Saturday, February 21, 2004

responses to Feser's article

Lots of interesting fallout from Feser's series on liberalism in academia. Here he replies to some of his own critics. Here are two articles by Pharyngula and Chris Bertram of Crooked Timber. that are quite amazing. They think they are disagreeing with Feser, but they aren't. They agree with most of his points, the only disagreement is that they assume leftism is clearly truth. Basically, Feser gives a list of questions designed to determine if universities make people more leftwing and both of these writers answer "yes" to the questions but still dispute the existence of leftist indoctrination. In each case, they believe the university is simply making the student more educated. Get that? Becoming more leftist is identical to becoming more educated.

Here are the questions and the summaries of their replies:

1. Are students today, on balance and in general, more likely after having attended university to be hostile to capitalism?

Pharyngula claims not to understand this question and Bertram to have no idea. Pharyngula then belies his claim by saying

...if he means, "will students have a better awareness of the weaknesses of capitalism and the advantages of other systems", then yes, I certainly hope they do come away with that.

Apparently he did understand the question. And presumably when he talks about the "advantages" of other systems he's not talking about feudalism or despotism. No, those forms of slavery have been discredited. The only kinds of slavery I expect he thinks have some "advantages" are socialism and communism.

2. Are they, on balance and in general, more likely after having attended university to think that modern industrial society is inhuman, devastates the environment, impoverishes the Third World, etc.?

Pharyngula certainly hopes so and Bertram hopes so to the "extent that they are true". Of course the issue is whether they are true at all. The only one that has any credibility outside of left-think is the one about the environment, and it is clear that modern industry actually has less environmental impact than older technology for the same level of output. What is effecting the environment is that the vastly increased output.

3. Are they, on balance and in general, more likely after having attended university to think that differences in wealth, income, and the like between the sexes and between ethnic groups are the result of deep-rooted sexism and racism in American society?

Both think so. Pharyngula generously hopes they'll learn about other factors as well, but the very idea that these differences are caused in any degree by racism and sexism in the current US is laughable outside of left-think.

4. Are they, on balance and in general, more likely after having attended university to believe that the history of Western civilization is largely a shameful history of oppression and exploitation?

Both think so, and it is hard to quibble, given the loose formulation of the question. Feser should have asked whether they would think Western civilization has a uniquely or unusually shameful history. With regard to modern standards, of course, it is shameful. Those modern standards were produced by Western civilization. And indeed, Western civilization during the Christian era was generally better than most of the others of the same period.

5. Are they, on balance and in general, more likely after having attended university to believe that there is no rational foundation for traditional religious belief, especially of the Christian sort — indeed that Christianity is a uniquely repressive and irrational creed?

Both of them agree in general but dispute the part about Christianity being singled out. I have to partly agree with the leftists on this one too. Christianity is singled out as unusually repressive, but not as far as I know, as uniquely so, or uniquely irrational. More interesting is Bertram's statement that

But they should, after exposure to higher education, come to believe what they do believe on the basis of a more skeptical and dispassionate examination of the evidence.

Again, he is assuming, not a leftwing, but a clearly anti-conservative position, that religion can and should be approached as a science, and that the default position is to not believe.

6. Are they, on balance and in general, more likely after having attended university to believe that traditional moral scruples, especially concerning sex, lack any rational justification and ought to be abandoned as mere expressions of superstition and bigotry?

Pharyngula is noncommittal on this, but Bertram again endorses it and claims it is the more educated position.

At the end, Pharyngula observes

the America-hating Marxist wacko seems to be even rarer on college campuses than ranting right-wing ideologues like Feser—while the majority of academe may be left of center, it's not that far left

And then he gives us an idea of where he thinks the center is by saying a lot of "good conservatives" learn those "values" as well. In other words, he argues that conservatives are accepted on campus as long as they are left-wingers, but actual conservatives, like Feser, are "bad".

Still, it is interesting that two different leftists, apparently independently, both argued that these answers are simply the answers of better-educated people and neither sees a problem with it. That's the problem.

UPDATE: I misread Pharyngula's article. The "values" he refers to are from a later list. Only one of these is clearly leftist.

