to think America is not the greatest country in the world

(194 Posts)
Phacelia Wed 05-Dec-12 16:44:41

I keep reading on blogs, in blog comments, on news pages, on fora, everywhere, about how America is the greatest country in the world. As in 'I can't believe this could happen here in America, we're supposed to be the greatest country in the world,' or 'I'm totally against this, we're the greatest country in the world.'

It utterly pisses me off.

I do think America is a great country. There are many fantastic, wonderful things about it and the times I've visited I've found a lot to like and met some wonderful people. But I think it is extraordinarily arrogant that so many Americans spout such nonsense online. I've never seen people of other nationalities write such garbage. I can't understand why I find it so inflammatory, except that I think it's ignorant (all countries have many great aspects to them, lots of people would hate to live in America, despite it's positive attributes, lots of people have died at the hands of Americans over the past 50 years, in terrible ways, and I wonder how their families/friends must feel reading stuff like that, plus I thought that America had gained some humility after 9/11 and realised that lots of people in fact dislike their government for very good reasons).

To be fair it usually seems to be right wing/Republican (often very religious) people who say it. (maybe I'm just more pissed that such people exist, with their homophobia, anti-abortion crap and religious fundamentalism which I think does such damage) I know lots of Americans wouldn't dare say something like that. But still, AIBU to think that it's unbelievably tacky and arrogant to write things like that online and that it isn't true? The latest version I've seen is on a blog about the UN disability rights treaty, which has been rejected with some commenters on blogs saying 'why does the greatest country in the world need other people telling us what to do? This treaty will lead to the government rounding up disabled people and exterminating them, blah, blah, blah.'

/end rant.

forbiddenfruit85 Wed 05-Dec-12 16:48:35

YANBU.

Yes America is a great country. But no its not the best country in the world, but don't tell an American that.

I dated an American and was constantly told about how great their country is compared to ours blah blah blah.

They are educated to think this.

quesadilla Wed 05-Dec-12 16:50:59

I'm with you... I love America, I lived there for two years. I love the optimism, the innovation, the fact that they get on with things and don't moan. I like the landscape, the culture, pretty much everything. Love the people (except the comedy Americans).

The one thing that really lets it down for me is the fact that they genuinely can't understand that not every other living soul on the planet is desperate to be American.

Its part of their philosophy though: this whole "shining city on the hill" thing. Its as much a part of who they are as our need to be miserable and self-effacing. Their problem is that its always been bullshit that everyone else wants to be American and is becoming more bullshit with every passing month as America ceases to be the world power that it was and is overtaken by places like China. Which leaves them with a major self-image problem as they're not equipped to deal with failure or the lack of other people's adulation....

Feminine Wed 05-Dec-12 16:51:11

I lived there 7 yrs.

Many Americans are brainwashed in to thinking they are .

Its like anywhere else really.

My DH is American, he isn't that fond-he prefers Brasil.

SantaWearsGreen Wed 05-Dec-12 16:51:43

Yanbu.

Its far, far from it.. We shall witness its fall from grace before long.

KitchenandJumble Wed 05-Dec-12 16:52:41

YANBU. I'm American, and I absolutely cringe whenever I hear someone say this. Not surprisingly, during the election campaign this idea was repeated over and over (by both sides, alas).

I also loathe it whenever anyone calls the US President "the leader of the free world." Er, no. He's the leader of one (albeit big, important) country, that's all.

NatashaBee Wed 05-Dec-12 16:53:40

It's amazing that Americans actually think they have any basis for comparison since they rarely seem to venture outside of America to see what the rest of the world is like. The furthest any of my work colleagues go on holiday is Hawaii - I can't think of anyone ever telling me they were planning a foreign holiday.

I can certainly see many positives to living here, but things like their health system just still seem inconceivable to me.

Paiviaso Wed 05-Dec-12 16:57:20

YANBU

But really, I think it is very ingrained in them growing up. It may just be something a lot of them regurgitate without really thinking about.

OutragedAtThePriceOfFreddos Wed 05-Dec-12 17:01:28

There isn't a 'best' country, they are too different and what people think of as great differs.

I think it's quite funny the way so many Americans think their country is God's gift to the world. I read things like those you talk about in the OP and want to smile and pat them on the head, in the same kind of way you do when a small child proudly shows you the scab on their knee.

Alisvolatpropiis Wed 05-Dec-12 17:02:41

YANBU

GingerPCatt Wed 05-Dec-12 17:08:53

I'm American and YNBU. Most American never travel outside of the US and most news media only covers the US so your average american doesn't really know much about other countries.

Mominatrix Wed 05-Dec-12 17:13:40

Not quite sure what the point of this is. There is no greatest country in the world, despite what xenophobes throughout the world think.

Phacelia Wed 05-Dec-12 17:15:10

What the point of the post is? Or Americans thinking they're the greatest in the world?

Thank you to the people who say I'm NBU. I've come across this statement so many times in the last few months and have wondered if anyone else gets irked by it. I do think it's a problem in terms of how the US is perceived in the world. How are you going to do anything other than rile other nationalities if you go around saying things like that?

AllSnowballsAndNoKnickers Wed 05-Dec-12 17:17:46

Well I've got far better things to be irrationally irked about - that's for sure. And if I ever found this notion keeping me up at night I'd have a nice quiet think, realise that this is an AMERICAN opinion, remember that they are raised to believe this, shrug and move on.
So I suppose what I'm saying is YABU and should probably find something a little more meaningful to get aerated about.

XiaoxiongMerrilyOnHigh Wed 05-Dec-12 17:18:03

American exceptionalism is instilled into you in the most insidious fashion if you grow up in the US. It's part of our national mythology (I think de Toqueville first remarked upon the US cult of exceptionalism) but that doesn't mean that everyone really actually believes it in full. Many do, many don't.

Just before the election there was a good article in the NY Times called "The Opiate of Exceptionalism" that is worth a read.

It is more of a problem on the right but the left, particularly politicians on the left, certainly suffer from this tendency too: for example I always hate it when Obama says that America was the only country in the world where "his story is even possible".

SucksToBeMe Wed 05-Dec-12 17:18:44

YASOOOOBU!!!

I love America with a passion!! The people are lovely,such a wide range of religions, foods and cultures. My grandad was Californian. It has a dark underbelly but over all it is one of the best places to be! Great place to holiday too. I would emigrate there in a split second if they'd have me, which they won't sad

forbiddenfruit85 Wed 05-Dec-12 17:26:03

SucksToBeMe no one here is disputing that America isn't a great country.

Rather it isn't the greatest.

I'm no expert but you should be able to qualify as an American citizen through your grandfather. So I'm unsure why you are unable to.

Phacelia Wed 05-Dec-12 17:29:35

"So I suppose what I'm saying is YABU and should probably find something a little more meaningful to get aerated about"

Sometimes it's good to step away from serious ishoos. Fear not, I'm completely able to manage to be irked by several things at once. And please don't worry that this is keeping me up at night. That would be bizarre.

MrsSnow Wed 05-Dec-12 17:29:39

YANBU

Isn't it something like 50 or 60% of Americans haven't ever been out of the country so even if it was the greatest, how would they know? Never was a sentence so true: travel broadens the mind!

KitchenandJumble Wed 05-Dec-12 17:36:47

forbiddenfruit85, I don't think you can obtain US citizenship through a grandparent as an adult. I think children under 18 can sometimes obtain citizenship this way.

amicissimma Wed 05-Dec-12 17:42:22

Mumsnet was started in Britain.

Need I say more?

MissCellania Wed 05-Dec-12 17:43:38

If anyone watched the Newsroom...the lead is asked at a college Q&A why America is the greatest country in the world, and he's supposed to say something like freedom and democracy, and instead he loses it and rants about why its not, including this bit:

One of ‘em is there’s absolutely no evidence to support the statement that we’re the greatest country in the world. We’re 7th in literacy, 27th in math, 22nd in science, 49th in life expectancy, 178th in infant mortality, 3rd in median household income, number 4 in labor force and number 4 in exports. We lead the world in only three categories: number of incarcerated citizens per capita, number of adults who believe angels are real and defence spending, where we spend more than the next 26 countries combined, 25 of whom are allies. Now, none of this is the fault of a 20-year-old college student, but you, nonetheless, are, without a doubt, a member of the worst period generation period ever period, so when you ask what makes us the greatest country in the world, I don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about! Yosemite?!

Tabliope Wed 05-Dec-12 17:45:28

YANBU. I've had some great holidays in America but it makes me roll my eyes whenever Americans say it - e.g. Obama during elections. It's childish. Like a child in a playground saying "my daddy's better than your daddy". Hate "God bless America" too. Agree with everything KitchenandJumble said and GingerPCatt. I'm really surprised though that most Americans can't appreciate how they sound when they say that - smug and arrogant. Lastly, America did not invent apple pie. Wish they'd all wake up to that. I'm sure the Pilgrims took the recipe from the UK smile

designerbaby Wed 05-Dec-12 17:47:38

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1zqOYBabXmA

^^ This.

designerbaby Wed 05-Dec-12 17:48:23

the newsroom opening scene

^^ This.

Sorry. Link fail.

TerrariaMum Wed 05-Dec-12 17:50:26

I think 'the greatest country in the world' is a personal thing. For example, I'm American but I emigrated(pedants, is that right? You emigrate from somewhere and immigrate to somewhere?) from there to the UK. Obviously, I don't think the States is the greatest country in the world. I don't think the UK is the greatest country in the world either, but I do think that it is the greatest country in the world for me. I've never been so happy as I have been living here.

So maybe some Americans who say that feel the way I do about the UK. Does that make any sense?

Phacelia Wed 05-Dec-12 17:51:13

MissCellania, love it! And it's so true.

SucksToBeMe Wed 05-Dec-12 17:54:57

forbidden We had searched for my grandfather for 20+ years, eventually we found a ex FBI Private investigator who found him in March 09, unfortunately he had passed away in February 09. Which meant we were unable to apply for citizenship. But I do agree with the essence of this thread, they can be a bit <ahem> entitled. grin

They are indoctrinated with it from such a young age, I don't even think they realise that there might be another point of view. I remember living in Amsterdam and a young American guy was literally speechless at the new (for him) thought that we might quite like being English, or Dutch, or Canadian, or whatever!

I've heard the theory that it comes from the way America was founded - people escaping from religious persecution, lack of freedom and abject poverty for "a better life", able to set up a republic at a time when there were no (few?) others, giving the common man let's ignore the woman thing the ability to consent to be governed, rather than ruled over by a king or queen, and propogating the revolutionary idea at the time that all men are created equal, that they are endowed "with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Very different to other countries at the time - very different to certain countries now - and I can see how those ideals could have propogated the idea that America is the Greatest.

