Is American culture more casual and simple than most European cultures?
In English there is no formal version of "you". Our national food is the hamburger. In the Bay Area t-shirts are acceptable work attire in many industries. The overarching theme in Americanism seems to be mutual admiration for the process of re-inventing who we are and what we do. It’s not about interpreting implicit signals, as Pascal Braudry argues is essential in French culture. It’s not about punctuality or professionalism, as some would argue is essential in Swiss culture. If you’re Irish and immigrate to America, you’re now "Irish-American." If I immigrate to Ireland, I’ll always be American. In short: Americanism is about the freedom to invent whatever darn identity we want.
Several commentators have theorized that one reason many Europeans despise George W. Bush is that he lacks the sophisticated eloquence Europeans expect in their politicians. He uses simple language, he clears brush in Texas, he listens to an iPod while riding the bike. It’s easy to impersonate George W. Bush. If he’s a symbol for an American, it’s easy to act American.
Do these simple, universal attributes allow America to better receive immigrants and thrive on diversity? Some of Europe is really struggling on the integration front, particularly in the Muslim community. I wonder if it’s just harder to become an authentic citizen of that European country.
There are a few counter-arguments I’ve thought of, but I’m curious what you think.