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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.

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'

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