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Arch Enemies: Who’s Next?

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Terrorism has replaced Communism as the arch enemy of the United States, except it’s not red. Since the Soviet Union collapsed, we have no more “Red Threat,” as President Kennedy called it during the Cuban missile crisis. In the geo-political worldJKF and the Red Threat
of board games, the Soviets played Risk while the United States played Monopoly. In the end, the commies ran out of money just about the time that President Reagan famously said, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” At least the Communists had faces, terrorists not so much.

We had become used to arch enemies during WWII, especially the Nazis. At the conclusion of the war, we were left with the face of Josef Stalin, Russian dictator of the Soviet Union and of Communism, for the enemy’s name. His face was known because of newsreel and newspaper coverage at Yalta where he was featured with the benign despots Churchill and Roosevelt. But soon, two other events changed the face of Communism: the Cold War and television.

President Harry S. Truman set up a loyalty program for federal employees and expected all federal workers to demonstrate “complete and unswerving loyalty” to the United States. Anything less, he declared, “constitutes a threat to our democratic processes.” Truman also asked the Justice Department to compile an official list of 78 subversive organizations. That set both Senator Joseph McCarthy’s star and cast communism as our arch enemy and national threat.

Joseph McCarthy (R-WI) coined the term of an era in a speech he gave in Wheeling, West Virginia, February 9, 1950. He said, “…for this is not a period of peace. This is a time of ‘the cold war.’” Later, Senator McCarthy became the face of anti-communism gone overboard when Edward R. Murrow went after him on CBS television. Television began to feature Communists as villains until the Berlin Wall began to fall and the era of Communist villainy fell with it.

Here are some of the great, former arch enemies of the United States.Khrushchev and Nixon

“Politicians are the same all over,” said Nikita Khrushchev, “They promise to build bridges even when there are no rivers.” Khrushchev fit the bill as the Cold War face of Communism, famously banging his shoe on a lectern at the United Nations and declaring that the Communists would bury us. He looked like a farm worker in a suit which made Vice President Richard M. Nixon and President John F. Kennedy look great on television by contrast. Khrushchev also provoked the US with a ballistic missile system close to home, in Cuba.Khrushchev and Castro

Fidel Castro came down from the hills to the Hilton in Havana to take over the island nation and television made him a star. Before becoming an arch enemy, Castro debuted on television in 1959 with Ed Sullivan, something that ticked off both Murrow and CBS. Castro is the last surviving communist dictator from Latin America, where dictators dominated governments that armies overthrew on a seemingly regular basis. Still vilified today in South Florida, where one spits over one’s shoulder when his name is said, Fidel [ptew] is also one of the most televised.

Television followed President Nixon to China and to its Communist Party Chairman Mao Tse-Tung, our arch-enemy in the East. “Politics is war without bloodshed,” Mao is quoted, “while war is politics with bloodshed.” The Chinese carried little red books and
pictures of Chairman Mao, as John Lennon sings, “But if you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao / You ain’t gonna make it with anyone anyhow,” in Revolution. Mao was the face of Chinese Communism that westerners recognized.Mao and Ho poster

We also recognized the face of Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh, who said, “I’ve never heard of any president being so close to his people.” Born Nguyen Sinh Cung, Ho Chi Minh was a Marxist Communist post-WWII leader who formed the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. He also led the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War. Ho died in September 2, 1969 but the war continued until 1975, when Saigon fell to the Communists, who renamed it Ho Chi Minh City.

Arch enemydom began to change at the end of the 70s, in the Carter administration, with the appearance of Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini who said, “America is the great Satan, the wounded snake.” With a line like that and a menacing look like his, the Ayatollah became the face to hate.Ayatollah Khomeini A cleric, not a Communist, the seizing of Americans as hostages ushered in the Reagan administration, ABC’s Nightline and the end of Communism as an enemy, but not the end of arch enemies.

You say Muammar al-Qadhafi [Al-Jazeera], we say Moammar Gadhafi [Fox, CNN, and AP]. Whichever, the well-heeled little Libyan dictator has the face but fails to rise to arch enemy status. That brings us to Osama bin Laden, who said, “We did not find it difficult to deal with Bush and his administration, because it is similar to regimes in our countries – both types include many who are full of arrogance and greed.” President Clinton signed a directive authorizing the CIA to use deadly force with bin Laden and we did.

