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Rick's New Book - Thoughts?

Reading and very much enjoying RS new book, "Travel as a Political Act." My question, though, is this:

Presuming all who travel to Europe often and engage in assisting one another on this site agree with RS--that is, that thoughtful travel should be more than just fun in the sun, and should provoke empathy, understanding, and an appreciation for cultures beyond our own, all of which can help our own nation develop more enlightened solutions to complex problems--how do you take the perspective you've gained from travel and share it with others who may not have that point-of-view? In other words, it seems that people who already have this perspective talk to one another frequently--through blogs, this site, books, travel, etc--but isn't that just preaching to the choir?

Posted by
12040 posts

"Presuming all who travel to Europe often and engage in assisting one another on this site agree with RS--that is, that thoughtful travel should be more than just fun in the sun, and should provoke empathy, understanding, and an appreciation for cultures beyond our own" I disagree with the use of the word "should". Rather, perhaps "could"? People work hard to save their money for a trip. If all they want is fun in the sun, and packaged museums, so be it, that's their money and their right. That's not why I travel (I'm a grumpy old solar-phobe anyway...), but not everyone has the same interests or life experience as me.

"how do you take the perspective you've gained from travel and share it with others who may not have that point-of-view?" If it comes up in a conversation, I may politely challenge someone's assumptions with an anecdote. Otherwise, I'm not into preaching. If one isn't careful, "preaching" can easily morph into "screaching".

Posted by
14599 posts

I think he's doing what so many people have done recently who have accumulated fame and fortune...use their celebrity to preach their political beliefs.

Travel should NOT be a political act. Travel should be a way of sharing information between people of two different nations. It should be a way of enlightening others about your country and people just as much as the people you are visiting can share about theirs.

Posted by
6898 posts

I love sharing the information I have gained. I just keep the politics and preaching out of it. Being a native of San Francisco, I frequently stop when I see people looking at a map and ask if I can help them find where they are going. Often times, we don't speak the same language and just point. Once they see that I'm not after their money, and that I can be helpful, we both enjoy the trust and experience and then off we go never to see each other again. Keep the politics and crap out of it. IMHO, that includes this website.

Posted by
204 posts

I used to post on this website almost every day and got a great deal of pleasure from it. I don't often post anymore because the nature of the site and the people who visit it have changed over the years. A good many years ago Rick and I had occasion to email each other and met in person once. Altho Rick's "gimmick" is to be a klutsch (sp) like you, he is really a very intelligent man. Like a lot so folks of his generation, he is very public with his political opinions. I personally don't like that and in fact think it is rude to publically demand attention for your politics or religion in your business. But it is Rick's business and if he chooses to ruin it by demanding his customer's attention to his politics and/or religion, I guess it's his business. Perhaps someday he will learn better, perhaps not. Most of us become at least a little more conservative as we grow older when we realize the dreamy, idealistic ideas of our youth have been tried before (we didn't invent them like we think we did)and didn't work then and won't work this time either. We may even realize that religion is a fraud when it isn't a scam. But I doubt it. I think all of you should focus on the fact that Rick has created a marvelous and useful organization for us to use and be thankful he did. His product is worth the small price we pay (and I have been traveling since before Rick or most of you were even born) I doubt your religion or your politics is any more palatable than his or mine. Just ignore the silly business.

Posted by
347 posts

I haven't read the book, but if it is more about "travel as a political activist act," then I would have to agree with Frank II. However, I think from the point of view that traveling allows you to learn from others and share with others and creates a world where people are more "connected" travel cannot help but be a political act.

One thing that I take exception to, though, is Gio's idea that somehow Europeans (or other cultures) are more "enlightened" than we are. Remember that it is our system of government designed on the "enlightened" principles of highly acclaimed philosophers and statesmen.

No one is right or wrong - there are almost always multiple ways to go about anything. I think Rick's main purpose is to have people travel and connect and see other people, not just fairy tales and scary stories on the nightly news.

