More Feedback from our Readers
The enthusiastic responses to our Election Special Travel Newsletter keep pouring in. Here is a distillation of the best of your feedback from day two:
As my daughter's New Zealand friends would say, "Good on you!" Don't stop, and don't give up. I happen to agree with your political beliefs 100%, but I hope I would still encourage you to share your perspective freely, even if I didn't. Our choice in just a few days is so important, and as the saying goes, "silence is consent." Thank you for raising your voice. You have received so many harsh responses, but please know how many of us there are who are applauding.
Because of your books, my family has come to understand that travel is so much more than amassing a list of famous sights visited. You have helped us to develop a burning curiosity about the lives, opinions, and culture of our European neighbors. Thank you for all you and your team do to increase understanding in our world, and please, for all our sakes, keep it up!
Kathleen W., Boston , MA
While we have used you books
with much delight, this newsletter coupled with your arrogance at
our PBS station on a telethon night - makes me no longer a customer of
We have just returned from two weeks in Italy and I neither saw nor heard anything
closely resembling the "hate" you seem to think exist with the good people of Europe for us Americans. It may be the "hate" they have for you in spoiling many of the hidden treasures of their country.
Thanks for having the guts to thoughtfully share your views and your Christianity. I am appalled at the nasty tone of the reactions of many of your readers of your "special edition." I find it incredibly arrogant that so many Americans think we somehow deserve a special place in the world when so many suffer from want and war.
Keep up the good work and don't get too discouraged from the negative comments!
Being a liberal is a GREAT thing and I am so sick and tired of the holier than thou conservatives trying to make out that being a liberal is bad. One simple definition of a liberal is "someone who is tolerant of different views and standards of behavior in others". Amen!
Rick: As I begin to type.......I have a "sick" feeling in my stomach. Though we have never met.....I considered you a friend and have shared you with many, many friends. With over 30 European visits, I too, am concerned with our image there, but not to the extent that I will change my values just to satisfy the "blame America " crowd. You are way off base by trying to instruct us how to vote on November 2. How big an ego you must have to think that you can tell us "unwashed" how we don't "understand" the rest of the world.....and you do.
I think your reason for going "political" is because you have made enough money that losing at least half your customers doesn't matter. I really think that over half your customers will disagree with you because many of us are those "rich" Republicans that liberals like to describe. You know......the one's who grew up poor, worked hard, got a good public education, did without and saved and saved to have a comfortable retirement so they could travel as Seniors. Or, your motive may be that with a President who just wants to "love" everyone and have peace in our time.......those who hate us because of President Bush will start loving us and you can open up travel to a unified world. I will certainly have a different thought anytime I see a Rick Steves Travel Guide from now on and I am saddened.
There is one question every American should ask themselves as they go into the voting booth on November 2......Who would the terrorist vote for.......and who are they praying to Allah that I vote for.
I read the article you wrote in USA Today and were prompted to write.
There are several statements you make that are disturbing to me.
A traveler who has looked into the eyes of a desperate mother - baby in her arms too weak to flinch at the flies on his face - can better understand how that statistic translates into human suffering.
A traveler to the USA from countries who hang our President's picture in place of a dog, can feel free to watch me as I suffer post traumatic stress, severe depression and health problems. See me, a desperate mother who may not have a weak baby in her arms, but who carries an urn of her baby's ashes, lost on 9/11. Walk in my shoes, have your own 9/11, lose your son, then travel to exotic places and make friends. Find a president who will support this harmony.
Support the war effort that proud American soldiers fight each day. We are free because of them. Continue to be glad you are American as you have said you are. Please do not respond to me that I need to move on or travel to bring my soul some peace. My peaceful days are over. You have opinions on this because you can. You can sympathize with those who hate us. They will always hate us which is poor for business for you.
Travel gives us a perspective that can translate, through the voting booth, into American policies that will not alienate us from the family of nations. And when that happens, we'll all be truly stronger, safe and better off.
We are better off because American soldiers are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan against terrorism. They are rebuilding and educating the people who hate us and will hopefully listen and learn. or not. And if they don't, we should leave them in their dust to become desperate and to suffer.
I suspect you are truly "traveling through the back door". You might want to try the front door some day. Wish you could have visited me on 9/11/04 and I would have taken you to Ground Zero and Fresh Kills landfill so you can see how some of us Americans really live. Foreign countries have a responsibility to the world and that is to eliminate terrorism. Until then, expect poor travel results and bad relations.
Mother of Gregory, age 25, WTC II, 93rd floor, 9/11/01
I feel you must not have traveled the U.S. much the past few years. Perhaps you talk with Europeans so often you have little time to communicate within the U.S. Would certainly not disagree with you that travel to International destinations is desirable, nor argue with many of your other "benefits" one derives from such travel for I've been traveling internationally the past 30 years.
However, when you lose touch with the feel, thoughts and responsibilities of your country and they are replaced with those of another ilk, you may find you've been blinded by your passion. The U.S. carries awesome burdens and responsibility not shared by any other and you seem to have let that slip from mind in your judgments.
