The Kiwi and the Eagle: Anti-Americanism in New Zealand

Originally posted at Dean’s World here.

I recently wrote about my Wife’s experience while serving at a hospital in Tanzania with a 24 year old New Zealander. The girl was well versed in anti-American propaganda and felt compelled to heap abuse on my Wife. The Wife is quite capable of defending herself, but she lacks my background knowledge of American foreign policy and world history. During our brief phone call, I provided her with some basic facts to combat the Kiwi’s propaganda regurgitations. Afterward I decided to dig deeper into the youngster’s bigotry and did some research into New Zealand’s attitudes towards Americans. What I found changed my mind about wanting to visit the place anytime soon.

Part of New Zealand’s anti-American bigotry is no doubt due to size. New Zealand has four million people – roughly the same number of Americans who eat in their sleep or believe they’ve been abducted by aliens. Living in a tiny nation may make one cheer any victory over comparative giant – even in such a yawner sport as yachting. However New Zealand shares similar history and culture to the United States. It is a former British colony with an established democracy and similar religious background, with more Protestants than Catholics, and more Buddhists than Jews and Muslims. New Zealand has spent most of its time since independence under European-style socialist governments. However over the past decade it has become a strong advocate for free trade, especially in closed agricultural markets.

Yet Only 29% of New Zealanders had a positive view of the United States in 2004. That puts it on par with Pakistan at 30% and below Russia (43%) and China (42%). So much for the idea that shared cultural ties can bind people together.

In 2005, an American working as a high school teacher in rural New Zealand filed a lawsuit in the country’s Human Rights Commission after being verbally abused by his students because of his nationality. Another American, Douglas Sparks, brought his family to the country to oversee the Anglican Church’s Wellington Cathedral. Two years later he left vowing never to return after being the target of anti-US graffiti and his children were taunted in school by classmates telling them they hoped American soldiers would be killed in Iraq.

That same year outgoing US ambassador Charles Swindells in his final speech slammed New Zealanders for indulging in “empty, inaccurate criticism of US ideals or actions that offers no constructive alternatives and gives no credit where credit is due.”

Many are quick to leap to conclusions that the anti-Americanism is a recent phenomenon due primarily to the Iraq War. However anti-Americanism in New Zealand predates the Iraq War by about 40 years, starting with the Vietnam War protests and more importantly for New Zealanders to the country’s refusal to allow port calls by the US Navy starting in 1986, which resulted in a US freeze on high-level political visits there. In 1998, the Clinton Administration tried to warm relations up in one way by approving a deal that gave New Zealand a squadron of F-16 for a pittance to upgrade its obsolete air force. However the following year New Zealand elected an anti-American Labor Prime Minister Helen Clark who refused the offer.

In 2002, New York Times senior staff writer and former Clinton speechwriter James Gibney visited New Zealand to give a speech and was stunned by the level of anti-Americanism he found.

There was a very black and white view of US actions towards Iraq, and what our motivations were in the world. There was a sense that the US was much more of a rogue state than many of the countries that it labelled rogue states and that was kind of surprising to me. The other thing that was surprising was that people talked of US opinion as being monolithic. It was like we were all one and there was no distinction made between Democrats and Republicans or people who might disagree with Bush administration policies. That was unfortunate, because there seemed to be an animus directed towards America as a whole rather than just the administration’s policies [emph add] . That took me aback.”

New Zealand Ambassador to Washington Denis McLean attributes anti-Americanism to the country’s “residual pro-Britishness.” “For a long time we were quite happy with the British and I think a lot of people in New Zealand would still rather prefer the British to be running the world. We do think like them.” McLean also notes New Zealand’s isolation as being partly to blame. It’s nearest neighbor, Australia, is a thousand miles away – greater than the distance between New York City and Bermuda. It’s nearest neighbor to the south is Antarctica at 3,000 miles and to the east is Peru, 6,500 miles away. ”

The World War 2 generation that waited for the arrival of US marines in New Zealand to save them from an expected Japanese invasion is slowly dying off, replaced by generations who have grown up without any direct threat. Like the kiwi which lost its ability to fly in the absence of predators, young New Zealanders have lost the important roles defense and patriotism play in their own nation’s health and security. Writer Joanne Black notes, “the flag-worship of Americans could not be further from the position of many New Zealand schoolchildren who would be unable to differentiate New Zealand’s ensign from Australia’s.” Australia, having been attacked by the Japanese during World War 2, tends to take defence issues more seriously than its isolated neighbor. Former Ambassador McLean states “They’re slightly closer to Asia, but the real bottom line is that they know they are vulnerable. We tend not to think in those terms…”