That being said, I struggle with how he reconciles his new found admiration for Iran with the 35,000+ refugees that are forced to flee that country each year by the government. I know he is trying "open doors," but you cannot ignore the facts that get in the way.

Just my thoughts.

Posted by
162 posts

I'm reading it right now, and I've read other material by RS and I've been to his travel shows in Edmonds. There is quite a bit of overlap, not a lot of new stuff in the book. But I'm sure I'll finish it. Yes, I think Rick is preaching to the choir for those of us who read his stuff, but maybe a few who don't normally read RS will read it.

How can you possibly keep politics out of your travel? Rick doesn't advocate talking politics with everyone. Even wearing a Canadian flag on your backpack is a mild form of politics.

I thought about trying to use the Heisenburg Uncertainty Principle to make my point, but I thought I would keep it non-controversial.

Posted by
29 posts

While reading through all the posts, I noticed that several people are frustrated by Rick and other celebrities expressing their views in a public forum. There is a sense that people should stick to the "product" that first brought them to our attention, whatever that is (actor, singer, geeky travel writer...). I hear that a lot these days, that people should keep their beliefs/thoughts/observations private and not draw attention to themselves. But isn't that what we are doing? Sure, we are mostly trying to help people find the right flight, shoes, luggage, shampoo, etc., but it's still us putting ourselves out there. And who knows how many of us also post on other more "political" sites.
If this explosion of social media has taught us anything, it's that we humans all have something to say and we like to be heard. Regardless of why we travel - or why we think we travel - I think we can agree that it is a good thing and we have learned from the experience.

Posted by
586 posts

Thanks for the candid and fascinating replies. I am enjoying the book a great deal, and while I guess having some political common ground with the author does make a difference, I don't at all find it to be preachy or anti-American or even an imposition of political views (the voice is conversational, thoughtful, and balanced, and the core of the book is comprised of travel anecdotes). When I talked about "enlightened" solutions I did not mean to suggest that European solutions are somehow more enlightened than American solutions, but that solutions developed after considering many diverse points of view are usally more enlightened. I just don't see a book like this in the same vein I see an actor using an Academy Award speech to plug a particular candidate. This is much more philosophical, and much less partisan.

Posted by
12154 posts

I'm with Frank II. Rick is welcome to his political beliefs. He's even welcome to believe his travel is in some way a political act.

For me travel is travel. I enjoy meeting people and learning their language, culture and history. I'm interested in people's daily lives and what they do for a living. I'll even engage in a political discussion if someone else asks me. Other than that, I'm on vacation - not a political emissary for (or against) my country.

Posted by
193 posts

Rick's entitled to do and say what he wants. It's his site.

But, I don't ask my politicians for travel advice and I don't like my travel advisors telling me their politics.

Like Frank II said, just because someone has some notoriety and a captive audience doesn't make it right for them to preach their views.

Posted by
23 posts

He has the right to say and spout any political view that he wants (it's his company, of course), but doing so will turn a certain part of the readers off.
I don't think travel is at all political. Most people go to see the history of the place, to sightsee and to relax and have a good time - not to bring understanding across nations. As for Iran, be honest. The country is under fire now.

Posted by
421 posts

I am agreeing with Frank here as well.

I think while we can not escape politics and politics is part of life and I think it is also related to travel in the sense we are visiting different countries and cultures. It is part of the country, part of learning about different parts of the world.

But when a travel writter tries to force thier political views on people they are no longer really a travel writter. It is one thing to acknowledge the differences in politics and societies.

Posted by
368 posts

It's interesting how many people are willing to throw out the First Amendment when they don't agree with what someone says.

Travel can be either one of two things, relaxing in a location other than where you live, or experiencing other cultures and ways of life. If you choose to do the latter, you are participating in a political act, whether you like it or not. You are influencing your perception of the world as well as influencing others on how the perceive you.

Rick has the unalienable right to say whatever he wants, but has to balance that against the possible revenue losses he might incur from politically marginalizing some of his audience. Also, he is entitled to have more then one focus in life. He can be a travel writer AND a political activist. As well, I am becoming to be under the opinion that all politicians should perhaps be avid travelers.

