Are Americans really dumber than other people? One of the favorite snobbish British laughs is about how dumb Americans are about geography. “They don’t have passports! They don’t even know whether Moscow is in Russia or Italy! How dumb can they be?”
This is certainly true. I picked up a hitchhiker in Virginia once who, when she learned I lived in England, said, “Do y’all drive over here from England?” Another American girl asked me if we “spoke fluent English in England.” A third girl once asked my German sister in law if she spoke German.
Now all this may be excused by the fact that most Americans don’t actually need passports. It’s a big country. They have no need to travel outside America. Everything a holiday maker needs is here. They don’t need to go to Greece or Spain to get hot weather and a decent beach. America has tropics, mountains, deserts, beaches and endless entertainment. Why would most Americans want to go to Europe? To visit museums?
Are Americans confused about European geography? Perhaps. But then, ask an ordinary Brit on the street if he knows what state Chicago or Atlanta is in, or whether he can find Arkansas on a map of the USA or whether he knows the difference between Yosemite and Yellowstone.
Anti-American snobs are everywhere in Europe right now, but the British are the most hypocritical. The ones who are snobbish about dumb Americans usually have an amazing blind spot about the condition of their own countrymen. The British anti-Americans are mostly from the educated elite. They look down their nose at dumb Americans so they don’t have to see the dumb Brits in front of their nose, and geesh, are the modern crop of British youth dumb! Visit any British town on a Saturday night. They’re not only dumb, but they are inarticulate, lazy, violent drunks. Whenever the British feel uppity about dumb Yanks they should remember the lager louts, football hooligans and dumpy slags their country exports to the Spanish resorts each summer.
In fact, this whole argument is moot. There are smart educated people everywhere and dumb people everywhere, and what all of us do is excuse the dumb people in our own country and blame the dumb people in other countries.
What we really ought to do is look in the mirror and have a good laugh and realize that we’re dumb too. None of us know it all, and the ones who would debate that universal fact are the dumbest.
So, just for fun, use the combox to send in your dumb Yank, dumb Brit stories.