GreenEggsAndNichts Wed 05-Dec-12 18:00:28

The more I travel and live abroad, the more I realise the USA is pretty great, but it also has massive failings, as well. I'd never claim that it was the best country in the world. It's alright, though. My German DH is very open to us moving there. The topic comes up every time we visit my family. smile But then it's tempered when he sees/hears some of the stuff the Tea Party types spew forth.

I can't blame politicians who say it, though. It's a game they have to play. There's no way Obama could get away with not saying it, with his political opponents being so fervently pro-USA. He's spent years with them breathing down his neck about his birth certificate hmm and his religion hmm that for him to not say it would probably be notable. I think he's been under more pressure than previous presidents to do so, actually, because of those reasons. (not that I want to hijack the thread with boring politics!)

EverlongLovesHerChristmasRobin Wed 05-Dec-12 18:03:31

There's no best country.

America is pretty close though imho obv.

MissCellania Wed 05-Dec-12 18:05:41

The first settlers weren't escaping religious persecution at all, thats another American myth. The pilgrims were escaping not being able to persecute others! They were separatists, some of who were convicted of treason.

thebody Wed 05-Dec-12 18:06:22

No country has the holy grail.

All have good and bad.

TheCrackFox Wed 05-Dec-12 18:22:01

YANBU

I worked there for 6 months and had a great time and found that pretty much all people there are lovely. However, they are brainwashed from birth that there country is the greatest and everyone must be desperate to emigrate there.

designerbaby Wed 05-Dec-12 18:22:21

But also, if I'm honest, I secretly think the UK is the greatest country in the world. (Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary...).

Difference is, I wouldn't go around saying it out loud.

But that's because I'm British. And it's another thing which makes us the greatest country in the world. The fact that we'd never say so...

DH isn't British, and would quite like to live in the states – or anywhere else generally. He is beginning to realise it would take something quite drastic for that to happen. He had no idea how wedded I am to the uk.

Which is where my point above becomes a bit of a problem.

He also didn't realise that while I, as a Brit, am allowed to slag of the UK to my hearts content, he, as a non Brit, isn't.

grin

db
xx

<Waves Union Jack while singing Jerusalem...>

CheerfulYank Wed 05-Dec-12 18:26:44

YANBU I suppose. I'm American and I adore it, and wouldn't want to live anywhere else, though I'd really like to travel.

But I don't think there really is a "greatest country". Sweden, etc, are touted as the best places to live, but then I read things and think "Oh no, wouldn't want to live there!" Different strokes and all.

expatinscotland Wed 05-Dec-12 18:27:22

This is all you have to be pissed off at in life? Get a grip.

GreenEggsAndNichts Wed 05-Dec-12 18:29:07

Yes but, as Americans, we're meant to be loud and blustery, just as you're meant to be reserved. grin I don't think I could pull of a "it's the best country in the world" with a straight face, but I've been known to bandy about an ironic "USA USA USA" just to wind people up.

It grates because it's a big country and dominates so much of world politics, economics, etc. If Danish people were going around saying Denmark is the best country in the world (which they totally do grin You just can't understand them) people wouldn't be as bothered.

As a finishing touch, god created the Dutch.

etc.

Every country does it. It's just that we're so damned loud about it.

GreenEggsAndNichts Wed 05-Dec-12 18:29:39

don't think I could pull off , sigh.

IslaValargeone Wed 05-Dec-12 18:31:13

I think it's great that they have such a pride and a feeling of positivity and belonging about their country.
You don't really get that here, we maybe had it during the Olympics but it's never ongoing.

XiaoxiongMerrilyOnHigh Wed 05-Dec-12 18:36:04

MissCellania not a complete myth - depends if you're talking about separating Puritans like William Brewster or non-separating Puritans like John Winthrop wink

GreenEggs totally agree about the politics driving this. Unfortunately it also means that real problems are not grappled with because acknowledging that maybe someone else does something better goes against the exceptionalism claim.

The irony is when you get into state exceptionalism. My dad works with a US senator from Montana. He is a Montana exceptionalist and really seems to genuinely believe Montana is the best state in the union by every possible measure confused And don't get my cousins New Yorkers started...you'd think the world ends somewhere west of Jersey and east of the North Fork.

MissCellania Wed 05-Dec-12 18:36:45

I don't mind the greatest country in the world stuff much, its patriotic and what have you, but the "leader of the free world" schtick is just arrogant and patronising. Really grates.

CheerfulYank Wed 05-Dec-12 18:37:28

That senator is ridiculous Xiao...everyone knows it's Minnesota. grin

Phacelia Wed 05-Dec-12 18:37:42

Now where on earth did I say that Expat? I cannot see a single place on this thread where I've written that this is all I have to be pissed off about. Can one not have an online conversation about something which irritates one without a)being told to get a grip and b)people assuming it's a major issue in one's life? The mind boggles.

I am merely commenting on something which has riled/interested me, that's all. And it's been interesting to read the responses.

Back to the thread, I remember Zadie Smith wrote the most erudite piece on just this subject, wish I could find it online.

XiaoxiongMerrilyOnHigh Wed 05-Dec-12 18:43:55

Isla I think the point is that the claims of exceptionalism are the ugly flipside of that positivity. It's hard to be relentlessly positive about your country and everything in it, and also be able to honestly assess real problems and fix them.

The UK has the opposite problem - the culture of national whinging means that when there are things that really are good and worth celebrating, they're not always recognised as such and replicated around the country. And unfortunately the myth of things being broken/creaking at the seams/a bit crap means that zealous well meaning people and politicians tinker and reorganise and revamp and relaunch things (read: the NHS, school governance, GCSE marking, the planning system etc etc) that may have been working pretty well beforehand and didn't really need significant changes.

(As a dual citizen I feel able to opine on both sides of the pond!)

IslaValargeone Wed 05-Dec-12 18:49:02

Yes, I am sure you are right Xiaoxiong.

Phacelia Wed 05-Dec-12 18:50:48

I found it! Article

In the last paragraph she writes, 'I even hope that he will find himself in agreement with George Bernard Shaw when he declared, “Patriotism is, fundamentally, a conviction that a particular country is the best in the world because you were born in it.” But that may be an audacious hope too far. We’ll see if Obama’s lifelong vocal flexibility will enable him to say proudly with one voice “I love my country” while saying with another voice “It is a country, like other countries.” I hope so' It's a long article but beautifully written so well worth a read, although it's strange going back to when Obama had just got in.

Xiao, I think we could be more confident in our positive attributes sometimes. But I find it endearing that we're so down on ourselves in that I think it drives us as a country to improve things. But give me a dose of that sunny 'we're great' attitude the Americans have just ever so occasionally (like at the Olympics) and I'm happy.

claraschu Wed 05-Dec-12 18:52:11

This is bizarre.

I am American, living in England. I know quite a few Americans who tell people in Europe they are Canadian, because they are embarrassed to be American, and are convinced that all Europeans are repulsed by Americans.

My children, with their mid-Atlantic accents, find that Americans love them because they think they are English. Meanwhile, English people sneer at them because they think they are American.

In my experience, Americans are VERY impressed and excited by English people, and English people think Americans are stupid and overweight. The people I know who feel the most superior tend to be French.

Phacelia Wed 05-Dec-12 18:58:12

"The people I know who feel the most superior tend to be French" That made me grin

Every time I've travelled to the States I have found (most)Americans to be incredibly warm and nurturing. I've met my fair share of stereotypical American tourists outside of the States too though.

I did have one experience (back when Iraq was about to be invaded) of staying in a hostel where an American and Canadian had a huge row about how he should be ashamed to admit to being American which was pretty embarrassing to watch; there was some major anti-Americanism floating around at the time. Thankfully it seems to have calmed down (I think in large part when Obama came to power). Tea Party/Republican people in general scare the bejeesus out of me though.

Angelico Wed 05-Dec-12 18:58:17

YANBU at all. DH and I have had this conversation recently because he has family in USA. It is REALLY tough being poor there - the safety net is short term and has gaping holes in it if you hit tough times. And the whole medical insurance thing is horrendous. I genuinely can't understand how Americans don't get how amazing free healthcare is, that EVERYONE has access to healthcare for as long as they need it. And of course people can still pay and go private if they want. I just watched Americans ranting against universal healthcare and thought, "How could you be so brainwashed?" sad

hackmum Wed 05-Dec-12 18:58:36

YA so NBU!

Everyone knows that the best country in the world is Denmark.

Pendeen Wed 05-Dec-12 19:00:15

Never been there but used to work in an hotel in Cornwall and met lots of American tourists.

In the main they were lovely people but absolutely convinced that the rest of the world were inferior, poor and desperate to live in the US.

(Most of them were also rather, erm... large, but I suppose I shouldn't mention that)

germyrabbit Wed 05-Dec-12 19:00:49

of course it has it's good and bad points like all countries, can do without americans getting all offended when someone mentions something detrimental to the states though

(happened to me in rl, like i'd offended her uncle or something)

PolkadotCircus Wed 05-Dec-12 19:07:57

Hmmm I think it has it's faults but I do think it's a pretty amazing country-stunningly beautiful,diverse and with an impressive history.I love the attitude of it's people too.

If they sorted out their health system and had a bit more of an interest in the rest of the world it wouldn't be far off being the greatest imvho.

GreenEggsAndNichts Wed 05-Dec-12 19:08:19

Oh the Canadian/ American argument you mention rings true to me. I've lived overseas since early in the Bush years, and I've never claimed to not be American. I would argue with anyone who told me I should. grin Stating that I am American does not automatically mean I agree with all of our political policies. It just means that.. I'm American. hmm And I've heard far too many stories of people claiming to be Canadian but then not being able to answer the simplest question about the country. sigh.

hackmum did you read my previous post? grin

Vagndidit Wed 05-Dec-12 19:17:37

Americans are "indoctrinated" to believe they are the biggest and best at everything just as much as the British are characterized as being miserable moaners, complaining about everything from government to weather or health care. It's a stereotype and simply does not represent the majority.

Perhaps you're just confusing arrogance with optimism. grin

AmericanItBritain04 Wed 05-Dec-12 19:17:51

YAB a bit U. It is true that most Americans love their country. Perfectly reasonable for you not to think that America is the greatest country in the world, but why should it bother you that Americans think that? Which country is best is such a subjective issue and everyone, including Americans, is entitled to their opinion on it.

I think many Brits actually think Britain is best but would never say so because that would be considered putting on airs, which is distinctively un-British.

