by Lee, 11/30/2007, 2:54 PM

About two months ago, I was at the Northgate Park & Ride helping a UW transfer student from Sydney figure out which bus to take back to the University. She’d just arrived in the U.S. that morning and was buying basic supplies at Target. I recognized her accent and knew she was an Aussie right away. She seemed surprised that people she’d talked to earlier in the day thought she was English. I just replied “Americans are stupid.” She says, “You’re the second person to say that so far.” If what’s happening in Olympia isn’t enough proof, here’s more:

UPDATE: My god, people! Get a grip on yourselves. When I said “Americans are stupid” to her, it was said in a joking fashion to someone who was overwhelmed by being in this great country for the first time. The notable thing was that I wasn’t the first person to say that to her.

The bottom line is that Americans ARE pretty stupid (arguably the better world is ignorant) when it comes to knowing about the rest of the world. Survey are survey confirms this. The numbers are terrifying:

Take Iraq, for example. Despite nearly constant news coverage since the war there began in 2003, 63 percent of Americans aged 18 to 24 failed to correctly locate the country on a map of the Middle East. Seventy percent could not find Iran or Israel.

Nine in ten couldn’t find Afghanistan on a map of Asia.

And 54 percent were unaware that Sudan is a country in Africa.

I’m reasonably certain that commenter Puddybud could find Afghanistan on a map of Asia. That means that he’s arguably more knowledgeable about the world than 90% of young adults. If that doesn’t send chills down your spine about what’s going on, nothing will.

56 Responses to “Friday Funnies Open Thread”

1. Piper Scott spews:

Gee, Lee, with a comment and attitude like yours, you typify the breed.

The Piper

2. proud leftist spews:

Is she for real? That is truly scary if so.

3. BS spews:

Is SHE for real? How about is Lee for real? Saying “Americans are stupid” is about as an ignorant thing to say as saying “Blacks are criminals.”

4. Lee spews:

@1 and @3
Stop proving me right.

5. proud leftist spews:

BS
I can understand how she would impress you (and I’m not talking about her looks). Utter befuddlement, speaking without thinking, never knowing quite when to shut up. Hell, she’s your female counterpart.

6. BS spews:

I didn’t watch the video. But when I see someone say something as ignorant as “Americans are stupid,” I’m going to say something. Maybe you don’t have the balls to call him on it, but I do. Lee, what you said was just as ignorant as a racist saying “Blacks are criminals.”

7. YLB spews:

Well, well I bet she voted for GWB because of his family values!

8. ewp spews:

Many of us including our television and print media work very hard to create the impression that Americans are as dumb as a pile of dirt. A little self criticism never hurts. America is in fact one of the most creative and talented cultures in the world. Unfortunately that’s not the image we present to the world when we elect, or allow to take office, someone with the limited intellect of George Bush. And please, spare me the inevitable defensive rant that George Bush is actually a really smart guy. He’s not, and everyone knows it, including and especially his mother. He’s a useful tool for some, and an embarrassment to everyone.

9. Piper Scott spews:

@4 & 7…Lee & YLB…

The two of you prove your disdain for the American people by knee-jerking contempt for them. So you show a Jeff Foxworthy gameshow where a stereotypical blonde does her thing.

Big deal!

And what’s an Aussie doing going all the way to Northgate when there are tons of places to buy “basic supplies” closer to the UW?

What’s “stupid” is to insult your entire country to a guest. How would you like it if someone came to your home and another guest commented on how “stupid” you were to, say, be a liberal or live in Seattle or be a techie (indicating a genuine absence of people skills) or whatever?

Low rent!

The Piper

10. Poster Child spews:

Jeez, Lee, what a pig!

Look at how we’re kicking the world’s butt in terms of total Nobel laureates. We’re not Stupid. I think what you meant is Americans are insular, parochial, and ambivalent about the rest of the world. (and that that can come off as stupid)

11. Tlazolteotl spews:

How about a compromise:

Considering the fact that only about a third of Americans can even locate their own country on a map, what if we just say…

Americans are stupid when it comes to geography.

12. Tlazolteotl spews:

Piper proves his disdain for women by knee-jerking contempt for them. So he comments on a Jeff Foxworthy gameshow where a he claims a “stereotypical blonde does her thing.”

