Monday, August 09, 2004

The Ugly American

Let the Games begin. Greece is laying down the welcome mat, so long as Americans leave their Hawaiian shirts, baseball caps, and loud political debates stateside.
Unlike his oft-derided counterpart of a few decades ago, The Ugly American, the new American abroad is trying to keep the head down, blend in and, above all, not bellow.

Trying times, indeed.
Americans interviewed in Athens on the eve of the Games say they are being peppered with lists of things not to do, like ‘‘Don’t wear baseball caps’’, ‘‘Don’t wear Hawaiian shirts’’, ‘‘Don’t be loud and obnoxious’’, ‘‘Don’t talk politics’’ and, if you do, ‘‘Don’t disagree’’.

‘‘Don’t be an ugly American — that is the message we are getting’’, said college graduate Maggie Haskins, who is in Athens to work as an intern with NBC.


One joke making the rounds here has President Bush going to the Olympics and being shown the Acropolis. Looking at one of the world’s most famous ruins, the President grits his teeth and says, ‘‘Don’t worry we’ll get the bastards who did this.’’

That, says Haskins, 22, is the problem. ‘‘It is sad how one man can dictate how you are viewed. I feel like I have to apologise and say all Americans are not like that.’’

No, we're not, Mags. Instead of saying -- as some are being advised to do so -- that you're Canadian if things are getting unruly around your nationality -- simply shout "3 more months!" and "Help is on the way!"


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