See, we're into self-criticism

Except for the blame-America-first crowd, most citizens of the US probably think of their country as a pretty terrific place. That isn't, apparently, a tendency shared by many of the Dutch where their homeland is concerned. How so, you ask? Well, consider the results of a survey that appeared last weekend in the Amsterdam newspaper De Telegraaf. It revealed that a majority of respondents had voted themselves the third most ill-mannered and loutish people in Europe. Only Russia and France scored higher. Said one of those polled: "As we are too many ... living in just a little country, our tolerance of one another is continuously declining." Another sought to explain the trait thus: "The Dutch are very direct in the way they communicate. Sometimes, that's considered the same as being bad- mannered." OK, then, if their opinion of themselves is so low, who did the respondents think are the Continent's politest people? That distinction went to the Swiss, with – collectively – the Scandinavians coming in second and the Belgians third. No word on where the British, Germans, Italians, or any of the other Europeans finished in the voting.

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