Unless you look, do you know who Public Enemy Number Three is? In this country we know who is number one and probably number two in anything: sports, beers, cars, colleges, movies. Arch enemydom seems to have an opening for the moment. Who will be ranked Number One and have their face put on a target next?

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About Tommy Mack

Tommy Mack began his career in broadcasting and is a US Army graduate of the Defense Information School. He worked in Army Public and Command Information and earned a BS in Liberal Studies from the State University of New York, Albany. A marketing communications executive, Tommy became a business management consultant for a major international consulting company and its affiliates before establishing Tommy Mack Organization, a business consulting practice specializing in organization and communications management. A professional writer and blogger, he writes about politics, business, and culture.
  • Glenn Contrarian

    Tommy –

    Perhaps it would be President Ahmadinejad of Iran…but I suspect most Republicans would say it’s President Obama.

  • Clavos

    Not even I (though again, I am not a Republican) would say that, Glenn, that’s a bit over the top even for me, sitting as I do, to the right of Attila.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos –

    You know, I could make the case that the level of irrational spite against Obama is the worst I’ve seen in my life…but then I have to think back to what was going on in the sixties. While the Vietnam war was very wrong, the level of ‘irrational spite’ had to be as bad or worse than today’s. So I’ll back off and try to engage my brain next time before giving an off-the-cuff remark like that.

    That said, who then will be the next bogeyman? Ahmadinejad? Chavez? Kim? I suspect we won’t really have one until the next major terrorist attack…or until we have someone in the White House who doesn’t understand diplomacy.

  • Clavos

    My money’s on Chavez, I hate what he’s doing to one of my favorite countries, but it’ll probably be Kim or one of the Middle Easterners.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    What is he doing and to whom?

    Personally, I think it will be Kim or his son that’s poised to take over. It will either be during the turnover, or – if the one-and-only story I’ve seen about him has any credence, the son will do something really stupid in order to ‘prove’ himself.

  • http://tmackorg.com/ Tommy Mack

    My hay stack is ready for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s picture poster. He gets my vote not only for his stated “Death to Israel” position, but because he is a flaming populist, a lame duck and religious zealot in a business suit. Earlier today Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, tried to put they guy in his place by endorsing him. Supreme leader clerics do that kind of thing and nothing good can come of it.

    I think Glenn got the jump on the Obama-haters, too, but it’s early.

    Tommy

  • Leroy

    This fellow says that Ecologists are the new commies (at least to the Bush/Obama security system):

    Green is the new red.

    Didn’t Bush say that “eco-terrorists are our worst threat”?

  • Cannonshop

    Ya got it wrong, the new Archenemy is going to be Conservatives. you have to remember who makes the movies and the teevee shows, it’s already largely started, it’s just a short step forward along the same path.

  • Baronius

    When were communists the bad guys on TV? I remember Indians, then white Southerners, then corporations.

    I remember when The Hunt For Red October came out, and people were calling it the last Cold War movie. National Review called it “damn near the first”. So many Cold War era movies featured a corporation or cabal as villain, whom the Russians and Americans had to team up to beat. That was the basis for most of James Bond’s movies. If there was an evil ideology in Cold War movies, it was neo-Nazism.

    And if Islamic terror is the new arch enemy, where are the TV shows about it? They were sometimes the bad guys on 24 and The Unit, but as often as not the real bad guys behind it all would be the CIA or some other clandestine intelligence service within the US government. And movies: in Rendition, Green Zone, Redacted, Lions for Lambs, In the Valley of Elah, and several others, the bad guy is the US.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Baronius –

    Maybe communism was not vilified on television, but certainly on the big screen. Remember “Red Dawn”? Or any of the Rambo movies? And “Rocky !V”? And let’s not forget Chuck Norris….

    But notice that all these came during the Reagan era, back when he – to his credit – was bring our military back from its post-Vietnam malaise. Those movies were not his doing, but were a byproduct of increased nationalism during the early Reagan years.

  • Baronius

    The Deer Hunter, Apocalypse Now, Platoon, Born on the Fourth of July….

