Ivo Skoric on Sun, 24 Nov 2002 20:46:01 +0100 (CET)

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[Nettime-bold] MIRROR: 80% Of Americans Can't Find Bush's Target

Here is an idea for Congress:
There should be an amendment to the U.S. Constitution banning 
citizens from supporting their President to go bombing a country 
that they can't find on the map. That would either reduce the 
number of U.S. bombing campaigns abroad, or improve Americans 
interest in geography and the affairs of the world: both of which is 
good. Here in the survey many people knew that Iraq is close to 
Iran and Afghanistan, but this did not help them, since they didn't 
have a clue where those are either.

------- Forwarded Message Follows -------


THE MIRROR, Friday, November 22, 2002

80% Of Americans Can't Find Bush's Target

>From Richard Wallace, US Editor, in New York

GEORGE Bush is on the brink of invading Iraq - but most Americans have no 
idea where the country is.

A survey revealed that only one in seven aged between 18 and 24 could 
identify Saddam Hussein's land.

And while more than half knew that al-Qaeda and the Taliban were based in 
Afghanistan, only one in six could find the country on a map.

Even more worrying - one in 10 couldn't pick out America.

When the Daily Mirror carried out a poll of 100 people on the streets of New 
York yesterday, we found that 80 per cent didn't have a clue where Iraq was.

Yesterday President Bush asked for military support from 60 countries, 
including Britain, as he prepared for an assault on Baghdad, which he is 
threatening if Saddam defies a UN resolution to get rid of weapons of mass 

At least 12,000 Americans should know where Iraq is - they are the troops 
currently massed just over the border in Kuwait.

The poll that highlighted the Americans' ignorance about Iraq - population 
22 million, area 260,000 square miles - was carried out by the National 
Geographic Society.

The Mirror poll was carried out at the self-proclaimed centre of the world - 
Times Square on Broadway.

New York cop John Riley, mounted on his trusty steed Hoss, studied our map 
for several minutes, saying: "I've got to get this right."

Then, with his finger hovering over northern Europe, he declared: "I know 
it's round here somewhere.

"Ah yes, there."

With a firm stab of his finger, he picked Austria as the new Iraq. Hope he's 
better with an identity parade.

Young couple John and Joan Jubett, from Manhattan, wanted some help.

Waving half-heartedly at South America, John asked: "Is it here somewhere? 
Or here?" He skimmed across the atlas to China. Finally he settled on 
northern Italy.

One girl in her twenties, clearly pondering a greater philosophical 
question, asked: "Is Iraq even in the world."

A burly construction worker barked: "Don't know, don't care, they'll be 
nothing left of it soon anyway."

There was no messing about from Tracey Shauger, 21, and pal Misty Wright, 
20, from Michigan.

Five seconds' consideration and a firm "here", as both agreed Iraq was in 
the Gobi desert. Wrong - that's in Mongolia.

Drag queens Kristal Snow and Hagatha Christie, from the Lower East Side, 
were equally sure.

Hagatha hissed: "Oh, that Saddam is such a naughty boy. I know where he 
lives, it's right here," pointing at Norway. "No, no," said Kristal. "That's 
where I'm from.

"Iraq is right there."

Er, good morning Vietnam.

Others placed Iraq in France, Germany, Albania, the Caspian Sea, South 
Africa and Nicaragua.

Many of those who couldn't locate it admitted to feeling ashamed.

Carina Jannetta, 27, said: "I guess I should know. I am interested in 
foreign policy - I am against any kind of conflict. I know plenty about the 
issues but I guess my geography isn't what it could be."

Myra Dunlap, 54, admitted: "I can barely find the US. I'm not stupid, I'm 
just ashamed to admit I'm really bad at geography."

Rochelle Fox, 32, on holiday from California, said: "I know it is in the 
Middle East. I'm not that stupid, but I just can't quite remember exactly 
where on the map."

