National Niceness

8 Sep

Racism is bad. We know this. Few attitudes are less socially acceptable. However, there is a form of racism which does seem to be acceptable, to society at large and to the ‘victims’: positive national stereotypes. The idea that Scots are good with money, Germans are punctual, the English have a great sense of humour. An Irish person might well object to being labelled stupid or hot-headed because of their nationality, but would they really mind if people think they know how to party?

The reason my mind is on this train of thought is that I had to make a phone call to Canada to check a reference for my new lodger. Calling complete strangers, it might have been awkward, but instead we had a cosy chat, and if it hadn’t been a phonecall we would probably have ended the conversation with a hug. The point is this: Canadians are nice. Has anyone ever met a nasty Canadian? (I may have done, but I can’t remember if she was Canadian or American, so she’s not a very good counter-argument.) Perhaps I should keep an eye out in future to see if I meet any Canadians, or members of other nations, who counfound or confirm their national stereotype.

As for me, a canny Scot, am I good with money? Well, after negotiating my latest contract with Orange (£39 reduced to £10.60), I’m feeling pretty canny at the moment.


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