    As often as not, the US military was the bad guy in Cold War era US war movies. Remember that the Americans were just as guilty as the communists in Rambo II (and the Missing In Action movies, I think) for allowing the POW’s to remain in Vietnam, forgotten. And in the first Rambo movie, the villain was a small-town sheriff.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Maybe there are more ambiguous or even anti-US movies from the late sixties and the seventies, but in the 1950s and early 60s, that was rarely the case. Even satires like Dr Strangelove and Billy Wilder’s One Two Three had plenty of anti-Soviet zingers.

    Baronius makes a vast and false generalization, then ignores the exceptions. And by the way, James Bond certainly fought Russian villains [SMERSH] as well as international supervillains. Even the title of one of the Bond films refers to the Cold War: From Russia with Love.

  • Baronius

    Also, remember the spy novels of the Cold War era? Robert Ludlum and Frederick Forsyth? At best, both sides were equally evil, but the focus was on the nasty things that the CIA or other Free World spies did. And the granddaddy of Cold War spy novels, The Manchurian Candidate, portrayed the anti-communists as stupid and evil.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    And is it bad to occasionally cast the U.S. military as the bad guy? Certainly not! There’s not a single president I know of who doesn’t have innocent blood on his hands courtesy of our military.

    But the military’s job is (among other things) killing, and the president’s job is to accept responsibility for what our military does.

  • http://tmackorg.com/ Tommy Mack

    My context was news not entertainment regarding the personae given to represent our arch enemies. My opinion is that entertainment follows news topics but its production leads news presentation. The Communists granted interviews. The terrorists produce videos.

    Tommy

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Baronius –

    And the granddaddy of Cold War spy novels, The Manchurian Candidate, portrayed the anti-communists as stupid and evil.

    Um, Joe McCarthy was evil. Maybe stupid too, but certainly evil.

    Among our presidents, JFK was an anti-communist, too – and while he did allow us to get embroiled in the Vietnam war, he also got the Soviets to blink and to remove their missiles from Cuba.

    But then Nixon – who was as evil as any of our presidents – was not necessarily an ardent anti-Communist, for he allowed his pragmatism to overcome his dogma, and opened up China as a result.

    But there’s one anti-communist that I hold to be one of our best presidents – Eisenhower. But we’ve no one even on the political horizon that could bring what Eisenhower did. Colin Powell could have, but he chose family over power…which says a great deal (in a positive light) about him.

  • Baronius

    Handy – I’m in my mid-40’s. I’ve heard the claim that Hollywood made pro-American films before my time, and for all I know the era I grew up in was a legitimate reaction to the propaganda that came before. I just don’t remember that. I don’t think that any of the anti-communist films carried the weight of a Platoon or a Coming Home, or I would have heard of them. The movies from the 1950’s that I remember were WWII and cowboy movies, Hitchcock and noir.

    There’s always variety within our culture, and exceptions can be found to every rule. It’s nonsense to claim that Hollywood was consistently anti-communist in the 1950’s, 1960’s, 1970’s, and 1980’s as Tommy did. We can argue about which trend was more dominant and lasted longer, but no one can claim that the mid-1960’s through the fall of the Berlin Wall saw a steady stream of pro-US films from Hollywood.

  • Baronius

    Tommy – I misunderstood the article. I didn’t mean to get us off on a tangent.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Most Hollywood movies from all eras are escapist fantasy [even the Bond films with SMERSH as the villain].

    Coming Home and Platoon may have their pluses and minuses as art, but I wouldn’t class them as leftist propaganda. They were attempts to deal with the pain the Vietnam war caused. Jane Fonda’s and Oliver Stone’s personal political beliefs are a different matter. [And Stone’s Born on the Fourth of July and JFK are indeed propagandistic, but more raving loon than hard left.]

  • http://tmackorg.com/ Tommy Mack

    The tangent, my dear cardinal, is fine. Let me suggest that the 1982 Richard Brooks film “Wrong Is Right” starred Sean Connery and did not do well in the box office. Perhaps it was because the topics of media bias, reality television, government conspiracy, and Islamic terrorism were slightly ahead of their time. I would not have thought about it otherwise.

    Tommy

  • http://cinemasentries.com/ El Bicho

    “When were communists the bad guys on TV?”