What’s “stupid” is to insult the entire female populace on this blog. How would you like it if someone came to your home and some dumbshit male commented on how “stupid” you were to, your wife or hired escort or whatever?

Fixed your typos for you, Piper. Touche’!

13. rhp6033 spews:

After working in international trade for the past fifteen years, I have to agree with Lee. Here in the U.S. we have been sitting on our rear ends for decades, smuggly thinking that since we were on top of the world in 1946, that we will forever hold that position. Yet many other countries have rapidly passed us by in manufacturing, education, finance, etc., while we continue to deny that it has occured.

For example: I remember well asking one of my co-workers when he learned the names and capitals of the provinces when he was in school in Japan. I was amazed when he said “second grade”. But then he clarified that he meant he had learned the names and capitals of the states within the United States then, he had learned all the provinces and capitals in Japan in the first grade.

Another co-worker who came here from Korea after High School was amazed that U.S. students thought the SAT’s were hard. She said her high school final exams were MUCH harder. She made a perfect SAT score on the math portion, and scored only a little lower on the language portion (she said she would have done better, but had been in the U.S. less than a year when she took the exam, in English).

Of course, many will argue that we have to educate everybody, while the other countries cherry-pick the best ones for the good high-school education, and relegate the others to technical schools. But if that was true decades before, it hasn’t been true for a long time. Even technical high schools in Japan and Korea provide a much better general education than do many of the higher-ranked U.S. schools.

And before the wingnuts argue that we need to abolish public schools entirely and make it all private, I would add that the U.S. private schools are also behind the average Japanese and Korean public schools.

There is plenty of blame to go around – it seems that the parents, teachers, and students are all suffering from isolationist syndrom and diminished expectations.

It reminds me a bit of U.S. society before Dec. 7, 1941: just about everyone looked down their noses on the Japanese, and expected that we could quickly dispatch them if war came. Likewise, we now still smugly think of most of Asia as being a second-class powers, if not third-class. But as our accumulated wealth goes out the door to pay for cheaper knick-nacks at Wal-Mart, we will soon be in a third-world economic status ourselves, after we have finished spending our parent’s inheritance. These aren’t just my words, they are also the opinion of Warren Buffet.

The fact that we are continuing along the same path, for most of my lifetime, supplies ample evidence to me that Americans indeed must have some form of brain defect which resembles myopia and tunnel-vision.

14. BS spews:

I don’t have any respect, in fact I have nothing but contempt, for anyone who agrees with the statements “Americans are stupid,” or “Blacks are criminals,” or “Jews are greedy.”

15. Proud To Be An Ass spews:

Name one liberal you respect, BS.

You don’t respect Lee because his politics are different than yours. The fact that your wingnut cohort spews the worst racist mysoginistic biased, close-minded garbage all the time goes remarkably unremarked by you.

Case closed.

16. Right Stuff spews:

I don’t agree with the notion that Americans are stupid. AS a sweeping generalizaion, one video of Kelly Pickler (sp) doing here dumb blonde routine does not reflect on our entire populus.

I would like to know if America is so dumb, why are we the first ones called for help? The most capable and willing to deliver aide? Drop everything to help other people from countries who’s leaders hate us? The most generous with our charity?

You may call that stupid….
I call it noble…..

17. YLB spews:

Well how about “a lot” of Americans are stupid. That’s an apt description for the 30 percent who just luurve Mr. 30 percent and his gang of criminals.

18. YLB spews:

why are we the first ones called for help?

Yeah, just give it to Mikey. He’ll eat anything.

19. Puddybud spews:

Liberals: As I remember the US was 3rd or 4th in Math and Science in 1965. Then the NEA took over schools and dumb down curriculum to the lowest common denominator or the YLB – The Clueless One’s (TM) level.

Now we are near dead last in Math and Science.

Thanks to the NEA for all their hard work!

20. Puddybud spews:

I thought it was the apt description of the 22% who love their liberally lead congress.

21. BS spews:

Case reopened.

Proud, unlike you, I am not afraid to speak out against someone I usually agree with. Where you will remain silent, for fear of offending a friend, I, like Martin Luther King Jr., I will stand up against wrong no matter where I find it. He was wrong and said something ignorant. You and I both know it. The difference is that I have the courage to say it was wrong, while you turn the other way.