I think the real question is, given that one has the financial and social means, is it ethically and morally abject to not try to take a stand for your political beliefs?

Posted by
12040 posts

Not having any personal knowledge of the dollars and cents of Rick's business, I'm going to make an assumption. The current economic climate probably has caused him to loose far more business than his politcal views.

"Travel can be either one of two things, relaxing in a location other than where you live, or experiencing other cultures and ways of life." Are the two mutually exclusive? I don't think they are.

Posted by
368 posts

You don't experience much local culture on a cruise ship or in a 5 star luxury all inclusive resort.

Posted by
586 posts

Wow. I just never thought of POLITICS as a bad word. If I like a product--such as travel services or films or books or music or even a good Presecco--I may or may not agree with the political or religious or ethical beliefs of the owner (or even know what they are), but I certainly respect the right of the owner to speak honestly about any issue that matters to him or her. If it's done respectfully and intelligently--and isn't silly propaganda or a hard sell--I actually think we'd be better off if everyone spoke out more (even those I disagree with). Differences of opinion are not the enemy--apathy is. And no matter how much we pretend that traveling abroad is not a 'political' act in any way, it does make a statement about one's interest in and appreciation for 'foreign' cultures, and one's valuing of the diversity found around the globe...doesn't it? The fact that some aren't comfortable labeling this statement "political" is clear (with all of the modern negative connotations of that word), but it does not mean that the statement isn't made, just the same.

Posted by
913 posts

I'm going to step in and say something before this thread spiral's out of control in which case I will have to delete the thread.

Please do not further the debate concerning religion. That is too far off topic and will only result in people's feelings to potentially be hurt. Remeber this is a Helpline for Travelers. I am OK with a cordial debate as has been discussed thus far since Rick Steves was the one who inherently started the subject. Please make sure your comments are respectful to everyone.

Regards,
Rick Steves' Webmaster

Posted by
445 posts

I feel strongly that Rick can write about anything he cares to. I applaud him for not playing it safe and being "politically correct".

Perhaps some people dislike being jogged out of their comfort zone but they don't have to buy/read
the book.

AS for as the Iranian film, I personally found it interesting and eye-opening. It was not a political film, it was his attempt to show us what it is
actually like in Iran which few of us know. It is interesting to follow the current Iranian election and see the interesting developments.

We cannot stick our heads in the sand and ignore what is going on in the world....it affects us all.

Posted by
4555 posts

James....interesting post, but I think you miss the point. I don't think anyone suggested travel was to "do good," but that doesn't mean it isn't necessarily a political act. There are many countries I will not travel to on vacation beause of the way they treat their citizens...that's political. And you might note that China will only allow its citizens to travel abroad to "approved" tourist destinations....that's definitely a political act!

Posted by
421 posts

thinking about it more ya he can right about what he wants. I think he takes a risk in terms of alienating people.

I think there is a place for political writting I just wonder if this is the best venue to do it necessarily.

I would have to read the book to give a a true view point. I for one loved the Iran show and found it very interesting. I am one of those poeple that would love to vist countries that are outside of my comfort zone, wheather I agree with their politics or not.

Posted by
779 posts

I applaud Rick Steves for speaking his mind; especially since he may stand to lose followers/revenue from it. I love to see people speak their minds, and stand up for themselves (and others) instead of burying their heads in the sand. Obviously, if you don't like someone's politics you can just "cope" or "move on". I don't know where I've heard that before.

Posted by
193 posts

Cat,

Yes everyone has something to say about politics, but there are plenty of places to say them other than here.
Travel to Asia isn't discussed here. Why?....Because this is intended as a site for European travel. Likewise, political talk should be discussed somewhere else...along with Asian travel.

The problem with celebrities pontificating is that they have a captive audience (TV, concerts, etc). Maybe the next time you call with a problem about your cell phone you'd like to hear the technician's views about the recent the bailouts before he takes care of your problem. Or when you go to the store to buy a pack of gum you'd hear about the cashier's views about illegal immigrants.

