Saturday, October 3, 2009

Culture Differences in the News 1

Barack Obama (whom I admire) made the effort to go to Copenhagen and pitch for the Chicago candidacy to host the 2016 Olympics. He demonstrated how a culture bias can wreck the best of intentions. His plane landed at 7:00 AM. He spoke to the IOC at 8:30, and left for the airport soon after, taking off before noon. When the first voting results were announced, he was already airborne.
This was published by the International Herald Tribune: "former IOC member, Kai Holm, told the Associated Press that the brevity of his appearance may have hurt. Mr Holm called it 'too business-like. It can be that some IOC members see it as a lack of respect.' "
Obama acted in a typical Anglo-Saxon way, going straight to the point, and then leaving. He forgot that, out of 97 IOC members, less than a dozen come from Anglo-Saxon cultures. The vast majority of the world have cultures that value relationships far more than "the bottom line".
No wonder Chicago got the least votes of the four candidate-cities and was the first to be dropped from the competition.
Kevan Gosper, IOC member from Australia (one of the "less-than-a-dozen" Anglo Saxon cultures) said "I'm shocked. To have the president of the United States and his wife personally appear, then this should happen in the first round is awful and totally undeserving."
Well, well, Mr. Gosper: what would be more deserving? To have the president of Brazil personally appear and Rio be dropped? Or to have the prime minister of Japan appear and Tokyo be dropped? Or perhaps to have the king of Spain personally appear, and Madrid be dropped?
In Chicago, news anchors were questioning whether the IOC was "anti-American"... That is not the issue.
My dear friends, welcome to a multilateral world, the reality of the 21st Century is just beginning. America deserves the same respect as other nations, no less, no more. The Anglo-Saxon culture is as important as other cultures, no more, no less.
Bear in mind that the population of Anglo-Saxon, Dutch-Scandinavian and Germanic cultures represent 9% of the world's population. The remaining 91% are "Solar-System", "Family" and "Social Pyramid" cultures (Japan stands on its own, but that is another story).
No culture is "better" than another, but those belonging to cultures which are minoritarian in the world stage should at least try to understand what is going on in the other cultures. Or risk other unpleasant surprises in the years to come.

1 comment:

  1. yep!
    I adore you, but we're coming to get ya!
    says our first lady...