Theresa Livingstone, 32, admitted: "I guess I should know. There's enough 
about it on the news every day. I know it is close to Iran and Afghanistan, 
but I just can't find it."

Roberto Rios, 56, said: "I may not know where it is on the map, but that 
doesn't mean I do not care about the issues involved."

Jay Greany, 40, who also failed the test, admitted: "It's quite 
embarrassing. I should pay more attention." There were still those who were 
nearly up to the challenge. Kejli Jensen, 35, from Brooklyn took his time 
and plumped for Turkey. Close, but no cigar.

Johan Samora, 26, insisted: "I'll get it right next time." And Diana 
Grullon, 23, said: "I only can't find it because I'm wearing my glasses." 
Larry Layugan, 47, from Hawaii, said: "I'm not embarrassed that I didn't 
find it. At least I got the right area of the world."

Josephine Bloomer, 67, pointed at Afghanistan. Then she said: "I was close, 
but it bothers me that I didn't know."

Those who did get it right were ashamed of their fellow countrymen's 

Jordan Stevens, 25, from Brooklyn, was one of the quickest to find Iraq.

Despite the experiences of many of his fellow citizens, he insisted: "Us 
Americans aren't as dumb as you think we are, you know."

Sean Condron, 33, echoed his sentiments, bragging: "You think us Americans 
are all bad at geography but I got it. Ha!"

Elise Pritchard, 45, despaired that so many people did not know where Iraq 

She said: "It's on the TV and in the papers ever day. How can you pay so 
little attention to what is happening that you don't know that?"

Anne Rothschild, 56, said: "We are totally connected to Iraq right now.

"It's a very scary situation. We need to educate everyone about what is 

"But it is in the paper every day, and in magazines and endless TV shows . 
It's hard to know what else we can do.

"We need to raise awareness of things happening outside the US.

"I guess people just aren't interested enough."

Oliver Wildman, 22, found Iraq instantly. He said: "I'm constantly amazed at 
how little my friends know about what is happening outside the US. Well, 
inside it too.

"Not that it stops them mouthing off about it in the bar."

Maggie Miller, 48, said: "When they are talking about a story on the news I 
want to figure out where it is.

"We Americans as a whole are very insular. We need to understand about the 
rest of the world."

Eurydice Thomas, 32, from California, said: "I got it but then I do have a 
masters degree in geography!

"But geography education in America is in a sad state. It needs a lot more 
attention, especially now with so many conflicts.

"We need to change the way news is reported so that people become more aware 
of what parts of the world are involved."

Meredith Lissack, 24, said: "It's bad if someone can't find it. People don't 
have any concept of what's going on in the world right now."

Michael Tolesny, 35, said: "I knew where it wasn't then I narrowed it down."

And Kimberly Wheeler, 24, California, bragged: "Of course I know where it 

Charles Humpstone, 71, from Vermont, got it straight away, but his daughter 
Alessandra, 41, did not have a clue.

"Shame on you," he laughed.

One irate pensioner, who had an east European accent, didn't want to get 

He said: "I know what you're doing - you're trying to make us out to be 

"If you think you're so clever you tell me the capital of *Belarus.

"Hey? Hey? You don't know, you don't know. I know where Iraq is - I'm just 
not telling you."

(*For the record, the capital of Belarus is Minsk.)

Americans have always been notoriously insular - just a sixth of them hold 
passports - and asking them to find anywhere outside the United States on a 
map is a daunting challenge.

The National Geographic Society survey said that nearly half of American 
youngsters couldn't pinpoint France or the UK either.

Society president John Fahey asked: "If our young people can't find places 
on a map and lack awareness of current events, how can they understand the 
cultural, economic and natural resource issues that confront us?"

Britt Meylan, 32, a sales executive from Texas was in no doubt where to find 

Grabbing the Mirror's atlas, she immediately pointed it out, correctly 
identified all the countries on its borders and thrust the book back, 
demanding: "Anything else?

"And by the way we're going to kick Saddam's butt."

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