I've lived in the UK for 8 years now and appreciate many aspects of life/culture here - for example, paid maternity leave, walking to the 'shops' and pedestrian/bike friendly town centres and retail parks, etc. Even the NHS! But America is pretty great too. It is a beautiful country - if you haven't travelled across it, it would be difficult to grasp the diversity of land, culture and people, beautiful desserts, mountains, oceansides, forests, rivers/lakes, islands, immigrant communities from all over the world, African-Americans, great food from all over the world, could go on and on. And ultimately, 'the American Dream' that anyone can do/be anything if they work hard. This is certainly not a concept that can be applied in Britain.

I used to live with Germans, and they could not understand the concept of patriotism. It was such a foreign concept to them that one would love the country they are from. Americans tend to love Britain when they visit. Actually, they tend to love any country they visit. The fact that they think America is best doesn't mean they look down on other countries. (This may seem strange to Brits, who in my opinion do like to look down on others, be it neighboring countries or next door neighbors). And like clarschu said, I agree the French seem to feel the most superior.

FromEsme Wed 05-Dec-12 19:20:31

The IDEA behind America is great. One country, equality for everyone, background doesn't matter, work hard and you can achieve etc...

In practice, it doesn't quite work, though.

kennyp Wed 05-Dec-12 19:21:48

i would live there for the sandwiches and the chance of bumping into adam richman. i lived there for a bit but on an ex pat thing so have no experience of what it's reallllllllllllllllllly like to live there.

PolkadotCircus Wed 05-Dec-12 19:23:03

American sigh you're making me even more desperate to do our East to West coast road trip right across.Ds 9 is desperate has drawn it out on his USA map-by the time we've saved up he'll be wanting to do it with his girlfriend.sad

Agree re the French, literally everywhere we took my French pen friend all we got was "zis is not as good as Versaille".

FreudiansSlipper Wed 05-Dec-12 19:24:01

when in america and you are watching the news (not bbc) you can understand why many americans think this way

its a country of excess that we do not have here to such extremes

hackmum Wed 05-Dec-12 19:26:45

The USA is the only Western democracy that still has the death penalty.

It has an extremely high murder rate - many many times higher than that of the UK.

If you read Injustice by Clive Stafford Smith, you'll find a good description of the shocking way the country's justice system operates, and the way it repeatedly fails innocent people.

Those alone are good reasons to conclude that it is not the greatest country in the world.

Vagndidit Wed 05-Dec-12 19:29:34

I Iam amused that so many non-Americans have this romanticized notion of driving across the U.S. Do you realize how loonnng of a journey that is? And just how much "nothing" there is between the two coasts?? (I grew up in the Midwest---why do you think I moved abroad??) wink

FromEsme Wed 05-Dec-12 19:30:08

A French woman once said to me "oh it is so funny, here in the UK the best bread you can buy is like the worst bread we have in France."

The funniest thing a French person ever said to me was "I think the stereotype of French people is that we are too polite." Everyone around us fell about laughing and she just didn't get it. I had to explain that, no, that's really not a stereotype most people would associate with the French.

Phacelia Wed 05-Dec-12 19:34:13

"I used to live with Germans, and they could not understand the concept of patriotism. It was such a foreign concept to them that one would love the country they are from."

I think as much as it's drummed into many Americans that they live in the greatest country on earth, a lot of shame and guilt is imbued by Germans via their education, because there is such an emphasis on never letting the Holocaust happen again. Which seems good in some ways, and not in others (why should someone of my generation feel any guilt at all, they had nothing to do with it?)

Re the American dream; I might be being naive, but I do think that many people, if they work hard in the UK, can achieve great things. I know there are still massive class issues, but all of my friends at Oxbridge, for example, were from state schools. And I think looking at America's poverty, the American dream doesn't quite apply in reality. But it's a lovely idea in theory, as FromEsme mentions.

'why should it bother you that Americans think that?' Hmm, not entirely sure! I think it's partly an emotional reaction, as in when you've heard it again and again it smacks a bit of someone in a school saying 'I'm better than you.' You start to feel a little like shouting back like an 8 year old 'that's not true!' and I guess I'm also so conscious, say, of the civilian casualities in Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. etc. that it feels inappropriate for people to be so confident of their supposed greatness. I think if lots of Danes said it, I wouldn't be nearly so bothered, I have to be honest.

I'd love to travel more in America, it does seem to have many stunningly beautiful places. (Dreams of Utah, Montana, California, New England in Autumn....)

FromEsme Wed 05-Dec-12 19:43:10

Yes, I lived in Germany for a few years and their actual hatred for their country was odd to me (I'm Scottish, we're v patriotic, but obv we have to go on about what an utter hole Scotland is as well.) I lived there during the World Cup 2006 and there were all these "Anti-Deutschers" - Germans who actively wanted Germany to lose the World Cup.

A lot of other Germans, though, said the World Cup in Germany was a real breakthrough for them, as it was the first time the flag had been flown so much without any shame.

Greensleeves Wed 05-Dec-12 19:44:40

Greatest country in the world??!?!

Surely nobody outside America really believes that.

drizzlecake Wed 05-Dec-12 19:49:55

Life is v comfortable for many in the US.
eg I drive through the rough part of town when I drive home from the supermarket in the UK. Never in your life do you enter the 'rough' areas (people have guns) in the US. It is v easy just to live in a closed community and visit (by car, no one walks anywhere) 'nice' places. Imo this is pretty boring but if that is what you are used to 'roughing' it on the London tube can be unpleasant for some Americans. Also they like what they like and if they can't get a Dr Peppers or blah blah salad it is the end of the world.
Thinking of what i have written they are in fact pretty brainwashed in some ways.

HOwever that is just some people, there are fair few who have travelled and rave about the countries they have visited and want to see more. But short leave allowances at work and the fact you always have a loooong flight to get to most places puts them off.

I think we are envious of their pride in their country. Huge stars and stripes hang over many gardens. Most americans ime are only second or third generation so that might feed the patriotism.

You can get 3 great britains and a wales into the area of Texas alone. It is big and very impressive countryside, but not as pretty as UK (or not the bits I've visited).

Greensleeves Wed 05-Dec-12 19:51:13

I'm not jealous of their patriotism. I think patriotism is mindless nonsense.

drizzlecake Wed 05-Dec-12 19:53:16

I mean the US is impressive country side, not just texas which is a bit boring.

ATouchOfStuffing Wed 05-Dec-12 19:58:34

I actually think I have begun to like America a lot more since they voted in Obama. He has allowed the world to see what previous administrations never did; that they are human. Bush exported the image of High School jocks Hi5-ing and chanting USA-USA! etc, but we have seen now how such a big country has it's own struggles. It feels a bit like the world, and America no doubt, have finally opened their eyes to their own poor. I think the ones who still see their Country as the greatest are usually the ones who don't want the health reform, Republican, religious and it would seem after Obama's re-election, in the minority. It seems a much more healthy attitude from my point of view anyway. I think Obama has done a great job of letting the world in, so we have more sympathy and awareness for USA.

OutragedAtThePriceOfFreddos Wed 05-Dec-12 20:04:12

I think you might have a point about Brits being slightly jealous of American patriotism.

I love America, but their patriotism does come across as very over the top and even disrespectful to other countries at times. But, what a lovely feeling that must be!? To enjoy feeling pride in your country no matter what and to know that pretty much everyone around you feels the same. It would be like being on the Mall on Jubilee weekend every day, and I think I could get used to that feeling quite easily.

I love America and Americans, I really do. I especially like meeting them in countries that are neither the USA or the UK, but I have noticed that in those situations it is much easier to talk about things that are going on in America rather than things that are going on in England, simply because in my experience, Americans don't tend to know much about what's going on in the world anywhere other than America. That doesn't stop my enjoying those encounters though.

I think the Brits and the Americans like each other a lot, and in equal measure. We think they are overweight, they think we have bad teeth, there is truth in both those opinions. But it doesn't stop people of both nationalities liking one another.

mummytime Wed 05-Dec-12 20:07:49

YANBU - the problem is why trying to convince an immigration guy that "no I will not over stay my visa" because "I actually want to go home again".

A lot of the US wasn't founded by Puritans, but by people wanting to get rich reasonably quick (southern states), some Catholics (Maryland), farmers wanting land; and lets not forget the huge number who didn't want to be there slaves/convicts.

cornflowers Wed 05-Dec-12 20:11:38

I really don't think the Americans have a monopoly on this, apart from within the English speaking world. Many other nations are equally deluded about their own importance patriotic. By way of example, take Norway. John Simpson summarised it best in retelling a joke (probably of Danish origin) about the Norwegians: Ask a Norwegian to write an essay about elephants and it will be titled, "Norway, beautiful Norway."

Greythorne Wed 05-Dec-12 20:12:37

Google 'manifest destiny'

ATouchOfStuffing Wed 05-Dec-12 20:15:40

I think there is a difference though between USA and other countries, because they are the most powerful (militarily I mean). I don't think people worry about Norway etc because they don't have a history of charging in with guns blazing, agent orange and nuclear weapons. I think if the world could see that USA was a little more educated on differences in the world, not just USA then we would all breathe a sigh of relief.

alcibiades Wed 05-Dec-12 20:19:08

I think there are a couple of other factors that could come into play. One is perhaps a kind of defensiveness, because the USA didn't have a very good track record in their treatment of Native Americans and African slaves (which was similar to the behaviour of the British/French/Dutch/Spanish/etc towards the inhabitants of our/their colonies) but America couldn't do what other countries did and just walk away and forget.

Another factor is that loyalty to the USA (and especially its flag) is quite pervasive. Various symbols that represent the USA are evident in many public buildings, and many people have the flag flying outside their homes. Also, there's the pledge of allegiance, which most state-school children recite every morning. And a lot of public events, especially some sports events, start with the singing of the Star-Spangled Banner. It's probably very difficult to avoid the "America is great", which can be so easily translated into "America is best".

There was an interesting thread here about the US elections which I think is worth reading. I learned a lot from that: www.mumsnet.com/Talk/politics/1552996-Can-someone-explain-to-me-in-simple-terms-USA-elections?msgid=34007624.

(I wanted to work in "manifest destiny", because I think that was a factor as well, but my essay-writing abilities are obviously not as good as they used to be. blush)

Greensleeves Wed 05-Dec-12 20:19:46

America is a large friendly dog in a very small room, and every time it wags its tail it knocks over a chair

cornflowers Wed 05-Dec-12 20:23:10

I think patriotism within China would undoubtedly rival that in the USA, and Chinese nationalism is apparently on the rise. It is worrying to contemplate the sort tensions that will arise within the next couple of decades when China is both economically and militarily equal to the U.S.

Greensleeves I love that description!

Has anyone else ever heard of the peaches and coconuts analogy? Something like, Americans are peaches, fuzzy and ripe and wearing all their sweetness and juiciness on the outside, but with a hard inner kernel that most people can't crack. Brits are the coconuts, hard and hairy and closed up tight on the outside, but once you can get through that hard outer shell, they are sweet and soft etc.

