is highly deceptive at best.

And as for the health care questions. The ignorance of U.S. health care pales in comparison to what Americans believe about the horrors of "socialized" medicine anywhere outside the U.S.
8.18.2008 1:46pm
Sigivald (mail):
It's important to remember that there's a difference between rational ignorance and being actively misinformed.

It would be perfectly rationally ignorant for most people to say "I don't know" when asked most of those questions. But to proffer an incorrect answer doesn't suggest ignorance, but misinformation.

(Assuming the poll would let them offer such an answer; I don't know its methodology, and I'm not going to bother to look for it, because experience has shown me the odds of it being available are almost zero.)
8.18.2008 1:50pm
nick99 (mail):
good report! thanks.
8.18.2008 1:53pm
Mad Max:
The poll is not counting any of the Arab-Israeli Wars in the "11 of 12" statement, which seems a bit deceptive:

False. Barry Rubin wrote in 2002 for Foreign Affairs: “The overall tally, in fact, is staggering: during the last half-century, in 11 of 12 major conflicts between Muslims and non-Muslims, Muslims and secular forces, or Arabs and non-Arabs, the United States has sided with the former group.” Those conflicts are: “Muslim versus non-Muslim states: Turkey vs. Greece, Bosnia vs. Yugoslavia, Kosovo vs. Yugoslavia, Pakistan vs. India, Afghans vs. Soviets, and Azerbaijan vs. Armenia. Arab versus non-Arab states: Iraq vs. Iran. Muslim states versus secular forces: Saudi Arabia and other monarchies vs. Egypt, Jordan and other regimes vs. Syria and Iraq, and Kuwait and Saudi Arabia vs. Iraq.”


I would say the US didn't back the Israelis in 1948 or 1956, in fact it backed the Arabs in 1956, but did back the Israelis in 1967 and 1973. So we are 12 out of 16 rather than 11 out of 12.
8.18.2008 1:57pm
martinned (mail) (www):
@Mad Max: Add to that a tie, because in Afghanistan the US are fighting with muslims against muslims, and the two wars in Iraq, and the score is 12½ out of 19.
8.18.2008 2:03pm
zippypinhead:
I wonder what the responses to these exact same questions would be from U.S. citizens? I'd venture to guess that several would have shockingly similar error percentages (but not the polygamy one, I hope).
8.18.2008 2:08pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
False. Barry Rubin wrote in 2002 for Foreign Affairs: “The overall tally, in fact, is staggering: during the last half-century, in 11 of 12 major conflicts between Muslims and non-Muslims, Muslims and secular forces, or Arabs and non-Arabs

My God, talk about selective use of conflicts to prove absolutely nothing. How on earth are wars between two dictatorial Arab governments in which we side with the one with the most oil prove that we favor Muslims over secular forces? Or we like Muslims because we sided with Pakistan over the predominately Hindu India (where of course we chose sides based on our perception that India was too close to Moscow). Conveniently leaving out our support of Israel is completely inexcusable. And of course in the Philippines, we have always supported the Christian government over the Muslim extremists.
8.18.2008 2:10pm
Mad Max:
@martinned: you could probably add a lot more "fractions" - two US interventions in Lebanon, airstrike on Libya, intervention in Somalia in the early 1990s, cruise missiles vs. Afghanistan and Sudan in 1998, special forces vs. Abu Sayyaf, etc etc.
8.18.2008 2:12pm
ejo:
don't forget that the ignorance is spread by the media which, in its fantasies, somehow regards itself as speakers of truth to power. you had posters here decrying the Iraq weapon numbers because it didn't account for the secret transfers that you just know must have been taking place. Ask them in two months which country, Russia or Georgia, invaded the territory of the other country.
8.18.2008 2:14pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Turkey vs. Greece

And why is Turkey a "Muslim" state when it fights Greece but Egypt "secular" when it has a beef with Saudi Arabia. The definition is awfully convenient.
8.18.2008 2:14pm
martinned (mail) (www):
@Mad Max: True. More interestingly, still, would be to weigh all the examples given so far by how visible they are or were. The average Briton could be excused for remembering more readily the US support for Israel than its support for Pakistan, say.
8.18.2008 2:15pm
A.C.:
It sounds like a pretty simple set of stereotypes, and if you read the British media it's easy to see where it comes from. You don't often read reports in ANY foreign media about how the US is exactly like other countries. You only read reports of how the US is freakish and strange, and so a reader can be excused for finding that sort of thing to be representative.

