I am sure the United States ambassador’s remarks in Samoa came from a good heart (Inquiry over ‘cultural misunderstandings’, Oct 26), but I think his underlying assumptions are misguided.
When he told a woman serving food at an event he was at that she ‘‘could make hundreds of dollars in the hospitality industry in the US’’, there were two assumptions immediately obvious that are faulty: one, that making hundreds of dollars is an aspiration shared by all; and two, that working in the US is also something highly desirable.
The woman may have been perfectly content with her lot.
He also describes telling people at the event that they were ‘‘beautiful … really handsome … great’’ after having seen a group immediately prior who appeared ‘‘dirty and grungy’’. The ‘‘beautiful’’ people probably didn’t need his reassurance on that point, and, sadly, his comments probably came across as patronising.
It is also possible that the people described as ‘‘dirty and grungy’’ were content with their lot and may or may not spend all their time as they were at that moment. Some of the offence may be about culture (not ethnicity), but I see it in part as being about seeing the world through the lens of false assumptions. BARBARA WOODS Johnsonville