Nixing The Ugly American

Nixing The Ugly American


R.E. Prindle


      Beginning in 1958 with the publication of Eugene Burdick and William Lederer’s outrageous novel an image of the American as the Ugly American was created.  Just like that.  One fell swoop.  The suggestion went home, Americans began to think of themselves as louder, more obnoxious, more arrogant and less respectful than all other peoples.

     This self image was reinforced by the movie version of the Ugly American released in 1963.

     Why this hypnotic suggestion was so avidly embraced is difficult to understand.  Perhaps American guilt at being so prosperous.  Americans up to that time had been the most generous people the world had ever seen.  Hoover’s Belgian relief mission of WWI had been the wonder story of the age.  FDR lavished money and materiel on combatant nations with unparalleled largess.  He helped the Soviet Atom Bomb project to an extent that the Rosenberg’s could only have dreamed of.  The Marshall Plan in the wake of WWII set Europe back on its feet while a tradition of dispensing billions of dollars a year on all the nations of the world, even the USSR, began.

     It was incomprehensible, not only to the nations of the world, but to the wondering eyes of so many of us on the homefront.  For an example of the incredulousness of the world see the Peter Sellers movie, The Mouse That Roared.

     We gave so much it was said that we didn’t know how to give.  Probably an accurate assessment.  In 1957 just before the Burdick and Lederer book Time Magazine published a picture of tons of rice being unloaded in Thailand stamped Gift Of USA.  The stamp was deemed offensive by Time-Life.  It was said that though the USSR gave nothing they were more esteemed because they groveled before Asians.  Americans learned to grovel.

     Thus public opinion was primed for The Ugly American.  Americans overnight believed they were Ugly.  It was night and day.  I was there.  Not only that they were ugly but that other peoples were uniformly more beautiful in comparison.  They believed that every other people had better manners than themselves.  Now, I’ve done some hard travelin’ in my time and I have been to some places.  The evidence of my eyes is that at the worst Americans do not exceed any other peoples in rudeness and at best they are far superior.

     But, the hypnotic suggestion of Burdick and Lederer had been implanted in the American psyche.  Facts could not, cannot, disillusion them.

     Well, mah fellow Americans, disllusion yourselves, clear your minds.  You aren’t that good that you can excell others in rudeness.  It is impossible for you to be the most arrogant people in the world.  You don’t have the guts.  You quail before all other peoples submitting your sexuality to them.  No one so emasculated can be ruder than other peoples.

     Snap out of it.  NOW.  Clear your minds.  Stand up and be men and women.  Reclaim your sexuality.  Eject the suggestion.  You can’t possibly be ruder and more arrogant than the people who despise you for your simple minded generosity.


The future is yours for the taking.





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