22. Puddybud spews:

rhp6033: Do you recognize the name W. Edwards Deming without looking him up on Google?

23. Marcel spews:

If by “stupid” we meam relatively ignorant of foreign languages, foreign accents, foreign cultures, and basic facts about geography and politics in other countries, why yes, everyone knows Americans are “stupid.”

I have even heard people protesting in America that some signs are in Spanish. Yet if you go to Europe you often will see Americans complaining that people don’t speak English or at a minimum not even noticing that having multi lingual signs just helps everybody get where they are going.

Most Americans and especially the right wing ones are misinformed and believe that the USA is no. 1 in income, wealth, health and many things, all of which is not true.

Most Americans are proud of their ignorance and take positions like @16 above who seems to think that the USA is the global ledaer in foreign aid. Or the most generous. This is not true of course.

And interesting it is that at this moment the USA is occupying a country that was not a threat, that had been contained as Bush pere noted, and this is resulting in the deaths of 300,000-600,000 Iraqis, and the USA is now alone among nations in espousing torture, and somehow this fellow thinks Americans should be celebrated as “noble”?

This is very ignorant.

This exhibition of infantile amour-propre is well known around the world as the peculiar mark of the American.
this is to regret as there are many things Americans can be proud of. But Americans being culturally “smart,” no, that is a joke.

24. BS spews:

YLB, then would you also say that “a lot” of blacks are criminals?

25. Right Stuff spews:

@23
“Most Americans are proud of their ignorance and take positions like @16 above who seems to think that the USA is the global ledaer in foreign aid. Or the most generous. This is not true of course.”

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16638810/
“Americans give twice as much as the next most charitable country, according to a November 2006 comparison done by the Charities Aid Foundation.” Quote fair use from USAtoday.
http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2007-06-25-charitable_N.htm

And interesting it is that at this moment the USA is occupying a country that was not a threat, that had been contained as Bush pere noted, and this is resulting in the deaths of 300,000-600,000 Iraqis, and the USA is now alone among nations in espousing torture, and somehow this fellow thinks Americans should be celebrated as “noble”?

This is very ignorant.

This exhibition of infantile amour-propre is well known around the world as the peculiar mark of the American.
this is to regret as there are many things Americans can be proud of. But Americans being culturally “smart,” no, that is a joke.

Well Well, I have one question Mr. Marcel, look down your nose…..
From which country do you hail? or should I say, from which country that the US has saved from Facism, Communism, rendered economic aide, or for that matter been allowed to thrive with the umbrella of protection that our military provides around the world? Hmmm?

26. Puddybud spews:

BS@24: Of course he would, he’s YLB – The Clueless One (TM)

27. Right Stuff spews:

@23
Thank you will suffice

28. Puddybud spews:

I bet Marcel is a Jacques Chirac frenchie, not a Nikolas Sarcozy one. Hey if I misspelled them TOO BAD!

29. christmasghost spews:

well, lee, if americans are so stupid then why do we have the largest and most productive economy in the world? why do other people risk their lives just to live here?
and IF americans are so stupid [as in learning] i guess we know who to balme for that now don’t we?
teachers.
stupid self loathing proglodyte…….you never learn. talk about stupid.

30. Roger Rabbit spews:

Okay, here goes (deep breath):

I don’t believe Americans are stupid.
I don’t believe George W. Bush won the 2000 election.
I don’t believe George W. Bush won the 2004 election, either.
I believe both of those elections were stolen.
I don’t believe Americans were stupid enough to elect this guy.

There — happy now?

31. cmiklich spews:

She is the perfect product of the failed public school system. Too ignorant by far, but like any liberal, demanding that schools get more funding to “improve” education in America.

@ 13: You are dead-nuts right on.

And Lee is just being introspective when he refers to Americans as “stupid”.

32. YLB spews:

YLB, then would you also say that “a lot” of blacks are criminals?

What’s a lot? A thousand?

At least a thousand “whites” in this country are criminals. Some of whom work at the White House.

Was that offensive?

