Two points. First things look much different in New York City and New England than, say, south of the Mason-Dixon line, the Bible Belt, or (still wild) West.
Second is the optical illusion created by status symbols, such as access to technology or education. In the most of the world, when you meet educated folks with middle class status - you generally get a certain class, secularism, intellectual curiosity (if not openness) and worldliness. But this can be very misleading in the US - many folks who on surface look like Western European middle class often turn out to be philistines, self-righteous bigots, and utter ignoramuses.
This is particularly true about US males - oftentimes you see a suit an a tie but hear an uneducated, gun-toting redneck. That is a culture shock that enhances the image of the US society as a philistine society. People tend to discount such behavior when observed among underclass, but they take it for the face value and are shocked when they see in people who seeminly should have known better.