There's a place and time for everything I just don't think this is the place.

Posted by
934 posts

I also am a Rick Steves travel fan.I like his methods and advice.I dont need his political views.

Posted by
83 posts

Rick is like anyone else in that I agree with some of his views and opinions and disagree (sometimes mildly, sometimes vehemently) with others. Thats not a problem, I wouldn't expect to agree with someone about ALL their opinions nor would I expect them to agree with me on everything.

I do however, take exception in some instances with the WAY, Rick sometimes expresses his opinions. As others have pointed out, "preachy" might be the correct word. I emailed Rick once in regard to something he said that I felt was a bit hypocritical asking if he could clarify a bit. I realize he no doubt gets a ton of email but nonetheless hoped he might respond. Needless to say I didn't receive a reply.

Don't get me wrong, I like Ricks TV series and his books, etc. I've even taken a few of his tours which were terrific. However, if one is going to voice their opinion in a way that it comes across as "I'm right, and anyone who disagrees with me is wrong" (or perhaps I'm just too sensitive) your going to have to expect someone to "call you on it" once in a while and when they do, well, I think one should at least have the guts (is that too harsh a word) to be willing to back up their views.

No offense meant btw (to anyone who may have been offended).

Posted by
779 posts

Actually, this thread has made me curious to see what some find so offensive about Rick Steve's politics, because if you all agreed with his politics you would not mind his preaching to the choir. I think I may actually get his new book afterall.

Posted by
356 posts

Kerry - This thread has made me very curious too! I only know Rick Steves through the podcasts. I do have a copy of his Britain book which a friend in America kindly sent me, but I don't really know anything about his politics and opinions apart from what I have picked up on podcasts (and he doesn't seem to say much on them). I am now very curious about it all, but they haven't yet got the new book on UK Amazon.

Posted by
12040 posts

He generally keeps his politics out of the guidebooks, with a few minor exceptions.

Posted by
12154 posts

A hypothetical question for the people who applaud Rick using his position to talk politics:

Let's say von Brunn, the guy who recently killed a guard at the Halocaust Museum in DC, was a really good travel writer. Would you feel that he is right to use his success as a platform for his politics? If so, would it then be okay for people to choose not to purchase his products because they disagreed with his politics or just didn't want to hear it?

I think Rick has every right to be political if he chooses to. If a percentage of his customers walk away because they either don't agree or don't want to mix politics and travel, that's their right too.

It's a double standard if you agree with Rick being political but think a person like von Brunn shouldn't be - or if you think people shouldn't take their dollars elsewhere with Rick but certainly should for von Brunn.

Posted by
4132 posts

Rick's views on travel and politics and culture are a coherent whole. His backdoor style is internally connected to his values of tolerance and humility. The whole is both a spiritual and political statement.

I admire the way he has found a way to express his fundamental values in his life's work. I like to think I would do so even if I did not happen to share may of them.

I do not believe Rick requires his readers or customers to check their own values at the border, and he does not begrudge anyone who takes what they like and leaves what they do not.

It is just wrong, however, to draw some analogy to a lone gunman nutcase and ask, What if HE were a really good travel writer?

What Rick does is not separate from his values, whether you like (or know) it or not. What kind of a travel writer do you think a hater would be, anyway? He WOULD bring his values to his work, and the result would not be pretty (or useful).

Here's the positive case. The best travel is challenging on many levels--that's ultimately what makes it memorable and good. When Rick visits Iran or talks about health care in Germany he is challenging us too. We can respond as we see fit, but I think shoving our fingers in our ears, wrinkling our noses, and saying, THAT doesn't belong HERE misses both the point and the opportunity.

