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Americentrism is the idea or perceived bias to judge other cultures and nations by American standards or to center around America in news. It is often confused with American Exceptionalism, which is the idea that America is exceptional, better or worth more than other nations. Americentrism is a type of ethnocentrism, although not focusing on ethnic or racist issues.
Many invasions in the history of the US have been justified as bringing other peoples "freedom" and "liberty" and generally making the other country "more free" (read by critics as "more American"). Examples for this are almost all military actions during the Cold War, the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 and the Invasion of Iraq in 2003. In these cases the use of such arguments might also be perceived as (neo)imperialism and the distinction is fuzzy. It also extends to applying the labels liberal and conservative in their U.S. sense (i.e. with added "baggage") to non-U.S. systems (where the opposite of conservatism is usually social democracy or socialism, ideologies that never grew in the U.S.), a process furthered by the strong international position of Anglophone, and especially U.S., political science. This has created such categories as conservative liberalism and liberal conservatism which are applied to non-U.S. parties that describe themselves as simply liberal or conservative.
All over the world Americans get mocked for having no clue of geography outside of their own borders. Hell, ask them to name the ten Canadian provinces and see the blank stares as they silently ask themselves "what's a province?" Other subjects American students are less likely to study include:
- Foreign languages, i.e., languages other than English, including Spanish (which is surprising considering that there are hundreds of Spanish language radio and TV stations in the US).
- The history of other countries, although many students seem to be freakishly familiar with the supposed ancient history of the Middle East as delineated in a certain book.
Of course, what might be seen as laziness could also be a bias in the students and the educational system for not learning or teaching these topics. After all, a surprisingly large number of Americans live their lives without ever expecting to leave the borders of the United States. Why would they bother learning about other cultures? This may be due to the size of the United States and its history as a melting pot of different cultures. First, America is roughly the size of Europe. It has one country where at least thirty could fit if there were any meaningful basis for it. Second, a European needs to know where things are because they might run into someone who cares about geography and, due to their countries' smaller size (outside Russia) and multilingual traditions, may need a second or even third language to communicate with neighbors. Most Americans live nowhere near a national border and the majority of those who do live close to English Canada. Third, immigrants that have lived in America from the time of the inception of the United States have largely settled on English as a matter of convenience (unless you lived in Maine)--it has the advantage of being an imported tongue and doesn't prioritize any one ethnicity over any other, as even Native Americans speak it (after most of them were killed and the rest forcefully resettled far away from all the good god-fearin' folks).
In the media
American networks are said to have an Americentric bias in the selection of their material. Another example of media bias is the general dislike of seemingly pretentious movies from ... every non-American place in the world.
- While most other humanists, liberals and democrats all over the world will agree with this, this argument is especially predominant in the United States.
- The Soviet Union employed a similar concept in propaganda, but shooting for a completely different understanding of "free".
- King Kaufman’s Sports Daily 21 August 2004