The federal literalism amendment

My apologies to Donald Crankshaw of Back of the Envelope for not responding sooner on this. The truth is, I don't want to get too deep into constitutional issues because I'm a little intimidated at the prospect of writing about the constitution in a forum where it might be read by actual constitutional scholars like Glenn Reynolds and Eugene Volokh & team. It's a lot more comfortable BSing where you know you won't get caught. But here are my answers to the good points you raised:

First, I don't know the details of Brown vs. Board of Education, but my dim recollection is that it was about whether "separate and equal" violated the equal protections clause. I think it's reasonable to rule that it did, even under a literalist interpretation. After all, the law was preventing black kids from going to certain schools that white kids could go to, therefore it was treating them differently under the law even assuming the educational opportunities were equal.

As to the instant invalidation of pre-existing precedent, I'd accept a clause that keeps those precedents in force for ten years or until the relevant law-making bodies address them directly under the new interpretation, whichever comes first. This means that abortion would remain legal in states that have laws on the books making it illegal unless the state legislature either re-affirms the law or repeals it. If they don't act, then in ten years the law comes back into force.

The point about interpretation is well taken. Obviously there will always be interpretation, I just want to remove the philosophical basis that judges now use and force them to either follow the law or outright say that they are ignoring it. I want to affirm a simple principle: if you want to bind a group of people with a set of rules, you can't give them unlimited license to interpret the rules any way they want to. What if you had an office where the employees could interpret the rules as widely as the courts do the constitution? You have a rule against stealing office supplies? Fine, I interpret that to say that office supplies are an important commodity, significant to the efficiency of the employees, who can be more efficient if they have office supplies at home, so it implies that employees are required to take office supplies home.

By the same token, the primary purpose of the Constitution (the bill of right anyway) is to restrict and control the federal government. It is preposterous to allow the federal government to take it to mean anything they want.

UPDATE: Donald responds. And I'm probably finished with the discussion, unless something unusually interesting comes up.

How love ruined marriage

Donald Sensing of One Hand Clapping has a great series on marriage. Read all of them if you are interested in the topic. In the one titled "What makes a thing a thing?" He writes:

The affirmation of love and affection of the spouses for one another has only rarely been a cause for marriage in human history. Until recently in the West (including America), the emotional feelings that spouses had for one another was not considered very important.

The Christian command to love your spouse isn't about romantic love. Except for differences in significance and responsibility it's basically the same love as in "love your neighbor". Loving your wife, like loving your enemy, requires special emphasis (presumably for different reasons though). The Christian teaching has always been that men and women are to love each other because they are married. But with the rise of romantic literature and poetry, this got reversed: now people think that they are to be married because they love each other.

On reflection, this notion shows itself to be quite perverse. The feeling that the romantics call "love" is something that the average man can feel ten times a day for ten different women. Yes, unless you see the woman often or dwell on the feeling to an unwise degree, it will pass quickly and never develop into the strong, constantly nagging attraction called "romantic love". But the difference is only one of intensity. Romantics confirm this by their idea of love at first sight, endlessly explored in painful French movies and elsewhere. Such a common feeling, even backed up by obsessive indulgence, hardly makes a firm foundation for marriage. This distortion of the meaning of marriage is what led to no-fault divorce. When one member of a couple doesn't have the hots for the other any more then he or she feels justified in divorcing to look for the feeling with someone else. When a married person gets that feeling for someone they aren't married to, they convince themselves that it it's virtuous, even noble, to break their vows and their commitments in order to follow the new feeling. After all, it's for love.

This unfortunate perversion of the idea of marriage is the justification for gay marriage. If having the hots for some man is sufficient to justify a woman leaving her husband and kids and going to be with that man, if the feeling is so inherently significant and noble, then shouldn't you logically treat it the same way when a man has the hots for another man? Those who have embraced this notion of romantic love as an especially noble feeling, an end in itself, a self-sufficient reason for marriage, have little justification for denying gays the right to marry based on the same reasoning.

The ongoing religious wars

Edward Feser writes a tremendous article for Tech Central Station about why universities are so leftwing. His conclusion, in brief, is that this is an essentially religious movement, and that the religion is essentially anti-spiritualism. My summary by no means does justice to the subtlety of this article so I encourage people to read it for themselves (warning though, it is very dense and academic).

In general I don't like arguments about people's motives. Almost always, when someone brings up the other person's motives in a debate, it is an improper and irrelevant rhetorical attack rather than a true argument. There's even a technical name for it in forensics, it's called the fallacy of ad homonym (to the man) attack. In this case, though Feser is not using the argument in order to discredit someone else's arguments. Feser largely takes for granted that their position is wrong, absurd even, and his burden is to try to explain why intelligent people would take such a position and hold it so strongly and so vehemently. There is plenty of precedent for this in religious thought and the people Feser writes about like to point it out endlessly. They think because they don't have the ceremonies and the stained-glass windows and the omnipotent being that they aren't religious, but they are. They are religious in the sense that all their beliefs are strongly influenced by an underlying faith.

