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[Phys-L] Re: Anti-Americanism creeps in to science teaching debate

On 11-Mar-05, at 1:00 AM, Joe Bellina wrote:

Certainly not on topic for this list, but I'll add a bit. Last
Christmas I was in Paris for 10 days. I found the French generally
happy with Americans like me and my family...some of us speak some
French, but must unhappy with W. They did make that distinction

Bigotry, wherever it occurs, even in this list, is always worthy of
censure. Some (I among them) believe that it needs to be pointed out
when it occurs *en passant*, as it does here:

"Taverne shot back: "Since the Government is in favor of allowing
choice between sense and nonsense, will it also allow children to be
taught that the earth is flat and that the sun goes around the earth?
Since there is a crisis in math teaching in schools, and some
university chemistry departments are closing down, will the Government
also offer as an alternative the teaching of astrology and alchemy?"

"It is extraordinary," Taverne went on, "that a Government and a Prime
Minister who say they are in favor of science have allowed the
introduction into our schools of the worst features of American
fundamentalist, anti-science, pseudoscience nonsense."

Recognize that Taverne is being a bigot here. The fact that American
science teaching is under attack from the creationists is irrelevant.
The adjective "American" is entirely gratuitous in this context. It
adds no meaning to the sentence, but it reveals something of the
attitude of the speaker. I, an expatriate American*, have lived in
England for 8-1/2 months and in Canada for most of my life. The
phenomenon of anti-Americanism manifests often in both countries (and,
since Viet Nam, in the USA as well). I am sensitive to it and I don't
like it.

and Hugh Haskell wrote:

But I think it is entirely proper to inveigh against the introduction
of one aspect of American life that you don't like into your country,
and that, it seems to me is exactly what Taverne was doing. I don't
read his statement as arguing against all things American, just this
one thing.

American science is arguably the finest in the world. America is world
science's Mecca. It attracted a flood of the world's elite scientists
during the last century, very much to the benefit of American science
teaching. As a student in Berkeley in the fifties and sixties I was the
recipient of much of that benefit. English is not the language of
science because of English science's dominance.

American science teaching, I will argue, is still competitive with the
best in the world. It should not be characterized as being what its
most zealous religious attackers want it to be. My scientific
upbringing is one of the greatest gifts my native land bestowed upon

and Bernard Cleyet wrote:

p.s. my wife was a resident tutor w/ perks -- entertainment budget and
large apartment for a dorm. Rarely did the parties not degenerate
into anti-American / anti-VietNam involvement songs and rants. Of
course we were excepted.

I am accepted in Canada, too, because many think I'm Canadian, eh? I
can pass without trying. When one of my colleagues (with whom I shared
an office when I first immigrated) finished an anti-American tirade in
a small group of us 25 years after I immigrated, he then remembered
that I was an American immigrant, and he immediately added that, of
course, he considered me to be Canadian. I was excepted only as an
afterthought. This colleague, incidentally, had been a fighter pilot in
the RCAF.

I must add that the Brits I knew in Cambridge were the nicest of all,
showing less anti-Americanism than Canadians if I can judge that.
Fortunately this Taverne guy will not become my stereotypical


* When I was in elementary school in Los Angeles I was taught that I
should not call myself an American. The reason given was that every
person in my hemisphere had an equal claim to that name, and that I
would seem arrogant and insensitive not to recognize that fact. Since
that time I have been calling myself a Californian. I guess now I am a
Californian-Canadian, since hyphenated provenance is currently in
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