Patrick Schwerdtfeger is a motivational speaker who can speak about anti-Americanism and foreign perceptions of America at your next business event. Contact us to check availability. The full transcript of the above video is included below.
Full Video Transcript:
Hi and welcome to another edition of Strategic Business Insights. Today we’re going to talk about anti-Americanism. Anti-Americanism has been on the rise for decades and it’s really as high as it’s ever been right now. So do all foreigners hate Americans? Sadly, a lot of them do. But they like American culture. So you have this dichotomy with people who say they hate America but then they like American culture. So what I want to do today is talk about, what do they see? Let’s take a look at what those people see. Let’s put ourselves in the places of those people who live in other countries and see what it is they see.
Number one, they see American foreign policy. Now, in America we don’t hear a whole lot about foreign policy, or the things we do here are basically just talking points which are provided by the administration or by the government one way or another. We very rarely hear the critique of American foreign policy from other people’s point of view. But believe me, if you go to other countries, I grew up even in Canada and Canada’s a very friendly nation to the United States, but when you grow up outside of this country you see very quickly the hypocrisy that’s built into American foreign policy. Like American foreign policy basically uses international law as a matter of convenience So when it’s convenient for us to follow international law we do, but when it’s not we just don’t and pretend that the law doesn’t exist. Or the way some of the support for Israel over the years – Israel has done a lot of things that have been against some international laws, but they deny it and America just kind of stands by and doesn’t do anything.
So there’s a lot of things, even in the Middle East with the Arab Spring and how our support in some countries has been very apparent but then in other like Libya, for example, that we went in there and actually contributed, but now in Syria we absolutely are not willing to go in for a whole bunch of complicated reasons which has to do with, you know, what side are you actually on? There are Sunni Muslims, there are Shia Muslims, and they both have very different opinions. Actually, Shia is in many cases much more secular than Sunni, but then meanwhile Saudi Arabia is Sunni Muslim and that’s basically our biggest ally in the Middle East, so there’s conflict and all these things. So when you go over there, American foreign policy is completely contradictory and absolutely hypocritical.
In so many ways, foreign policy is a matter of convenience – what is going to protect American business interests around the world? That is the primary motivator behind American foreign policy. It’s not democracy, it’s not freedom, it’s capitalism. And when it comes to our foreign policy, America protects capitalism. We say it protects democracy and it protects freedom, but really the primary motivator is capitalism and American business interest in particular. So they see that. Big hypocrisy.
Secondly, they see the tourists, American tourists, who come to visit their countries. Now, again, I said before that I grew up in Canada—Vancouver, Canada—and I actually worked for Tourism Vancouver, so the organization that was in charge essentially of the tours trade in Vancouver, so I met a lot of these American tourists when I was younger. And the bottom line is that American tourists are actually very demanding tourists But when you compare them to tourists of other countries, like tourists who come from South America or Europe or Asia, they can be demanding in their own way but they tend to be much more open-minded and they want to experience the culture of where they’re going, whereas Americans actually just want to get their own culture in the new place.
I mean, the classic example is American tourists looking for a McDonald’s when they’re visiting like Beijing. Rather than going to a Chinese restaurant and immersing themselves in the local culture, they look for what’s familiar to them. They want a steak. They want to go and get a big steak rather than eating some of the local food. So Americans internationally around the world are known for this, that they go to other countries and they like being in a different part of the world, but they actually just want to have the same culture that they have back home in the new place. They’re very demanding that way.
Now, in Canada the standard of living is similar to the United States, so when American tourists come in they don’t have a whole lot more money to spend than Canadian tourists or anyone else, or even Canadian local people. But what happens when you go to developing countries like Mexico or South America, or the Southeast Asia like the Philippines or Vietnam, Thailand, Bangkok, or India? These American tourists come in and they might not be rich at home, in America, but when they go to these other countries our money is worth so much more in those countries that we walk in like in the lap of luxury. We can buy anything. We are the mega-rich.
So the locals see Americans coming in and they assume that Americans are rich beyond comprehension, like beyond imagination. They just can’t even believe how rich Americans are. And there’s a misconception: They think that when they go to America we’re living in the same lap of luxury here at home that we do when we go visit Vietnam, but it’s not true. When we go to some of those other places, our money goes further because the standard of living and the cost of living is much higher in the United States than it is in, say, India. So when we go to India, our money goes much further. We can live in the lap of luxury. But that doesn’t mean that we’re actually that way at home.
So what do they see? They see these American tourists come in and just buying whatever they want and throwing their money around and complete disregard for money, which they work really hard for in their country. We work hard for it in our country too, but again our dollar goes further when we’re in those other countries. And the reality as well is that many of these developing countries have thriving sex industries, prostitution, and who are the primary customers of that sex trade? Many of them, not all, not all, but many of them are American tourists or just tourists in general from wealthier countries.
You can actually look at every major region in the world and they have some similarities. So the United States is to the Americas what Germany is to Europe and what Japan is to Asia. In all three cases you have these economies that are wealthy, that are productive, where the people have a lot of money and there’s a bully kind of atmosphere where they go into other countries and they’re arrogant and they can be obnoxious and they’re demanding, because they come from these wealthy countries. And the same is true when, so again, when Americans or Germans, Europeans, Brits come and they’re all in the sex trade.
I’m not saying that all people from America engage in that, of course, but over there what do they see? They see that there’s a sex trade in their community, which they don’t like, and the people who are feeding it are the tourists who are coming from developed countries including America. So they hate this stuff. They hate all of this stuff.
Meanwhile, what’s the third thing they see? Again, the first is foreign policy, the second is American tourists. What’s the third thing? Television. Television and movies – that’s the part they like. They don’t like foreign policy, they don’t like American tourists, but they like the television and the movies, because that’s American culture. And that’s the dichotomy.
So you’ve got two on the negative, one on the positive. You can balance the scale when you visit America. That’s the conclusion of this video, is that once people come here just like I did, and when you get here you’re like, “Wow, there are good people here.” I was very impressed when I came to America at the quality of people here. There are kind, good, smart people in America. And I feel embarrassed that I didn’t just assume that to be true from the start, but the reality is I didn’t assume it to be true because I saw those other things. I saw American foreign policy, which is hypocritical, and I saw American tourists who are arrogant and demanding in other countries – for the most part not all. There are exceptions. But most American tourists are arrogant and demanding and obnoxious when they go to other countries.
And then I had the television, where I was like, “Okay, I like that culture.” But when I came to America I realized that the people are like the people on TV. It is American culture. It is that type of community. What’s portrayed on TV is not necessarily that different from reality, and I was impressed by it.
So I think we really need to encourage people—and we do, this country encourages visitors, it encourages immigrants, and I really support that. Because it’s only when people come to this country that they’re going to realize that this is a country of good people. And sometimes it’s true, the foreign policy is hypocritical, and sometimes it’s true that our tourists act obnoxiously or arrogantly when they visit other countries around the world, but at its core America is full of good people. And that’s the thing that I hope not just for people in Canada but for people all around the world because today the anti-Americanism is very, very high. How do we conquer that? Bring them to America and they’ll see for themselves.
Thanks so much for watching this video. My name is Patrick, reminding you as always to think bigger about your business, think bigger about your life.
Patrick Schwerdtfeger is a keynote speaker who has spoken at business conferences in North America, South America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.