Word is getting around. Travel forums are filled with posts by Americans traveling there who are worried that they will be discriminated against for jobs and housing. Even Left-wing ideology doesn’t protect expatriates like University of Auckland senior lecturer in political studies Dr Paul Buchanan, who visits the US twice a year and is “struck when I get there by how it is Rome before the fall.” “I have in the past couple of years, particularly related to some
public commentary I’ve made, had some nasty emails saying, ‘bloody Yank, go back home’.”

For millions of years the kiwi thrived in its isolation. However today it is endangered by introduced predators including stoats, dogs, cats, weasels - and just about anything else that is fast enough to catch it. Only human intervention has saved the flightless bird from extinction. Likewise New Zealand has thrived under the global security umbrella provided by the United States and its neighbor Australia. While radical Islam hasn’t caught hold in the nation yet, the support of jihadis in Iraq by some in New Zealand along with the nation’s anti-American bigotry should give New Zealanders pause for one important reason:

The weasel is a greater threat to the kiwi than to the eagle.

Years ago a Japanese once told me, “Japan is a small nation, and we Japanese have small hearts. America is a big nation. You Americans have big hearts.”

I answered that it didn’t have to be that way, that Japan may be a small nation, but it played an increasingly large role in the world. It was only a matter of time before the Japanese found that they had “big hearts” too.

Since that time Japan has sent peacekeepers to Cambodia, Afghanistan and Iraq. It has provided crucial logistical support in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars as well as for the Tsunami relief effort. It has also backed US policies vis-a-vis North Korea at critical times, thereby helping East Asia – and the world – become a safer place IF Kim Jong-il gives up his nukes (and doesn’t sell them on Ebay to Syria). Have the hearts of Japanese gotten bigger? I’d like to think so.

New Zealand, on the other hand, is a small nation, but its growing anti-Americanism only diminishes it further.

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  1. silvia ravinet:

    Im an American who has lived here in NZ for the last 28 years and hear some jeering or sanctamonious remarks on a weekly or bi weekly basis. Yet so many Nzers watch American tv , listen to
    American music eat American fast food. That has always baffeld me. So many of them have visited the US and it seems they like to come back here and feel smug about how much better they are
    compared to US they have just visited. Im no flag waving kind of American, but I just want to vent. Some days Ive had a gutsful.

  2. Mike:

    Very true. I am not an American (Canadian), but have spent 2 months travelling with some Kiwis across the US and Canada.

    EVERYTHING they see or experience is always better in New Zealand. However, away from the cities they loved the American people. So quite a contradiction.

    I have also spent a month in New Zealand and had a number of people ranting about America, its wars and its closed minded population before I managed to tell them I am Canadian.

    Such a shame for a healthy, sporty, progressive nation…

  3. Richard:

    Facinating read. Isolationism is not good for individuals or nations. Eventually this will come back to haunt them.

    Scott wrote: While radical Islam hasn’t caught hold in the nation yet, the support of jihadis in Iraq by some in New Zealand along with the nation’s anti-American bigotry should give New Zealanders pause…” Do they think that the US would hesitate to take some kind of action against ANY group that supports terrorists?

    Again, very enlightening.

  4. Brad Richards:

    I have some close family friends who, despite a very lucrative job offer in NZ, absolutely refused to go. If the situation is really this bad, I can’t blame them. Your statement : “Living in a tiny nation may make one cheer any victory over comparative giant – even in such a yawner sport as yachting.” does sound like it has a psychological basis. Reverse snobbery could indeed be one way for a certain population to avoid dealing directly with insecurities. I’m no sociologist, I just sell unique chess sets online. Somebody please explain to me why we continue to help them despite this attitude?

  5. Scott Kirwin:

    I saw a similar attitude towards Australians. New Zealanders were very sensitive about being compared to them and came off as arrogant when it happened. It’s a shame because New Zealand seems quite beautiful.

  6. Brad Richards:

    So I guess it’s not just Americans they hate. While I do hate having prejudices and stereotypes I have yet to meet a New Zealander who can render them invalid. If that day comes I will be fair enough to acknowledge my mistake. But as of now, I’m still waiting for my mind to be changed about them.

