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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.

dreamingbohemian Fri 07-Dec-12 14:23:23

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

dreamingbohemian Fri 07-Dec-12 16:25:28

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.

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