33. YLB spews:

Puddybud: you’re not supposed to blog after sundown on Friday. Sundown was at 4:20pm today.

34. YLB spews:

She is the perfect product of the failed public school system.

And I bet she voted for GWB for his family values. Funny how that works.

35. YLB spews:

teachers.

Ahhh. Ghost. Always the one to point the finger. It must be frozen in place.

And it never, never points at the owner.

36. Proud To Be An Ass spews:

BS Test: Ron Paul, in a political newsletter, asserted the following about blacks in Washington, D.C., “I think we can safely assume that 95 percent of the black males in that city are semi-criminal or entirely criminal.”

OK BS–let’s hear the outrage.

37. Proud To Be An Ass spews:

Proud, unlike you, I am not afraid to speak out against someone I usually agree with.

Bullshit. I see no evidence that you have ever done so, unless you’re saying you usually agree with Lee. Is that the case?

38. YellowPup spews:

I’ve been really fascinated with the Google Earth application (http://earth.google.com/), since it became available. Do you think the availability of this software, and how it’s already changed the way we look at maps (via CNN, Google Maps, and other applications), will help turn the tide on basic geography (the larger questions about geographic/cultural understanding aside)?

Atlases and political maps hide information through abstraction, and you often hear about cultural assumptions and biases being reflected in them. No representation of earth is perfect, and all involve abstracting information and funneling what’s left through a technology, but Google Earth is so flexible, and brings together so much information, it’s really a giant step forward.

39. Marcel spews:

Dear M. @25 Right Stuff:

I lament your ignorance and continued uninformed chauvinism.

You quote my statement relating to foreign aid and try to respond with a statistic about domestic charitable giving — thus providing confirmation of my point since your confusion appears to have a root in ignorance about foreign versus domestic. The USA does not give much foreign aid.:
From the leading journal Foreign Affairs:

When aid is measured as a share of national income, the United States ranks dead last at 0.15 percent. Top givers include Norway (0.92), Denmark (0.84), …
http://www.foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php?story_id=2773

And from a right wing writer there is agreement:
The claim of stinginess, however, comes from a different calculation — foreign aid as a share of national income. In 2003, U.S. foreign aid came to just 0.34 percent, well below the world leading Dutch at 2.44 percent. Other big contributors are Ireland (1.83 percent), Norway (1.49 percent), and Switzerland (1.09 percent). The U.S. would have to triple foreign aid just to reach the lowest of these contributors
http://www.nationalreview.com/nrof_bartlett/bartlett200501031119.asp

(In reality this writer could have said the USA would have to increase aid by EIGHT TIMES to equal that of the Dutch.)

The remainder of your comment constitutes an angry emotional reaction that is childish and an “ad hominem ” argument, the resort of one who is wrong on the facs.

It does not matter what country I am from. The facts are the facts.

I believe you make an assumption about what country I am from and were this to be relevant (it is not) I would suggest that you find out what country enabled M. George Washington to gain the victory after years of losing nearly every battle with and literally running away from, the British.
But that has nothing to do with the primary argument here (Americans are culturally, linguistically and geographically ignorant compared to people from other countries) nor the secondary argument to which you responded (the USA does not give much foreign aid).

If you wish to discuss other turths, like the fact that the USA in wartime has acted for its self interest in a way that has helped many other countries, including Western Europe, why you may. But this is irrelevant and does not rebut the argument that was made.

Your comment about “snooty” or “looking down” my nose brings me the Proustian memories of the school yard and the sandbox. Very childish and stupid, no?

As I stated, there are many things the USA is no. 1 in, and many things about which it can be proud, and in fact, I admire the USA greatly.

But no, the USA is not the leader in being knowledgable about foreign languages, other cultures, world geogrpaphy and such, which was the subject of the original post about an Australian accent and my comment.

No one was impugning the brave lads from the USA — and England, and Canada and Australia and NZ also — who landed at the Normandy beaches and then liberated Europe.

Bravo! Merci! Vive les Americains!

As for the claim that Americans are stupid, we need only look to those researches that show that a very large percentage of Americans still think Saddam Hussein was responsible for the terrorism attacks of 9-11…..it is literally stupid, that is, uneducated and ignorant, no?