    Brad Richards

  7. James:

    I hate how people get abused. Especially in other countries. They should be locked up forever.


  8. marie:

    People often say Americans are stupid, without even recognizing that making mass generalizations is racist. I find it frustrating – look at what innovations America has given the world. A government is not it’s people so you can’t judge people from that. New Zealanders suffer from small country syndrome, whine excessively & think the world cares about their sporting triumphs in nothing sports.

  9. ox:

    americans are incapible of understanding the roots of anti-americanism… its driven by nationalism.
    nationalist americans are incapible of realising their country is as much an enemy to every other nation on earth as the soviet union was during the cold war. anti nationalist americans are unable to understand anyone loving their country (and push thier anti nationalist agenda where its unwelcome).
    anti americanism isn’t going to stop untill america returns to the values that made it such a cultural force (the kind of stuff thats in the consitution) rather than being a used as a tool by the global corprate elite to foward their agenda at the expense of every country on earth (including america).

  10. John:

    Hi guys,
    I thought my perspective might be useful as a young NZer who previously held views that might be considered anti-American. I think my views would have been formed by a combination of idealism and naivete, and I think I’ve now got a better picture of the US thanks to a) visiting several states for a couple of weeks and b) reading an interesting book called Bring Home the Revolution: The Case for a British Republic.

    There’s a lot I didn’t like about the US, and I still don’t like those things but I now have a better appreciation for the fact that these things aren’t a reflection of the views of all Americans or all states. I find “manifest destiny” type ideas to be quite abhorrent, and I strongly disliked (and continue to dislike) George W Bush and US foreign policy under his administration. Like a lot of NZers and Europeans, I cheered for Obama and I hope he wins again this year, rather than the likely Republican candidate Rick Santorum who I consider to be totally batshit insane. Along with most of the world outside the US, I disapprove(d) of the war in Iraq – not so much Afghanistan – but I realise that a lot of Americans were also against the war. In general, I don’t like interventionist and especially unilateral foreign policy; the US can come off as a gung-ho, blundering giant in these cases, as per the Team America film. I don’t like religious conservativism, “intelligent design” or pro-life/ anti-gay type lobbies, but I know realise the role and freedoms that individual states play in these issues, and that if you don’t like one state’s approach, you can go and live in another one. I’d probably end up in a liberal state and be pretty happy there.

    I’m pretty concerned with the US’s failure to do anything of any significance with regards to global warming, but thanks to the book mentioned above I now realise that this results from the separation of powers in the US, with state vs federal government and Congress vs Senate. Those are probably admirable safeguards and I’ve got no doubt that they’ve helped the country in the past, although I wonder if the global warming issue might come to overshadow everything else that the separation of powers may have achieved in the last few centuries.

    I guess really what I’ve learned in the last couple of years is that the US is actually a very big and diverse country, people within it hold an incredibly wide range of views, and US foreign policy as we see it in the rest of the world shouldn’t be confused with the views of individual Americans. I’m not sure if my experience is at all typical of New Zealand, but I do think it’s hard to get an idea of a country unless you go there and see what people are like – and my findings there seem to be that, around the world, people are just people. Still not a fan of Bush-era foreign policy but, in general, I trust Obama to have a more measured and inclusive approach. I’m not looking forward to the idea of Santorum getting in; I suppose whatever he wants to do within the US to push his religious beliefs is his own business but I don’t like the implications for foreign policy.

  11. Scott Kirwin:

    I find “manifest destiny” type ideas to be quite abhorrent…
    You realize manifest destiny hasn’t been an American policy for at least 130 years, since the closing of the American frontier, right? Whether or not one agrees with it, it is a thing of the past.

    I strongly disliked (and continue to dislike) George W Bush and US foreign policy under his administration…
    To each his own, I suppose. There are elements of it that I disagreed with at the time and do even more now. I no longer believe in nation building, whether it’s in the Balkans or the Middle East, under the politically correct mindset that equates cultures. For example, Afghan culture is based on clan-loyalty and has no democratic or even centralized government tradition. One cannot implement a democracy, or even a national state worthy of the name without changing that culture. People are not the same, and neither are their cultures. In some cultures gays are stoned to death, women are treated worse than cattle, and arguments are settled by violence. In such an environment it is impossible to institute reforms and basic human rights without attempting to change the culture. This leads to charges of “cultural imperialism,” but having lived in three distinct cultures (African, Japanese and American) to deny differences or believe that it is possible for these cultures to co-exist is folly.