I recall being at a party in Adelaide Australia prior to President Regan's first term election and hearing "he's not a 'World President' type guy. My thought then and still today is "so? he's the U.S. President and I want a President that puts U.S. interests first, always". And I expect all other countries to choose or elect leaders that put their country first, and those that can choose, do.
Obviously I disagree with many of your viewpoints but I won't hold that against you and will continue to enjoy your programs.
From a U.S. view, "here's to peace in the middle east, understanding in Europe and an end to world terrorism,"
Subject: You are the patriot Rick not those who wage war.
Thank you, thank you, for your articles and perspective about the US role in the world and the loss we are suffering at the hands of a few fanatics. Only in the past 20 years have I had a chance to travel in different parts of the world. What a difference a few trips make. It has opened my eyes to fact that many parts of the world are way ahead of us on different fronts. We have so much to learn from others and I fear if we do not learn and communicate many parts of the world will pass us by in the decades ahead and we will be seen as the "Ugly American" The AARP magazine just arrived with an article asking, "What country takes the best care of its older citizens?" Out of 16 nations we place 3rd from the bottom. What does this tell us? Keep up the good work. I will support you and your programs more fully because you have an opinion.
After reading your socialistic diatribe in the election newsletter, and even after more than ten years of being a Rick Steves devotee, I believe it is time for us to part our ways. Please remove my email address from any more of your mailings. It is a shame that such a talented travel writer has succumbed to the dribble that emanates from the Old European appeasers.
Thanks for the many fine tips and great travel insights you have made available to those of us who enjoy European travel. Although the current European mindset has killed my desire to further explore that continent, your past writings are much appreciated.
I had just read your article printed in USA today "Travel can help mend a fractured world." Then I read an email from a friend about how seeing George Bush live convinced her that this was basically a message from God that he was who should she vote for. I do not usually respond to emails concerning sex, politics, or religion. But, after just reading your article which I totally agreed with and brought tears to my eyes I had to respond. I believe that this country is divided because of news bites, public relations companies, win at all cost political advisors, the blurring of the separation of church and state, and narrow mindedness. Traveling abroad has definitely made me more accepting of others and more critical of our government's policies. Thanks for making a public statement and I hope that it will help some people to think for themselves.
I cannot remember the last time that I was so moved by something that I felt compelled to share it with everyone in my address book. But I was by this essay by Rick Steves:
I do not imagine all of you will agree with the sentiments he expresses here. In fact, judging by some of the email he has received, some of you may even get quite angry. But since he had the courage to write it, I felt I should have the courage to pass it on.
"We must be the change we wish to see in the world." ~ Mahatma Gandhi
Dear Rick. I use your guide books and am in now. I voted by absentee ballot for President Bush. I don't think he's the world's greatest, but the philosophy of the Republican Party is better than John Kerry. I was a Democrat when I was younger---even a delegate at 33--in 1980. Ronald Reagan changed me to a REpublican. Since 1984 I have voted the straight ticket--seeing the reality of what Democrats believe. As for you being for Ronald Reagan---I doubt it. As far as the polls go sometimes it takes courage to go against the tide. No European ever "liked" us even though we won both world wars for them and rebuilt their country"s though the Marshall plan---which is now promptly forgotten. Anyway I wanted you to know I respect your opinion--even though it's wrong. All the best--Jan Charles Gray
[Rick's note: Thanks, Jan. But I must say you're way off claiming "no European ever liked us" and that Europe has forgotten the Marshall Plan. Europeans really do like us. They just don't believe that, because of our generosity 60 years ago, they need to follow us into a war they believe is wrong. Along with remembering our generosity after World War II, they remember vividly the reality of the World Wars. They have suffered far more than America has because of wars. (On many days during World War I, France--with a quarter of our population--lost as many people as we lost in the entire Vietnam War.) Europeans seem pre-disposed to try to avoid war when possible.]
Thanks for the newsletter which arrived today. Last month I was in Ireland travelling with my 81 year old Mother and my Rick Steve's Ireland 2004 book. The day before we were to return home my Mom had a very bad fall and ended up with a severely swollen black eye. We visited a very busy doctor in a small town. The sign in his waiting room announced that office visits cost 25 euros and home visits 35 euros. After a two hour wait he examined my Mom and spent some time writing a letter of referral to the nearest hospital. I then asked him how much - thinking foreigners would surely pay more? He said "It depends". I asked "On what?" He answers: "Are you pro-Bush or anti-Bush". I laugh and say "We are Canadians and don't vote in the American elections". He anwers - "Just answer the question". When I say "Anti-Bush" , he responds, "Then it's free" - and it was.
I was amazed how much the American election was discussed in tiny places in Ireland and England . I just hope sanity prevails in the election.
By the way we really enjoyed staying at Michael O'Donovan's B&B in Kinsale. He was a superb host. The information in your books is terrific!