    While they weren’t as pervasive for as long as Tommy suggests, did you not see a single spy series from the ’60s?

    “the Russians and Americans had to team up to beat. That was the basis for most of James Bond’s movies.”

    Bond was British, so what film was it where Russians and Americans teamed up? I’ve seen almost all of them, so I am surprised I overlooked that plot point occurring in most of the films.

    Here are some anticommunist films: The Red Menace (1949), I Married a Communist (1950), I Was a Communist for the FBI (1951), Walk East on Beacon (1952), My Son John (1952), Big Jim McClain (1952), and Trial (1955).

    If you think there were no pro-American films, I seriously doubt you were looking.

  • Baronius

    El B – At least once in my rantings, I did use the better terminology of Free World vs. Communists, instead of Americans vs. Russians. I suppose I could have said NATO vs. Warsaw Pact. You know what I meant, though.

    Of the movies you mentioned, how many had the cultural impact of, for example, The Deer Hunter?

  • http://cinemasentries.com/ El Bicho

    Actually, I had no idea what you meant. You made so many statements, a few of which showed you had no idea what you were talking about like American James Bond and his frequent teaming up with the Russians, or misreading Apocalypse Now to think that the US was the bad guy when the story was much larger than that, I wouldn’t presume anything.

    What was the cultural impact of The Deer Hunter other than it won a few meaningless awards? All people remember nowadays is the Russian roulette scene.

  • Baronius

    El B – Can I get you to go so far out on a limb as to speculate that a person could watch Apocalpyse Now and not come away with a feeling of confidence in the American military with regard to the Vietnam War? Or that The Deer Hunter had a bigger impact on society than Walk East on Beacon?

    Handy – I think that the point of From Russia With Love was that the West and the USSR were equally innocent dupes of SPECTRE. In the end, the Russian agent and Bond got together and killed the SPECTRE assassin.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    El B, it’s worth remembering that although the character James Bond was British, the person hugely responsible for the success of the Bond movie series was Cubby Broccoli – an American.

    Except for perhaps the first two or three, the Bond movies have a very American outlook. M, Q and Moneypenny aside, Bond’s most trusted sidekick is also an American – Felix Leiter of the CIA.

  • http://cinemasentries.com/ El Bicho

    Can you ever follow up on a comment without changing the goal posts? You’ve just changed from the US military being the bad guy and softened it to not having confidence in them?

    How a person interprets a work of art is subjective so there’s a wide range of opinions people could walk away with, regardless of the artist’s intention. If a person watches ApocNow and their main takeaway is focused on how the US looks, I would say that’s rather narrow minded.

    Telling me DH had a bigger impact than another movie rather than answering the question of what DH’s impact actually was makes me speculate that you don’t know the answer.

    Doc, I imagine Ian Fleming (not an American) and plenty of others would disagree with your statement.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/irene-athena/ Irene Athena

    What’s the really, really sad one where the only woman Bond ever really loved gets shot in the head? Wasn’t she an American?

    I won’t know the right answer of course, s the first person to give any answer at all wins the movie argument.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/irene-athena/ Irene Athena

    You only live twice, or so they say…nope, she was Japanese, and didn’t stick around long. In the one I’m thinking about, he actually got married to her….umm..all the time in the world….oh what was the name of it?

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/irene-athena/ Irene Athena

    OK clearly out of my element with the Bond thing, but as for the next GOVERNMENT-appointed Public Enemy Number One I’m going to go with Leroy’s answer: environmentalists.
    The Green Scare. They’ve already been named “the greatest terrorist threat” and more than one of them has already been entrapped in a fed-orchestrated sting.

    Until there’s a “War on Conservatives” like there’s a “War on Drugs” and a “War on Terror”, conservatives are not going to be public enemy #1, no matter what Hollywood says.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    Irene (#27):

    It was On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, the only Bond film to star George Lazenby (Connery had quit the role, but finished sulking in time to return for Diamonds Are Forever).

    In it, Bond not only falls in love but gets married, only for his new bride to be immediately murdered on Blofeld’s orders.

    The short-lived lady in question was Tracy (an Italian), played by Diana Rigg (an Englishwoman).

