9 reasons foreigners look down on America

I was born and raised in the United States, but I’ve spent seven of the past thirteen years living in other countries. In that time I’ve had thousands of conversations with people of other nationalities about life in America. They didn’t all bitch about America all the time, but through the course of these conversations I heard the following reasons why non-Americans are underwhelmed with America:

The death penalty

America has always had the death penalty. So Americans tend to take it for granted, some people even celebrate it. There are a lot of pro-death penalty arguments that sound good on paper, but people who were raised in a country that doesn’t have the death penalty tend to be queasy about it. They view it as archaic, small-minded and an inherently counterproductive path to prosperity. They also see it as an overreach of government power because if a government has the right to kill its citizens then how can you really say citizens control the government and not the other way around? Even if American citizens want the death penalty that says something about the American public: that they’re blood thirsty. You can disagree with this perception, but don’t blame me for its existence. I’m just pointing out that other cultures view killing as uncivilized and thus they view America as uncivilized for using much less embracing the death penalty.



There’s no doubt that America loves its guns. American gun advocates will tell you that the less armed a country is the more it will devolve into fear and chaos. There are a lot of arguments for gun proliferation that sound good on paper, but life in countries that have strict gun control laws (and a lack of gun-loving culture) is very different than the N.R.A. would have you believe. People raised in first world countries where there are strict gun control laws have never experienced the fear and chaos Americans live with every day where you can’t cut off another driver or shout at someone who bumps into you on the sidewalk without worrying about them shooting you. In other first world countries you just go about your business and never worry about getting shot.

Sure, criminals will always have guns, but most people only shoot people they know. And the less people who have guns the less opportunity they have to commit a crime of passion. The less people who want guns the farther the statistics of gun violence fall. Countries that don’t have and don’t want guns are more peaceful, and they feel more peaceful. And the less afraid people are of each other the better they tend to get along. People who grew up in countries where this is the norm look down on America for celebrating weapons of mass destruction and thinking mutually ensured destruction is a viable path to prosperity when it really just ensures destruction.


America bombastically claims it’s the land of the free, which confuses foreigners since America has more people in prison than any other country in the world. Not only that but American prisons are famous for being inhumane. If you go to an American prison you’re either going to have to join a gang or become someone’s bitch to avoid being raped and/or killed. That’s a simple fact of life for Americans but it’s not for citizens of every other first world country. This is yet another reason why foreigners look at America with pity and disgust.


Foreigners who visit America (particularly the Bible Belt) are astounded by the number and size of churches in America. The reason is because religion is mythology plain and simple. Just open up a religious book and you’ll find all the proof you need to come to that common sense conclusion. Yet a mind-boggling number of Americans celebrate their belief in easily-falsifiable fiction while despising reality and anyone who believes in it. Many Americans can’t imagine life any other way, but many foreigners can’t imagine living in a country filled with so many religious fanatics.


In America the high school football captain and head cheerleader are at the top of the high school social hierarchy while the nerds are at the bottom. This phenomenon isn’t as bad as it used to be, but it was never this bad in other first world countries. In other countries you’re viewed as a failure if all you can do is move a ball from Point A to Point B.

Even in the adult world American culture celebrates idiots more than smart people. Just turn on any reality television show to see more evidence of this. Granted, every country has its own share of morons, and television personalities in other countries even copy America’s idiots. But the fact remains that America sets the bar in anti-intellectualism, which makes citizens of other countries face palm at us.

Propaganda/entertainment news

Possibly the biggest monument to American anti-intellectualism that foreigners face palm at is Fox News. It’s a thinly veiled propaganda machine for the ultra-rich that employs shock jocks to use reactionary rhetoric and fear mongering to pit its fan base against everyone who isn’t just like them. People from other countries don’t get it. They think it’s satire, and it terrifies then when they find out that millions of Americans take it literally… as well it should.


North Korea is the only country in the world that currently rivals America’s sense of patriotism and sense of exceptionalism. America’s sense of patriotism is so strong that social scientists have referred to it as bordering on a civil religion. Germans in particular view America’s fanatical sense of self-righteousness with horror because they know all too well where the path of nationalism leads: it leads to blind obedience and treating others as inferior.

The grim truth is that America isn’t the God-blessed land of milk, honey and freedom that it paints itself to be. It’s the world leader in prisons, shooting sprees and exporting war, which is all the more reason why foreigners scratch their heads at American patriotism.

Broken electoral system

The past two United States presidents’ approval ratings dropped to around 30% in the last few years of their tenure, and Congress’s approval rating has been even lower. The recent government shut down just goes to show how ineffective America’s leaders are, which just goes to show how ineffective America’s process of picking leaders is. Yet Americans continue to celebrate their electoral process while jeering the results it produces. And everyone else wonders what’s wrong with us.