    I cheered for Obama and I hope he wins again this year, rather than the likely Republican candidate Rick Santorum who I consider to be totally batshit insane.
    Why are you focused on Santorum? You realize he’s a distant second by Mitt Romney, right? If you don’t understand the American primary system, relax, but it does suggest that your source of information may be slanted if it ignores Romney.

    In general, I don’t like interventionist and especially unilateral foreign policy
    You realize that a multilateral foreign policy is impossible, don’t you? Take Syria. There the UN couldn’t even agree on a condemnation of the atrocities going on there, let alone any type of action that would save lives. Syria is a major buyer of Russian armaments, and China likes to support dictatorships because it is one. Right now the opposition in Syria is begging for foreign intervention. Can you sleep well knowing that your belief allows their slaughter?

    Now I personally don’t support military intervention in Syria myself but for very practical reasons. The opposition has way too many terrorist supporters including al-Qaeda and is turning into a honey-pot, attracting extremists. Those Assad kills means fewer that threaten Americans and Israelis. I also recognize that American interventions on behalf of Muslim nations are always thankless: Lebanon 1982: America intervened to separate the PLO from the Israelis, leading to the loss of 242 US marines in an attack by Iranian sponsored Hezballah. Somalia in 1993: American intervened to rescue Pakistanis under attack and to deliver food aid to starving Somalis. The result? The bodies of our soldiers were dragged in the streets. Bosnia and later Kosovo have been more successful, but even these have still spawned lone-wolf and al-Qaeda terrorist attacks.

    As for Iraq, it was a special case and should be recognized as such. Afghanistan was a purely defensive war. Remember we asked the Taliban to hand over Bin Laden and his crew but they refused saying to do so would be a breach of etiquette. So we invaded the country.

    But back to the unilateral business. Why should action be multilateral? Why should the Chinese, a non-democratic country with an abysmal human rights track record have a say in whether or not action is taken? Or the Russians, whose president just stole the election? Multilateralism sounds good in theory but it fails in practice. The slow implosion of the EU is evidence of this if you need more.

    my findings there seem to be that, around the world, people are just people
    John, you have a way to go. Please read my post “Tolerating Intolerance.”

    Finally, it is good that you took the risk and expressed yourself to a conservative. It is clear to me from your comment that you are questioning the world around you. The more you ask questions the more you will learn and the more you learn the more you will see that the world is like a beautiful black and white photograph, say anything by Ansel Adams or more controversially Robert Mapplethorpe. In some places there are a million shades of grey, but there are still solid blacks and brilliant whites. Don’t forget that I was like you once, and here I am – with no regrets either way.

  12. The Razor » Blog Archive » Self-Reflection and Regressive Progressives:

    [...] a man who has more than double the amount of delegates than Santorum? Regarding the second point, a recent liberal commenter from abroad on this blog thought Rick Santorum was “batsh*T insane” yet made no mention [...]

  13. Ryder:

    It’s a shame about the closed minded-ness of the Kiwi’s (assuming what’s reported here is true).

    People are so simple-minded and agenda driven, that common sense loses out.

    The Iraq war is simple to understand… the US took up arms against Iraq to drive it from Kuwait. It is always reasonable to defend an ally brutally attacked and cast out of their homeland. Iraq signed a cease fire agreement with the US, which brought a ceasing of hostilities contingent upon Iraq keeping to that agreement. Iraq did not do so. The fighting resumed.

    That’s what happens when a cease fire agreement ends.

    So simple… yet even the bright and thoughtful, once brainwashed by media or university, can’t manage to grapple with such simple facts.

    I was seriously considering making New Zealand my home. If they really are that filled with hate, and know so little about what they are passionately against… I’m not sure I could devote myself to such a nation.

  14. Tracey:

    I’m not sure you can take one idiotic girl and two or three other examples and make a broad-sweep analysis of an entire country. Doing so makes you no better than them. With that said, I do agree that there is a small amount of anti-Americanism, however, most of it is aimed at politics, not the people. While it’s implied in the article that we don’t support US policy, it could be argued that the US refused to abide by New Zealand policy and tried to strong-arm New Zealand to reverse their nuclear free policy (brought on by French nuclear testing in the South Pacific and the reason for refusing to allow nuclear-equipped/powered US navy vessels in to their ports), and then strong-armed Australia to allow the removal of NZ from ANZUS when they didn’t get their way. New Zealand has often tried to make amends with the US, without sacrificing their own integrity, and has often been rebuffed. To be honest, this is the thing that has shaped most Kiwi’s view of America and caused them to see the US as selfish bullies, something that has not been diminished by US military action in recent years.

