While all countries have politicians and members of the general populace who seem to be ignorant of the world beyond their borders, this malaise seems to be worse in the United States than in most other western democracies. I initially suspected that this was because in 1994 only 10% of adult Americans had passports. However, by 2003, this had reached 20% and by 2017 had reached 42%1. It is now about 56%2. In Australia, the proportion of adults with valid passports is about the same, at 57%, while in the United Kingdom, that proportion is 77%3.
Given that as many Americans have passports as Australians, why don’t Americans seem to know as much about the outside world as Australians? It seems to be a combination of factors. Their education system focuses more on the United States than most other countries. I was talking to an American colleague some years ago and he told me that when he studied history at school, it was US history. This still seems to be the case, with a recent curriculum beginning with the interaction between “American Indian tribes and the early European explorers” who arrived in the Americas. From there it goes into the American colonies, the revolution, the constitution etc.4, and is entirely America-centric.
The same colleague said that this was also true of geography; it mostly dealt with US geography. However, things seem to have changed with the first ever National Geography standards being established in 1994 and revised in 2012. Although they are general and fairly vague, they do refer to “the world in spatial terms”. As an example, I picked a random state to see what geography was like there. The standards for Nebraska do deal with the location of the first cities, civilisations and empires; the natural environment and its effects on humans; cultural patterns; cultural diffusion etc.
Another factor which may be at fault here is the media. It seems to be self-absorbed to the point of excluding much of what happens outside the US. Anecdotally, I suspected this was the case; in the past, friends and colleagues have told me that they had trouble finding any news from outside the US. Why this is so, I do not know, but I suspect that it is simply a factor of size. The US has a population of about 330 million, some 13 times that of Australia.
This brings me to the item which set me off on this rant. It was a post by some American dill on Facebook which said: “How to fix our nation: Put Jesus back in all the places you asked Him to leave… Home, Schools, Government, Church and Your Heart”. This would only come from a person who either lies or is ignorant of the world beyond the US borders (not to mention their constitution). The person who commented on this said that they were pretty sure that is what ruined it in the first place. I replied, as is my wont: “Yep. Most other western democracies have less Jesus in all of the above sites, yet have less violence, fewer murders, greater happiness, fewer infant deaths, fewer maternal deaths, and a greater life expectancy. You want to bring that drivel into most other western democracies? Get stuffed.”5
I have seen similar sorts of religious ‘more jesus’ knee-jerks before, in relation to mass shootings in the US. The religious nutter, Franklin Graham is a prime example. After a shooting in Buffalo, New York, a couple of years ago, he said: “I’m traveling overseas, but my heart breaks for the families who lost loved ones due to the wicked acts of violence that took place in Buffalo. Sociologists and politicians are at a loss as to what to do about all of the violence. This world has a disease problem—our hearts are diseased with sin. The only hope for the human heart is God. The government can spend billions on programs, but that won’t change the human heart—only a relationship with God through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ can do that. The acts of this individual were just demonic. Please join me in praying for these grieving families”6. As the Governor of Texas, Greg Abbott said more succinctly, but just as stupidly: “The problem is not guns, it’s hearts without God.”7
While the proportion of Americans with ‘no religious affiliation is now at about 29%, and is climbing quite quickly8, there are many more hearts without god in all western democracies and none have the per capita rate of gun deaths the US does. As an example, in Australia the number of people with no religious affiliation is probably now over 50%9. And yet you are 32 times more likely to die from a gun homicide in the US than in Australia10. In France, 51% of the population have no religious affiliation11, and yet in the US, you are 19 times more likely to die from a gun homicide than in France10. In Germany, 44% of the population have no religious affiliation12, and yet in the US, you are 75 times more likely to die in a gun homicide than in Germany10. Using Graham’s and Abbott’s logic, it would seem that ‘less Jesus’ is a better option for curbing gun violence.
People like Graham and Abbott rely on the ignorance of a proportion of the US populace to spread this bullshit. It is sickening to see scum like them refuse to acknowledge what the problem is in the US; the availability of guns. Abbott clearly values donations from the gun manufacturers and the National Rifle Association for his election campaigns more than he cares for children’s lives, while Graham is more concerned with keeping the money flowing to his church by trying to increase the number of bums on pews, than he is for children’s lives. People like Graham and Abbott are criminals. They know what to do to prevent children dying from gun violence; examples from around the world are numerous, yet they do nothing. They are aiding and abetting murder.