Is Arthur Frommer an "Ugly American"?
I'm blogging about old news at this point, but a couple of weeks ago, Frommer wrote fearfully about the presence of firearms at a political demonstration in Arizona, ultimately announcing a boycott of travel to the state. He felt the very presence of guns was de facto intimidation, and called the gun-toting demonstrators—who were law-abiding citizens—"extremists." I'm probably starting to lose those of you who believe in gun control, but please read on; this posting is not about politics.
The best kind of traveler is he or she who respects the culture and values of the place they are visiting. Conversely, the worst kind of traveler does the opposite, tries to impose their own beliefs and expectations on those who live where they are only visiting. Lacking evidence to the contrary, I have always believed Arthur Frommer to be the former; how else does one become a star in the travel industry over a 50-year career?
But Frommer's rant makes me think of the old label "Ugly American," defined by Wikipedia as "a pejorative term for Americans traveling or living abroad who remain ignorant of local culture and judge everything by American standards." Revising that definition slightly, I'd say the shoe fits: "Pejorative term for American liberals traveling to other states who remain ignorant of local culture and judge everything by American liberal standards."
Yes, maybe traveling from uptown Manhattan to downtown Phoenix does not constitute foreign travel in a strict geopolitical sense; but culturally, the two places might as well be on different continents. In any case, regardless of one's politics or stance on the Second Amendment, the fact remains that here we have a travel professional boycotting a state just because the citizens of that state have different values than he. That's just plain wrong. In my book, that makes him an "Ugly American."
And if that's the kind of perspective that Arthur Frommer has to offer these days, then I think it's time for him to consult his own reference material (pictured at right), before he ruins the reputation of the brand that bears his name.