I give thanks to God above that when American responded to the Nazis, she did not erroneously attack Spain or Mexico or another nation that did not attack America!!

Perhaps the President Roosevelt was smarter than the President Bush who had not even been outside the USA very much in thetime previous to his presidency, and who was unaware of the three ethnic groups, no?

In a word, was he not stupid, no? I mean Bush the son of course.

40. Broadway Joe spews:

RS:

I don’t think Americans are stupid. Just not well educated. I endured my school years with either the choice of either a poorly-funded public system, or the blatant Christianism of private schools (and this was over 20 years ago, when the ONLY non-religious private school in my area was the Montessori that was for kids under 12). Since not only could my parents not afford private schooling (or to take the time off for home-schooling, for that matter), they’d rather dive naked into a swimming pool full of double-edged razor blades (yes, I just quoted Weird Al lyrics) than see me in a religious school. My middle- and high-school years were spent in oversized classes, with largely indifferent teachers, and with money going to coddle football players instead of funding the art and science programs. The only thing that saved me (and I really do mean that) was a well-funded music program, aided by a well-organized group of parent fund-raisers, that allowed me to travel all over the West as part of one of the best marching-bands in the state. Sadly, the fund-raisers petered out as their children graduated, and a new band director was hired who chose to reduce the marching band to playing the school fight-song at halftime, thus saving money that could be spent on more goodies for the football team.

I don’t necessarily just say ‘more money for public schools’. Money that goes in MUST be spent wisely, and across a broad spectrum of studies and activities. I have no problem with merit pay for teachers, and getting rid of the those who don’t do their job well. I can think of about a dozen teachers I had in HS who probably deserved to be shitcanned. I also think that the good teachers deserve a hell of a lot more money than they probably make now. I have no problem with user fees for activities, so long as they aren’t so high that students from poorer families aren’t automatically excluded from them. I also don’t have a problem with drug-testing kids in such activities, especially those that happen in the public eye.

We do need to fund our public schools better, but not by blindly throwing money at a problem. I’m perfectly willing to pay more in taxes to insure that future generations aren’t forced to endure the crap that I went through. But there needs to be more oversight.

And just for laughs, while I don’t think schools don’t need to set aside a set time during the school-day for prayers of any sort (you know, Muslims have space and time issues, Wiccans need their props, and the building costs for confessional booths is prohibitively high), I have always been of the firm belief that as long as there are tests in school, there will always be prayer in school.

41. Broadway Joe spews:

But Americans are instinctively good people. Open, friendly, and generous to a fault. Even those of use who may not make a lot of money are willing to give, if only what they can afford, to help those in need. My wife and I routinely give money to charities here in Reno, and donate lots of canned goodes for food drives. And it didn’t hurt that when our pop-up trailer was stolen, it was recovered fullto the gunwhales of canned food, apparently left by whoever had stolen it! Needless to say, we were able to make a pretty big donation…..

42. me spews:

Lee’s comment to the Aussie only exemplified himself (and his posting). What an idiot!

43. headless lucy spews:

How ’bout that ‘Surge’!! Wow!! It’s REALLY working! More soldiers = Less Trouble.

I guess that’s why Republicans took 100,000 cops off American streets!

44. headless lucy spews:

We need to TAX her winnings at a higher rate. Poor people need more free money — and cute, dumb, blonde bimbos are one sure way of generating free cash.

45. EEEK! A TERRRIST! spews:

Oh Gawd! The dumb! It buuuuuurrrrns!

46. Lee spews:

My god, people! Get a grip on yourselves. When I said “Americans are stupid” to her, it was said in a joking fashion to someone who was overwhelmed by being in this great country for the time.

The bottom line is that Americans ARE pretty stupid (arguably the better world is ignorant) when it comes to knowing about the rest of the world. Survey are survey confirms this. The numbers are terrifying:

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2006/05/0502_060502_geography.html

Take Iraq, for example. Despite nearly constant news coverage since the war there began in 2003, 63 percent of Americans aged 18 to 24 failed to correctly locate the country on a map of the Middle East. Seventy percent could not find Iran or Israel.

Nine in ten couldn’t find Afghanistan on a map of Asia.

And 54 percent were unaware that Sudan is a country in Africa.

