Changing America's face

Letter to the editor

Posted: Thursday, August 19, 2004

Kudos to Elva Bontrager for her Aug. 17 letter to the editor. When I traveled in Europe, I learned that many people (outside the U.S.) look at our government and believe that our government officials represent all, or the majority, of Americans. I attended school in Rome, Italy, during the summer of 2002, with classmates from several different countries, and I participated in many intercultural educational activities. During one of these activities, my classmates were asked to stereotype Americans (we did this activity for each country represented in the classroom).

My classmates saw the average American as a greedy consumer, unconcerned for the environment, poorly educated, self-centered and egoistical. They based this stereotype on the man we chose to represent our country - George W. Bush. When I told my fellow students that many Americans disagree with what George W. Bush has done during his presidency and that most Americans probably didn't even vote for him, they replied, "But you (Americans) chose him to represent your country." Granted, the portrayal of Americans in other countries extends beyond our government figures. Media, television and movies greatly influence the world's perception of Americans.

Ms. Bontrager has raised some questions that we all should seriously consider during this next election, and, if one wants to be an activist in changing America's face to the world, one also should consider what the media and entertainment industry say about the United States. By not taking action, we passively condone this misrepresentation of our country and its citizens.

Vita Smith


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