In this article Feser solves a problem that has puzzled me: the absurd positions taken by some researchers in the field of artificial intelligence. These are extremely intelligent thoughtful people who suffer from the most elementary confusions. They confuse analogies with similarities. They confuse symbols with the things symbolized. They confuse the boundary between a device and the operator or creator of the device. In this dialog I present their confusions into a more concrete situation to highlight the absurdity (I'm going to write more about this).

There is other evidence for this religious animosity. Why, for example, are academics so furious about creationists yet are so phlegmatic about astrologists and fortune tellers? Evolution or creation has no effect on our daily lives. By contrast, some people make major life decisions based on the random musing of astrologists and other fortune tellers, funding a huge nation-wide scam that sucks money from naive victims and delivers it to people I consider criminals. Which is really a bigger problem?

And what about homeopathic medicine? Homeopathic medicine is essentially modern witchcraft (see below) yet homeopathic remedies can be found on drugstore shelves right beside the aspirin and cold medicine. Without even the benefit of clinical trials. These magical elixirs can cause people to live in unneeded discomfort, and in extreme cases might even indirectly injure or kill someone by leading them not to get the treatment they really need. Where is the outrage over this? Doctors and medical researchers who have the most profound contempt for creationists --harmless eccentrics-- welcome these modern-day witchdoctors as colleagues. How else to explain this dichotomy except as religious bigotry?

HOMEOPATHY AS WITCHCRAFT: When I say that homeopathy is witchcraft, I'm not alluding to all those poor victims who were burned to death by hysterical mobs. There were people who actually called themselves witches and wrote books about witchcraft. Homeopathic medicine relies on the Principle of Similarity which states that a substance can cure in a diseased person the symptoms that it creates in a healthy person. This principle (or very similar ones) is found in the books of the witches of the period when homeopathy was invented.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

The speed of blog

I've been dragging this week. It's been hard to get out more than one post per day because work has been so intense. I'll try catching up over the weekend.

The sluttiness scale

Dennis Prager writes about a trend that concerns him: that women seem to be wearing more and more revealing clothing. He proposes that the reason is that showing their bodies is one of the few ways left for women to express their femininity. I've been observing this trend closely, very closely, and I have to disagree. In the first place, it sounds like psychobabble. In the second place, this trend is largely among younger women. When they are young, both men and women are competing with others of their sex to attract a suitable mate. There is nothing new about this. What is new is that the old rules of conduct that limited the scope of the competition are in flux. There is an arms race going on and the girls who wear the most slutty clothing attract the most attention from the boys. (please note my editorial restraint in not referring to a "legs race" or even a "belly buttons race").

This isn't as simple as just a situation where all the rules have broken down and all the gloves have come off (note editorial restraint again). Rather, it has always been a careful balancing act: be too demure and the boys ignore you, too slutty and you don't have any girlfriends. There has always been a range of girls, each taking her place of comfort along the demure-slutty scale. This aspect hasn't changed. What has changed is that MTV and copycats consistently give center stage to the girls at the far slutty end of the scale. This distorts perceptions and moves the scale towards the slutty side. And of course as the middle moves, MTV girls get sluttier, moving the scale even further.

This is just one of the many valuable public services that MTV provides.

Movie Review: The ineffable pain of French movies

I believe I am ready to talk about this now. Yes. I know I am. I am not yet whole, but I am strong enough. Yes. Strong enough.

The subject for today is the French-film-by-a-Polish-director: "The Double Life of Veronique". It isn't a bad title. It sounds like either a spy thriller or some sleazy story about a part-time prostitute. No such luck. Here's the beginning of the plot summary from the web page:

Veronika lives in Poland. Veronique lives in Paris. They don't know each other. Veronika gets a place in a music school...