I’m reasonably certain that Puddybud could find Afghanistan on a map of Asia. That means that he’s arguably more knowledgeable about the world than 90% of young adults. If that doesn’t send chills down your spine about what’s going on, nothing will.

47. BS spews:

Lee, I am really laughing at your joke. I thought when you said “Americans are stupid” it was as funny as when someone says “Blacks are criminals.”

48. Lee spews:

@16
I would like to know if America is so dumb, why are we the first ones called for help?

Because we’re rich and have resources.

49. Lee spews:

@47
Lee, I am really laughing at your joke. I thought when you said “Americans are stupid” it was as funny as when someone says “Blacks are criminals.”

Well, even though statistics show that Americans know less about the world than people from other countries and blacks in this country do commit certain crimes at a higher rate than others, not all Americans are stupid and not all blacks are criminals. But I still thank you for further demonstrating why my joke works so well.

50. BS spews:

I think it’s unfair (and ignorant) to compare Americans, with our multi-cultural society, with people from other industrialized nations which are more homogeneous. Many reasons go into why many Americans can’t find Switzerland on a map. I wonder what percentage of Chinese can find Switzerland on a map? For that matter, I wonder what percentage of people in Switzerland can find Iowa on a map? And are all Australians stupid if many of their citizens can’t distinguish a Texas accent from a Georgian accent? The fact is, most people in most countries are just going about their lives, living day by day, trying to support and love their families. A great many people don’t care about accents or the boundries of far-off nations. Their world is their work, family, and friends. While I think the true point of Lee’s original make himself seem like he is smarter and better educated than most Americans, I like to remember what Mother Theresa said about belittling others, “When you diminish others, you diminish yourself.”

51. YellowPup spews:

Lee @46: Stupidity such as it is, what do you think is the reason Americans are so deficient in basic geography? Is it the education system, the media, or is it a willful ignorance/cultural thing? Or maybe a question for Marcel would be, why do you think Europeans are so much more proficient in geography than Americans? Is it that we don’t read the international news, don’t spend enough time with maps, what is it?

It’s interesting to me that people here know so little about even Canada, our closest neighbor, with whom we share the longest border. But coverage of Canadian politics and current events is rare in our MSM. It’s always interesting to drive up to Vancouver and turn on the news to find out what’s happening in Afghanistan, in Ottawa, and so on.

52. IAFF Fireman spews:

Doesn’t have anything to do with our failing public schools and the influence that the teachers union have does it?

53. Marvin Stamn spews:

#6 BS says:

But when I see someone say something as ignorant as “Americans are stupid,” I’m going to say something. Maybe you don’t have the balls to call him on it, but I do. Lee, what you said was just as ignorant as a racist saying “Blacks are criminals.”

  
Don’t fault Lee for this, HIS friends, family and the people he hangs with are stupid. Lee needs a better class of friends and associates.

54. OneMan spews:

@50 and 52: it has to do with our own collective self-absorption and disinterest in the outside world.

This has been true for decades. Before WWII there was very little interest in the goings-on in Europe and particularly Asia.

Spend a week listening to the BBC and their coverage of events in the entire world and you’ll see a marked contrast with our own media, which reflects the popular culture.

EVERYBODY gets taught geography in school. My own kids have sent plenty of time filling out maps for school projects, reading world history, the works. Most Americans don’t absorb it because they don’t care, because they don’t think they have to.

And that is stupid.

55. Tommy Thompson spews:

BS @3 – All gays suck dick.

56. Lee spews:

@51
Stupidity such as it is, what do you think is the reason Americans are so deficient in basic geography? Is it the education system, the media, or is it a willful ignorance/cultural thing? Or maybe a question for Marcel would be, why do you think Europeans are so much more proficient in geography than Americans? Is it that we don’t read the international news, don’t spend enough time with maps, what is it?

I think it’s a willful ignorance thing, but it’s partly due to circumstance (I don’t believe that it has anything to do with potential, obviously). Many Americans simply don’t have any interest or place much value on learning about the rest of the world. This is reflected in how we educate our kids (it’s not a public school or private school or homeschooling thing in particular). How little our kids know about the rest of the world is simply a reflection of how little we care about the rest of the world.