does the average person(take that as you will) in America understand the simple concept that there are different cultures in the world, that mean people think differently and dont want the same things they do?
Did the average Soviet citizen during the cold war understand that there are different cultures and that many people did not want to live under the guise of communism?
I'll just use Russia as a convenient example. If you want me to get on the case of the UK, just give a shout.
I believe your notion is an overused stereotype, much the same way American men used to think all Russian women were fat and ugly, and wore flour sack labor farm dress outfits during the cold war. Had we found out what true hotties the Russian ladies indeed are, I'm certain the cold war would have thawed in 1948..LOL. The Canadians, while certainly not the only country, are the one country that is in close proximity that suffer from this affliction of berating Americans perspective of the world. Their lack of national identity (they define themselves as "not Americans") largely contributes to their perpetuation of this nonsense. They will let you know in a hurry that they know more about America. They need to know more about America. Canadian livelihood is entirely predicated on their presence North of our border and our closely integrated economic and trade system. They often crow about the fact that many more (% wise) of them have visited the US than vice versa. However, 80% of them live within a 3 hour (150KM) drive of the US border, making a leisure visit quite convenient for the majority of their population. The US is much more uniformly populated over our mainland. Canuks have easy access to the US, are weined on our TV and media, have a large expatriot population in the US workforce as well as intermarriage/dual citizenship and often choose to visit on vacation when their frozen tundra is uninhabitable. Going to Canada, or even trying to understand what makes them tick doesn't make most Americans much of a difference. Their daily news broadcasts on their national network CBC consists of more US news than Canadian news. In America who cares about Saskatoon, Saskachuan, or the Yukon Territory, etc. I have to invent reasons to go to Canada, and I travel internationally quite frequently. Our economic and social choices are abundant within our own borders. We can find any kind of climate, landscape or living condition within the continental US at any time of the year. We are fortunate to have an economy which for the most part does a decent job of providing gainful employment for the majority of our citizens and many who are not. Scattered throughout the US you can find substantial ethnic neighborhoods of just about any nationality on earth. Here in the San Francisco Bay Area is case in point. It's this kind of self contained living that could cause one who grows up in the US to become highly insular, however, as they would have little incentive to visit other countries for variety. We have always enjoyed relatively liberal economic and social freedoms in this country, and it is natural for us to assume that others would rather prefer this as a way of living as well. And if you look at the VISA line at any US consulate worldwide, it would seem that this is more than just a mere idle boast. Notwithstanding the expressed misgivings of the world community, the US is still the most sought after immigration destination. Indeed I would argue that US "culture" and media is amongst our top exports to the world. I mean does Coke have life?
There are many British expats here in the US. I have had the occassion to meet and work with many in both Israel and in the US, having been involved in high tech business for many years. I have also enjoyed myself in London and in the south of the UK many times. What is amazing to me is the below average level of understanding of foreigners of US culture, values and people. We are very diverse in both ethnicity and world viewpoint. But we are bound together with determination regardless to origin as first and foremost Americans. I believe that diversity is the reason the US is a superpower and will continue to be so for many decades in the future.
Prior to 9/11, many Americans couldn't spell Afghanistan, let alone have a clue about its history, our involvement in that region or the culture of its people. Of course the Russians didn't know understand much about them either, but found out the hard way after they got their tails kicked in the 1980's, no? (Damn that Ghengis Khan.) BTW-thanks for the blueprint for the invasion plan..
For most of the rest of the world, it's like being in bed with an elephant. When the elephant rolls over, its unaware of the presence of anyone else in the bed. However, other occupants of that bed feel the effect, and in fact live in fear of being crushed. It is no wonder the rest of the world knows so much about the US. Besides being a very open society, this country arguably has more impact on the lives of citizens of other countries than their own governments.