„The Americans have no culture. They don’t even know where Belgium is!“
Have you ever heard this or anything similar? I have, because it’s in vogue everywhere in Germany, but it’s nothing more than an arrogant prejudice.
The United States of America has produced more Nobel Prize winners in medicine than all other countries in the world combined. No country has produced more Nobel Prize winners in physics than the United States. The United States has twice as many Nobel Prize winners in economics as all other countries combined. The USA is also in first place for the Nobel Peace Prize. Only in the Nobel Prize for Literature ranks the USA with third place behind France and the United Kingdom. Quite impressive. The USA leads in nearly all categories. Europe seems not to bear those facts, because the USA is considered lacking culture and education.
The older I get, the more I am amazed at the human virtuosity in dreaming, conjuring and freely inventing attitudes that have no factual basis. I marvel at the audacity in the denial of clear indisputable facts. That the USA supposedly has no culture is one of the widespread lies that are commonplace in Germany. And yet, it doesn’t even require deeper reflection; a fleeting glance at our own German society is enough to illustrate that, by and large, the United States inspires and determines our culture. Our cinemas are dominated by American films, American series are the greatest successes on our television, and American music determines our fashions and trends. Whether Stand Up, Poetry Slam or Open Mike, almost every German poet and thinker has been influenced by the USA and speaks the language in which the Constitution of the United States of America was written.
„The Americans don’t even know what the capital of Denmark is or the name of the president of France.“
Considering that I’m not even sure whether most Germans can answer these two questions, this statement reveals merely a self-importance. Why should an American of African origin know the capital of Germany? Can most Europeans name the capitals of Côte d’Ivoire, Togo or Nigeria? Why does an American of Asian origin have to know the name of the German chancellor? Can any German say the name of the Chinese head of state?
The USA is the most culturally diverse country in the world. Nowhere else in the world do people of all cultures come together so naturally to create this breathtaking multiculture that has become the model for all artists worldwide. In the 20th century the USA revolutionized culture with jazz, blues and hip hop, with Hollywood and pop art.
The best universities in the world are located in the USA, according to the QS World University Ranking or the Shanghai Ranking. Germany is not represented at all in the upper range of these university rankings.
When someone in Europe says that Americans have no education, he is in reality only criticizing those Americans who have the impudence not to consider Europe the center of the world. But that is pure hubris and self-importance. Interestingly enough, overconfidence and self-importance are exactly the qualities Europeans attest to Americans.
Two world wars shook Europe, wars which ended through the intervention of America. During the Second World War, Germany plunged the world into a hitherto unimagined catastrophe. After the Second World War it was Americans who taught democracy to Germans in so-called America Houses. Knowing all this, the German arrogance towards the USA seems more than just alienating.
Translation: William Wires
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