Readers' Submissions

Anti Americanism in Thailand

  • Written by J Hammer
  • June 3rd, 2004
  • 3 min read


One of Bangkok's many charms is its utter lack of political correctness. Western expats frequently revel in playful talk about anatomically-challenged, panty-sniffing Japanese businessmen or malodorous, bomb-tossing Arabs. This new-found freedom to say as we please is viewed as a welcome change from the cultural oppressiveness that we left back home. But perhaps the most curious prejudice is that held against American people by other Westerners living in Thailand, simply because it is the only prejudice shamelessly held by even the highest brow intellectuals.

Their anger is directed not only at US foreign policy and corporate culture, but often at those who happen to be American nationals. Here's an example of an otherwise brilliant Internet poster who decided to set aside his brain for a moment when writing on the topic of paying Thai prostitutes: "I do resent Dana telling us all not to overpay. I don’t tell him how to live his life. But he's an American and don’t Americans just love telling the rest of the world how to behave?" (By the way, when bargirls recount to me their stories of asshole customers who underpay or otherwise degrade them, at least half of the perpetrators are from Europe or Down Under.)

I recall traveling through Isaan with a fellow American several years ago. My friend chose to tell other tourists that he was a Greek national (his parents are Greek) while I told them I was an American. After a while it became obvious why he was doing this. A French film crew that we met became much friendlier with my “European” friend once they learned our stated nationalities.
If these anti-American bigots would set aside their blind prejudice for a moment and take a look around, they would notice that the vast majority of Americans who have chosen to live overseas reject US militarism and cultural arrogance. After all, in our last presidential election the majority of Americans did choose Al Gore, a reasonable bureaucrat who could easily pass for a mainstream EU politician. It would be well beneath these bigots to dislike Chinese nationals just because their government runs over its dissidents with tanks and occupies Tibet. However, they are perfectly comfortable blaming all Americans for their government's transgressions.

Please remember that America is a country that has also given the world likes of Martin Luther King, Kurt Vonnegut, Noam Chomsky, Jimi Hendrix, John Coltrane, Michael Moore and other human treasures. Maybe if my American forefathers hadn't helped rescue the world from the Nazis, Nena and her 99 Luftbaloons would be adorning the BTS billboards for the next rock concert at Lumpini Park. And something tells me that if thousands of selfless American soldiers didn't leave their blood in places like Iwo Jima, all of Bangkok's go-go bars would be "Japanese only".

Anti-American bigots feel perfectly justified to target one's passport color, although they realize that bigoted statements based on skin color (e.g. "black people are low-IQ rapists and criminals") are illogical. But with unmitigated smugness, they can declare that Americans are uneducated, arrogant, SUV-loving, gun-toting bumpkins. For those of you who rail on about America's militarism, cultural arrogance and neo-colonialism, party on! More Americans are with you than you care to think. The American political process has indeed been hijacked by greedy oil barons, Likudists, crazed Evangelical “Christians” and other dark souls. And if you want to criticize the country whose cultural pollution spews McDonalds, Teletubbies, Britney Spears and Ultimate Fighting onto the world, more power to you! But for educated Westerners to look down on anyone “made in USA”, you are being bigoted and stupid. You should know better.

Stickman's thoughts:

Almost 50% of the readers of this site are American.