Re: What's appropriate material...

William Bangs (wbbangs@U.WASHINGTON.EDU)
Sat, 18 Feb 1995 13:54:50 -0800

Hi, all. Can't we solve this by simply trusting that if in other ways
our interlocuters don't seem particularly ethnocentric, their use of
"America" to mean US is OK? I know Mexico, Canada and all of South
AMERICA are indeed part of "America", but I too will say: "I'm an
American" when what I really mean is that I'm a US citizen. It's a
shorthand which, in the long run, is, I believe, less dangerous than the
real types of ethnocentrism wherein people assume that their values
should be the values of everyone in the world -- a kind of "default
value", to use computerese. I think this pettiness over language is an
easy way of "making a statement"; the harder (but much more effective, I
believe in the long run) way is to be culturally aware and practice some
good 'ole Cultural Relativsm when interacting with people -- by, for
example, not assuming that, for instance, the mere fact that they come
from the US means they have the values attributed to the US as a nation
(substitute any country in this example). Naturally if you're at a
conference called: The many "Americas" you'd want to make the
distinction, but otherwise it would just seem to me to be a strategy for
letting an interlocuter know you didn't want to talk.

Ben Bangs

We each must decide which values are worth saving,
which satisfactions are worth sacrificing,
what ultimately we wish from life.

I fear many do not give this proposition
the sufficient thought it deserves:
until they become too engrained in a superficial life,
too far removed to find such harmony again...