I’m referring to Meghan Daum’s column about American reactions to the Amanda Knox acquittal.
The piece leads off with this zinger: “Relief at her return is due at least partly to American’s fear of travel in foreign lands.”
Ah, hello?! Generalize much? Sounds to me like plain ‘ole xenophobia masquerading as social commentary.
Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid
Ms. Daum tells us she was “relieved at the outcome” and explains why she felt that way. “It’s because Knox embodies a certain American anxiety about venturing onto foreign soil.” (Scroll down for the link to the full article.)
Really? That claim certainly doesn’t resonate with me or, I suspect, with the thousands of globe-trotting Americans — volunteers, business people, missionaries, teachers, tourists, expats, foreign aid workers, exchange students, and many others — who enjoy working, traveling and living abroad.
What the piece does do is perpetuate a long-standing “Us vs. Them” mentality where “Us” is the U.S. and “Them” is the rest of the world.
You know the story: Naïve American Little-Red-White-and-Blue-Riding Hood ventures beyond our borders, only to be vexed by “strange” cultural practices and waylaid by assorted foreign Boogeymen.
Right. As if nothing bad ever happens here in the U.S. and we don’t have any baffling cultural traditions of our own.
Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark
You want to talk about frightening tales? How about the one where the U.S. shuts itself from the rest of the world?
Where short-sighted politicos cut funding for foreign language learning. And immigrants spend years in detention.
Yes, that’ll make your hair stand on end.
Meanwhile, in a land far, far away, there’s another story-line…
Trick or Treat, Gimme Something Good to Eat!
Check out Smart College Visit’s “Tips for College Students Traveling Abroad” for a compilation of great advice and suggestions from me and other travel-savvy folks.
And then curl up with these two great sites about Americans living and thriving abroad:
At Inspired Beeing Catherine (Cat) Jaffee writes about honey bees, social entrepreneurship, and her adventures in northeastern Turkey.
The Peace Corps World Wise Schools is an excellent interactive repository of podcasts, slideshows, videos and e-books showcasing volunteers and their host communities around the world. Under the “Stories” tab, you can choose by subject, region, country and grade level to read real-life tales written by volunteers.
What do you think of Daum’s article? And of the role of the media in fostering understanding across cultures?
Here’s the link to the full article, “The Amanda Knox moral—there’s no place like home”.