Monday, October 15, 2012

Disrespecting other nations

I am sometimes a little miffed at what is now being called "American Exceptionalism". Proud though I am of my adopted country's many successes, especially in science, I am turned off by excessive bragging. It's certainly OK to shout "USA! USA!" after an Olympic gold medal is won, but I have never agreed with Patrick Henry's famous comment "My country, right or wrong". I usually keep my opinions about this to myself, conscious that my country of birth has long been one of the major offenders in this regard. It is understandable how the British felt 120 years ago, with the UK's commercial success and empire-building. "Jingoism" began when Rudyard Kipling was flourishing. This has led me to note the disparaging names the English have used for other nations. "Welshing" is an example of giving a bad name to another part of the UK, as is to describe an event as a "Scotch treat". Folk who walk away from their duties take "French leave". "Dutch courage" is not a generous term. "Russian roulette" is far from being sensible behavior. There are also other combinations that are descriptive of origin rather than complimentary, such as a "Swiss roll", "German measles", "Chinese checkers", and "Spanish flu". In Colorado, we do our best to eliminate that noxious species, the "Russian Olive". There are some other neutral terms: I have no objection to Danish Blue, although I don't associate the breakfast pastry known as a "Danish" with Denmark. I never eat "Turkish Delight". "Scotch Eggs" are good, as are the descriptive terms "Canadian Bacon", "Greek Salads", "Irish Stew", "French Mustard" and even "Welsh Rarebit". Italy seems to have escaped being linked by name to any familiar objects or foods, although it was originally the home of pizza, pasta, and risotto.

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