With 300 million people running around, you can find a freakish and strange example of pretty much anything. But I think some of the more sensationalist British publications go looking for it and blow it out of proportion. On purpose.
8.18.2008 2:17pm
Anon21:
I consider myself reasonably well-informed about U.S. politics and policy, but I wouldn't have the slightest idea what percentage of weapons we supplied to Hussein's government during a specific time period. The polygamy thing is really rather far afield for Brits to either know or care about; it isn't even a foreign policy issue, which is the aspect of American policy I would most hope Brits to be knowledgeable about. Similarly with the question about emergency health care, another one I'd have had to guess about the answer to (owing mostly to the fact that I've never been put in the situation of being uninsured and requiring emergency medical care, thankfully).
8.18.2008 2:18pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Quibble on the issue of percentage of SH's weapons sold by the US.
The important thing is not the actual percentage, but the proportion, large, largest, small, medium, nearly invisible. The correct answer would be the last, while it would be reasonable to accept "small", as well.
The point is that we did not "arm Saddaam". The Russians, the Germans, the French did. And I think he had some good South African artillery in 1991. Pieces, not gunners, I mean.
8.18.2008 2:20pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
you had posters here decrying the Iraq weapon numbers because it didn't account for the secret transfers that you just know must have been taking place.

Who on earth is "you"? Who besides a few nuts in the right-wing blogosphere claim that such transfers were taking place? The U.S. government admits that they were wrong about Saddam's WMD stockpiles, and that they were indeed destroyed in the mid-'90s.
8.18.2008 2:21pm
SusanC (mail):
As a Brit, I can see why it would be easy to get some of these wrong.

Historically, the Mormons practised polygamy, and (by recent news reports) the FLDS still practise de facto polygamy, even if their second marriages aren't recognized by the government. It would be quite an easy mistake to think polygamy might still be allowed in Utah. Though, if you've been following the news, it should be clear that Texas isn't too keen on it.

There are Americans who have difficulty getting the medical treatment they need for insurance reasons. The bit about it being emergency treatment is fine print in the question that's easily missed (it's a bad idea to miss the similar small print in your own insurance policy, though).

The fact that the U.S. sold some weapons to Iraq was a news story. The exact percentage is a detail that people might not remember (indeed, there might be difficulty getting accurate numbers here, e.g. if arms sales have been laundered in some way).

I think the questionaire is somewhat deceptive. It would be interesting to know how people did on less tricky questions on the same news stories.
8.18.2008 2:26pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
The important thing is not the actual percentage, but the proportion, large, largest, small, medium, nearly invisible. The correct answer would be the last, while it would be reasonable to accept "small", as well.

The issue is not whether or not we armed him but whether we supported him in his war against Iran. There is no doubt that we did and raised very little objection when he used chemical weapons against either the Iranians or his own people. The truth is that the genocide that we used as a partial justification for invasion in 2003 occurred at a time when we shrugged and figured as long as he was also killing lots of Iranians, what he did to the Kurds and the Marsh Arabs was his own business.
8.18.2008 2:27pm
Thomas_Holsinger:
I read on-line somewhere that you could get even more hilarious results by asking the same questions of Americans, so don't blame the British too much. At least they knew which country the questions were about.
8.18.2008 2:30pm
Mad Max:
The issue is not whether or not we armed him but whether we supported him in his war against Iran.

Well, arms are the most significant kind of support! There is no doubt that US support for Saddam simply was not meaningful in comparison to the contributions of others, most notably the USSR, China, and France.
8.18.2008 2:31pm
Sarcastro (www):
Americans would never fall for gotcha questions about Europe!