Invasion of privacy

America, the self-proclaimed land of the free, sets the bar for invasion of privacy. This was common knowledge even before Edward Snowden handed the world proof on a silver platter that America has no respect for its citizens’ privacy. People from other countries have a hard time imagining living in a country where their own government distrusts and disrespects them so much. They have an even harder time imagining why Americans are so lackadaisical about being spied on.

 However you felt about this post, you’ll probably feel the same way about these:

Police and the Law

Occupy Wall Street

7 responses to “9 reasons foreigners look down on America

  • doctor Iv

    the us is not advanced enough to afford getting rid of death penalty, too many uncivilized humans


  • doctor Iv

    death penalty and prisons are needed when you have citizens that act like animals instead of civic respecting people. It works not to have it in advanced societies, the US is not one.


  • Swift

    I have spent allot of times outside of America so I have to agree with most of what your saying and most of what your saying is well thought out and well articulated until you get to an interesting point: Religion.

    And this is where you devolve to name calling, True Belief and not a small amount of condescending arrogance which is interesting since you basically pull a light weight/ calm “intellectual” version of exactly the same behavior you object to.


  • Matt Miller

    ” From what little I know of other societies I believe Americans to be the most honest, trusting and giving people in the world. ”

    Typical American ignorance. You have NEVER SEEN THE WORLD! How can you possible make such an arrogant statement? And the worst part is that you do not even realize how arrogant it is!


  • John

    I’ve never lived outside of the U.S. Hell I’ve never spent more than a few days at one time out of the Pacific N.W. so I may be talking out my ass. I’m not sure how you asked the questions or interpreted the answers from the thousands of conversations from the people of foreign nationalities but it makes a big difference. From my limited experience I believe the English to be snobs, the French to be arrogant, Germans too serious and the Irish a bunch of drunks. With this slanted thinking I could easily find people from all walks of life to help me make a list of why they wouldn’t want to live in one of these countries.

    If we didn’t have the death penalty wouldn’t we need to have more in the prisons that we have to many of?

    I live in a rural environment where having a gun is no more big of a deal than an extra pair of shoes. It’s taken for granted that every household has some sort of gun. I can understand that a society that has grown up without guns would think of violence when talking about a society that is well armed.

    I talked to a Mexican fellow the other day that told me how much better religious freedoms were in America than Mexico. In Mexico those that weren’t Catholic were looked down upon. So I’m not sure about your reasoning on the American religious aspect.

    When you talked to others about patriotism, did you get the feeling that they could change the love for their country to another country at the drop of a hat? I’ve found any foreigner seems to have patriotic feeling to the place of their birth.

    Those are the issues that I don’t see eye to eye on with your analyses. America’s gov’t has become a sham. Corporations and big money control every aspect of our environment. Every aspect! You point out Fox for propaganda, but every other news media has agendas to control us in other avenues.

    Our justice system is totally corrupt. The prisons are full because there is big money for those supplying them. The cops are bullies that keep the lawyers making money that in turn keep weak kneed judges in power. Not only do our elected officials make more laws but all the created bureaucracies get to have control. More stupid laws = more prisons.
    I agree with you on the electoral system. I quit voting because the whole thing is rigged.

    The invasion of privacy thing wouldn’t be that big of a deal if it weren’t for the power the state has over our lives.

    My sister has an international business. Once she was entertaining some foreign clients in the Washington state area. They stopped at a fruit stand in the country. It had no one there but there was plenty of fruit and a can for the money. The foreigners to a man said that such a thing would never work in their countries. From what little I know of other societies I believe Americans to be the most honest, trusting and giving people in the world. Our sense of fairness is actually what is causing us big problems. We are being manipulated into the wrongs that other countries see but the American people themselves are a credit to the human race.


    • Swift

      1) We execute a vanishing small amount of people compared to our overall prison population and multiple studies have show that the death penalty is not a deterrent so no, stopping execution would not effect the prison pop.

      2) I agree having grown up in both America and living overseas. I will state though there has been an insidious shift away from the culture of gun ownership we had up until that 80’s to the current culture where guns are becoming a tramp stamp for the extreme right. I post this as a proud firearms owner who helped run forearms safety courses and is a former remember of the NRA.

      3) I disagree completely. I was an Atheists who converted to Catholicism (Im a glutton for punishment) and I get far, far more flack in the US then I got even in Kuwait which is suppose to be religiously intolerant.

      4) Yeah author makes good points but I think he overstates the case. Which is understandable since foreigners dont see the “quite” patriotism of normal Americans, they see the damnfool hypocrites on TV.

      5) Fox stands head and shoulders above what ANY other new agency does and has had an extremely polarizing affect on the rest of media. Go back 20 years and “agendas” were virtually invisible in US news.

      6) Please dont ever stop voting. People have died for your right to vote and the “system” depends on large portions of the American population being civicly ignorant.


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