You mentioned that the population of the US is miniscule compared to the rest of the world. If we stopped allowing selfish women to murder live babies inside their wombs, we would have an increased population in the US . Who would have thought in Christ's time that ethics, morals and the respect for life would ever be a voting issue? If your mother had chosen to abort you, we wouldn't have to listen to you. Too much travel has reduced you to a Godless heathen and your using your newsletter and readership to your own selfish goals.
Bravo on your courageous [and witty!] piece about pixelating David - all of Europe must be laughing uproariously at the new US TV decency rules - as well they should. I'd laugh, too, if it weren't so ultimately tragic.
Thanks for the article and for all your great travel programs!
Carol F, Tucson , AZ
Your essay on "How Travel Changed My Perspective on Politics" has persuaded me to not vote for President Bush: however, must it be Kerry? (I have always voted Republican) Thank you, Rick.
But don't forget that the USA made it possible for you to become so successful. Could you have been so successful originating in .... say France , Belgium , the Netherlands ? Don't forget the opportunities that you have been given.
We traveled in May to Italy with Robin Dority and had a wonderful experience and have recommended it to friends. Looking forward to another trip with your company. Perhaps to France or Eastern Europe .
Sincerely, Patty F
[Rick's note: I have acknowledged many times in my writing that I would live nowhere else but in America, and I'm really thankful to be running a business in America. The complexities and encumbrances and frustrations of running a small business in Europe would be no fun at all.]
Thanks for your email and perspective on our current political scene. We do continue to travel and in fact went to Madrid the week after 3/11. But we are also dismayed as we talk with friends in Spain , France & Germany about their views of the USA and our leaders.
We have already voted (absentee) but we continue to encourage everyone to get out and vote. By the way can you believe the state of the dollar vs the euro or pound??
Happy Travels and keep up the good work
Walt & Deanna Hutton
I just wanted to pass along some positive thoughts about your wonderful "hi from Rick" this month since I'm sure your email will be cluttered with some colorfully capitalized responses. I wanted to make sure there was something nice in there to outweigh those.
I am so touched by your unwillingness to hide your political views for some perceived profit. I sense that your politics are not something you take off like a sweater at the end of the day, but something you live and have made your life's work in a terrifically simple way - by getting to know people. It's really beautiful and inspiring.
It's so easy to hide behind the anonymity we are afforded by the little curtain in the voting booth. Thank you for being so open about who you are and how you feel. It makes me happy as your fellow American and, this should please the best little Capitalist in Edmonds, it makes me all the happier to drive up there and drop a bundle of money on your stuff!
Rick: love your travel information and the shows. Even though we have lived in England and worked in several European countries in the past we are always enlightenec by what you bring.
However— stick to travel and stay out of politics.
I am the first American born of my family so I know the European mind.
Your article in USA today made me chuckle with some of the the allusions. Who cares if the Portugese leftists want us out. Like the brave Spanish govt that folded at the first terror event from the islamo-fascists, they are no friends of ours.
How may countries suck up our money than kick us in the but in the UN.
If they do not like us, we can pull our troops out of Europe and pull back on the money they are gobbling up.
The socialist dead economies of most of old Europe will spiral into the doom that befalls socialism. They do not have the energy or the mind set to do what is necessary to revive their economies.
I'm not going to comment on the Olympics. I don't watch them. That organization is one of the most corrupt ever.
If the Europens are ticked off, Tango Sierra. When they loose 3, 000 people in a terror attack they may change their mind.
Ask the Russians how they feel about the peace loving muslims who took over a school, tortured the kids, bragged about it on their cell phone and than killed all they could.
Stick to travel. leave the politics out.
Bob M, Leander, TX
[Rick's note: About the Russian atrocities--Why do we focus only on 400 murdered children and ignore 100,000 innocent Chechens killed by Russians determined to keep that country down? If you or I were Chechen patriots with the passion of Bob M, I don't think we'd just wait for the next election. It is more complicated than we often realize (and it's been over 200 years since Americans were in the shoes of the desperate underdog). About Europe sucking up our money: The EU now has a GDP bigger than ours (over $10 trillion). And while we build up a deficit and insist on spending half of our nation's discretionary income on our military, Europe is investing in its infrastructure and its people. Be angry about that.but check back in 10 years and see which course of action was better for "homeland security."]
Rick, we love you! ....BUT, please stick with travel! We are sick of politics by now and know how we'll vote. I am a survivor of WWII in Germany (born 1940) ....and know the world will go on - one way or another! Lets enjoy the happy times!
Thanks for this. I missed it when you first sent out your essay. It heartens me greatly to see your comments and so many like-minded though I can't help wonder where those other people came from - it can't be from my country...
My 4 trips to Europe in the past 6 years (my first ever abroad and I am 50!) have been the best experiences of my life - and your books were with me on every trip. You signed my guidebook on the Piazza in Vernazza in 1999 and I sat next to you and your family at one of the restaurants on the water that night.
But the way the trips have opened my eyes to the world and the way the US is viewed have been the most remarkable. Thank you for that and thank you for speaking the truth now. I will continue to buy books, travel bags, watch your show and do what I can to make sure you stay in business !!