Posted by
779 posts

I can answer that At one time I like Michael Jackson; however upon learning of his alledged child abuse, he no longer has any appeal for me and I don't seek out his music any longer. But he still performs, not so much in this country, so I guess most people feel the same as me. I used to love Woody Allen movies: however upon learning of his cheating on his wife, with his wife's daughter, I no longer seek out Woody Allen movies. If this guy Von Brunn was a great travel writer who I followed and then I found out he was a white supremist, I would drop him like a hot potatoe too. I think your analagy is over the top. I haven't read Rick Steves "Travel as a Political Act" yet, so I don't know his politics, but I can't imagine his politics are in the same arena as von Brunn's. Please let me know if they are and I'll immediately throw away all my Rick Steve's guidebooks.

I have no double standard. The constitution provides for freedom of speech, whether I like whats being spoken or not, and I have no beef with that. I simply would never take the time to entertain something that I am grossly appalled by. For instance, I was grossly appalled when OJ Simpson wrote that book about "how he would have killed his ex-wife if he had done it". Did I buy the book - No.

Posted by
8892 posts

Honestly Brad, commenting on our free speech rights and using a violent, hating murderer as your example? You lost me there. The two have nothing what so ever to do with each other and trying to compare them makes any valid argument you might have completely null and void in my book.
Sorry, I won't take part in this discussion if those are the kinds of analogies that will be used.

Posted by
368 posts

Brad, that is a strawman argument.

Once again, an internet forum thread proves Godwin's Law.

I think it is interesting that this discussion proves what Rick is trying to do with his books, open discussion. Because of this thread, two individuals will be going out to buy his book to read more about his philosophy and the rest of the posters have taken a stand on their personal politics whether for or against what Rick is saying about politics in travel.

Posted by
12040 posts

"Once again, an internet forum thread proves Godwin's Law."

To be fair, nobody has actually mentioned Hitler or the Third Reich yet... damn, there I go again, I guess now someone has!

Posted by
23 posts

Kerry, you are exactly right. If someone we were a fan who does something dispicable that makes us not able to enjoy what they are selling anymore (like Michael Jackson, a good example)we don't have to buy their books, movies or music. That's the beauty of our system. I'll stand up for celebrities right to say what they want, but they need to understand we have a right to stop buying things from them if they are being inappropriate.

Most of us don't have the time or money to really spend time exploring Europe like Rick does. His perspective is going to be different because of that. You are not going to have time for "politics" when you are spending time sightseeing.

Posted by
262 posts

I never discuss politics or religion with friends,
or potential friends. I am very passionate about my views. If we disagree, I might not be able to be their friends!
For me travel has nothing to do with this topic.
I travel to learn about different cultures. I respect other's politics and religious beliefs because those I meet in my travels, are acquaintances not my friends!

Happy Travels!

Posted by
779 posts

I try to never talk politics with people who do not share my views - unless I think they are wishy-washy on their views and then I pummel them with my views!

I definitely never bring up the subject of politics with my husband - because we have polar opposite politial views, and since he is dead set in his - why bother tormenting myself. He on occassion gets in my face with his politics - but then he sleeps in the doghouse for several days and things return back to normal (ha ha). If Maria & Arnold can keep their marriage intact, so can we.

I did find the "Godwin Rule" very interesting. I had never heard of it; and now I am sure my husband has used that on me!

Posted by
586 posts

Guess I started this thread, but confess to being surprised at the direction it's taken. Am I alone in viewing "politics" as the competition among viewpoints and philosophies for the privilege of setting the agenda and pursuing policies one thinks are right? And in respecting--and not at all being angry or disappointed in--those who have the courage to risk a measure of business loyalty to state, openly, their political views? Even when I disagree vehemently with someone, if I think they're being candid and speaking from good intentions, I'm good with it. Have we really lost the ability to respect someone who disagrees with us, or who feels compelled--by ethics, religion, morality, whatever--to share their political point-of-view with us? And in this case, I agree that this point-of-view is in perfect harmony with the Europe through the Back Door travel concept. I think anyone who actually takes a few hours to read this book will find it intelligent, honest, and anything but political propadanda. I only ask that all read first, and comment later.