Why don't those Brits know all about us?! We're so important!!
8.18.2008 2:39pm
Gringo (mail):
A.C.:
But I think some of the more sensationalist British publications go looking for it and blow it out of proportion. On purpose.

Not just the "more sensationalist" publications. Also the BBC.
8.18.2008 2:47pm
Sebastian (mail) (www):
Who knew that it was even a common enough misconception that polygamy was legal in the US that they decided to poll on it? What would lead Brits to even believe this?
8.18.2008 2:47pm
Sarcastro (www):
Also, it's so clever and subtle to tease out liberal biases in Eurpoeans by means of questions even many American Conservatives would get wrong!

That Europe is liberal is news!

That people will guess based on their biases when confronted with questions they don't know the answer to is even more news!
8.18.2008 2:54pm
Thomas_Holsinger:
Sebastian,

I believe there is a current TV show ...
8.18.2008 2:56pm
Gringo (mail):
If you think that only the Brits have been subjected to sensationalistic reporting and/or misinformation about the US in their media outlets, check out award-winning German journalist Markus Gunther.

Instead of trying to explain/excuse the information from this poll, I would suggest that readers compare the information from the poll to the stereotype of ignorant Americans compared with informed Europeans.
8.18.2008 3:05pm
Houston Lawyer:
I must agree that the poll is meaningless. The facts used to argue about whether we generally supported Muslims are also meaningless. From time to time we support Muslims, but our reasons have nothing to do with that fact that they are Muslims. We always have our own reasons, and we don't even agree among ourselves what those reasons are.
8.18.2008 3:09pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
J.F. That may have been your issue, but it wasn't the question.

In the real world, J.F. the only practical alternative to shrugging is killing. Not speaking of your world where anything nice and fuzzy a republican failed to do would certainly have worked. The real world.
8.18.2008 3:12pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
In the real world, J.F. the only practical alternative to shrugging is killing.

Actually, the no-fly zones were pretty effective in protecting both the Kurds (especially the Kurds) and the southern Shiites from Saddam's excesses for the ten plus years between the two Gulf wars. So to claim that the only practical alternative is killing is patently untrue.
8.18.2008 3:28pm
Kevin P. (mail):
I am an immigrant who has traveled all over the world. In my admittedly personal experience, foreign people tend to think they know a lot about the US. This is mostly from watching sensational and shallow TV news and shows, so not surprisingly, much of what they know about the US is shallow and often downright wrong. The most "educated" people tend to be the most misinformed and the most certain in their opinions about the US. This includes my own siblings who I have to frequently correct when they become offensively wrong.

Many Americans don't know a whole lot about other countries but are also not afraid to admit it. That is the big difference in my opinion.
8.18.2008 3:37pm
martinned (mail) (www):
@Kevin P.: What you're saying is definitely true, but I'm still not buying that Europeans are as ignorant about the US as Americans are about Europe.

Map 1

Map 2
8.18.2008 3:46pm
Mad Max:
martinned, those two maps sure don't help make that case.

I am sure one could just as easily come up with a set of parody maps to demonstrate Euro-ignorance and -prejudice as well.
8.18.2008 4:02pm
mgv:
My wife is British, and I have spent every summer holiday there since the early `90s. Americans are very ignorant of Britain. But they know it, and don't pretend otherwise. Brits, by contrast, regard themselves as experts on the US -- even though most of them are incredibly ignorant of the US. As others have noted, this is a function of their media -- principally the BBC, but also newspapers. Even the "conservative" papers (e.g., Times, Telegraph) fail to depict/report political/cultural life in the US accurately. Also, the BBC presents a relentlessly negative portrait of Americans in its prime time dramas.
8.18.2008 4:03pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
J.F. You have to be kidding? Was the no-fly zone a line on a map? Or was it a 24-7 combat air patrol with live ordnance? The reason it worked is that the killing would have been substantial and utterly one-sided had anybody tested it. In fact, the allies did bomb air defense sites which used tracking radars or otherwise acted in a threatening manner.

You probably think you got one over on us.
8.18.2008 4:04pm
martinned (mail) (www):
@Mad Max: They weren't meant to. They were just meant to add a touch of comedy to proceedings.
8.18.2008 4:05pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

In the real world, J.F. the only practical alternative to shrugging is killing.