Madison , WI
If what I read on your website is correct, this email will get to you. I am a big traveler and fan. After working as a management consultant and traveling all around the US for twenty years my company was sold to a French firm four years ago and the travel became much more international. I use your guidebooks to make my way around France , England and Italy on the side trips I always work into the business trip.
But I have been a fan for a long time and have never written to you. It was your email about being a liberal that cares about the planet and the world that grabbed me. I wanted to give you a big hug for stepping out and taking a stand. If I have one thing to say good about the this election, it is that lots of people from Garrison Kellior to Rick Steves are stepping out to talk about our responsibilities to the underprivileged and the environment. How in the world can you be a world leader if you lead badly? My travels to Europe have convinced me that many Americans, including me, do not understand our own politics the way Europeans understand their own (and ours). Thank you for using your influence and position in a way that makes a big difference. I am betting there are lots of conservative older Americans in your client list, so it was a risk to step out.
I work with lots of conservatives too. And I sent your email to lots of people at work. Thanks for sharing with lots of Capgemini Consultants!
From: Robert Albrecht [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Thank you for putting the poll results on the web. Granted that individuals may read these differently, many in the U.S. have little information on how we are seen in the world. Without information, people are likely to misunderstand some of the international reactions to our various actions, policies, etc.
i have appreciated your guidebooks for many years. i must say that i have tolerated your occasional political commentary because i so enjoyed your newsletters and information. well, sir, with the lengthy essay and various diatribes recently included in the current newsletter, i feel you have indeed crossed the proverbial line.
anyway, mr. steves, you are most certainly entitled to your opinion, at least in this country. i wish i could speak to you one-on-one, because i believe you are genuinely a well-meaning man who loves his country. however, i cannot support your views, nor can i believe that your views are truly well thought out. would you consider what i say? there is a reason that europeans say they hate us and then want to be like us. there is a reason that a wealthy, terminally ill italian will seek treatment here rather than at home. there is, unfortunately, a reason why diversity is NOT valued in places where islam is the dominant religion. even the most rabid fundamentalist Christian in this country believes you should have the right to believe anything you want, no matter how stupid he/she thinks it may be. the most rabid muslim will not afford you the same courtesy. that is why extremist muslims will blow up hundreds of people indiscriminantly and extremist anti-abortionists will shoot only one specific physician. both are terribly wrong, yet i hope you can see my point.
thank you for your time, mr. steves. i must ask that you cancel my subscription to your publications because i cannot in good conscience support you and your products. i hope that you will consider what i have said, sir, and i also hope that you will do what you do so well: helping the unskilled traveler navigate the unknown. there are so many wonderful things you can discuss without using your pulpit to stealthily preach "vote for john kerry." please do so. :-)
Godspeed to you and yours,
We take on the average, 3 trips to Europe a year. We love our travels and meeting people from all over the world. Still, I stand up for my country and my president. I don't believe that loving travel and other nations, means giving up my values or my politics.
Yes, we had quite a heated conversation this summer with a guest at a French B&B in Provence , who was from Brussels . We did not agree, but we did discuss.
Please Rick, keep politics out of this wonderful service you provide to all of us. 50% of us don't agree with your side of politics, but we still love the travel we do.
Dear Rick and ETBD,
I admire Rick for 'laying it on the line' like he did with this newsletter. I would not be surprised if it cost him and the company some money, but it had an integrity that is rare these days. You won't get rich on me, but I won't go anywhere else for railpasses, etc. than to you.
Personally, I learned many things by reading through all the articles and had some of my biases reinforced. I read the angry responses too; thanks for providing them. I think that their perspectives, though perhaps over-stated in the heat of their concerns, need to be weighed. Are we naive about some hard realities? A dialogue is needed. I think that travel is an incredible way to open dialogue that goes beyond a purely American perspective. And, I think a perspective that is broader than American will inevitably be in our long-term interests as Americans.
Rick, you sound like a good Lutheran. I'm proud of you. By the way, your video on Martin Luther was outstanding and I have used it in a number of classes. The one on Paul was less helpful because the sites were less engaging on tape (lots of piles and paths of weedy rocks) and the subject is harder to document.
Enough from me. Thanks for reading and blessings to all of you at ETBD,
Pastor Scott Peterson
Messiah Lutheran Church
Madison , Alabama
I enjoy Rick Steve's television programs, website and newsletter because they are entertaining and educational.
However, I don't enjoy hearing about "concerning issues" going on in America that I need to take a stand against. Yes, I'm very interested in issues such as global warming, and the ugly American abroad, but I don't want to hear about it from Rick Steves. I get quite enough of that from every other conceivable source of media. From Rick Steves, I want entertainment and education.
I understand the need to make a difference in the world in this particular way, but what if Everyone acted on that feeling? Imagine a day when you wake up to an alarm clock that blasted "Stop Environmental Pollution!" You open the refrigerator to start making breakfast, and it unfurls a poster of a starving baby in Haiti . Your microwave, instead of beeping, chirps "Thousands of kids are forced into prostitution in Thailand every year".