KitchenandJumble Wed 05-Dec-12 21:05:48

The word "brainwashing" has appeared several times on this thread. I wouldn't say that Americans are any more "brainwashed" than citizens of any other country, including the UK. Though the subjects about which our respective brains are washed may be different. wink It's always easier to recognise such things in other people and other cultures than it is to see them in ourselves.

As I wrote above, I really cringe at the "best country in the world" nonsense. But I don't think this line of thinking is unique to the US. I spend a good deal of time in Russia, and the same sort of intense patriotism is certainly present there.

SucksToBeMe Wed 05-Dec-12 21:38:11

Greensleeves I love that!

oohlaalaa Wed 05-Dec-12 21:41:38

Yanbu

NK493efc93X1277dd3d6d4 Wed 05-Dec-12 22:15:01

I think the American culture champions different values, always believing that biggest is best and has no concept of quality over quantity. My country/car/burger is bigger and therefore must be better....

CheerfulYank Wed 05-Dec-12 22:34:29

Drizzle I walk everywhere, I've never had a driver's license. smile

CaliforniaSucksSnowballs Thu 06-Dec-12 00:13:58

YANBU I'm still here, and the American dream is dead and gone.
The grass isn't greener here and most people live the same struggle as they do anywhere else, only amplified by lack of health care.
People here have it drummed into them from an early age in school that it is the greatest country on earth and everyone from everywhere want to come here and live here. This is helped along by the pledge of allegiance being recited by standing with their hand over their heart and facing the flag in their classroom every single day, and for the little ones it is followed by patriotic songs. Then they get down to the school work.

HansieMom Thu 06-Dec-12 00:27:40

I will reply to original post, not read any replies. Yes, I think America is the greatest country in the world, but I am American. People from any country likely think their country is the best. I am NOT Republican, Fundamentalist, anti gay or anti abortion.
So, you British people cherish your country, as we cherish ours. And come visit, we have numerous mountain ranges, many different weather systems going on at once, and people as varied as Amish, Cajuns, American Indians, ranchers, fishermen, wheat farmers, Southerners--it is great!

niceguy2 Thu 06-Dec-12 00:31:24

I love America. It certainly has it's share of problems though like every other country and it can't really claim the be the greatest as it's all relative.

One thing I do wish is that the UK would adopt some of their patriotism, their genuine respect for soldiers/emergency services and can-do attitude.

Over here we seem to be embarrassed to wave our flag, bitch & moan about our police and our default is to usually tell people why we can't/shouldn't do something.

MyNutcrackerSuiteAudrina Thu 06-Dec-12 00:56:51

One of the funniest blog posts I have ever read was from an American complaining about a proposed U.S passport depicting the smoking twin towers and a tear in the eye of an eagle:

"Do they not realise that some of us will leave America and will have to show this to actual people?"

grin

sashh Thu 06-Dec-12 02:32:16

we're supposed to be the greatest country in the world

So that's the USA and North Korea

monsterchild Thu 06-Dec-12 02:37:45

YANBU and I say this as an American, born and bred.

NaturallyGullible Thu 06-Dec-12 02:48:09

When we lived in the USA, my kids did a subject at school called "Social Studies" (basically history, geography and citizenship). I used to refer to it a Propaganda lessons.

SomersetONeil Thu 06-Dec-12 03:27:09

My Dad has been pen-friends with a Deep South republican for more than 50 years. For all that time, they have written back and forth to each other - but now, with the advent of email - I fear their half-decade friendship could actually falter.

It's much easier for them to drop a line to each other here and there, now that they don't have to rely in snail mail, and the 'niceties' that old-fashioned hand-written letters used to epitomise.

Now, they share thoughts back and forth - and their inherent left-wing vs right-wing leanings are a main topic of conversation.... I honestly think they are going to fall out spectacularly, and if the election campaign had gone on any longer, I think they would have.

Anyway... PF wrote to Dad recently about his son-in-law and how he and his band were in the Netherlands for some reason. The first piece they played at the first concert they gave, was The Star Spangled Banner. Apparently most of the crowd were quite vociferous in their condemnation of this. PF was absolutely, genuinely gob-smacked and shocked at this. He couldn't believe the rudeness of the audience, to not only not stand and put their hands on their hearts when the tune was played, but to actually in some instances walk out.

He - and the band itself - thought this was so unbelievably rude and provocative of the audience, as to be unfathomable.

I don't know too much about the Dutch psyche grin but suffice to say I believe they're not quite as, um, compliant as say, the British who might have sat politely through this, internally rolling their eyes at the arrogance of the Americans. The band could not believe the reaction.

I mean, it's not the greatest crime in the world by a long stretch, but man, does it epitomise a certain attitude. You just cannot imagine a band from another country going somewhere different and not choosing to play the host country's national anthem first - if indeed any national anthem has to be played at all! And then being utterly affronted and surprised by the reaction...

There's patriotism and then there's sheer arrogance.

On the flip side, I worked for an American company for over 5 years and spent a lot of time there - I made some life-long friends and met some of the friendliest, welcoming, warm people it's ever been my pleasure to meet. It's not all bad.

Cadmum Thu 06-Dec-12 05:14:26

Here are the main reasons that I do not consider the USA to be the best country on earth:

1. High C-section rates, low rates of natural childbirth.

2. Routine infant circumcision for boys.

3. High Infant mortality rate.

4. High Maternal Mortality rate (despite attempts to skew the results in their favour by NOT including all birth related deaths up to one year like other countries.)

4. Prison statistics. With only 4% of global population the US has a shocking 20% of incarcerated people. Some of those are children, some are not mentally sound and too many of them are minorities.

5. The right to bear arms that is taken to the extreme of automatic weapons used to protect property.

6. Foreign policy that involves forcing democracy on everyone by dropping bombs and killing anyone in their way.

Statistically, it simply isn't true. It is an expensive dream but not reality based on facts.

(I am Canadian living internationally so I often have to explain the difference between my country and our neighbours to the South so I admit to having overthought it at times.)

CheerfulYank Thu 06-Dec-12 06:23:06

I do think there are a lot of misconceptions about us though. We're not all what you see on TV...most of us aren't. And I think sometimes some things we do are misunderstood.

Though Somerset I have no idea why the band would do that! Madness!

AndABigBirdInaPearTree Thu 06-Dec-12 06:44:25

I think it is the grown up equivalent of thinking that your dog that you love so much is the very best dog in the whole wide world. When you are nine your dog is the world's greatest dog. Doesn't mean that you think other dogs have wonderful qualities too.

Many Americans are much more patriotic than Brits and are much more likely to celebrate the positives and be proud of what they have. I like that, I am a dual national who was brought up in Britain and I like being proud of my country and in America it is much more socially acceptable to be openly so.

Cadmum Thu 06-Dec-12 06:56:44

My phone was about to die so I posted rather hastily before adding that every US citizen we have met overseas has been lovely, generous and open-minded. I think some of the uber-nationalism fades when people venture to live abroad.

Dd2 is a US citizen (born in NYC) and shockingly nationalistic at 6. She adores the photo of her dad with Obama because she views him as her president. Dd1,on the other hand, has a photo of her six year-old-self with the Canadian PM of the day and she probably couldn't locate it s she was unphased even at the time.

HazleNutt Thu 06-Dec-12 07:10:58

YANBU. I mean it's an interesting country and yes, I think my own has some great qualities as well, only normal to be proud. But even people in Detroit were sure I was desperate to escape and stay there - at the time I was living in Switzerland confused

dolcelatte Thu 06-Dec-12 07:12:06

I hate to admit it, but the French perhaps have the best country in the world so perhaps they have something to be arrogant about. But I love the UK, even with its foibles. I think most Brits love their country - it's just that we the love seems more layered, more subtle sometimes, almost as a parent loves a child, you can see the imperfections but still love unconditionally.

Americans seem - and this is just my impression - more uncomplicated in their patriotism, perhaps because most of them don't travel abroad and therefore have no direct experience of another country to compare. However, the ones who actually do travel appear to be more sophisticated and open minded than the ones who remain in situ (and some of them are on this thread).

aurynne Thu 06-Dec-12 07:42:01

Of all the countries I have lived in, visited and/or have friends from, I would probably rate the USA (remember that "America" is also South and Central America) as the lowest in my list of "countries I would live in". I still remember the shock some Americans got when I mentioned that I had once been offered quite a good job in the US and rejected it immediately. The "American Dream" of "success" only works if "success" in your own personal dictionary means "jumping over every other person's head to make loads of money". I could not even imagine living in a country where only people with money have access to healthcare, and even so sometimes are denied treatment because their insurances do not even cover everything. I would be uncomfortable with the way some of my American friends think, in the sense of: success is working as many hours you can, have the best house with a garden, and drive a humongous car. It just doesn't make any sense to me.

Apart from that, honestly, every country believes they are the best one... I have seen it in Spain, Italy, the Uk, New Zealand, Australia... but really believing it is just childish. And in general, many of the attitudes of the Americans to life is just that: grossly naive and childish. They seem to always need a "leader" or a "hero" to follow, they love theatrical expressions and loud voices, grandiose gestures and easy tears, and they seem to always need a simple, metaphysical analogy in order to explain the simplest of concepts. A person could never become president if they don't profess an undying belief in a God, preferably the Christian one, and they considered having a mixed-race President in the 21st century as the epitome of progressiveness... New Zealand had a female, agnostic childless woman as a prime minister long before that. Just one of those conditions would mean she wouldn't dream of obtaining that position in America. Women in many American States don't have a choice for abortion, and some even find it hard to have access to contraception. Schools teach about intelligent design.

Should I go on?

No, there is no way the USA is the greatest country in the world, not even close. But hey, if it makes therm feel better to think that while they watch the news and count the number of people murdered, wrongly incarcerated, executed and left to die in the streets, I suppose that's a fair way of looking the other side.

AndABigBirdInaPearTree Thu 06-Dec-12 07:47:42

I'm not sure that is completely fair.

CheerfulYank Thu 06-Dec-12 07:52:30

Actually it's the people who have a small to medium amount of money who have problems getting healthcare (raises hand)...if you have none you can be covered, if you have lots you can buy the best.

lljkk Thu 06-Dec-12 09:23:02

Most people think that their own country is the greatest in the world. It's not a merely American affliction. Even Syrians think theirs is the best country on the planet, just having a few problems at the moment. Americans are a bit more ignorant than other cultures, in not realising that everyone else thinks that about their own nation, too.

British are among the least likely to call their own nation fab, self-deprecating culture, but they still do it sometimes. Is there a more self-deprecating culture on the planet than the British?

