For many of you, this article is in your local paper today (or you may have seen it in the NY Times.) It's a great op-ed by Tom Friedman about the way we've changed since 9/11, and I'll tell you, it's pretty accurate in summarizing the sentiments I get from people when they hear me speak and figure out where I'm from.
Many of my Red State loved ones will be quick to tell me that this is wrong...people love America. That the US has done lots of great stuff in the world and that we've been a beacon of hope for years. And they're right...historically, that IS true. People do want to like us, they do like our movies, they have dreamed of the freedom we offer. We're great, we are.
But these days, we're a government that uses Orange and Yellow alerts to solve PR problems. (FYI, Tom Ridge has admitted these alerts changes were driven by the White House, and yet no one seems to care. In my opinion, this sort of lying and manipulation deserves at LEAST as much moral outrage as the whole "Monica-gate" thing, but without cigars and stained dresses it doesn't seem to generate the press.) We are condemned by Amnesty International for human rights abuses, and our response is to question their credibility (even when that same credibility was used in our argument for the evils of Saddam.) We get caught destroying the Koran in interrogations (and deny it repeatedly until pesky evidence got in the way.) If we're not careful, no one's going to remember the US that fought in two world wars and helped bring freedom to the eastern block. We'll be something else entirely.
It seems like a trivial study, but just yesterday in the Observer there was a little piece about global brands. After surveying an international audience, it seems that most other nations view the US as ignorant and dangerous/aggressive. That makes me sad. I don't want that to be true.
Maybe its time to start worrying about our image, lest we actually BECOME what they're perceiving.