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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


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


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

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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


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


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


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


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

^^ This.

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

the newsroom opening scene

^^ This.

Sorry. Link fail.

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