Hamishbear Thu 06-Dec-12 10:14:33

When we talk about the greatest we usually mean the most powerful and therefore the richest. It is - in this sense - but not for much longer.

SomersetONeil Thu 06-Dec-12 10:40:24

Cheerful - it's probably just good that they didn't play Dixie. wink

I have duel citizenship and adore both my countries, but don't think either country is the best in the word. I don't think any country is.

Our au pair is German, and I have been given such an unbelievable insight into that country's psyche via one young person. My DH asked her about football and she admitted, aged 20, that football is the ONLY thing they're allowed to be proud of. The only thing. Not even the Oympics. Let alone the country itself.

Every county has its idiocincracies... No country is the best. None is the worst, either. Every country belongs to someone and is their best country. Which is quite nice.

I'm American and think YABU a little bit.

Many, many peoples in the world have intense patriotism. Russia? Japan? Have you ever talked to an Iranian? It's not just an American failing.

American exceptionalism is very much drummed into you from birth. Our founding is a big part of it -- go back and read the Declaration of Independence or the Bill of Rights now, they are still very inspiring documents. And even more so when you consider they were written at a time when monarchy was the norm -- and when you realise that a huge chunk of the world's population today still does not have those rights.

Yes, those ideals are not borne out in practice. That's why they're ideals. But I think it still means something that we believe in them so fervently, even if it's hard to make good on them.

You also have to remember the huge boost to exceptionalism that occurred after World War II, and even more after the end of the Cold War, when the US became the only global superpower. I'm pretty sure that throughout history, the leading imperial power of the day was pretty arrogant about it.

I mean, wasn't this a big normative driver of British colonialism back in the day? The idea that British civilisation was the pinnacle of human achievement and needed to be spread throughout the world?

Don't get me wrong -- I'm not at all the type to say the US is the greatest country ever, and I do see all the problems. I just think it's kind of inevitable that many people living in strong and prosperous countries will become arrogant about it.

The French are even worse than the Americans, they just brag more eloquently smile

GreenEggsAndNichts Thu 06-Dec-12 11:45:49

Just because I've seen it come up: remember, a lot of issues are governed by the individual states. These issues include: the death penalty, education, abortion rights, various levels of gun control.

So, not every state has the death penalty, not every state teaches "intelligent design" hmm , not every state has restrictions on abortion, etc.

Yes, the Supreme Court makes the final decision on such things, and if a case were brought before them, and they were to decide that the laws of that state were unconstitutional, they would have to change the law. So the death penalty is allowed, as long as the means of death aren't cruel and unusual. (I'm vastly oversimplifying this issue for the sake of the wider explanation of the state laws v federal ones!)

I'm not sure how the "intelligent design" hmm cases are being handled. I know that the piss-taking Pastafarians have, on local levels, challenged the presence of religious symbols in some schools and courthouses. This amuses me. smile I have just checked, even Kansas has returned to "mainstream scientific education", but yes at any time they or another state could decide to change this.

I realise this makes things confusing for outsiders to understand. However, it's the only way we (they- I've lived overseas almost 10 years now) can maintain anything like a "union" of states with such extreme differences in opinion and population size.

mummytime Thu 06-Dec-12 11:57:10

dreaming - the thing is that Europe has had two bloody World Wars fought on its lands, which did teach them a lot about trying to impose your views on other countries. So in some ways Europe has "grown up" and worries that the US hasn't.
The disrespect for other cultures eg. the Koran shown by American's is seen as very worrying, especially given the US's huge military might.

"American exceptionalism is very much drummed into you from birth. Our founding is a big part of it -- go back and read the Declaration of Independence or the Bill of Rights now, they are still very inspiring documents. And even more so when you consider they were written at a time when monarchy was the norm -- and when you realise that a huge chunk of the world's population today still does not have those rights."

Those documents are on the whole great ideals, but I am not sure that even all/most American's have/or believe they have those rights, truly. It is certainly true that there have been huge swathes of US history when most people living in the US did not have those rights.

And I like the US, have travelled quite widely (including massive Car journey's, and well off the beaten track).

wordfactory Thu 06-Dec-12 12:00:19

America has its problems of course, but I think you'd be hard pushed to find a people where the can-do mentality is so deeply ingrained. And I love that about its culture.

GreenEggs -- that's a really good point.

It's almost like saying Europeans don't respect women's rights because abortion is illegal in Ireland and Poland. I know that might sound like an exaggeration, but really, as a New Yorker, there is nothing I can do about attempts to limit abortion in Kansas. All I can do is vote for people who won't try to do the same thing in New York.

And thankfully, Americans are increasingly turning against the death penalty. More and more states are suspending or revoking it. Last year I think about 75 people were executed and it is dropping every year. I think in 10-15 years it will no longer exist.

I am far more worried about countries like Iran, which executes hundreds of people a year, including for political 'crimes', and China, which executes thousands, including for non-violent crimes like drug smuggling. Not to excuse what the US is doing, but at least I feel like we are on the right path, whereas things are getting worse elsewhere.

Mummy -- I agree. I think in a lot of ways the US needs to 'grow up'. I actually think our military and economic failures of recent years are making most Americans grow up. The ones still bragging the most about American greatness are, I think, the people in denial.

ChantandbeHappy Thu 06-Dec-12 12:36:34

YANBU.

According to a recent article in the Economist recently, Switzerland is the best country to be born in 2013. The USA is in 16th place. grin

Link to the article here: %2Ffb_ec%2Fthe_lottery_of_life%22\www.economist.com/news/21566430-where-be-born-2013-lottery-life?fb_action_ids=10151345529204680&fb_action_types=og.likes&fb_ref=scn%2Ffb_ec%2Fthe_lottery_of_life&fb_source=timeline_og&action_object_map={%2210151345529204680%22%3A446253755433195}&action_type_map={%2210151345529204680%22%3A%22og.likes%22}&action_ref_map={%2210151345529204680%22%3A%22scn\%2Ffb_ec\%2Fthe_lottery_of_life%22}}

ChantandbeHappy Thu 06-Dec-12 12:38:12

Sorry for the crappy link and overuse of 'recent' blush. Should've previewed!

EldritchCleavage Thu 06-Dec-12 12:52:35

'Greatest country in the world' is just part of the US national myth. Every country has one, usually based on some ancient foundation legend, the brave struggle for independence, whatever. Ours derives mostly from Shakespeare ('Once more unto the breach dear friends, once more'), with a bit of comfort history (the Armada, Nelson, Waterloo, the Blitz, we invented industry in Manchester etc) thrown in.

America is (at least to Americans) the shining city on the hill, the leader of the free world, the ultimate bastion of liberty, the greatest country in the world. It's ultimately not true, but that doesn't matter where national myths are concerned. The imagery and emotion it evokes is a potent force in their politics and public life, a belief or hope around which people can coalesce.

It's just annoying because it very overtly asserts dominion over everyone else and the national self-image contains a lot less awareness of flaws than many other countries.

cornflowers Thu 06-Dec-12 12:56:47

"British are among the least likely to call their own nation fab, self-deprecating culture, but they still do it sometimes. Is there a more self-deprecating culture on the planet than the British?"

Actually, I think the famous British self-deprecation is largely disingenuous. Who was it that said that "to be born an Englishmen is to win life's lottery." I'd wager that plenty actually subscribe to that sort of view, albeit privately. Furthermore, many probably continue to hold the notion dear even after emigrating to sunnier climes.

barapapa Thu 06-Dec-12 13:03:16

I also think if you asked people across the globe "if you could live anywhere, where would it be?" the most popular answer would be the States. I think that the 'American dream' concept of someone arriving penniless and their children being millionaires in one generation is still there. I think that feeds into the 'self-confidence/arrogance/patriotism' of some Americans.

I think that's true, barapapa.

I used to work on Middle East issues around the time of 9/11 and the Iraq war, needless to say I heard a lot of anti-American arguments and hostility (which to be clear I had no problem with, as I was very very against that war). But I remember at one conference, sitting next to a man from Jordan, and he sort of rolled his eyes at one point and said, 'Yes, yes, America is the worst country in the world, meanwhile you go to any American embassy in the Middle East on the day they do visa interviews and the lines are around the block.'

I don't think everyone wants to go to the States, obviously, but having travelled all over I have seen for myself how many people would love to go to the US and start a new life there.

The American dream really does happen for some people. I personally know quite a lot of people back home who are immigrants or the children of immigrants and doing very very well. My own grandparents were immigrants and while I'm not rich smile I like to think I've done well in other ways.

Of course, a lot of people are NOT doing well, and that should not be overlooked. But I do think the social mobility that is possible in the US is really quite special and not matched in very many places.

The downside, though, is that it undercuts support for social welfare, because of course you just need to try harder and life will be fine.

CheerfulYank Thu 06-Dec-12 18:12:21

Barapapa I know, personally, people that that has happened for. smile

And yes, I think that people do forget that the individual states have their own laws. I had someone have a go at me for the death penalty and ask how many people my personal politicians had killed, etc. The death penalty has been abolished in my state for over a century. confused

And I think people forget how different the regions of the US are. Where I live is as different a culture from, say, the Cajuns, as can be. We might as well be a different country in some respects!

aurynne Fri 07-Dec-12 03:20:31

I must have only been in exceptional countries, because I know quite a lot of stories from people who were poor and raised out of poverty in every country I have been to. Perhaps in countries with a universal healthcare the stories are not as amazing as in the States, simply because people would no start their life living in the streets and having to sleep in toilets, so their rise would be "less extreme".

Americans love stories such as "The pursuit of happyness" because they prove you can turn your life around and succeed (aka earn lots of money, which seems to be the only measure of success for an American). People from other countries watch the movie and are horrified that Will Smith and his son had to sleep among garbage and almost starved to death, and worry about the millions who weren't Will Smith and are dying among filth everyday in the streets, because they did not "succeed".

cynnerthenaughtyreindeer Fri 07-Dec-12 03:29:58

My brother is a border control officer, everyday he deals with people desperately trying to get into the US.
All this talk smacks of jealously and sour grapes. People still pissed American broke from the Empire, eh?

monsterchild Fri 07-Dec-12 03:31:16

aurynne, many folks in the US worry about those millions dying among filth everyday in the streets, and those who don't have the ability to succeed, and those who don't have homes. It's a huge problem here in the US, and we know it.

It could be you don't get to see politicians talking about it, or read any of the blogs about it, but everyone here is aware.

And just as in every country, not everyone is motivated to do anything about it, but some of us are.

EIizaDay Fri 07-Dec-12 03:32:29

Australian sound to be very similar to Americans. They too believe Australian is the best country in the world. I'm told on a weekly basis about them having the best beaches, the best seafood, the biggest this and that. Often it's from an Australian that has only visited somewhere in Asia on a holiday. It does get a bit tedious.