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/irene-athena/ Irene Athena

    YOU win, Dr. D! Thanks.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/irene-athena/ Irene Athena

    I was right about All the Time in the World being the song, though. Oh, such a sad movie! Almost a chick flick. (I’ve spoken heresy; I’d better leave.)

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    The Deer Hunter was viewed as apolitical or politically muddy or even slightly right-wing by many in 1978. The North Vietnamese are portrayed as one-dimensionally as the Japanese in American war movies of the 1940s. The final scene of the characters singing “God Bless America” could be viewed as ironic or politically ambiguous or simply very sad.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    I love OHMSS, except that Sean Connery isn’t in it. The action scenes are spectacular [and they inspired Inception, as did the great John Barry score]. The ending is straight from the book, but I wonder if audiences would accept an action thriller with a sad ending now?

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    Yeah, Handy, I agree it’s one of the best Bond movies. Not many people seem to agree, for the sole and rather unfair reason that it has George Lazenby in it and not Sean Connery. Lazenby does a solid job, albeit he has nothing like Connery’s charisma, and of all the actors who’ve played Bond his portrayal is probably the closest to Fleming’s creation.

    Apparently Tracy’s murder was originally planned to be the pre-title sequence of Diamonds Are Forever, but a rethink of this idea became necessary when it became apparent that Connery was going to return as Bond, which would have meant reshooting the scene.

  • Clavos

    a person could watch Apocalpyse Now and not come away with a feeling of confidence in the American military with regard to the Vietnam War?

    maybe I need to watch it again, because it’s been a very long time since I saw it, but I didn’t get that out of Apocalypse Now at all. i cam away with an impression (which I also got in the war) of futility and inner darkness.

    Hell, I don’t know, maybe I’m thinking of a completely different movie. If it’s the one I think it was, it scared/depressed the crap out of me, and I’d already fought in the war when I saw it.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/irene-athena/ Irene Athena

    Clavos, for a long time, I could not bear to listen to “Adagio for Strings,” not in ANY context, because it evoked memories of “Platoon.” If anyone else feels the same way, this might help. I vetted it; there is nothing in it to offend.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    “Adagio for Strings” – that’s the saddest song of any type I’ve ever heard. IIRC, it was also used in “Empire of the Sun”, but I heard it on CD before I ever heard it as part of a movie.

  • S.T..M

    Clav: “to the right of Attila”.

    Only marginally!

  • S.T..M

    Ian Fleming was a wartime British spymaster who, like most Britons of that era, believed that along with the countries of the empire, they and the US were the only ones in the free world who’d had the balls to stand up to Nazi Germany and Japan.

    Brits of that era, while acknowledging the differences and (only just) accepting almost 200 years after the fact that the US was a sovereign nation, tended to lump themselves in with Americans as defenders of democratic freedoms.

    IMO Doc’s right … Bond might be British, but his creator wouldn’t have differentiated too much between what it meant to be British and American in the context of Bond and his work given they had one common purpose.

    I even remember my mother weeping in front of the TV when JFK was assassinated, and my father saying it was a “terrible day for us”. By us, he meant all of us in the west.

    I might see things differently now, in terms of what America does or Britian does, and how their actions might affect the rest of the world, but people of my parents’ era – and that was Fleming’s era – really didn’t. Through their own bitter experience during the 1940s, they believed in a common goal and a common purpose and many genuinely believed that it all went beyond borders.

    Perhaps we all have something to learn from them.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Stan –

    In all honesty, I can’t think of a parallel between nations like the relationship between America and England. Sure, we bicker sometimes, but I think that we all know that when push comes to shove, we’d take England’s side over any other. It’s a much closer relationship than we have with any other nation – more so than even Canada, for I suspect that as a people while we do recognize Canada as a sovereign nation, we seem to at a visceral level regard England as more of a true equal – if not in military or economic terms, then certainly in terms of morality, and I suspect we hold her to be our superior when it comes to culture and heritage – though this may have much to do with England being the birthplace of our native tongue and many of our traditions.

    That, and we cannot seem to match the gravitas of the great English orators. For instance, even our greatest political orators – Reagan, Obama, JFK – would compare poorly to someone like Winston Churchill: “…if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour.'”. The words we say may be every bit as profound – see the Gettysburg Address – but we cannot seem to deliver the words with as much gravitas as can the English. It’s as if when we hear an English accent, we automatically assume that the speaker is more cultured and more educated…and thus is more deserving of our attention.