    My American husband lived in New Zealand for the first 8 years of our marriage. His experience was completely positive. He was never abused for being American, never called names. I can’t say the same about living in the US, as we do now. While most people are curious and positive about where I come from, I have had a handful of people who are not. I’ve been told to “get out of my country”, “go back to where I came from” and actually told that I can’t possibly know anything because I’m a foreigner. I could write a blog about that ugly and bigoted behaviour and claim the perpetrators are indicative of the entire American culture, but I’m well aware that those people are simply idiots and are the exception rather than the rule.

  15. Scott Kirwin:

    I call them as I see them, and unfortunately my experience with Kiwis has been negative. It is possible that the New Zealanders I’ve met represent a certain type of New Zealander that may be a minority within New Zealand itself. These have been young, college educated travelers I have met in Africa, Europe and Asia for the most part, so my experience could be different with another group, perhaps within NZ itself.

    As one who resided as an expat for 5 years in two different countries I recognize that people will pre-judge you by your nationality. I’ve been threatened by Japanese and spit on by Kenyans, but those are rare events in my travels and for the most part do not exemplify broader animosity and not seriously impacted my opinion of these two countries.

    So why is New Zealand special in that regard? Is it just a roll of the dice are do New Zealanders hate Americans? I haven’t looked at recent polls taken of their opinions of Americans so I don’t know.

  16. Tracey:

    I explained in my previous comment why New Zealanders have the attitude they do towards the US. I had it myself. However, most of us know that the politics and the people are two separate things, and I eventually married an American and now live in Las Vegas (of all places. LOL). All my husband’s family have been in New Zealand and didn’t have any issues at all whatsoever. They’ve met New Zealanders here in the US, and have not had any issues whatsoever. Everyone I’ve talked to who has been to New Zealand have not had any issues whatsoever. So, I do suspect that it has been a little roll-of-the-die for you, just like the handful of idiotic, bigoted Americans I’ve encountered since moving to the US have been roll-of-the-die for me.

    In some ways though, our defense of New Zealand is just as patriotic as Americans. We don’t wave flags around, but just like Americans, we happen to love our country. When someone disparages her, we defend her in the only way we can. It’s possible given recent events in the world, military actions taken by the US, the economic downturn and the OWS movement have soured the view of those “young college-educated travelers” toward the US even more, but I actually rolled my eyes when I read that’s what they were. Look at those same young people in the US, in Australia, in the UK, anywhere … they’re all the same mouthy, opinionated, entitled prats who may have a college degree, but generally lack any real common sense.

    Fact is, we only ever notice the loud, opinionated ones – whether they be Americans in New Zealand or Kiwis in Southeast Asia. There’s probably another bunch of them sitting down the road, quietly watching the world go by and soaking in the atmosphere. But you’re not going to notice them, are you?

  17. Tracey:

    I’d also like to comment on the “anti-American” government references cited in this.

    The US Navy wasn’t allowed to dock in New Zealand because their ships were nuclear powered and, as mentioned, NZ is a nuclear free zone. It wasn’t the military that was precluded, just the ships, and it wouldn’t have mattered what country they were from. Helen Clark never struck me as anti-American. Her decision to back out of the F-16 deal was made for economic reasons. It may also, in part, have had something to do with reports that the National government had made certain assertions to the US when brokering the deal, largely to do with abolishing that nuke-free policy. Needless to say, there was a large backlash. While it’s well known in NZ that that policy has caused censure and exclusions from the US, it’s something we’re proud of and as I said, we are a patriotic bunch.

    One last thing – my father-in-law, last time he was in NZ, saw what American TV shows we were watching. South Park, Simpsons, mindless, comedy and reality TV. His comment? “No wonder the rest of the world thinks we’re idiots”.

  18. Scott Kirwin:

    There’s nothing wrong with patriotism. In certain circles patriotism gets a bad rap, but I don’t view patriotism as a zero-sum game so it’s possible to be patriotic and not bigoted against others. For example I consider myself quite patriotic, yet I don’t see a conflict with patriots of other countries such as Russia, China or even New Zealand.