Actually, the no-fly zones were pretty effective in protecting both the Kurds (especially the Kurds) and the southern Shiites from Saddam's excesses for the ten plus years between the two Gulf wars. So to claim that the only practical alternative is killing is patently untrue.
I think J.F. Thomas is parodying his own delusional ignorance when he thinks a "no-fly zone" doesn't involve killing.
8.18.2008 4:41pm
Observer:
What is interesting is that all of these examples of political ignorance would generally work to make individuals view left-wing policies or politicians more favorably. Are there similar examples of political ignorance that would lead people to view conservative policies more favorably?
8.18.2008 4:44pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Are there similar examples of political ignorance that would lead people to view conservative policies more favorably?

I would say this country's political ignorance of how "socialized medicine" actually works in most of the advanced world is a prime example.
8.18.2008 4:53pm
Hoosier:
"By my count, there have been at least four such wars, if you only count the big ones. With the possible exception of the Suez crisis, surely the US has backed Israel in all of these?"

"Backed"? In what sense? The US did not begin supplying large amounts of aid to Israel--including weapons--until after the 1973 Middle East War was well under way. The foreign weapons used by Israel until then were largely French.
8.18.2008 4:56pm
Hoosier:
martinned: The obvious flaw with those maps: We Americans REALLY like the Australians. They should get better billing. And India should be labelled: "Native Country of Grandma's Doctor."
8.18.2008 5:00pm
Mad Max:
The US did not begin supplying large amounts of aid to Israel--including weapons--until after the 1973 Middle East War was well under way. The foreign weapons used by Israel until then were largely French.

No. The US started supplying major weapons systems to Israel in 1968 (e.g. Phantoms) that saw a lot of use before the 1973 war, e.g. during the so-called War of Attrition.
8.18.2008 5:08pm
Thomas_Holsinger:
Kevin P.,

That was my point to Sebastian. Many non-Americans think "Big Love" is a reality-TV show, so the British think polygamy is legal in the U.S. But the Brits would be deeply offended at our thinking that "Benny Hill" is a British reality-TV show. We don't believe their TV shows are real. They think ours are.

OTOH most Europeans could find their own countries, and ours, on a map. Americans have enough trouble finding ours. Did I mention that my wife is a high school teacher?
8.18.2008 5:10pm
David Hecht (mail):
"The US started supplying major weapons systems to Israel in 1968 (e.g. Phantoms)..."

Indeed. One of the great ironies of modern history is that perhaps the most philosemitic president *in his actions* was reputed to be an anti-Semite in his personal expression: Richard M. Nixon.

Aside from his moving in to replace France as Israel's major arms supplier, he undertook considerable political risk by unilaterally directing our military to resupply Israel with aircraft and ordnance during the October War.

Indeed, some of the aircraft that were ferried over direct from the production line went into combat without being repainted, leading to a long-standing myth among Arabs and others that the U.S. actually flew combat missions in support of Israel.
8.18.2008 5:18pm
ejo:
One could add that most Americans just don't care all that much about Europe in terms of where the countries are-as a nation, our historical learning about the continent consisted of sending our soldiers there to die in the hundreds of thousands for wars generated by them.

bottom line-we're just not that into them, although many of us do like Benny Hill.
8.18.2008 5:20pm
Hoosier:
Mad Max--I think we are talking past each other due to the term "large amounts". Four-dozen F-4s is not negligible. But it was nothing like the 40% of the foreign military aid budget that we would later send to Israel. France, on the other hand, had provided significant assistance for some time. (Though I am not in my office, and so don't have access to my books and thus the specifics.)
8.18.2008 5:22pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Clayton Cramer:

Yeah. The most bodacious killing of Desert Storm had nothing to do with the fact that the no-fly zones were not contested.

Jeez. You think he's that ill-informed, or does he hope we are?
8.18.2008 5:22pm
Hoosier:
ejo--Well. I am not a Benny Hoill fan. Though I do confess that I enjoyed Monty Pythin, before I had all of their skits memorized. But this "If it's British, it's good" approach to TV is pathetic. "Absolutely Fabulous"? "Waiting for God"? Ugh.

