An American on Norway

Bruce Bawer has an interesting piece in the Hudson review (via Lars Halvorsen) titled Hating America. I disagree with his use of the word “hate” (a bit to strong, I think most Europeans love to hate the USA, they don’t really hate it,) as well as a number of opinions about US foreign policy that he advocates, but it is very interesting to see how he describes Norway and our relationship to the United States. Viewing Norway, he is spot on.
The “American demanding McDonald’s way up in the mountains” story always struck me as a little incongruous, coming as it did during the newspapers’ cucumber season (i.e., the summer slowdown when papers are desperate for news and staffed by interns.) The original piece described a stay at a farm taking in tourists, with some remarks about the churlishness of the owner, which sounded entirely plausible to me. In Norway, willingness to serve the customer is seen as a deficiency of character, a view that is changing, but only slowly (and given the way the economy is going, it will take quite a while before Norwegians will have to.)
P.J.O’Rourke once said that Communism was “been brought to its knees because nobody wants to wear Bulgarian shoes.” While flippant, the remark contains more than a little grain of truth. And to all those decrying the boorishness and lack of intellectual curiosity of Americans, I invite them to, say, take a tour of the bookshops of Boston and San Francisco, and then visit similar establishments in Oslo, and check out the selection and conduct a few tests of the quality of the staff. Then sample some museums such as the Metropolitan in NY, the MFA in Boston or (my favorite) the Fogg Museum at Harvard, before trying to get something out of the Norwegian National Gallery (or, for that matter, the Louvre).
Nothing like some data to get your perspectives in line.

1 thought on “An American on Norway

  1. Steve Smerker

    The Hudson Review piece was very interesting to me. Explained why my wife’s relatives in Norway very much want us to go to Norway, but somehow never can quite come to California.

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