Why so green and lonely? Everything's going to be alright, just you wait and see.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Pop Quiz, America

A random sampling of Americans was recently asked to name prominant figures on the world stage. Here are the percentages of Americans who got each question correct:
Leader of Cuba70%
U.S. secretary of state56%
Prime minister of Great Britain54%
President of Russia37%
President of Mexico29%
Chancellor of Germany4%
I even got the Angela Merkel one right, although that might be because her party has the word Christian right in its name (which still totally blows my mind).

You might be thinking "with all the media focus on American foreign policy and the Iraq war, shouldn't Americans know who these public figures are by now??" Well that's the best part: wait for it... these results actually are an improvement:
Knowledge of world leaders in 2000 was lower compared with 2003 and this year. At that time, just 2% knew Jean Chretien was prime minister of Canada, only 33% could name Madeleine Albright as secretary of state, and only about one in five knew of Putin and Blair at that point in their tenures.
The Gallup Poll has the detailed survey results that summarise previous years as well.


Anonymous Ryan said...

Not exactly sure why having the word Christian in Angela Merkel's party name would "blow your mind".

It is because any civilized nation should never elect a religious party? If the party had good values and a proven leader, should the existence of the word Christian in its name default that party to non-contention?


2:03 p.m.

Blogger Andrew said...

Hi Ryan,

You've got a good point: they're probably using the word Christian to just summarise their "values" and this has nothing to do with imposing scripture on the population or whatever (in fact I wouldn't presume anything like that). Okay, let me try to explain my reaction...

The reason it bugs me is that Germany, like the U.S. and (until recently) Canada, is supposed to have separation of church and state and putting the Christian label in the name of your party seems like an underhanded way to rally a huge voting demographic behind your party regardless of what you stand for. I know I'm insulting the intelligence of the voting public by saying that, but that's what I think is going on in the Republican party in the U.S.; it's become the born-again Christian party. As time goes on and Bush screws up more and more, his popular support slowly lowers until it's now leveling off at the exact percentage of Americans who are fundamentalist Christians. These people will never, ever give up their support for Bush, but for irrational reasons.

If a hypothetical party's platform included promoting "pork abstinence education" funded by tax dollars, this would be ridiculous. If they named their party the Jewish Democratic Party then will a Jew not feel compelled to vote for them?

All that aside, try to put yourself in the shoes of any non-Christian and imagine our PM being a member of the new "Scientologists United" party or even the "Atheists For Truth" party. How does associating your political party with a particular belief system make any sense from the point of view of running a government? The only possible reason is to rally the drones of that particular ideology, Christian, atheist or otherwise. In fact I'm being generous here -- the other possibility is that the party wants to put religiously inspired laws in place, but if you value separation of church and state at all then this should be troubling.

5:52 p.m.


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