Give me "Venture Brothers" any day over that dreck.
8.18.2008 5:24pm
Smokey:
...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.
Aside from the fact that a substantial increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide is beneficial [despite incessant, self-serving UN propaganda], the U.S. has actually left the EU in the dust since 1997 regarding CO2 emissions:

-Emissions worldwide increased 18.0%
-Emissions from countries that signed Kyoto increased 21.1%
-Emissions from non-signers increased 10.0%
-Emissions from the U.S. increased only 6.6%

[source]

Oh, and:
I would say this country's political ignorance of how "socialized government medicine" actually works fails in most of the advanced world is a prime example.
There. Fixed it for you.

Carry on.
8.18.2008 5:39pm
Thomas_Holsinger:
Note to J.F.:

THAT is how to hijack a thread. $ex sells.
8.18.2008 5:40pm
DG:
"Actually, the no-fly zones were pretty effective in protecting both the Kurds (especially the Kurds) and the southern Shiites from Saddam's excesses for the ten plus years between the two Gulf wars. So to claim that the only practical alternative is killing is patently untrue."

Kurds, yes. Southern Shiites? No way. Saddam had complete power over the south and used it. I suspect many of our Shiite problems have had to do with the little screw-job we did at the end of the first Gulf War. Saddam's boot was heavy in the south after that, which meant lots of rapes, mutilations, and executions.
8.18.2008 6:18pm
BGates:
JF, I'm having a little trouble with the meter here:
All we are saying,
Is give peace enforced by thousands of sorties of military aircraft a chance
8.18.2008 7:14pm
martinned (mail) (www):
@Thomas_Holsinger: How do you go from watching Big Love to thinking that poligamy is legal in the US/Utah? Mutch of the plot revolves around them hiding what they're up to from the neighbours and the police.
8.18.2008 7:16pm
R Gould-Saltman (mail):
"Big Love" aside, mightn't even a reasonable, reasonably attentive Brit look at, say, a story in the New York Times and say: "Hmm. A State Attorney General having a conversation with a bunch of self-identified polygamists, and the conversation is something is other than 'I'm placing you under arrest for polygamy. You have the right to remain silent...'. I guess polygamy is more or less legal in the United States, as long as you don't marry children. . . "?
8.18.2008 9:14pm
TDPerkins (mail):

I would say this country's political ignorance of how "socialized medicine" actually works in most of the advanced world is a prime example.


This is what can be expected of nationalized health care:


"It's almost like losing a child."


Under socialism, more people die and from less intelligent reasons than would when freedom is respected in law. not realizing this is the chief political ignorance in Britain...

..and if Obama wins it will spread here.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, &pfpp
8.18.2008 11:01pm
Thomas_Holsinger:
BGates,

Have you seen British TV?
8.18.2008 11:38pm
Mac (mail):

Are there similar examples of political ignorance that would lead people to view conservative policies more favorably?

I would say this country's political ignorance of how "socialized medicine" actually works in most of the advanced world is a prime example.


JF Thomas,

My view of how socialized medicine works in England comes from English people who are permanently or temporarily in the US and who tell me that, "We don't know how lucky we are." That is always followed by a horror story of their own or a family member. If they are returning to England, they are always busy getting any medical treatment they need before they go back.

Also, of my Dr. who is Canadian and whose father had a heart attack. My doc could not get there for 3 days. When he arrived, they were just starting to treat his father. He was slightly over 60 and the plan there is to wait and see if you make it or not before you actually try to save the patient. He was livid, of course.

Also, my impression comes from the Liberal MP who came to the US (California) to have her breast cancer surgery. That was this year, I believe. Actually, I think she is the leader of the Liberal Party in Canada, but I could be mistaken.

Also, my impression of socialized medicine comes from my French daughter-in-law's Grandmother, now deceased due to breast cancer because she was too old (70's) to qualify for treatment so she just died from it without treatment. (3 years ago and one week prior to their wedding which was very sad.)