CheerfulYank Fri 07-Dec-12 03:36:35

I'm sorry, but the idea that making a lot of money is the only measure of success by American standards is bullshit.

monsterchild Fri 07-Dec-12 03:40:15

What I have noticed is that everyone is an expert on the US. Which is fine, but it really does feed into our obsession with ourselves. I mean, if we weren't so awesome, why would everyone know everything about us? wink

aurynne Fri 07-Dec-12 03:41:12

monsterchild, 40 something percent of Americans still vote Republican... and we all had the chance to see what the presidential candidate thinks about those who haven't succeeded. I am sure there are some Americans who do care about it. But there are obviously not enough of them to make a change. Until then, USA is still the last in my list of desirable places to live in. I just could not be happy inn a country where "universal healthcare" is called "socialised medicine" as an insult and sneered at.

Jealous cynnerthenaughtyreindeer? I could easily be living there, I just needed to say "yes" to the job offer. I am happy just visiting for holidays from time to time, they do have amazing national parks. If you can ignore the humongous caravans and humongous Americans behind the wheels, stopping and taking photos from the inside and not even bothering to get out of the caravan to walk 100 m to the most amazing and beautiful spots. And this is not an exaggeration... Yosemite 2009. I was there. And then I went back to a country where all the population is covered if they get sick.

Pitmountainpony Fri 07-Dec-12 03:41:20

I do think America is a great country.
I love the graciousness of the average American.i find the people kind and well mannered.
I understand why many yanks do not have passports...it I s party green approach really.....there is so much natural diversity here that you cnhve many fabulous holidays without getting on a plane.
I think Europeans kid themselves a little that they are so immersed in the culture when they have their two weeks in their insular Gite in France or hotel in turkey.i always hated the way many brits i knew in the uk were so quick to put Americans down......and assume in that way that only the thickest people do that all Americans are stupid,fat ec.......I do not miss that misplaced superiority complex that seems to afflict many seemingly educated Brits....and the arrested development nuances of the British drinking culture, where everyone pats themselves on their smug backs for knowing how to get pissed and have a really good time.

Reflecting on it. I do find America and its people i have encountered to exhibit more of what I thinks qualifies a country to be great, definitely compared to the UK, which whilst not charmless has some very untreated aspects and an arrogance in many that is misplaced....greatly. Sure no one on mumsnet is like that though.

Pitmountainpony Fri 07-Dec-12 03:43:56

Ungreat aspects not untreated.
iPad being arrogant too and second guessing me.

aurynne Fri 07-Dec-12 03:44:38

Pitmountainpony: "I think Europeans kid themselves a little that they are so immersed in the culture when they have their two weeks in their insular Gite in France or hotel in turkey."

In European countries people have a minimum of 4 weeks holiday a year. So it's a bit more immersion in foreign cultures, as we actually have a life outside work ;)

Oh, I am not a Brit, by the way.

Pitmountainpony Fri 07-Dec-12 03:52:00

Sorry but Brits are not self depreciating.....they rate themselves highly indeed hence all the self awareness lacking yank bashing so commonplace amongst so many that no apology is even attempted. There is not really a single culture that Britain looks up to and it is well known how British women are viewed by many European cultures. But no doubt Brits think this something to proud of too.
I met more humble Americans within 3months living here compared to a decade in London.

Pitmountainpony Fri 07-Dec-12 04:00:05

Aurynne
Not convinced. Having extra holiday does not mean you somehow absorb more culture. Many go on holiday and it is about absorbing food and booze rather than culture...from all cultures. I am amazed how many more people here in the US seem to access the great outdoors which I perceived to be accessed by a minority in the UK. The national parks are packed put here each summer with people appreciating their natural wonders.
What can I say. I have a soft spot for humble people and I meet more of them in the US than I ever did in the UK, but they are generally more friendly here too I think.

Pitmountainpony Fri 07-Dec-12 04:00:50

I am a Brit by the way. A yank loving one too.

monsterchild Fri 07-Dec-12 04:00:56

Aurynne, I agree, that Tea Party/conservative aspect depresses me too. However, happily the folks who do vote Republican are diminishing, and they didn't win. Hooray!

I think the health care issue is a travesty here, and I also think that they're going about it backwards by keeping private insurance companies involved. But politics is tricky business.

I don't think everyone would want to live here, it's not for everyone. there are many disadvantages, and I've lived and worked in various parts of Europe, and enjoyed it very much. There were parts I didn't enjoy, too.

The work week issue is different for me, as I have a rather "French" work schedule because I also value my life outside of work, and I don't really define myself by what I do. Though I do enjoy it! The rather protestant work ethic here is a bit depressing too, but I understand the history of it.

monsterchild Fri 07-Dec-12 04:04:34

Pitmountainpony, I agree, I think that US humility is vastly underrated!

And I also found that when I was travelling that the English were the most ready to insult me rather than engage in dialogue. Which, as an American with a natural inclination for England (so much of our outlook is from the UK!) was really disheartening. But kind of hilarious too!

aurynne Fri 07-Dec-12 04:10:01

Pitmountainpony, I was commenting on your "two weeks" statement, but my comment is not based in my own experiences. I personally have spent the last 12 years of my life living in 5 different countries (living, not holidaying), so I do consider myself immersed in different cultures. At the moment I am living in New Zealand, but I haven't finished moving around.

I do believe that part of the problem comes from Americans being unable to believe that some people just may not like their country that much. It's really not such a big deal, some people do love the USA. Others don't. Overall I like the nature, but not the way the country works. It really does not change anything, it is just my personal opinion. But it's a real opinion. Get over it.

Pitmountainpony Fri 07-Dec-12 04:30:01

Monster child. I apologise on my fellow Brits' attitude.
Aurynne yes a personal opinion or real opinion as you call it is exactly that.....Simply your interpretation of how America perceives itself.....yours no more communicates the truth of the matter than mine or anyone,s does on here.so since this is a dialogue of opinions there is nothing to get over.

I refer to your comment about 4 weeks holiday as if the fact that one has slightly More time off work than the average us citizen and you have a few foreign holidays will qualify you as being educated about those cultures......and this notion is often thrown in, in these dialogues.....as in....the yanks never leave their country so theyknow nothing.......many may get on a plane but explore little of the culture of the country.

handsandknees Fri 07-Dec-12 04:47:26

I haven't found Brits to be very patriotric in recent years, although the Royal Wedding and Olympics might have changed feelings somewhat. However, 100 years ago we seemed to feel about Britain the way Americans feel about the US now. Just look at the lyrics of "Land of Hope and Glory"....

aurynne Fri 07-Dec-12 04:58:12

Sorry for the "get over it" comment, it was rude and arrogant.

I agree, having a foreign holiday of whichever duration does not qualify as an enlightening cultural event. It really depends on the person and their attitude. Some British people can spend 20 years in Spain or France, for instance, and still not have learned an iota about the culture (they will still speak only English, go to English-speaking pubs and restaurants and mix only with other Brits). I think t is within the person how much cultural immersion he/she is able to do. Some people can learn more in a week in a country than the next person after spending 25 years in another one.

AndABigBirdInaPearTree Fri 07-Dec-12 06:22:18

I disagree that The American Dream is not just about money. My son had to do a survey about it for his English class and they found that while the people they surveyed did say that money played a part in The American Dream, I don't think anyone said it was the most important thing. Not only that, but in the follow-up paper he had to write he took the position that the American Dream is still accessible to people today despite their starting position and gave examples of why that is.

As for people voting republican, I have a good number of friends who vote republican and their reasons for doing so are wide and varied and often don't have a lot to do with money, at least their own personal money.

Loveweekends10 Fri 07-Dec-12 06:52:30

Definitely not the best in the world. I went there once and couldn't get over their gluttony, their terrible dress sense ( they wore shorts for every occasion including the theatre! )or the fact I wasn't able to walk into town( they advised against it as no pavements)
All very odd to me! I've travelled all over the world but its by far the strangest place I've encountered.

AndABigBirdInaPearTree Fri 07-Dec-12 08:05:46

You once went to a country with 3.8 million square miles and presumedly saw one tiny piece of it and you've judged the entire country from that?

The stereotypes on this thread are astounding.

No, the American dream is not just about money.

Many immigrants have an American dream that is incredibly modest -- they just want to be able to live somewhere with their family, work and support them, and not live in fear of persecution, of being thrown in jail because they voted for the wrong guy, or being forced to pay bribes for everything. They want to be able to practice their religion openly, or send their children to school for free. It's not just about money.

Obviously the US is not the only country where you can get these things, but being such a large country with so many different things going on, and also having long established immigrant communities and paths to success, it's no wonder that it's very appealing.

I don't think Americans are any more obsessed with money than other people, we are just more open about it. But you will find the same range of people there as anywhere, some people won't care at all and some people will care a lot.

AlienRefucksLooksLikeSnow Fri 07-Dec-12 09:50:47

Patriotism, never understood it, it's like being proud to be brunette, or 5ft, no choice in it what so ever.

MoreBeta Fri 07-Dec-12 10:20:44

XiaoxiongMerrilyOnHigh - what you said about exceptionalism was very very true.

I have American business TV on pretty much all day in our house (sorry its my job) and the relentless optimism from business leaders, politicians, Wall Street bankers and news anchors is really annoying after a while.

It almost seems like a cult where no one is allowed to be truthful about the reality of the current economic, social and political challenges that the World faces.

I used to notice it when I had interaction with employees of US firms in the The City. I even interviewed with a few US banks. I could never get my head around how bizarrely and blatantly deluded and over optimistic they were about everything.

The US could be a beacon to the World and it does have many great qualities. I taught a truely exceptional PhD student from the USA and admire many great people that are US citizens

However, its leaders are mostly pigmies too afraid to speak the truth and its populus too sated by 'bread and circuses' to care.

MoreBeta Fri 07-Dec-12 10:35:30

CheerfulYank - "I walk everywhere, I've never had a driver's license."

You are only second person from the USA I have met who cannot drive.

I looked at your profile and you live in the Mid West. How can you possibly live?

I dont drive but I live in the UK in a town.

mummytime Fri 07-Dec-12 10:56:03

I knew quite a few people who didn't drive when I lived in Chicago. Similar could hold for New York or even probably Washington DC.

This thread started by saying the US is not the best country, its not the worst either.

I have met lots of American's who had never left their home state, and quite educated ones. I also know lots of English who spend a lot of time in the outdoors etc.
(I even met a group of Canadians once for whom walking 1/2 miles was a long way, which shows my stereo type of them was wrong.)