Under normal circumstances this would have been enough to send me screaming for the door. "No! You can't make me watch that! It burns ussssss! It BURNS ussssss!" But in this case the movie also has a brief appearance by the delectable Lorraine Evanoff, and I decided to risk the pain to see her in this short, yet pivotal role. The movie was all I feared it would be: dull, incoherent and pretentious with excellent acting and overbearing direction. I'd look up the director and actors, but you wouldn't care. Yet in the midst of this grotesque memorial to the former greatness of European creativity shone one bright moment (well, three bright moments, if you add the two boob shots) a brief scene of crystal clarity, a moment of inspired assertion of honor by the lovely Lorraine. If I'd known then what I know now, I would have turned off the movie immediately that scene was ended and I'd be a jollier man today, less scared by the inhumane cruelty of French cinema. So in conclusion although it was fun seeing someone I know in a movie, I cannot unqualifiedly recommend this particular film.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

People who don't believe in freedom

Some of my friends, Americans, Democrats, really don't believe in freedom. Oh, they think it's a good idea, something to endorse abstractly; I don't doubt that. You see, I'm not using the phrase like I would in, say "Libertarians don't believe in minimum wages" or "Socialists don't believe in free markets". I'm using it more like in "Atheists don't believe in God". My friends don't believe there is really any such thing as freedom. They would disagree of course. They think they believe in freedom. But ask them why they want smoking banned from bars. They'll say they don't think people should be forced to breath second-hand smoke. Forced. Like someone is sticking a gun in their back and saying "All right, cowpoke, you get in that there bar and take a good, deep breath or I'm gonna blow a hole in ya the size a' Texas."

Of course no one is forced to spend time in bars. If they don't want to breath second-hand smoke, they can go home and watch TV. My friends don't agree. They tell me that people have a right to go into a bar and not be offended by second-hand smoke. Apparently they can't just have their own non-smoking bars to go to, because the crowds wouldn't be there. Smokers would refuse to go to the non-smoking bars and non-smokers would be forced to accompany them to those unhealthy smoker's bars. There's that word again, forced. It crops up a lot when I talk to these particular friends. They point out that the people who work in a smoke-filled bar are forced to breath second-hand smoke as a condition of employment. Needless to say, they find this unacceptable. They also find unacceptable my proposed remedy, that the people who don't want to breath second-hand smoke could work elsewhere. The word crops up in other conversations too: low-skill workers are forced to take low-pay jobs, poor people are forced to live in cheap housing.

They seem willing to consider it force whenever one person takes any action at all that limits the options of another person. When I take a seat on the bus, presumably I'm forcing everyone who gets on after me to sit elsewhere. But this means that practically anything anyone ever does can be considered force. If this is true, then we never really have freedom. We are constantly being forced to do things by the actions of others. They see one big mess of people forcing each other, a mess that needs a big, strong government to step in and make sure nobody uses this force unfairly. Their viewpoint doesn't allow for any fundamental difference between me pointing a gun at some high school kid and saying "Mow my lawn." vs. me pointing a twenty-dollar bill at the same kid with the same order. Both situations leave the poor helpless child with an unpleasant choice, mow the lawn or accept the consequences (death or missing an opportunity to gain, just points on a scale). That's why they don't believe in freedom.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Film review: Boiling Point

Last night I saw the movie Boiling Point, directed by James B. Harris and staring Wesley Snipes, Dennis Hopper, and Lorraine Evanoff, among others. It's entertaining, medium-paced and comfortably predictable. Over all it was well-directed, but there are several jarring, poorly acted moments, and given the quality of the cast, you have to blame the director for that. The story, by Gerald Petievich and James B. Harris, was better than average for a cop drama. Wesley Snipes puts in a mediocre performance as a federal agent whose partner is killed and who wants to track down the killer. Dennis Hopper offers a competent performance as the villain, playing him just on the edge of being sympathetic. Partly due to a good script and partly due to Hopper's performance, there are numerous places where you are just about to start sympathizing with the character and then he does something reprehensible and you're back to disliking him. There is an interesting byplay between Hopper's character and the young killer played by Viggo Mortensen, who did the second best acting job in the film. The best acting, of course was by the beautiful and talented Lorraine Evanoff whose portrayal of a pathetic drug addict was grim, sincere, and heart-rending. The lovely Ms. Evanoff displayed an impressive acting range with this convincing portrayal, and I predict that you will be hearing a lot more about her. Especially if you read this blog.

UPDATE: I just re-read this and realized it was a rather lukewarm review even though I really liked the movie. That's because I tend to be over-critical and under-congratulatory. It's a personality thing. If you like cop or action moves though, check this one out. It's pretty good.