Socialized medicine is rationed medicine, Mr. Thomas.
8.19.2008 1:22am
ManBearPig:
i lived in England. They're pretty ignorant about American politics, system of government, culture, etc. They essentially know: Bush: bad; Texas: bad; NYC: good; American Football: bad; Soccer: should be "futbol"; War: bad; Guns: bad; there are others but you get the idea. Pretty much, they know the name "bush" but probably couldn't tell you much about his domestic policies.

Note: i'm really not kidding about british ignorance of american culture.
8.19.2008 1:35am
Mac (mail):
I recall when I was in France for the wedding of my son (see above) I did meet some French people who had traveled extensively in the US and they had a pretty good understanding of the country. However, one in particular stands out as she was talking about how wonderful America is except for Bush, of course. I informed her that I liked Bush quite well and disagreed with her. She seemed shocked. I wonder how she thinks he got reelected if everyone in America hated him?

I was also surprised at the number of young French people I met who said they would immigrate to America in a heart beat if they could.

Ditto the French father of my daughter-in-law, a very well traveled and cosmopolitan man who stated he was so happy his grandchildren will be American as "in your country anyone can be anyone can be anything they want. It is not that way in France. You can't advance here". His words, not mine. He also drove a Jeep Liberty SUV. I don't know what he is doing in France.

And ejo, I was also surprised by the daughter-in-law's French Grandfather. He was thrilled that his granddaughter was marrying a US Marine (in full dress Blues) as he remembers Normandy. The wedding was in Brittany so that could have made a difference. These comments came at the height of the French/American "hostilities". Not all of them are ungrateful, ejo.
8.19.2008 2:08am
Infinity Ball:
It's unfortunate that this site is saddled with a Sarcastro who is so bad at his trolling. Any time he's in a thread where other people use sarcasm, he winds up looking wildly outclassed. He is the Infinity Ball of trolls.
8.19.2008 3:54am
Hoosier:
"He also drove a Jeep Liberty SUV. I don't know what he is doing in France. "

Crushing Citroëns would be my guess. I mean, that's what I'd do.
8.19.2008 7:59am
Mad Max:
the U.S. has actually left the EU in the dust since 1997 regarding CO2 emissions:

As we get rid of our manufacturing base, we become better friends to the planet. Yaaay, outsourcing!
8.19.2008 10:40am
Anonymous #42:
Mac,
I wonder how she thinks he got reelected if everyone in America hated him?
Why, as everyone knows, he's an evil dictator that stole the election. Just like that Chavez chap, though Chavez at least has some reasonable social programs going.
8.19.2008 12:25pm
Skookum John (mail):
"OTOH most Europeans could find their own countries, and ours, on a map. Americans have enough trouble finding ours."

I have dealt with the supercilious Europeans who look down on us for not knowing all about their postage-stamp countries.

I inform them that the American states of Ohio, Iowa, and Idaho are separated by a total distance of 3500 km. Each of them has a geographical area larger than two-thirds of the nations of Europe, and Ohio has a larger population than 80% of the European nations.

Then I invite them, would they like to locate those three states on a map of the US, and tell me something notable about the culture or history or economy of each? I have yet to see anyone even come close.
8.19.2008 1:35pm
Mac (mail):
Skookum John wrote:



Then I invite them, would they like to locate those three states on a map of the US, and tell me something notable about the culture or history or economy of each? I have yet to see anyone even come close.



You are right. The manger of our hotel in Paris asked how far AZ is from the ocean as, he said, he has to take his vacations by the ocean. I told him only 10 hours or less, depending on how you drive. He was shocked. He couldn't imagine driving 10 hours to get anywhere. I don't think he had any idea how big the US is. He had never been here. And, here I thought we were quite close. I wonder what he would have said had I still been living in Ks. He probably would have thought I was lying.
8.19.2008 7:00pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
I ran into some Luftwaffe guys at Ft. Bliss in 1970. They were having a distance problem. I did some map work. To get to New Orleans was further than Berlin to Moscow. I didn't say it, only mentioned the idea of Texas high school football teams--all of whom were armed.
8.21.2008 8:40pm