The only time Americans thinking the USA is the greatest annoys me is at Immigration. It worries me sometimes, but so can all kind of other national or other group prejudices.

Absy Fri 07-Dec-12 11:09:18

YANBU. I once had to sit through a very annoying individual going on and on and on for about an hour about how America is the greatest country in the world, don't we all agree? (directed at an Australian, South African and a French person) isn't it great, isn't it fabulous? so much so I nearly punched her in the face. (the irony being - she's lived in London for the last 5 years, with no plans to return to the "greatest country in the world"). She couldn't get it through her (considerably thick) skull that other people don't agree with her, and may actually prefer other places. But I put that down to her being a complete moron, rather than an issue with Americans in general.

GreenEggsAndNichts Fri 07-Dec-12 11:19:22

However, its leaders are mostly pigmies too afraid to speak the truth and its populus too sated by 'bread and circuses' to care.

I agree with this. sad

No politician wants to be the one to speak plainly. They assume it would be political suicide. I think this is changing a bit, with more people accessing news from other parts of the world online.

I also think there is a more sinister aspect to politics there. I don't believe that conservatives at higher levels really believe some of the crap they sell to the populace. They have their agenda (say, we don't want to have to pay more taxes, because we're rich and we like it that way. Oversimplifying for sake of argument) and spin it to poor people as "look how much of your tax dollars are being spent on illegal immigrants! We should get rid of these programs entirely, we are just handing our money over to people who are too lazy to work! And aren't even American!" Or whatever plays in their home state. It's painful to watch when the fact is, those people voting are living in poor areas and are actually benefiting from the plans they are voting to get rid of.

Actually I could go on quite a bit on this subject, but I'll save everyone the wall of text. It's incredibly sad to watch people cut their noses off to spite their faces, and not even realise it because they've been whipped into a frenzy of hatred for some unseen benefit scrounger.

anamerican Fri 07-Dec-12 11:59:16

USA USA USA!! wink

Hobbitation Fri 07-Dec-12 12:14:37

I think Denmark is probably the best country in the world, but only from what I've heard about it, haven't been there. Just the fact that there is much more equality than in most countries, location, climate, etc, generally good all round. I'm a big fan of Germany and Italy, though I wouldn't like to live in Italy. I have only been to New York in the US, which was fab, but I wouldn't judge the rest of the country based on that. I don't think it can be the best country in the world though, it only comes 16th for education, for example in a recent study. The current president is excellent though and could make many improvements, if others would only let him. I'd say the US might be in the top ten/fifteen across all measures.

chrome100 Fri 07-Dec-12 12:28:16

When I was on a work placement in Germany as a 20 year old, I shared a flat with an American guy of the same age. It was his first time out of the States and when I first met him I thought "what a cock". Everything was "well, in America, we do it like this..." "how stupid, we wouldn't do XYZ in America" etc.

However, after a few months his eyes really opened to the fact that there are other ways of doing things and that the American way wasn't always the best. I think a lot of it is a product of people not having travelled very widely and therefore only knowing what is local to them.

Hobbitation Fri 07-Dec-12 12:31:42

I don't want to make it thread about ignorant tourists, but one thing that sticks in my mind when we were in Venice, we got talking to two tourists from the US. We were talking about the city and the locals, they said "They haven't got much, but they seem happy." confused

MoreBeta I can't drive either, so I guess I can be your third!

I think watching American business TV all day would give you an incredibly skewed view of the country, I don't know anyone in real life who is anything like the people on there.

Isn't there a structural element to the optimism though? Given that 'the markets' seem to control our destinies these days? At least, what I always see in the news is 'the markets are happy about this' or 'the markets don't like that' -- countries are always trying to present positive economic news or else the markets won't be happy and some kind of punishment is involved.

Isn't that part of what's driving all the austerity programs? That the markets take a dim view of countries not getting their deficits in order?

I sort of assume a lot of the talking that business types and politicians do these days is really directed at markets and finance people, not the public. In which case of course they're going to be over-optimistic, they're trying to convince people we're still a good investment.

Ah, every country has silly tourists.

I was recently trying to find a hotel in France, going through Trip Advisor and reading all the comments and reviews, and you would not believe how many English tourists were complaining about French hotels not serving English breakfasts!

Again, I think Americans are just louder about everything, including their own ignorance smile

FloatyBeatie Fri 07-Dec-12 12:39:55

I'm sure that the US is a brilliant place in loads of ways, and I'm a bit ashamed never to have visited, but, blimey, I'm astonished at the sheer extent of the delusion about being "the best country in the world," that this thread seems to reveal. Do more than a very few Americans really think that? It is nonsensical.

As a Brit, I would far rather live in Britain than anywhere. I love it. But to translate that into Britain being objectively the best is on a par with saying that London is on everybody's left because it happens (right now) to be on my left. It is the stupidity more than the arrogance which is shocking.

What prompts me to post is this story in today's Guardian -- another tale of terrible negligence and incompetence in the conduct of US death-penalty cases. "Leaders of the free world" but with a judicial system that allows such horrors!

Well it's certainly one of the biggest.....

SnowWide Fri 07-Dec-12 12:48:11

I can relate to the "everyone wants to live in america" myth. My sister is a recent immigrant, just been in the US for three years. She is being sent from pillar to post for her visa thingies, (too labyrinthine for me to even understand what she is talking about).

I was commiserating about her troubles when she comes out with "Well you know its such a desirable country. Everyone wants to move here, there are so many applications, what CAN the immigrations officials do?" So is this what new immigrants are being told as well? "your papers wont be looked at for the next 18 months, because the whole world and his uncle are baying to get into the US.."

FWIW, I am immigrant as well living in the UK. My transition from knowledge worker to permanent resident to citizen was fairly civilised and straightforward.

And what DOES an immigration lawyer do??

GreenEggsAndNichts Fri 07-Dec-12 12:48:38

dreaming yes, as a people we're definitely loud. grin I think it's also the fact that we have a large population (so even if only a small percentage are traveling, it still adds up to quite a lot of us out there) and that everyone can understand us.

Because I hear what German tourists say. And it's almost never complimentary. Everything is always better in Germany. Don't get them started on bread. hmm Danish people as well.

Absy Fri 07-Dec-12 13:02:54

"My transition from knowledge worker to permanent resident to citizen was fairly civilised and straightforward.

And what DOES an immigration lawyer do?? "

Haha. You've obviously been very fortunate and had a very easy time getting your papers. They haven't lost your papers, lost your passport, said you haven't sent in forms that you have, refused your application and then had to go to court to defend yourself, and then have the Home Office not turn up at court. So yes, immigration lawyers are quite useful if you're having a rubbish time of it. Or, most recently, there is a huge backlog and they're only just starting to look at the visa applications from July.

HazleNutt Fri 07-Dec-12 13:14:20

Our mother company is an American one, so I go there quite often. And even educated and widely travelled people there are convinced that I would like nothing better than to move over there. God forbid, it's my nightmare that I get offered a job in the headquarters.

They also all passionately believe that you only have "freedom" in America - or at least most freedom. I have never understood what exactly is that supposed to mean and in what way we are less free in Europe.

GreenEggsAndNichts Fri 07-Dec-12 13:15:45

snort. Agree wtih Absy, but didn't want to turn it into an immigration thread. grin I've lived in a few countries, have gone through the process in all of them. Suffice to say, countries do not tend to put their best face forward with their immigration staff. And there's no incentive to do so, because general popular opinion is often not pro-immigration so there is no voter demand to fix it.

Haha Green Eggs yes all my German friends in the UK could rant for ages about the bread. That's a really good point about the language.

Snow I agree with Absy, you were quite lucky to not have any issues with your UK immigration.

At one point I could not leave the UK for 8 months because my passport was sitting on a shelf in Liverpool, even though I was applying under one of the easiest and most straightforward visas, which under EU law should be processed within 6 months. They flat out said, yes we know that's the law but we have a backlog so it will take as long as it takes.

I don't think immigration is particularly easy in any country, a lot of it is luck. And the US isn't the only country that tries to excuse problems by saying the demand is so high. Certainly this is the excuse the UK Border Agency trots out all the time.

SnowWide Fri 07-Dec-12 13:24:50

Ouch, Absy That sounds like a nightmare. I guess I WAS lucky....

But US border staff are seen as surly. Itseems to a recurring theme from people who have just visited, not even gone there to work. Why is this? And this is a country, trafitoonally built on immigrant labour.

Can understand if there was a welfare system in place. "Oh they are all coming over here to claim benefit and commit fraud". Yep, heard THAT one a lot around here hmm

x-post Green Eggs -- yes, I'm resisting a huge rant about immigration practices as well!

SnowWide Fri 07-Dec-12 13:26:11

trafitoonally ??! Good lord... Traditionally.

Though 'trafitoonally' has a ring to it grin

Absy Fri 07-Dec-12 13:27:07

My friend's had to pay out over £1,000 and handed over his passport to the Home Office for 3 months (working through the backlog) for a ONE DAY visa to cover the gap between his current visa and IRL kicking in.

Or there was the time when my sister in law was applying for her citizenship and they moved office and lost all the documents of all the people who applied just before they moved. That was fun.

Or the person I advised when I was a law student at a pro bono clinic, who had a visa through her work, but lost her job because she wasn't social enough (all the outings involved alcohol, and she was muslim) and whether or not she could apply for other visas, what other options were there etc. etc., when immigration laws were changing every two minutes.

Oooh I like trafitoonally! It needs a definition though smile

I must admit, US border staff and airport security people have always been kind of a nightmare in my experience. I think they are not paid well and there is a massive amount of paranoia going around, it's not a good combination.

GreenEggsAndNichts Fri 07-Dec-12 13:34:10

Snow the US border agency staff are shockingly rude to non-Americans. (okay, I'm sure not ALL of them are, but a disgusting number of them are) I've had the displeasure of standing there while some redneck spoke to my husband as if he were a child, to get him to put his eye in the right spot for a retina scan. My husband could design and build a bloody retina scanner angry, I think if you gave him the 20 seconds to process your country accent into English, he'd be able to sort out what you're asking, thanks! And you dare not complain or that'll be you sat in detention for god knows what reason.

(have been sent to the naughty room at the crossing in Dover as well, over a problem which was entirely the HO's fault, and a very condescending border agent, so this does happen in the UK. Just not nearly as frequently)

wordfactory Fri 07-Dec-12 13:38:38

Hazle I think the concept of freedom in the states is about freedom from government intervention. Remember the founding fathers were fleeing state persecution. And this idea of wanting minimal state interference still holds. Even most democrats would not want to replicate the european model of state led policy.

Absy Fri 07-Dec-12 13:41:47

I LOVE the border agency staff i've met (admittedly, on only two occassions). The first time, the woman told DH off for mucking about on his blackberry while waiting in the queue. I nearly took her home with me.