You go to a Paul Macartney concert and are forced to watch a video of a baby seal getting clubbed (really happened actually). Wouldn't you get tired of it?
People enjoy Rick Steves because it's entertaining and educational, and it stops being entertaining when it reminds us (once again) that America has bad things going on that we should be aware of.
We already know!
[Rick's note: Wow.vivid examples. Point well taken. But I'd like to do a little more than entertain just once in a while. Okay, I promise: Next time I get the desire to go political, I'll think of Paul and baby seals. That would bug me, too.]
To quote you, Mr. Steves..."Violence
begets Violence". (January 2002 Americans Abroad Letter From The
Editor, with commentary included by Rick Steves)
After I read that article I became convinced that Terrorists do not understand that quote. They find us to be great targets. Kind of like a rapist attacking a woman on the street... "She was asking for it". They did not calculate that a violate attack on an unsuspecting country would drive that country into violence.
Whether military retribution is justified is a matter for political debate. We each have our own views on that.
My only comments to your recent forays into politics are these:
You are a travel writer. I bought your stuff because you were a great travel writer. I do not buy your stuff to hear your political views. I remind you of the #1 adage to all writers: Write for your market .
Your liberal views on American Politics do not reflect any more that 50% of the American Votes. Do you only want that 50% to purchase your materials. You apparently do, as you are deliberately offending the other 50%.
Your comments "If I see one more 'God Bless America '" bumper sticker.... " (Chicago 2002) also says it all. You allow that other countries are allowed to feel patriotism for their own lands, but you seek to deny United States Citizens that same right.
If you choose to expound your political views then I recommend that you run for political office. I respectfully request that you keep your political opinions out of your travel writing.... no one who purchases your stuff is interested in anything that you have to say outside of plain old travel advice.
(A former regular consumer of your books and products)
[Rick's note: That #1 adage
assumes I am purely profit-driven. In fact, my mixed-up priorities when
it comes to protecting sales and profit seems to be something that exasperates
many people even more than my niche on their Left-Right spectrum. It confounds
people that a businessman could make a decision that isn't dictated by
his bottom line.as if that in itself were unpatriotic. About "God Bless
America"--I believe all the people on this planet are children of God.
And I believe any loving father, heavenly or otherwise, would bless all
his children equally. Therefore, since to me, "God Bless America" bumper
stickers seem to ask God to bless us over others, I wish they weren't
so exclusive. By the way, is it only political candidates who can "expound
their political views?"]
Please unsubscribe me from your newsletter. You claim to be a patriot but you don't realize that your ideas are the complete opposite of what makes this country work. You claim to be a Christian, but you're proving you're not. No one can be a Christian and think like you do.
Since you're always complaining about things here, and you're so in love with European ideas, you don't deserve to be here. You're enjoying the fruits of American ideas, not those of Europe . In fact, European ideas are what drove people out of Europe to establish America , and that's what made America a nation that millions of people have flocked to ever since.
I don't care to hear any more of your closed-minded, pompous ranting against those who are giving of their lives to serve our country. If people like you ran this country, you'd destroy it. But fortunately, my candidate's going to be re-elected president next week, so I'm not worried.
[Rick's note: I believe America's Constitution is one of the most European documents ever written, grounded in the ideals of the Enlightenment--which good patriots believe are worth fighting and putting our lives on the line for. It's impressive to think Heaven is filled only with Republicans. I wish good Christians like Kelsey could listen to the hateful music that fills the helmets of American soldiers as they outkill the Iraqis (most of whom are innocent civilians) at the rate of 100 to 1. Iraqi death toll so far: well over 100,000. Blessings.]
Thanks for being brave enough to call yourself a liberal. Although, I wonder why one has to be brave to do it. Maybe it's the times. I'm looking for T-shirts that say it.
So you are a liberal, big time. That's actually no surprise.you live/work in Oregon . ? I have just finished reading in total every word, including the many reply letters in the newsletter I received today. Like you, I love to travel and have spent 3 months or more in each of the past 4 years in Europe doing just that. As a retired grandmother I came a bit late to this travel bug yet it inspires me and keeps me curious and young at heart. I have bought and used virtually each of your European books and always find useful information in them all. While Lonely Planet remains my 'bible' I find yours too provides an excellent compliment. I admire you and your philosophy towards travel. All this said however, I am left with a cold hard stone in the pit of my stomach. I read your books and subscribe to your newsletter for 'travel' news and information. I have not, that I can recall, written to you with my political opinions, along with attachments of various writings that support my views. Nor would I ever presume to do so. Why do you feel it proper to impose your views on me? Did I forget that I asked for your opinions on this? To many of your assertions I could offer a rebuttal..but why bother? And more to the point, it has not been asked for by you. I find it curious as to the date of your mailing...wouldn't Saturday or Sunday have been better, that much closer to the election? I am disheartened by this. As a conservative.yes I said conservative.I am offended that you would presume to use your forum in this way. Will I never look at one of your books or shows again? Of course I will. Will I have the same respect and admiration for you that I always have? No, that is gone. You've intruded into my personal life in a most unwelcome and purely biased way. You've abused me.your audience.in a most unprofessional way. Shame..
