To many people from other cultures I'm pretty sure that Americans do appear to be rude. I'm sure it's not intentional and usually just boils down to a mixture of brashness (which seems to be something quite worthy in US culture) and possibly unintentional patronism.

I'll give you a couple of examples, from a British perspective. To most Londonders the stereotypical American tourist will be somewhat overweight, have appalling dress sense and most importantly, will be loud, oh so loud. Whereas in Britain it's considered mildly rude to talk loud enough for others to overhear your conversation, in America the general attitude seems to be that whoever is the loudest gets most noticed (and by implication gets what they want).

Now I know that not all Americans are like this: I've met plenty of them both over here and when I've been to the US that weren't completely overbearing, didn't weigh over 20 stone (although the number of seriously obese people I see when I'm the US is very frightening), and don't feel the need to shout all the time. But for obvious reasons if you take a city of 8 million people and put in two Americans, one who is being loud and obnoxious, and the other who is doing their best to blend in with "the natives" and it's pretty obvious which one will be most noticeable.

As to the patronising thing, one example will forever stick in my mind. A friend of mine used to work as a waiter at a West End restaurant to pay his way through college. The money was lousy but the tips were good (same old story), and once a month he used to go to the bank and change a couple of hundred US dollars into real money. When I asked him about this he said that a hell of a lot of American tourists would leave a $5 bill as a tip. What the hell? This is England ... we have our own currency! It's stronger than yours as well, 10 of our £ sterling buys more than 15 of your dollars. We're not some third world country desperate for hard currency. But even when my friend managed to run after whoever left him dollars as a tip and explained this, nine times out of ten he was met with a blank look or a quizzical expression.

And that is why many Brits consider Americans to be rude (as well as a little bit stupid). Of course it's a generalisation, you cannot speak about any nationality or race as a homogenous block. But unfortunately for the millions of intelligent, witty, thoughtful Americans out there, there's an awful lot of work required for you to rebuild your countrymen's reputation.

Point one: generalisations drive me nuts. To say something to the effect of "group X is Y" is to forget that group X is infinitely differentiated. Each member has something not in common with every member of that group. It's just bad logic. (Props to iain : clearly the rude ones are the ones that stand out. People who try to blend in are more likely just assumed to be fellow citizens.)

But, we tend to do this constantly as our way of understanding the world. It's easier to group and diminish in worth. Or on the flip side, it helps in group identification and increasing self-importance (Alone one tends to never be of much importance).

A Slovakian friend whom I met in Germany once told me as I scribbled on a 5 Mark coin that "Europeans don't do that." She identified herself with Europeans, noble people that they are, and made such an obviously absurd comment, well, for reasons of self-importance I assume. Which leads to:

Point two: A Theory on the Europeans/American Dichotomy by Freeborn
In response to the generalisation, "Americans are rude" I can only say, "So are Europeans". But differently so.

What's I've come to notice by spending much time in both societies is that Americans (to the extent that the generalisation has any relevance) are rude in a very young sort of way. We scribble on coins, we are loud, brash, laugh openly. We are like children.

Europeans, on the other hand, are stodgy, moldy, and reserved. They are rude in a very old sort of way.

Now, I'm making no comment on which is preferable, simply that our rudenesses are different and presuably based on the "age of culture". America is very young; Europe old. Naturally such ranking is only partially valid, but I think the comparison holds.

Just think about what the people of England are known for (in the way of rudeness): uppitiness, high-browedness, alooftness (1. I don't know if these are words, but you get the picture; 2. this is at least the picture presented in US media.) Germans are known for being retentive sticklers. The French, well, I won't even go there. But you see what I'm getting at?

It's true enough that Americans can be rude, but everyone can be rude. It's just a matter of realizing that what's rude to "us" is naturally normal for "them", and what we do in turn equally rude to them. It's all relative.

To make the Americans feel better about themselves and the international bullying, I've taken the liberty of compiling a list of people that I have found to be infinitely ruder than Americans in my travels, along with a brief description of their rudeness.

Note: I would just like to say that these are all generalizations, and most likely encompass only a mere fraction of the population. However, there was enough of these rude people to make me notice it.

Most Americans I've met are very well-mannered. Don't worry, Yanks, we just like picking on you because we're jealous.

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