So far I like the French border police, they don't really seem to take it all that seriously.

I once came into France without anyone checking my passport at all, I think because they were all at lunch.

Absy Fri 07-Dec-12 13:44:17

DH likes South African border staff - the guy he saw was singing and was very cheerful. The person I did wasn't. Maybe it's because I'm a South African who had evidently emigrated and was therefore a traitor (in the immortal words of Nelson Mandela. Thanks dude)

SnowWide Fri 07-Dec-12 13:47:08

Reminds me of the time I flew to Dubai. The immigration official cleared me and as I was about to walk away, called me back and said my visa is not valid. WTF? Was taken to another higher ranking official in a separate room. The official was a lady in traditional hijab, who parroted the same thing back. "Your visa is not valid". Wouldn't tell me why, what to do about it, nothing. Husband and I just stood there like naughty children in front of a school mistress. Humiliating.
(Though I was more surprised to see a woman in office rather than panicking about my visa situation. Shows how full to the gills I was with stereotypes)

No good will come of comparing a Arab country's border force to the US border force. grin and I realise Im hijacking the thread. So I'll just piss off to the corner and keep my trafitoonall mouth shut!! dreaming grin

Nooooo not until you tell me what trafitoonal means! grin

SnowWide Fri 07-Dec-12 14:01:31

Trafitoonal, or toonal for short, is the unsurpassed ability of the human body to imitate animated or cartoon characters. E.g. Bouncing back after an anvil falls on your head, or your mouth becoming a trumpet when you yell or floppy when you spout inanities...

Yep, toonal. I'm owning it, ladies and gentlemen, and its so going in the OED!

HazleNutt Fri 07-Dec-12 14:03:49

So what happened SnowWide, they sent you back or could you sort something out?

SnowWide Fri 07-Dec-12 14:12:52

No, it was a tourist visa for a week's stay. We'd arranged it here in the UK through a travel agent before we flew.

After that visa was rejected at the airport, we came out to at least 4 or 5 people who were touting for visas, promising they could arrange for one. Didn't realise tourist visas could be bought at the airport itself!! Makes me think the whole affair was a scam, since we paid a little bit more for the one at the airport than the one we arranged earlier.

Travel agent here was very surprised, his is an established company,so no reason to think he'd screwed up.

Toonal -- I like it smile

blackice Fri 07-Dec-12 14:31:14

Given that there is a very strong anti-American sentiment in the UK, YABU to think that yours is a unique or new opinion. There's nothing very newsworthy or earth-shattering about expressing a negative view of the US.

MoreBeta Fri 07-Dec-12 15:39:02

dreamingbohemian - another American that can't drive? No wonder you moved to London. Which is where I lived when I decided to give back my driving licence.

You are right about the 'optimism' that is constantly pushed out by Wall Street, politicians and business people. It is all about making markets 'confident'.

As I said to DW yesterday, if only they woul spend as much time actually solving the problems that brought on the financial crisis as they do trying to manage everyone's perception we could actually get somewhere.

The current 'Fiscal Cliff' and 'Debt Ceiling' debate is a case in point. I think I have heard at least 10 announcements that politicians are close to an agreement/solution - in reality they are nowhere near and they certainly do not intend to actually do anything real to solve the deficit problem at all.

They just hope they can fudge it and no one will notice.

I like the US as a country and I like many people who I have worked with there but despair at what the US has become.

DiamondDoris Fri 07-Dec-12 16:20:23

My OH is American, he doesn't think the above (OP) is true and I would think many on the East/West coasts don't think so either. He wouldn't like to go back there to live. I do hate American bashing though (and he does too).

DiamondDoris Fri 07-Dec-12 16:22:07

Sorry, I didn't read the OP carefully, YANBU smile

Yep, it's so much easier not to drive in London I reckon... I think I might learn someday though, as DH is always going on about retiring to the country smile

That's really interesting what you're saying, what I wonder though is, why do the markets fall for it?

I mean, it's just propaganda, right? Do they know it's overblown or do they really believe it?

Should we be blaming not so much our politicians, who are in a sense just sucking up to their global economic bosses, but the markets and global finance people who are calling the shots?

I wonder if perhaps American politicians and business people feel a special weight of responsibility that contributes to their need for optimism -- as the world's biggest economy, if the US tanks, the world is in trouble.

(Sorry if a bit tangential, but then the whole 'world's biggest economy' aspect is an important part of American exceptionalism.)

CheerfulYank Fri 07-Dec-12 17:11:26

MoreBeta I live in a town of 2,500 people or thereabouts...everything is walking distance (within a few miles). I have friends that live in the nearest "big city", which would be St Cloud (also where I used to live) and of course they love me so much that they come pick me up all the time. grin

We're also not far away (by American standards; it's nothing for us to take a few hour car journey) from the Twin Cities, and I can take the train there if I want to. Not from here, we're too teeny to have a train, but from close by.

CheerfulYank Fri 07-Dec-12 17:33:34

<gets caught up in Wikipedia>

Plus, we're so nice! wink

AndABigBirdInaPearTree Fri 07-Dec-12 18:25:11

haha the US do not have the only rude border agents. My 16yr old flew internationally by himself for the first time this summer to England and met a really rude one. Also it is estimated that we have over 11 million illegal immigrants here and 1 million legal ones entering every year. I know it is a headache in the UK too, but it could easily get out of hand here if we were not more careful.

As for not leaving your state, my state is almost 800 miles long. It is longer than the British Isles. It is further than London to Zurich. Now, going east-west it is only 175 miles, but there is nothing much interesting there a border town with a whole lot of desert. How many people have never left the UK. A fair few I would imagine. Where I used to live in England I knew a bunch of people who had never been to a neighbouring city 16 miles away and they had lived there for over 40 years.

AndABigBirdInaPearTree Fri 07-Dec-12 18:27:49

Oh and walking. We could live without a car in our neighbourhood. My kids go to out-of-area schools though and DH works somewhere that is hard to get to without a car. If we needed to though we could do it. We have a mall a mile away, two supermarkets within 15 minutes walk. A swimming pool, a synagogue, a number of churches, pharmacy, bus station, library etc. People walk a lot more here than some areas of the US but it is usually for excercise, not errands.

AndABigBirdInaPearTree Fri 07-Dec-12 18:29:12

Cheerful, we flew via Minn this summer. It was pouring down with rain! I liked the charging stations in the airport though smile

GreenEggsAndNichts Fri 07-Dec-12 19:24:36

BigBird it's one thing to be diligent, cold, standoffish, whatever you need to get the job done as a border patrol agent. What I'm talking about is sheer rudeness, speaking to my (German) husband as if he were a child. It is night and day between the way we're treated in the US citizen queue and the way the officers treat people in the non-citizen queue. It was bullying behaviour, like they knew there was no way we would complain because it would be his word against theirs, and they know if we want to get through in a decent amount of time, we'll just go along with it.

I can still recall when we sat through the US citizen queue (luckily for my DH I was there so he could use that queue) and I noted the non-citizen queue had literally not moved in the amount of time it took us to clear our entire queue. I said as such to the guy checking our passports and he just laughed and said "well, we don't trust them." That's not the attitude of someone who should be the first person people meet upon entering the US.

TerrariaMum Fri 07-Dec-12 21:51:09

Oh, I don't know GreenEggs, I'm a US citizen and the last time I went back to the US, the queue might have been faster, but the official was rather unpleasant to me.

I was much happier with the bored official at Heathrow who clearly just wanted her tea.

CheerfulYank Fri 07-Dec-12 21:55:21

That's awful, GreenEggs. angry I hope you complained.

It can honestly be hard, being from Americ sometimes, especially being from the midwest. You do face all sorts of prejudice. I remember arguing that French Vogue was wrong to use that 10 year old model (remember that?)and some guy from Germany replied that of course I would think that, being an American prude. He said "I knew everything I needed to know about you the minute I saw your location." Someone on here said they'd let Americans burn to death before peeing on them to put out the fire. Someone else referred to my entire region of the country as 'that rubbish in the middle'.

The crazy people you see on the news don't represent me or anyone I know anymore than all of you are straight out of Shameless.

AndABigBirdInaPearTree Fri 07-Dec-12 22:17:23

Green eggs, I have been through both queues at both UK entry and US entry and have had my fair share of business-like, strict, unpleasant, nice etc no matter which queue. I have to say the worst was the Canadian one when I was driving from the US to Montreal for the day and didn't have my passport. At the time it was perfectly legal to cross using your U.S. driving licence but the guy was horrid and rude and refused to believe me because I have a British accent. The agents inside were pretty horrid too and told me I was wasting their time and it wasn't their job to call the Americans to see if I was who I said I was (who's job is it?). It was cold, dirty and really unpleasant and they were clear that they just wanted me to go away.

The American agent that spoke to me on the way back in (yes, they pulled me again 8 hours later) was pretty crappy too, but the agent next to him was nice and kept making me laugh.

It was still worth the trip though, Montreal was awesome.

aurynne Sat 08-Dec-12 01:39:49

Well, despite my previous opinions I will have to buck the trend about immigration officers and say that the times I went to the US on holiday or for a conference, they have been polite, kind and lovely to me. I remember one in particular, who was asking me questions about my job. Obviously the questions had to be asked for immigration reasons, but he was so nice that it really felt as though he was interested in what I did and what I was telling him.

Not4turning Sat 08-Dec-12 01:45:10

The only thing I got from America is their great sense of history..........
I like mine more, it's bigger. I know but it just is.

NapaCab Sat 08-Dec-12 04:47:10

YANBU to question whether America is the greatest country in the world but
YABU to read right-wing, Republican blogs. It can be injurious to your mental well-being to engage with their warped world view.

Try reading the following blogs instead:
Paul Krugman's "Conscience of a Liberal' in the NY Times
Matt Taibbi's Taibblog in Rolling Stone
Andrew Sullivan's The Dish (he's British originally and nominally Republican but is actually intelligent and rational, unlike most Republicans)
Rachel Maddow's blog (the Maddow blog)

These people are intelligent and rational and open-minded. It sounds like you're finding the dregs of American society on the sites you read. Every country has its Embarrassing Idiot faction (e.g. UKIP for the UK) and America is no exception. The Americans I meet are open to other cultures and even admiring of some aspects of European social systems.

SnowWide Sat 08-Dec-12 09:08:57

GreenEggs "well, we dont trust them" THAT right there is the US foreign policy condensed right down.

Beneath all the bonhomie, Americans come across as paranoid and prone to conspiracy theories. They dont seem to trust anyone, not their own, not strangers.

Maybe a sweeping generalisation, may not be true, but its something that seems glaringly obvious to an outsider.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now