    Thanks for providing your perspective on New Zealand. Being a long-term resident of the USA you have a perspective on the topic that most of the New Zealanders I have met in my travels lack. The article would have been completely different had my wife and I met more people like you rather then the “prats” – but as you know, we have a bumper crop of our own in America these days.

  19. Training Anti-American New Zealand To Fight? | SHEEPDOG REPORT 2012®:

    [...] Many Americans do not realize how anti-American New Zealand is, it’s much worse than France or Iran. So while it is understandable from a strategic POV, given the Kiwi’s anti-US behavior it is a waste of US taxpayer dollars. Let them wallow in their PC empire of matriarchal incest, maybe they can strike a deal with the Māori to protect them? New Zealand should be forced to compensate us for training their illiterate, in-bred armed forces. [...]

  20. PaulNZ:

    You certainly have more than a bumper crop of them Scott. You pointed that out yourself with your statistics regarding NZ’s population.

    Your article is full of pathetic and unnecessary jibes that don’t support or contribute to the argument, they just make you look petty and juvenile – NZ’ers like yachting, oh no, what a pathetic country!

    Like so many americans you fail to see anything from the opposite point of view.

    60+ years of blatant terrorist policies to ensure global dominance will guarantee anti-american sentiment around the world, including NZ, it’s pretty simple to be fair. I believe the US is still the only country to be convicted of terrorism by the world court, for their actions in Nicaragua, and also one of only two countries (the other being Israel “our greatest ally” – Obama) to veto the motion to have all countries ‘abide by international law’ (following the US’ refusal to take responsibility after the world court decision). No one bats an eyelid. Because the US dollar is the world’s reserve currency, and the US has a lot of weapons. You can’t mess with that.

    Nicaragua is one example among many, and I choose that one in particular because it is the most obvious and cannot be argued. The world court said your government are terrorists. They were terrorists. And they are now. Arming Syrian rebels is an act of terrorism, by the dictionary and according to international law. That’s one example among many in the last decade.

    I didn’t think NZ’ers were very anti-american in general until I read this blog, and it made my day.

    The whole world is becoming anti-american more by the day, long may it continue.

    The only thing that scares me is what a panicking empire in decline might do with all those weapons once the currency finally goes under.

  21. Scott Kirwin:

    It must suck to be a citizen of a small country that has zero control of its destiny. At least as part of the British Empire you had a say in something bigger than yourself. If US decided it wanted to take NZ over and turn it into a huge golf course, there’s absolutely nothing you could do about it. China, Islamism, these issues are so much bigger than you that any type of resistance you put up would be futile. You’d be speaking Chinese or dressing your women in burkas within minutes. It sounds like you’d be happy with that, so the future is yours. Enjoy!

  22. Bruce:

    Hello all. I’m a middle aged American male, who, while never having visited NZ, have met several here in the States, and considered one of them a close friend. (He’s gone home, and we’ve fallen out of touch, apart for the occasional email).

    He, and all the Kiwis I’ve met here were warm, good-humored inquisitive people. So my personal experiences differ from the ones on this forum, albeit mine were here in the States.

    I have to say I’m surprised to hear some of these stories. I don’t believe that anti-Americanism is rampant across NZ, but probably more prevalent with people who came of age during the GWB administration, and all it’s ugliness.

    I’d put it in the same context of English anti-Americanism- Both The UK and NZ were/are occupiers of aboriginal land. Deflecting their own “White Guilt” onto America(ns) is a way to escape having to confront their own bloody atrocities against the brown people of the world.

    America is now the preeminent power of the world, and every aggressive foreign incursion naturally meets with hostility from conscientious people around the world. It also provides white people from countries like NZ, Australia, South Africa, England, Netherlands, Belgium, France, Spain, Portugal and Germany a big bully to draw attention away from their own colonial and militaristic past and present.

    We are an easy target.

    Another reason why we are so easily ridiculed is because prior to the internet, most Americans were so completely insulated from the world, we were, and to a lesser degree now, totally ignorant in terms of worldly knowledge.

    Contrast that with how the rest of the world grew up getting all our TV shows, movies, products, companies and culture pumped into their countries. The rest of the world knows us quite well. We are now only beginning to catch up, thanks to the internet.