Posted by
10344 posts

Gio: You mean one has to read a book, before commenting on it?! That's so boring and tedious. Whatever happened to the good ol' philosophy of: don't confuse me with the FAQ's--I mean--facts?

Posted by
586 posts

As usual, Kent manages to say in a few ironic words what it takes me a few paragraphs to try to communicate.

Posted by
12154 posts

Okay maybe vonBrunn is too extreme of an example.

Let's say instead that Rush Limbaugh writes a travel guide that gets great reviews but he includes his conservative political commentary in his work.

For example, rather than talk up free health care in Germany, he points out how German doctors can go months each year without pay when the system runs out of money.

Again, the same question. Is it okay for Limbaugh to mix politics and travel writing, and is it okay for consumers to walk away from the product because they don't want the politics? My answer is yes to both questions.

Posted by
23 posts

Brad - the difference is that people would expect Rush to have political commentary in whatever he writes. Most people realize that and have the choice to take it or leave it. I think some celebrities hit us over the head with their politics - but all we really want them to do is to entertain us, because that it what their job is.

Posted by
408 posts

I just returned from three weeks in France and Belgium and the only part of my vacation that I did not care for was the other tourist ( other than American) that I met talked about American politics. I don't mind friendly conversations, but many were rude. I don't push my political views on anyone because that is what makes America so great. We all get to have our own political views. I love Rick Steves ways of travel and his tour company but I don't care for his politics.

Posted by
5678 posts

"politics" as the competition among viewpoints and philosophies for the privilege of setting the agenda and pursuing policies one thinks are right? And in respecting--and not at all being angry or disappointed in--those who have the courage to risk a measure of business loyalty to state, openly, their political views?

Definititions are so helpful! This is interesting to read. I spent the spring marketing a college level critical thinking book and one of the things that I learned is many, perhaps most, college freshman don't know how to read and think crtically. They don't have the skills to recognize a fallacy such as the strawman arguement. They don't know how to construct and arguement and support it with evidence and how to deconstruct and argument and show where the evidence is lacking. So, if we can't do this, then the competition for the view points degenerates and hardens into postitions on the left and right and we don't get enlightened solutions.

Travel is about many things, but seeing how other countries do things and the arguement for and against those solutions expands our understanding. And, if we bring that understanding to our local discussions then our travel was a political act. Pam

Posted by
582 posts

Pam, you hit the nail right on the head! Well said, Thank you!
"Travel is about many things, but seeing how other countries do things and the arguement for and against those solutions expands our understanding. And, if we bring that understanding to our local discussions then our travel was a political act. Pam"

Posted by
2030 posts

I totally agree with Rick's travel philosophy and politics and as far as I'm concerned he can express them as freely as he wants -- it won't turn me off!

Posted by
586 posts

I do think that independent-minded analysts across the globe, not just liberals, acknowledge religious fundamentalism (ALL religious fundamentalism, regardless of the faith) as a threat to freedom everywhere. Clearly this impacts travel in countless ways, from airport security measures and baggage regulations and appropriate social behaviors expected on-the-ground in various nations, to holiday closings and special events, crime, and the nature of the artistic expression tolerated. It seems impossible to ignore the reality that fear of others--different nations, different religions, different races--is often used politically to mobilize a segment of the population to rally support for demagogues, in all nations, including our own (extremists on both the right AND left do this, don't they?). Anyone who travels at least in part to learn about and experience other cultures--how are they different and similar from you own?--finds this relevant, I think.

Posted by
2788 posts

Webmaster - enough of this type of posting - this is suppose to be a question and answer site of people to ask questions about traveling to and in Europe. DELETE this thread.

Posted by
576 posts

Webmaster, I hope you do not delete this. I find this discussion fascinating and informative. Learning more about the world in which we love to travel should not be threatening. I am not angered by diverse opinions. I guess world peace is impossible if people can't even express opinions on a travel website without attacking one another. We are fortunate to have some very articulate, well informed writers on this site and I appreciate their insights.