Well, I've spent about a day trying to find a comment system that meets my needs. No luck. I did try enetation because they have a free system so I could try it for a while to see if I liked it before going to the trouble of getting a paypal account to pay for it. I actually had it installed and running for about ten minutes. Hopefully no one left a comment in that time, because I cancelled it. At the top of the comments pop-up they print a message something like "Please donate to us and get better service." Many readers would think it was me begging or that a donation somehow benefited me. And there was no warning on the enetation pages that they would do this (I expected some sort of advertising, but not something deceptive and embarrassing). I think they were dishonest and I'm not going to ever do business with the company. Oh well, the system didn't look that great anyway. Worse, when I wanted to complain, there was no way to send email to the company. That's so obnoxious I'd boycott them for that if nothing else. It's like not having a postal address because you don't want to be bothered with mail from your customers.

I have several of these one-man boycotts going. I know they don't really accomplish anything, but if everyone did it, it would do lots of good. There are always politicians and pressure groups trying to pass regulations or sue companies into behaving, but if people would just refuse to do business with companies that behave badly, we wouldn't need any of those coercive measures.

Hey! This is my first use of the blog just to vent because I'm frustrated. And it did make me feel better.

Monday, February 16, 2004

I really need one of these

The Dutton 4wd Commander is an amphibious vehicle manufactured from a Suzuki Samurai by Dutton Mariner (click and check out the cool picture of a very isolated home). It has a maximum speed of 6mph in water, and presumably, Samurai performance on land. They also have an interesting description of some of the engineering considerations in making amphibious vehicles.

French Movies

I had an extremely painful experience last night. I... I'm sorry, I guess I'm just not ready to blog about it yet, the memories are too raw, the wounds are still open. But this I can do. I can try to help others survive any similar experiences. I offer this to blunt the agony: a drinking game for watching French movies. With this remedy I pray that no one else will ever again have to go through ninety minutes of the bamboo-shoots-under-the-fingernails scale of torture that I endured last night. It's this, or destroy every copy of every French movie ever made and level the entire country to ensure that such horrors are never released on mankind, ever again.

Here are the rules: each victim has a bottle of tequila and a twelve-pack of beer. Every time one character in the movie says something perfectly ordinary and another character stares seriously at them for several minutes as if they had said something profound or mysterious or deeply moving, you slam a can of beer. Each time they switch incoherently to an entirely new subplot, take a shot. And here's the most important part of the game: whenever someone has to get up and go to the bathroom because of all the beer, you DO NOT STOP the movie for that person. If someone passes out, you DO NOT STOP the movie for that person. When the pizza gets delivered and someone has to go to the door to pay for it, you DO NOT STOP the movie, even every single person in the room has to go help pay for the pizza. Any portion of the movie that anyone has to miss, they just miss.

Doc Rampage does not endorse drinking to excess under any circumstances. But in the cases of extreme pain where more sophisticated pain relievers are not available, alcohol may be used for its medicinal properties.

an alternative to the Federal Marriage Amendment

Back of the Envelope has replied to my proposal for an alternative to the FMA, where I propose trying to reign in the judiciary instead of trying to enshrine cultural definitions in the constitution. He acknowledges my scoop on the issue and then whines that I only scooped him because his blog didn't exist yet. I'm unimpressed with that argument. A more experienced blogger would have found a way around the difficulty. But I'm going to take the high road and refrain from mentioning it.

Donald prefers a procedural change over my "and this time we really mean it" proposal. I disagree. I believe that as an instrument for controlling government, the current US constitution is about as good as you are going to get. The problems we are having are not due to flaws in the constitution but to flaws in our elected officials (and by extension, we who do the electing). Many, many things that the federal government does are clearly unconstitutional. They get away with it by using the Big Lie. They just deny the clear meaning of the document and if enough people all pretend to agree with this distorted definition, they can get away with it. You see this kind of reality-distortion at all levels of social interaction, and within individuals as well. When reality doesn't give people what they want, they just choose to see a different reality.

