Friday, January 16, 2004

Southern Comfort



Bob Harris, roving correspondent for This Modern World, tells tall tales of New Zeland, Middle Earth obsession and all. But it really gets interesting when he starts discussing actual Kiwi culture, especilay their attitude about the US:

I don't know how to convey the depth of public disdain for Bush down here. It's casual; it's assumed; it's like being against poverty, ignorance, intestinal worms, or potato blight.

And while I have yet to see even a hint of anti-Americanism directed at myself -- most folks everywhere seem to understand intuitively that I am not my government, a consideration I suspect the people of Iraq might have appreciated from us -- this next is fairly mind-blowing.

A recent study published in the Sunday Star-Times asked Australians and New Zealanders which country they would like to visit, but would not, because they consider it too dangerous. Here are the results:

    1. United States (14%)
    2. Iraq (13%)
    3. Indonesia (11%)
    4. Israel (7%)


and so on.

I kid you not; I can't find a link online, but I've got a hard copy of the paper in my bag. All in all, 28% of New Zealanders want to visit America. Fully half of them won't.

The Aussie numbers are almost identical. America is consciously avoided in numbers down here exceeding even countries in open internal armed conflict.

I was spun around by those numbers myself. Looking again at the phrasing of the question, you'd think America's number is obviously amped by the large number of people who want to visit in the first place.

But the poll also asked which countries Kiwis wanted to visit, safety aside. The whole civilized world shows up at the top of that list -- the UK, Canada, Italy, France, etc. The U.S. is the only industrialized country on the entire considered-too-dangerous list.

Think about it... half the people down here who want to see the U.S. think it's too dangerous to be worth an actual visit.

Half.

Why? Not exactly hard to guess, thanks to the steady stream of orange alerts, not to mention our rate of violent crime, obsession with firearms (widely seen as ludicrous), and lack of national health care that might help a visitor taken ill. Also, seven percent of those polled in both countries wouldn't visit the US simply on ethical and political grounds, and another seven percent would not visit the US because they believed there was too much corruption.


Bob finds similar sentiment over in Australia as well. So, it isn't just domestic lefties (and centrists, moderates, intelligent conservatives, small children and most animals) that are disturbed by America under the Neo-cons, it's pretty much the entire Southern hemisphere as well.

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