Posted by
83 posts

As I stated in a previous post on this subject, I do not disagree with ALL of Ricks viewpoints, though I most definitely disagree with some of them. Thats fine, we don't need to agree all the time, in fact I try to look at different opinions as a positive thing. My problem with Rick is basically comes down to three issues:

I believe as he has gotten more popular and successful, his head has swollen a bit and he seems to think that ALL his opinions are the RIGHT opinions.

He is quick to criticize but offers no solutions himself as to how HE would handle a particular situation (criticizing is easy, coming up with answers isn't so easy is it?).

And lastly, after "ramming" his opinion down everyones throat, he is strangely quiet when one "calls him on it" so to speak. In other words if your going to knock something you should be prepared to back up your viewpoint if someone asks you to do so.

Posted by
4555 posts

"Ramming his opinion down everyone's throats?" Hmmmm...I don't recall anyone forcing Steve or anyone else to read his book. If you don't like the content, don't read it! And if you don't spot the solutions he offers, then you're not reading the book closely enough....or perhaps just letting yourself be blinded by his "liberal" bias.

Posted by
83 posts

Actually Norm, I wasn't only refering to his book. As far as his "liberal" bias as you put it, well, you said it, not me. Rick has himself said (you asked me to read the book more carefully? Then I ask you to listen to his shows more carefully and you can spot it) often enough, "there are no easy answers" to a number of questions. That is not an answer as far as I'm concerned. I want to know how HE would handle a particular situation.

Posted by
3551 posts

I won't be reading RS's new book ".... Political Act". He certainly however is entitled to writing and doing how he feels. I went to a presentation he gave 1.5 yrs ago which weaved travel, politics and his liberal opinions. Parts were entertaining and of course delivered beautifully but as a good customer of his I just wasn't sure if it worked well with his travel business.
I went away wondering if he was thinking of a different job in his future perhaps in Wash. DC.

Posted by
347 posts

Gio...after reading through most of this, I think that you and I agree more than disagree (especially after you clarified your use of "enlightened."

The one difference I perceive (though others may not) between Rick Steves and other celebrities and their political pontificating is that 1) RIck Steves is doing it in a book and on his website - not at an Oscar speech or other such event where people aren't tuning in to hear politics (hence his GUIDEbooks aren't full of politics), and 2)He seems (to me) to be much more educated on the topics he chooses to speak about (due to his travel and the nature of his work).

When it comes to most celebrities I get annoyed b/c (at least by appearance) they seem to live in a candy-coated world where they don't have to actually live with the decisions they want to make for others. Rick does not seem to live in that kind of world and I know that he has actually been somewhere else in this world where he wasn't staying in the 5 star resorts and being waited on hand and foot.

But in the end, yes travel is a political act...even when you'd rather not think about it.

Posted by
586 posts

Could not agree more, Carey. Very nicely stated. I do think, however, based on this thread, that many define "politics" as partisanship, only, and think of particular candidates and domestic political battles (often bitter ones)...and thus are not comfortable acknowledging that engaging in European travel constitutes any type of political act or statement, no matter how small (i.e., acknowledging the value of other cultures or the pleasure in visiting other nations, despite the richness of America's own cultural and geographic landscape). I'm beginning to think it's a semantic debate, in the end, and that the negative connotations of the word "politics" over the past 35-40 years is the issue. Having read Rick's latest book (about 20 pages to go, actually), I find it thought-provoking, but not at all a political polemic.

Posted by
4555 posts

Steve....yes, I did say "liberal" bias....I'm not sure of the point you were trying to make with that. And yes, read the book more closely for solutions. They may not all be obvious, but they are there. And I think his main point is to ask for discussion on the issues he sees...and to encourage people to see it in shades other than black or white, right or wrong. As I said earlier, no one forces anyone to read his books (or listen to his presentations or watch his shows on PBS). And I would hope he thinks his opinions are the right ones....anyone who doesn't think their opinions are correct doesn't have the courage of their convictions. We seem to allow all sorts of political "commentators" get away with outrageous statements, many of them based on incorrect premises. Surely we should allow Rick the right to voice his own opinions.