and Jingo-ism Overseas
Can drive you
of Critical Thinking is a Western Value
- and Critical
Thinking is a Western skill.
hear many statements, out in the world, that are
obviously incorrect and silly. Yet many of them, in
some countries, will be repeated constantly and assumed
to be the truth. It is as if everyone read the same
thing, believed it, and was told to repeat it
This idea is called Jingoism.
political/economic statements (Americans are out to
dominate the world) , cultural assumptions (all
Americans are noisy and rude), and even just commentary
(I'm sorry you don't have a son). Sorry, I am picking
on Americans here - as I am an American - and I don't
want to offend anyone else! You will often be astounded
at some of the things you will hear. My experience
is that it will it be worth challenging such statements
only with close friends as
the ideas the statements are based on are so embedded in the culture. And even
with close friends, I
am not sure it is worth it. Challenging these
notions tends to quickly hit a brick wall.
foreigners have AIDS. Koreans can't get AIDS because
they eat kimchee. And, of course, other generically
stereotypic statements - such as: "All [fill in the
blank with a nationality or ethnic or religious group]
[do something stupid, odd, or bad]."
cultures fear foreigners. The first time I lived in
Korea (1992-94), I thought that I learned how Black-Americans must
have felt in the American deep South a generation ago. The way people would stare
- often in great distaste - at me. I was on a bus once
when a small - very cute - young girl ran onto the bus,
looked up - saw me - screamed and started crying as she
ran back off the bus. Now, I wouldn't call myself
handsome, but I'm not THAT ugly either! What was the
message she must have been given about foreigners?
xenophobia is fading - but is still quite common away from
urban areas and in more closed societies.
How to React
the statements personally. While they are often
idiotic notions and ideas - they are frequently deeply
embedded in the local/regional/national culture.
Try to correct them, if you wish, but don't expect much
progress. These cultural stereotypes take a long
time to change - as we all know from many of the notions
and ideas that were common during our parents'