[Rick's note: I enjoy lots of uninvited political opinions from people (mostly conservatives), and it never occurred to me that this was a form of abuse. By the way, I live in Seattle, not Oregon (same thing).]
Thanks for such a thoughtful and informative newsletter on the World View of the US . Also appreciate, your remarks on the 1st Amendment rights. Is covering up the genitals, breasts, etc. sending the message that these are to be hidden, shunned and not admitted as part of the human body? I am an artist and each week in my figure drawing class take great joy in creating the beauty I see in the human body as do my fellow artists.
You know there has been a great upswing in the number of women and children who are being smuggled into the USA for purposes of prostitution. Is it possible that with our puritanical attitudes toward sex and the human body has literally driven "public" displays underground, along with the message that it is evil. Each time that has happened, such as in the Victorian age, it has reared in head in pornography, increased prostitution and other practices. Is the wheel being rediscovered again?
Above all Rick and company, thanks for your dedication to making the world a smaller place to live in and visit and learn.
Yes you have lost my dollar. I vote with my money not my big mouth as you have done. No more dollars for Rick from this party.
Robert M. Gallo
Gosh, we've been inundated with political rhetoric on tv,radio, the internet for months and now even the Rick Steves email letter is political. I've been a political news junkie but I'm REALLY tired of it now. A lot of people I know have turned off the news because we've just had it.
[Rick's note: You're not alone. I'm tired of it, too. By the way, we didn't do this edition instead of our regular monthly newsletter--it's a bonus. Our November issue (also free) will be out as soon as the election frenzy passes. And I challenge you to find even a hint of politics in it.]
I just received the most recent "Travel News" and read the newsletter. You made it a point to let us know you are a liberal. Big time. Well, I'm a conservative. Big time.
I was hoping that traveling was something both of us could share regardless of our political persuasion. I'm sorry that you consider it necessary to wax politics in this forum. In addition, your backhanded swipe at pro-lifers is terribly offensive.
I've enjoyed following your travels through Europe these past years. I'm sorry you feel it is now necessary to make travel a political issue.
Please take me off of your mailing list.
[Rick's note: I believe my "swipe at pro-lifers" was to suggest that there is more to the "sanctity of life" than abortion. I didn't say abortion wasn't a "sanctity of life" issue, I just wondered if maybe other aspects of life (and other kinds of killing) weren't also worth considering. The phrase has not been trademarked.]
Mr. Steves — I love to travel! Unfortunately my budget doesn't allow me to travel as often as I'd like to so I've been an armchair traveler who has taken many a trip vicariously through your travel web site and tour books. I looked forward to reading your travel newsletter. However, I must comment on the tone of your article on pixelating David. I am one of the American conservatives that your article mocked. While I am sure there are some conservatives who object to nudity of any sort, I believe you would not find that the case amongst the majority of us. To compare Janet Jackson's SuperBowl antics with the nudity of classical art is ludicrous. There simply is no comparison. Just wanted you to know that there are conservatives who travel, too! And even conservatives amongst your readership.
Sincerely, BJ Carlson
Dear Mr. Steves,
We are fans of your travel business and had a great time on your Best Of Europe Tour. However, we don't need to know about your political views. We remember seeing a sign in your office window supporting John Dean and decided then that your politics are less than patriotic. We also have done a lot of travel and in my younger days I spent considerable time in third world countries. I also served in the military and feel I have a fairly good idea of what makes this old world stay afloat in troubled times. Let us not forget 9-11 and how a country that is not prepared to take a realistic stance can be devastated by her enemies. If you feel the need to cozy up to people who would do our country harm, then shame on you. Happy travels.
[Rick's note: In all due respect to your service to our country, why are military people so quick to tell the rest of us what is patriotic? Many good patriots believed that Howard Dean would have been great for America. While many people have questioned my patriotism lately, the several who have threatened to punch me out in the last month have all been veterans. We're all Americans in this discussion. Some of us believe that if your only tool is a hammer, you're inclined to treat every problem like a nail.]
I have truly enjoyed your books, PBS specials and website and plan on purchasing another book before my trip to Europe in February. However I do feel that I have to say something.. One point that I have not seen addressed in all of the letters, essays etc regarding the upcoming elections.
Just because Bush may not be the perfect person for the job, it DOES NOT mean that Kerry is. Please make the point that sometimes it is not choosing the right person for the job, but choosing between the two candidates you are given!
[Rick's note: I agree and understand your point. Some choose based on the character of the candidate. Others choose out of concern for the issues--possibly even voting for the guy with less charisma, likeability, or even leadership. Many notorious tyrants have been skilled and charismatic leaders.]
Laura Ingraham wrote a best selling book about entertainers who express their political views titled "Shut Up and Sing". If I may paraphrase Laura: "Shut Up and Travel". If we want your political views, we will ask for them.