  23. Kate:

    Abuse is a very common practice here in NZ… this along with drinking alcohol. Workplaces are full of abuse, customer service does not exist and also human rights is just a front- there is no enforcement of these. To prove this, come to NZ, when you have some urgent need to call the police, well they will never come…. this tells you how important human life is to the Kiwi and why abuse is just accepted. Bring it up, and they do not want to hear about it. If the police do not care, then why would the people?

  24. Paula:

    I just discovered this blog post while trying to explain to my American boyfriend (who loves NZ & Kiwis) about how Kiwis became, for the large part, “Anti-American”. I have to agree whole-heartedly with Tracey’s opinion. That is certainly what my feelings stemmed from as a primary school aged child growing up in the 1980s. However as I have spent the last 11 years outside of NZ, & I am proud to consider many Americans as close friends, I have begun to have an appreciation of US culture. While I am still horrified by much of the conservative (Republican) politicking that goes on I am very fond of the Southern States (largely Republican!) & their people. I love their genuine kindness & hospitality & wish all Americans could exhibit these qualities. However, just like in NZ, America is a country made up of diverse people, from many different backgrounds. I still pity those who dig their head in the sand, some of those who have never even been outside the confines of their own State let alone seen the majestic Pacific Ocean or, it’s equally beautiful rival, the Atlantic. I am a proud Kiwi who loves an interesting & enigmatic American – we both have a lot to teach each other but also celebrate our differences – that makes us the individuals that we each fell in love with.

    I do really resent the “Somebody please explain to me why we continue to help them despite this attitude?” comment though – kind of sums up the arrogance that Kiwis stereo-type Americans with. Why do you think we need your help?!

  25. Curtis:

    On a visit a couple of years ago to New Zealand (probably the most beautiful country in the world), a comment was made by a person who said he wished Obama was president of the world. How does New Zealand feel today (2014) about Obama, in view of the his involvement in selling arms to Mexican drug cartels, letting his ambassadors get killed and covering it up, setting the IRS against conservative groups, stopping the drilling of oil in the USA, shutting down coal power plants and mines, destroying the American medical/insurance business, surrendering in Iraq and Afghanistan, lying to the American people repeatedly about his Obamacare stuff and international incompetencies, seizing power from Congress and the Courts, etc., etc. All this is of course local American concerns, and not concerns of New Zealand. In my opinion, he is deliberately trying to destroy (fundamentally change, as he put it) the United States. I believe his final goal is to crash the American dollar by increasing the national debt until it can’t be sustained. If that happens, Americans will be killing each other for the canned goods in their cabinets. If there is no money, then Communism is the only solution, depending on the patriotism of the military which would have to step in. (Like in Russia, China, and Cambodia, “you will plant those potatoes, or we will shoot you”.) That might have a detrimental effect on other countries, maybe even New Zealand, if it happens. Obama or not, if congress and whatever president do not quit spending exponentially, the collapse of the dollar is inevitable. I have to agree with the New Zealander – I wish he was president of the world, rather than the United States.

  26. Steve:

    As an Australian who spent a year working in New Zealand I would say part of the problem is not just isolation but the media in new Zealand especially television which is probably the worst in the western world. There is a left wing take on every issue and as a result New Zealanders are not are very well rounded/educated people. Only politically correct view points are given and there is very little serious debate on any of their current affair programs. The naivety of many New Zealanders comes as quite a shock. Without America and Israel the world would be such a wonderful and peaceful place etc . There is still a deeply engrained socialist/nanny state way of thinking amongst many New Zealanders and some display huge resentment against anyone who excels, has entrepreneurial skills or who has the audacity to better themselves and make money. This would probably also explain the anti Americanism encountered by many. Huge numbers have left the country in the past ten years. Most New Zealanders with any get up and go aspire to live anywhere else in the world but New Zealand. It is a sad fact but true. Look at the statistics.

  27. M:

    I have met some amazing American people and yes I do believe I have said some hideous things to the ones I have known about their country and these blogs have really made me think. I didn’t even think how terribly offensive this would be and I am making a concious effort to ensure I separate what my thought on American policy to that of its awesome people. There are a/holes where ever you go… and I never want to judge a people by its flag but by the person who is standing in front of me. First trip ever to the USA in just a matter of weeks and I have never been more excited. Please please don’t judge all us kiwis by these blogs. If your ever planning a ski trip in the South Island get in touch I will make sure you meet some real people… by the way aussies and kiwis have always had a banter with each other… love to hate 🙂 you know how cousins are. Thank you


  28. The Razor » Blog Archive » The Razor Celebrates 13 Years:

    [...] 2007 – October 7, 2007 – The Kiwi And the Eagle: Anti-Americanism in New Zealand [...]

