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 American ways

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مُساهمةموضوع: American ways   الجمعة 30 أكتوبر 2009, 17:32

✰ ✰ ✰

Preface to the Second Edition
The September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center
in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.,
took place while this revision was in progress. Some commentators
said that “everything would change” as a result
of the events of that day. It remains to be seen whether
the attacks will indeed have a lasting impact on the way
Americans live. But the immediate aftermath seemed characteristically
American in several ways:
• Americans wanted to know exactly how many
people were killed.
• Americans searched for a single cause of the event
and settled on the idea that Osama bin Laden, rather
than some complex configuration of factors, was
responsible.
xii AMERICAN WAYS
• People all over the country sought ways to help;
they donated blood, set up fund-raising drives, and
volunteered at the attack sites.
• In general, Americans professed not to understand
how other people could hate them so. They appeared
to have no particular knowledge of or concern
about the history that might have led to the
attacks.
• Most seemed not to understand how people could
deliberately kill themselves in the name of a cause
such as a religion or political point of view.
• Americans believed that the event could have been
avoided and that another such event can be forestalled,
probably with better use of technology (such
as stronger doors on cockpits, fingerprinting, body
scanning, and other biometric security and identification
devices) and more thorough background investigations
drawing on a wider range of databases.
• Some Americans were concerned that “individual
rights” might be curtailed as a result of the security
measures that were developed in the wake of the
attacks and also because hundreds of people with
possible links to terrorism were detained without
what many deemed proper cause.
• Americans assumed that, deep down, everyone
wants to negotiate about differences, certainly not
to kill on account of them.
The cultural assumptions underlying these reactions
will be referred to repeatedly in this book, which seeks to
bring up-to-date an introduction to American culture that
was originally published in 1988.
First, a few words about terms. For the past dozen years
or so, Americans have been quite concerned with what has
PREFACE xiii
come to be called “political correctness.” The term means
different things to different people, but in general it refers
to the notion that speakers and writers should avoid any
words or phrases that might be considered “insulting” or
“demeaning” to anyone. For example, restaurant waitresses
(as well as waiters) are now commonly referred to as
“waitstaff” or “servers” to avoid the implication that people
who serve restaurant customers are predominantly females
in a lowly station.


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مُساهمةموضوع: رد: American ways   الجمعة 30 أكتوبر 2009, 17:39

Many people with what were formerly
called physical or mental handicaps now prefer to be called
“differently abled.” Writers and speakers are encouraged to
avoid the exclusive use of the word he in any passage that
refers to members of both genders.
The word foreign, used for decades to refer to people
from one country who were temporarily in another, has
been criticized for implying strangeness, or being out of
place. People who consider themselves sensitive to the
feelings of people from other countries urge the use of
international in its place. So, “foreign students” has generally
been replaced by “international students,” “foreign
visitors” by “international visitors,” and so on.
People who consider themselves sensitive to the feelings
of citizens of the Western Hemisphere outside the
United States of America argue that it is unacceptably arrogant
for people in the United States to refer to themselves
as “Americans.” Everyone from the Western Hemisphere
is American, they say. People in the U.S. should
refer to themselves as “U.S. Americans,” “U.S. citizens,” or
some such term.
Perhaps by the time a third edition of this book is written,
clear and graceful terms for referring to people from
other countries and to citizens of the United States will
have evolved. For now, though, this book generally mainxiv

AMERICAN WAYS
tains the traditional usages of the words foreign and
American.
Second and in conclusion, a few words about culture
change. Social scientists argue about the notion of “culture
change”: Do cultures actually change, or is it only a
people’s trappings that seem to alter over time? If cultures
do change, what is it that actually becomes different? What
causes the changes? How fast does change occur?
Fewer than fifteen years have passed since the first
edition of American Ways. During that period, many things
certainly changed, most obviously in the areas of technology,
politics, and economics. E-mail, the World Wide
Web, cellular telephones, automobiles with built-in navigational
systems, and many other innovations made
Americans’ lives, and the lives of people in many other
countries, move at an ever-faster pace.
The Soviet Union collapsed, ending the Cold War and
leaving the United States as the world’s sole “superpower.”
The September 11 attacks occurred, presumably bringing
significant changes in both domestic and international
politics.
Large corporations became larger, assuming evermore
important roles in many countries’ economies. Several
large corporations found themselves beset by major
scandals, giving rise to fundamental questions about the
role of the “free-market system” so long touted by many
Americans.
Underneath all this, though, the essentials of American
culture have persevered. If anything, they have become
more pronounced. The emphasis on individualism
and material progress, the faith in science and technology,
the idea that the future can be better than the past,
PREFACE xv
all these live on. The notion that the United States is the
greatest country in the world seems to have been strengthened,
not weakened, following the September 11 events,
which produced an upsurge of patriotism.
Readers of this second edition of American Ways will
find elaboration on these and many other aspects of
American life in the pages that follow.
—Gary Althen
Chandler, Arizona


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مُساهمةموضوع: رد: American ways   السبت 31 أكتوبر 2009, 18:09


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 الموضوع الأصلي : American ways 
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American ways

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