Barry Bosscher, Long Beach
I am rather disappointed in the first "Travel Newsletter" I have received from an organization I have spent over $1600.00 in preparation of my first trip to Europe . I was hoping for some information that would be useful during an actual trip, instead what I received was a news letter dealing with censorship, what foreign individuals think of our politics and political figures, global warming, and the per-capita totals for gold medals won at the recent Olympics. As much as I would like to dissect most of your proclamations I will limit myself (with extremely uncommon Restraint) to just one, albeit the easiest. The first per-capita gold medals, I know, not the one you were expecting.
I believe Olympic athletes are finely tuned machines with specialized skills that have been refined to a point of absolute minutia (i.e., the position of a sprinters head in the first 50 m and how many times they breathe) for their specific event. This type of dedication requires a single-minded approach (bordering on the compulsive) from the time of early teens, and earlier in cases of gymnasts, Where do children get this desire and focus? It comes in the form of pressure from their parents and/or an internal desire for a particular goal to emulate a hero or role model. Humans are a comparative species, whether it be great works of art, architecture, athletic endeavor or living up to an older sibling. We use that which has come before to measure our own accomplishments. That being said, how many Americans have tried cross-country skiing, much less aspire to the greatness of some Austrian who has won 3 straight golds. So it is not only unfair to compare Austria, in which children grow up skiing, to the entire population of the US in which less than 10% ever put on skis. To compare Austria that is 75% mountainous to the U. S is absurd if you count the population of Texas, Arizona, Florida, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia. Texas children do not grow up wanting to be a world class downhill racer, just as Austrian children do not want to be the next Carl Lewis.Let's use your ridiculous manipulation of statistics to see how well Dallas-Ft. Worth compares to the rest of the world. (Dallas-Ft. Worth area population of 5,200,000).
Dallas Ft. Worth Medalists:
Tamika Catchings-Basketball Gold ( Duncanville , Texas )
Paul Foerster-Yachting Gold (Rockwall)
Jeremy Wariner -400m & 400m relay gold ( Grand Prairie )
Dana Vollmer-4x200-meter freestyle relay gold (Grandbury)
Doc Patton-4x100-meter relay silver ( Dallas )
Carly Patterson-All Around champion gold.Balance Beam silver.Team Silver (Allen)
Sara Lowe-synchronized swimming bronze (Desoto)
Dallas-Ft.Worth (10/5.2 Million) 525 medals 525,000 cit. per medal won
In my opinion, your desire to avoid being seen as an ugly-american you have become an apologist, which at times seemed almost scornful. We are at a unique point in history, a point in which the US dominates the three most important facets of civilization:The Military, Economic Strength and Culture.It is rare that one segment of the worlds population maintains a superiority in all of these areas at the same time. For example, Britain held the military and economic edge while culture was dominated by the French & Germans through most of the nineteenth century.With this status the US currently enjoys, comes resentment and jealously. I for one, am proud to be a part of this "American Reformation" and do not easily suffer the fools with uniformed opinions and ignorant observations leading to erroneous deductions. That being said, I am not xenophobic and in order to maintain this level it is imperative we work with other countries to find the correct balance between power and the delegation of world influence. Ultimately we will fail, just like the other cultures that have dominated on a world scale, Greek, Roman, Ottoman etc...Let us enjoy with humility while we can, it will not last.
As is my usual course of action in such matters, I will no longer be a patron of Rick Steves. There are too many travel services available to deal with a pontificating travel agent. I only wish I could return my travel guides for an exchange to Frommers. I also will not be renewing my membership to KERA (public television dallas ) during a point where ETBD will be the beneficiary
[Rick's note: Be careful--I just met up with Arthur Frommer, and he's actually started a club called "Yale Alums for Kerry." About Dallas: that's impressive. I'll treat it like a country and add it to my list. Actually, if you gave me the tally for all of Texas, that might be more fun.]
I only wish that more liberal Christians would speak out. Why is it that Conservative's can say mean, thoughtless things and the media lets it slide? But let a Liberal open their mouth and the world comes down on them. James Carville said "The problem with Liberal's is that we think everyone has a right to their opinion, except us." How many times at a gathering have you seen and heard a Conservation go on and on about their views and going even as far as baiting a Liberal. What do most Liberal do, sit there with a tolerate smile? It is time all Liberal's and especially religious ones come out of the closet and speak their minds.
On another note, my husband and I have travel through Europe and love it. Your books really help and your walks are great.
Thanks and Peace,
I don't know if it is too late to put my 2 cents in to the "readers respond" section, but I'd like to give it a shot:
We all need to avoid stereotyping and making assumptions about people, not just the peoples outside the United States , but those within it as well. The only thing that really upset me in Rick's well-written article is the assumptions he makes about Republicans. The article states, if I may paraphrase, that Americans who travel abroad would not vote for the current administration. I myself am a Republican, and am surrounded by many intelligent Democrats and Republicans alike in my life. We have legitimate, well thought-out, intelligent differences of opinion on major issues. That does not make any of us greedy, bleeding-heart, unilateralist, or communist. I find such caricatures, either of myself and my Republican friends, or of my Democratic friends, offensive.
