Far-right conservatives have often accused President Barack Obama of "apologizing for America." They are going to have a field day with this one.
Obama twice called Americans "lazy" Wednesday during a Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) town hall at Souphanouvong University in Laos during his ongoing visit to Asia. The comments are sure to irk conservatives who have previously claimed Obama is being unpatriotic when he criticizes Americans while overseas or at home.
"You know I believe that the United States is and can be a great force for good in the world but because we are such a big country we haven't always had to know about other parts of the world," Obama said. "If you are in Laos you need to know about Thailand and China and Cambodia because you are a small country and they are right next door and you need to know who they are. If you are in the United States, sometimes you can feel lazy and think, 'You know we are so big we don't have to really know anything about other people.'"
The president again threw out the "lazy" label when describing an overall lack of urgency in Americans' attitudes toward climate change and the environment.
"Usually, if you see the environment destroyed, it's not because that's necessary for development," Obama said. "It's usually because we are being lazy, and we're not being as creative as we could be about how to do it in the smarter, sustainable way."
Obama's critics argue that when he alludes to or acknowledges mistakes made by the U.S. while abroad, he weakens the country's standing in the world. He has also faced backlash for criticizing Americans from within the country's borders, such as when he warned of Islamaphobia in the wake of the Orlando night club mass shooting in Jun. Critics at the time argued that the warning amounted to a lecture to Americans when his anger should have been directed at terrorists.
But when it comes to American's alleged ignorance about other corners of the world, there is data to back up Obama's claim. A 2002 survey by National Geographic found the U.S. was second to last in global literacy among the 10 North American and European countries surveyed. The survey found that only one in seven Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 can correctly identify Iraq and Afghanistan on a map.
Even Gary Johnson, the presidential nominee from the Libertarian party, appeared to draw a blank on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" Thursday morning when asked what he might do about Aleppo, the most populous city in Syria and a key position in that country's ongoing civil war.
"What is Aleppo," Johnson asked in response, before being filled in by the show's hosts.