State Department Warns Americans Not To Act Like Americans
By R.O. Whatley (Washington, D.C.)
In what is believed to be its strongest travel advisory ever, the U.S.
State Department warned Americans abroad not to act like Americans. The
advisory was issued simultaneously in Washington by State Department
spokesman Richard Boucher and in The Hague by a man who, in halting
Dutch, denied he was U.S. Ambassador Clifford Sobel. Unlike previous
alerts, which have warned Americans to keep a low profile or avoid
certain destinations, the new advisory notes that it is now unwise to
come across as American at all. As a result, the State Department
cautions U.S. citizens to avoid behavior that could cause them to be
singled out as obviously American.
- the wearing of white socks and tennis shoes.
- complaining if asked to share a bathroom.
- threatening to sue over bad service, television reception,
In addition, U.S. citizens attempting to speak a foreign language are
urged to curb their Americanisms.
Correct : Est-ce que vous l'avez aux autres couleurs?
Incorrect: Est-ce que vous, like, l'avez aux, like, autres
The advisory immediately created turmoil overseas, particularly for U.S.
military personnel, who pretended to
be French and were forced to surrender.
In an apparent response to heightened fears of terrorist attacks by
Islamic militants, the U.S. embassies in
Islamabad, Jakarta, Manila, Kuwait City, Riyadh, Bangkok, Saana and
Jordan were all proudly displaying the red, white and blue flag of
The alert also caused confusion at home, as it seems to contradict the
U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which has warned Americans not to
act un-American. In a press briefing this afternoon, White House
spokesman Ari Fleischer attempted to unravel the paradox. "What we are
saying is, when you are in America, you need to behave like an American,
particularly if you are not American...or are Colin Powell. But when
you are outside America, you should not behave like an American, unless
you are not American, in which case we urge you to act American. Here I
refer specifically to the NATO representatives from Germany, France, and
The advisory," Fleischer added, "applies to all Americans, including
President Bush. When the President is traveling abroad, he will only
act American while aboard Air Force One or in the company of U.S.
media. At all other times, he will attempt to come across as Kosovian
Reached for comment in Brussels, U.S. Ambassador to NATO Nicholas Burns
said, "Qing wen, ren min gong yuan zai na li?"