I don't want to argue any specific political points; I don't expect to change anyone's mind and I respect everyone's right to their own views. But please don't assume that traveling "shows one the error of one's Republican ways" as Rick seems to imply or "turns one into a Democrat." Travel is wonderful, eye-opening, amazing! If one takes it as learning experience, it can reduce arrogance, increase understanding, and make one a better citizen of Planet Earth. But it does not change fundamental differences of political thought. Respecting someone else's opinion does not mean conforming to it. Compare this to an analogy of religion. I have a friend who is Buddhist, and I respect her religious views, but I do not choose to convert to Buddhism in response, or abandon my own religious views. Does it make me arrogant or intolerant that I do not choose to change my religious views? Of course not. And finding onself in a minority position (think Iraq ) does not mean switching to the majority position for the sake of being in the majority; this is plain silly (recall that opposition to slavery was throughout most of history a minority position, for example). There are principled and logical reasons for opposing any given position, but finding oneself in a minority is not one of them.
Is life so much better in Western Europe than in the US ? Some things are better there, some here. I love the pure juice over there; I love the free refills over here. I realize I'm being flip; again, my point is not to argue economics or social issues, but to plead with all to not stereotype the French, the Swiss, or the Serbs...or the Republicans or the Democrats. Some on both sides don't buy it, but there are intelligent, kind, generous, warm-hearted, and well-traveled folks in both parties.
Best wishes, warm thoughts, and happy travels to all,
For a while now, I have just been deleting your newsletter/emails prior to reading them due to the embedded personal political opinions. For some reason this morning, I clicked through to the other letters that have been sent in and found that I'm not alone. Thank God! I was beginning to think that I needed to find someone who markets to 'my people' - you know - people who work hard, pay taxes, mind their own business (until we have to save some third world country from their dictators or save ourselves from them) and like to sneak away from the tour group to shop.
My husband and I just returned from my second tour with you through France . I love the French. I just don't think too much of their politicians :). We tried to stay away from political conversations with locals since, I heard, that John Kerry could easily take France in an election. It's understandable, if they don't get the FOX channel, they have a slanted view of the US . Also, my french vocabulary revolves around food and shopping. The few shop/restaurant owners who brought up the election were open minded and tolerant (OK, one of them had Kerry on a 3 dollar bill posted behind the register.) But, on the tour bus and here at home, oh my!, the 'liberals/Kerry fans' I meet seem to be, well, rabid. It's as though Bush is the anti-christ.
Although I really don't like the occasional propaganda piece from you, I do know better than to be politically pissed off by someone whose programs are on PBS/NPR, a channel/station I avoid as part of my stress management routine. Just please try to refrain from statements like "But, I actually think sharing these ideas is more important than my income. " because you are practically inviting me to spend my money elsewhere because I do not agree with you politically.
William and Patrick are fantastic guides and, thankfully, I have no idea how they vote. Also, the entire bus is still waiting to hear from William "Why are the french better lovers?" He completely dodged that question. Thanks for the introduction to France , I now feel like we can get around anywhere in that country, on our own - armed with a new RS guide book, and can't wait to go back.
PS if anyone is French and reads this - please send food and a little wine - am having severe withdrawal pains.
I can't write a big speech like the other people but I felt moved by your article and newsletter. As a Canadian married to an American who's never voted in his life has finally decided (with my persuasion) to vote this year with help from your article. I'm from Alberta and can not vote here but us reading your article and being a multi cultural family we know that his vote not only affects the United States but also foreign policies (which is also very important). Thank you and keep on travelin'! :-)
Allison Q. Tucson, Arizona .
I totally agree with your view of the world and our responsibilities as Americans. As you said in your newsletter, "Since children, the world's poor, and the environment can't vote, it's up to us to take these needs into account and vote for more than our immediate financial interest". God blesses Americans every day, and now it is our turn to do His will, to care for all of his children irregardless of race, religion or creed. Vote for the people who will embrace and unite the world, for together we can overcome any obstacle, but divided we will fall into hate, tyranny and destruction as world history has demonstrated.
Cincinnati , Ohio
Thank you for taking a stand for reason. I know you have traded a piece of your business success for expressing your opinions. A true patriot does what you have done; uses his knowledge, skill and resources to help the country redirect from a wrong course. If, in this case, the opinion expressed is contrary to the majority, it is a greater sacrifice for the benefit of the country (and for the world).
I will direct all the business I can in your direction.
Terry E. Hanna
Rick, I just read your comments on the upcoming election and I commend you for taking a stand even though it may impact your business. It is too bad that some people threaten to stop doing business with you just because they disagree with your views. They will be the ones who lose out, by no longer getting your great insight into traveling in Europe . Maybe if some of these Compassionate Conservatives had watched your Brugge show, they would know how pointless it is to rename French Fries to Freedom Fries. thanks for reminding people of what is at stake on November 2nd, and thanks for showing me how to truly enjoy Europe over the last 4 years. I look forward to continuing my business with you.
Yee-haw is not a foreign policy.
Tom S. Austin, Tx