    You spoke of your mother weeping when JFK was assassinated…but two of the most-watched events in television history had to be the weddings of Charles and Diana, and of William and Kate. No other nation could command such an audience worldwide for a ‘simple’ wedding.

    So in a very real way, the British Empire still persists to this day and exerts a very real moral and cultural influence far beyond any reasonable expectation. One has to admit that maintaining such influence is less costly than sending the flower of the nation’s youth to the Crimea or the fields of Flanders….

  • Clavos

    Perhaps we all have something to learn from them.

    Quoted for Truth.

    Do we ever.

  • http://tmackorg.com/ Tommy Mack

    The live assassination of Lee Harvey Oswald by Jack Ruby transformed news delivery and made television the dominant medium it is, on air and online. I still contend that television, more than film, created the numbing context for evil doers and deeds that film could exploit. Film is theatrical. Television is streaming cycle of images.

    To us, England is more of a story than a place. Watching the Royals is like watching NASCAR. Every now and then there is a crash. The Irish Republican Army executed Louis Mountbatten with a bomb while he was sailing near his holiday home in County Sligo, Ireland, on 27th August, 1979. The late princess appeared to have to natural enemies when she died in a tunnel. Story book weddings are the shiny bits that are distracting at best. Television’s streaming cycle makes it so.

    I question what we can learn from Britain any more or less than any other English speaking nation except for politeness.

    Tommy

  • S.T..M

    Tommy: “I question what we can learn from Britain any more or less than any other English speaking nation except for politeness.”

    I agree but I don’t agree. There’s not much to learn, true … except this: You can learn to divest yourselves of an empire – yes, you DO have an American empire – whilst leaving something behind that aids and benefits sovereignty and promotes individual freedoms rather than hinders them. It doesn’t always work, but leaving something workable is a good idea.

    Glenn and Cav: Thanks too for the thoughtful replies. I’m having cause to think about this stuff, having just been to where I’ve been.

  • S.T..M

    And Tommy, my experience is this: We in the English-speaking nations might live in different geographical locations defind by borders, but essentially we aren’t that different in terms of moral values and shared ideals. Many of our instruments of law and functions of government are identical.

    You don’t have to be a rocket surgeon to work out why that is. So perhaps the truth is, we can all learn something from each other.

  • S.T..M

    Tommy, I have just been away travelling in a remote part of south-east Asia with a group from the English-speaking nations. Apart from the fact that one British woman spent a lot of time trying to organise us so she could fit our schedule around her wants and needs (interestingly, only the Aussies and another English bloke were awake-up to it), I was struck by our similarities and our almost identical values rather than our differences. A New Zealander isn’t that different to a Canadian, who isn’t that different to an American, and so on and so forth.

    Whereas, I see vast differences, for instance, just between people from different European nations. Even South Americans, most of whom share a common heritage one way or another, are quite different to each other.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Stan –

    What has surprised me many times over the years is that while cultures may be wildly different, the people are pretty much the same. They’ll run the same gamut of personality from bad to good, from honorable to despicable and everywhere in between, but the people are really the same…allowing for cultural mores, of course.

  • http://cinemasentries.com/ El Bicho

    “i came away with an impression (which I also got in the war) of futility and inner darkness.”

    That’s Apocalypse Now

  • zingzing
  • S.T..M

    Glenn: “While cultures may be wildly different, the people are pretty much the same.”

    True, but the key couple of words in your reply are cultural mores. Brits, Aussies, Canadians, New Zealanders, people from some of the Caribbean nations, will feel completely at home in the US. Yes, there are some small differences, but essentially, what we expect out of life – and importantly, what life actually delivers – are pretty much the same.

    I felt at home in England after a few days last time I was there, and almost immediately felt at home in the US. In fact, I often actually forget where I was because it is so similar (visually and every other way) and almost got skittled while crossing the road (as you know, we drive on the other side of the road – the proper side :) here, and forgetting that can be fatal both as a pedestrian abd a driver. Canada is virtually identical to the US, except for the flag and the crowns on police officers’ uniform badges.