  29. Nick:

    Hey I was thinking about going with my best to New Zealand for a 2 months on a work program in 2016 for the summer. The stuff I’ve been seeing on these kind of blogs are giving me major second thoughts though. Is everyone a dick to Americans in like a joking sarcastic way or is their like real hate over their. I feel like a lot of this has to be exaggerated venting and was wondering if it’s just the typical crap you would get for being from a different culture anywhere or if this is actually meant to be hostile.

  30. Scott Kirwin:

    I don’t know what your experience is outside of the US but I’ve traveled and lived extensively abroad. Being an American is a plus in some areas, minus in others. New Zealand seems to be a place where anti-Americanism thrives.

    That doesn’t mean that you won’t go there and meet people who treat you well, just that for some reason the New Zealanders have issues with Americans that you won’t find in Australia, Canada or other former British colonies. I’ve reached an age where if someone doesn’t want me around, I don’t want to waste the time and expense to be around them. There are other places to go that are much more accommodating.

  31. Ken:

    What I find both laughable and hypocritical about the pervasive anti-Americanism in New Zealand and the anti-Americanism in Australia is that both nations borrow an absurdly enormous amount of cultural influence from the US.

    Walk around the cities or towns of either country and in all likelihood you will find some people wearing American fashion, listening to American music, watching American movies and television, partaking in American games and recreational activities, using American slang and catchphrases, etc. So there’s obviously something off about this Commonwealth dislike of us “septics”, bit of a love-hate relationship I suppose. But it seems to me that one should practice what they preach. In ancient times, nations that were opposed to Roman or Hellenistic influence were keen to eschew any and all cultural traits of those two groups. Today, people trot out the tired “The world hates America” line while gleefully cherry picking what they secretly can’t get enough of.

    Reading Denis McLean’s comment about Kiwi nostalgia for the British Empire, I also find it hypocritical when so many Anglophiles who glare angrily at American foreign policy are quick give such a huge pass to the actions of that regime. So many conflicts and issues in the world today, including those laid solely at the feet of the US, have their roots in Britain’s colonial and imperialistic past, as well as those of rival nations like France and Spain. From the violence of Northern Ireland to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the civil war in Sri Lanka, there are numerous lingering ripples and examples of how British foreign policy brought strife, bloodshed and ruin…

    Yet I do not consider myself anti-British. I lived in Britain, I have British family, British friends, a love for British film and music. While the Brits have caused harm around the world, they also blessed the world in developments of science, art, politics and many other things that have had a positive effect. The computer I am currently typing out of is a good example.

    My point is that it becomes ridiculous to judge a nation, and much of the stereotyping that people apply to Americans ironically mirrors that of the dumb stereotypes that Americans themselves have had towards other countries. When I left the US 10 years ago I was furious with Bush, the war and the direction the country was going in. I was pretty liberal and at the time expected myself to become an expat, severing ties with the US of A save for family and friends. My attitude began to change and while I didn’t morph into a conservative or began purchasing stars and stripes memorabilia, I grew tired of the half-baked anti-Americanism I was encountering.

    There’s a lot to criticize America for, and there’s a lot to praise her for. The baby is not the bathwater.

  32. Scott Kirwin:

    Glad you appreciated this old post enough to comment on it. I too am an Anglophile. I subscribe to The Economist, read the Telegraph and the Independent, shake my head at the Guardian, and subscribe to AcornTV a streaming service of British shows. Living abroad also turned me from a raging liberal to a moderate (9-11 turned me over completely to the Dark Side – the Right – but I’ve since moderated into a small “l” libertarian). There’s nothing like hearing about every misstep your country makes to make you say “Wait a minute here. I don’t see British/Kiwi/Japanese troops stationed in North America to keep the barbarians at bay, yet it’s my countrymen who are risking their lives to get spat on while wearing their uniforms outside of their bases.

    Countries are like people. Some are better than others and no one is perfect.

  33. The Razor » Blog Archive » Ideas for the New Zealand Flag:

    […] not sure why, but I guess there’s little else to do in that tiny corner of the world but whinge about America and fret about Australia, so perhaps the flag issue has little mental space to compete […]

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