This problem, obviously, is not one that you can fix with a procedural change. I think the only chance we have of effecting the issue in a positive way is by social change. And the kind of constitutional amendment I propose is intended to bring about that change. What I have in mind is something that says (1) Each part of the constitution is to be interpreted according to its clear and literal meaning as it was understood at the time of writing. (2) Neither precedent, nor cultural norms, nor foreign courts, nor religious doctrine, nor science, nor any other influence may be used to modify the clear and literal meaning of the constitution. This means (2a) Rulings may not drift away from the meaning over time through precedent and (2b) The only way to change the constitution is by those processes set out in the constitution. (3) All three branches are equally responsible to uphold the constitution and to refuse to cooperate with any branch that seeks to violate it. And maybe something like (4) the citizens are responsible to refuse to vote for any elected official who has violated the constitution, even if they agreed with the results of the action. And just for safety, (5) The current state of precedent and interpretation of the constitution is not the baseline from which we start, we start with the original document.

UPDATE: Donald responds, and I finally respond to his response.

Sunday, February 15, 2004

Is there a blog hierarchy?

Back in the mid-eighties there was no world wide web. The internet was basically email, ftp, and usenet groups. Usenet is sort of like a huge collection of blogs (called newsgroups) that anyone can post on, and I was a regular contributor to several groups. I was young and overly aggressive back then. One of my rants, The Four Laws of Netslinging, has even been saved for posterity by someone I don't know. I try to avoid being rude and condescending these days, but I'm not always successful.

Back the good old days we didn't have this system of major bloggers who keep the gate, essentially acting as publishers, deciding who gets exposure and who doesn't. If you read an article and wanted to comment, all you had to do was write and post and you were in the conversation. You might well be ignored, mocked, or verbally abused, but you were there. It was an exhilarating experience and it had an enormous influence on my writing as well as my thinking.

That system wouldn't work on today's web, of course. There are millions of people who want to be heard and you can't expect everyone on the internet to evaluate the work of millions of authors to decide which ones to read. The modern system of blogdom has evolved to put some order on the chaos, and overall it isn't a bad system. I expect that over the years the system is going to deteriorate as it becomes more of a business and less a labor of love, but for now it works pretty well.

But even though I knew the difference between Usenet and blogs at the intellectual level, I wasn't really prepared for it when I started blogging. I expected to get in the conversation right away. In the old days my postings generated a lot of interest, and it never seriously occurred to me that it would be different this time. Now it has occurred to me, since my efforts at promotion have gone so poorly. I tried to promote a couple of articles to some of the big name bloggers right away, following their suggestions: I promoted an article rather than the blog, I wrote about things they were writing about, and I had an original take on it. No one even replied, much less linked to my posting. The next day Instapundit (one of the ones I emailed) writes this advice for promoting your blog:

... sell the post, not the blog. I frequently get emails from people saying "I started a new blog," but when I follow the link the new blog has only one or two posts, one of which is "well, here's my new blog."...

Coincidence? Well, probably, since I did "sell the post, not the blog" and I didn't have any "well, here's my new blog" article, but it made me think (actually, it started a clock going in my head that made me think several days later, but it comes to the same thing for us delayed cognitionists). I wondered if my posts might have been ignored, not just because they lost the competition with the other posts that day, but because I had violated a rule of etiquette that I didn't know about. Is there a hierarchy of blogs that I violated? Maybe you aren't supposed to promote to the big guys until you have worked in the trenches.

So should I keep trying to promote the blog to the major players, taking the risk of pissing them off because they feel like I'm being impertinent, or should I spend a couple of months writing a blog that no one is reading, just to fill up the archives? How do I find out whether this rule of etiquette exists? And if it does exist, is it a big secret that could get me killed for bringing it up in public?

the roots of anti-americanism in Europe

Instapundit and Porphyrogenitus both quote the following from this article:

"Anti-Americanism can only be very ambivalent," he says, "where American culture sets the tone. The French are voting for America - in the market place - all the time."

What struck me about this is the implication that "voting for American culture" is going to somehow mute hostility toward America. On the contrary, I think the export of American culture is one of the major causes of anti-Americanism. Imagine if you were very familiar with, for example, English culture, and all the cultural icons you knew had nothing good to say about England. John Lennon says that England is a warmongering country. Sean Connery says that England is a racist country that doesn't care about it's own poor. What's-his-name from the Rolling Stones starts a concert by saying, "Just to let you know, I'm ashamed to be English". You see lots of English movies where the English government is either the bad guy, or is enabling the bad guy. You see political movies where the large mass of voters are presented as ignorant, racist, uneducated, inbred, superstitious hicks. Don't you think all that might effect your idea of England?

Our cultural icons are the voice of America to much of the world, and many of our cultural icons despise America. Is it any wonder that people who's knowledge of America comes primarily from these sources despise America also?