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Pet Sins November 2000

Chinese woman in US says Americans are stupid

I was talking to a woman from China about a class I was taking in college. After she heard a description of the syllabus, she said, "In China we cover in a month what you do in one semester. But Americans are stupid and can't learn as fast."

I told her that Americans aren't stupid. There was a lot more I could have said, but out of courtesy, I held my tongue. Firstly, if Americans are stupid, then why are so many people from China flocking to the country that Americans built? Many Chinese are attracted to the higher material standards of living in the U.S. So the 'stupid' Americans somehow managed to build a more materially sophisticated country than the 'smart' Chinese.

Secondly, she is in America, enjoying the material benefits and the infrastructure that Americans created. She should at least show some respect. I don't expect her to grovel with gratitude or refrain from making any criticism of America. Since Americans in other countries have been outspoken about issues in other countries, aliens in America have the same right to criticize America. But arrogant, unconstructive criticism like "Americans are stupid" is not helpful at all.

Thirdly, her boyfriend is a white American. I suppose she must think he is an exception to the "Americans are stupid" rule. Actually, he thinks so himself. He often makes remarks like "Americans are too boring for me, I only like 'international' people." He has never asked what he can do for his country, only what his country can do for him. And his attitudes towards people are the same too. I have never seen him help or befriend people who are not rich, sexy or popular, or who could not benefit him in some way. He seems to have established a pattern of taking from people without giving back. His girlfriend also makes remarks like, "I am always in the smartest class at the university.'

Lastly, if someone has said something like "Chinese are stupid", both she and her PC boyfriend would be up in arms. Then why is it ok for either of them to insult Americans? Perhaps the 2 of them form a great match.

T.H.