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Old 01-30-2012, 07:08 PM
489 posts, read 814,784 times
Reputation: 437


As an European in the USA I get this quite a lot. Now I do think that most Americans realise that they have nothing in common with the present-day people of the country their grandparent or whoever left: they really do use 'Scottish' as a shorthand for 'Scottish-American', which is fine, though they should probably realise it's not the standard when talking to people from other countries.

But there does seem to be a substantial fraction of people who think that they really are Chinese/Swedish/Irish or whatever, but just happen to live in the USA. This is pretty odd, and a few times it's been slightly offensive. I'm British, and once or twice I've had Americans tell me they should hate me because they're "Irish". Funny in the right context, but not upon just meeting someone.

I think connected to this attitude is a bit of blindness to the variations in other countries these days. Many Americans seem to think of other countries as monocultural monoethnic enclaves, and point to the variations within the USA as 'proof' that people there 'really are' Irish/Korean/whatever. This is normally harmless but I think it can get quite offensive sometimes. Opinions differ, but I thought
this Starburst ad was in very poor taste.

If you're interested in this, I highly recommend the book 'ethnic options'. It's an academic study of the ethnic attitudes of white Americans, and very interesting. It discusses what sociologists call the 'dime-store model' of ethnicity that many Americans seem to have, where being a member of a certain ethnicity or nation is nothing more than a few 'traditional' rituals, foods and drinks.

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Old 01-31-2012, 08:05 AM
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
24,682 posts, read 47,203,760 times
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I find most Americans are American as apple pie, regardless of whether their ancestors came on the Mayflower, went through Ellis Island, or flew in on a 747. Nothing wrong in being interested in your ethnic group, but you are now for the most part Americanized and Westernized so don't act as if you are the same as a Vietnamese, Italian, Africa person because they just see you as Americans.
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