A friend sent me the following YouTube link. WARNING: Parts of the video are offensive, and if you go to YouTube and read the comments, many of them are extremely offensive. Nonetheless, both are part of the point I want to make. Since my commentary contains some spoilers, you have to click on the "more" link to read it.
My friend headed the link with "This nation's school system has created a nation of morons." I couldn't agree more with her statement, but the video does nothing to prove it. Selective editing can show anything, especially when combined with preconceived notions of what you want to prove.
It's the comments that are truly disturbing. If the film was no doubt edited to show the stupidest responses, I'm pretty sure the comments are a random sample—though the group of people willing to comment on YouTube is not exactly representative of the world's population. At least I hope not. The venomous, virulent disgust and hatred they spew—often in the form of extremely foul language—is more disturbing to me than ignorance, though they display that as well. Not that I've read all the comments, which numbered over 4000 as of this morning; a hundred or so was all I could stomach.
In A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens proclaimed Ignorance most to be feared, "for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased." Ignorance of facts about the world is bad enough, but ignorance of other peoples and cultures is appalling, and I find that there's as much ignorance of America in other countries as there is of other countries here.
The only hope I see for either side is more and more cultural exchange programs. And everyone should read Why the Rest Hates the West, too.
A few comments on the questions and answers: My first reaction to the challenge of naming a country that begins with "U" was "Uganda." Most people would say our country begins with "A." I doubt most of the French, which asked what letter their country's name begins with, would respond, "R" ("Republique francaise"). No matter how official "United States" is, and no matter how frustrating it is to Canadians, Mexicans, and South and Central Americans, "America" is too well entrenched as a name for our country for anyone to expect otherwise. Though I did think "Yugoslavia" was a cute answer.
I also missed the KFC question, though I maintain that "Utah" as an answer is only partly right. The first franchise may have been in Utah, but Kentucky really deserves credit as its homeland.And I totally understand the guy who said Germany was part of the Axis of Evil. He, perhaps more than anyone, shows that our school system has provided Pope's "a little learning." He remembers "Axis" vaguely from his studies of World War II, and he knows Germany was our enemy then, so....