    I don’t feel those similarities in places like France and Germany. Having the same lingo helps of course, but there are other major differences, especially in lifestyle and the attitudes of the people.

    Among the English-speaking nations, Americans, Aussies and the Irish seem to like to think they’re a bit special and a lot different, when in fact that perspective is a purely subjective one and any first-hand objective look at it dispels that idea pretty quickly.

    I maintain: We are all in fact so similar, we could be one people. Which we almost are (and I include Ireland in this since all the English-speaking nations have strong Irish heritage, including England), no matter how much we fool ourselves that that is not the case.

    The differences and the desire to govern ourselves are healthy; the similarities are nevertheless a godsend.

  • S.T..M

    And Tommy, of all the English speakers, I have found Americans to be the most erudite, polite and well spoken … generally. And again, generally, the most kind, interested and hospitable.

    So these are probably not things you need to learn from anyone, especially the Poms. That goes extra for politeness. Americans take polite to new – and pleasant – levels, in my experience.

    You can spend an awful lot of time in Britain having people looking down their noses at you while pretending to be polite. Too often, I found it to be condescension rather than politeness. Indeed, it might be the only place on the planet apart from France where people who are shorter than you can look down their noses at you.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Stan –

    I can’t speak for the Aussies, but of course the Irish are special! They’re Irish, that’s why! That’s all the explanation needed!

    Yeah, there be a bit o’ the Irish in me, too. I tend to claim it more than the rest of my heritage…which is probably due to the fact that we’re not sure what the rest of my heritage is….

  • S.T..M

    Glenn,

    My immediate heritage is English and Irish, and further down the track from the 19th century back, celtic, anglo-saxon, German and viking. Sometimes I really wonder out of the Irish and English bit which is the good half.

    When I can’t decide, I revert to the good bit being all-Aussie. About 45 per cent of Aussies claim Irish heritage. What they don’t tell you is that it’s all mixed up with English, Scottish, Welsh and English … and possibly a whole lot of other stuff, since this country has more migrants per capita since WWII, and from all over the world, than the US.

    Are we both here and in the US perhaps a classic example of leaving all the bullshit at the doorstep … and then picking up a whole lot of new bullshit :) ??

    But this is why I include the Irish in this discussion. They’re like flies (especially when they’re on the piss) … they’ve gone everywhere.

    Maybe it’s where Aussies get a big part of their anti-authoritarian streak. Another take on our proud convict heritage. What other nation celebrates its founding by a pack of ne’er-do-wells? Even our national day celebrates the day the first convict fleet dropped anchor in Sydney Harbour.

    Which at the very least makes us totally off the wall as a nation. It’s a huge thing here, almost a matter of honour, to be able to trave your ancestry back to a convict.

  • http://tmackorg.com/ Tommy Mack

    England sent debtors to the state of Georgia. They sent the horse thieves to Australia. The Irish have a genetic love for horses.

    Tommy

  • S.T..M

    That’d have yo be why we spend more betting on the ponies than any other nation on earth.

  • robert shultz jr.

    were they not worried most prime minisers and president gnowing(kennen,to know)uf the world and wiser persons in both the u.s.s.r and u.s and isn’t it that errors can not awt not be be precautions with no errors.didn’t a u.s. nukebomm plane crash 1966 and a soviet submarine sink in 1986.only 160 average size nukebomm can burn the entire ocean and land surface then why keep the remaining 1/2 and 1/3 uf nuke bomms.behter the u.n. proposal tu abolish nuke bomms and obama’s ofer tu take carefully aprt nukebomms.vacume bomms are bad enuf.huw needs nukebomms then?and true u.s. nukes were a potential thret tu the republic uf the u.r.s.s.’s security and u.r.s.s. nuke bomms were a thret tu u.s. security.before precaution.wiser and correct if they behaved behter and the nukebomm were never placed nier borders that thretened nations security .but eisenhaur and kruschev the uthers they baned the atmosfere test and pretty?no but ozone and auter atmofereic destruction and with greater wisdom and gnowledge today exist the u.n. test ban treaty and antispred uf nukebomms treaty.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    @ #56:

    Me speakee English.

    English.

  • zingzing

    how does the author of #56 function in this world? these are the mysteries of life.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Somebody left the computer logged in at the asylum again.