American Chauvinism

12Oct08

Why do Americans always have to preface or start what they wish to say with America is the greatest nation, greatest this and that, the best, etc? It fairly drives me nuts, and I’m American.

Take this video for example

OK..  I LOVE this video. It is funny, but at the same time the opening makes me want to cringe. Is it really that necessary to acknowledge our superiority, even as an idea?  We’re just a group of people doing our best in the world.. and we’ve adopted a lovely set of ideas to help govern and inspire ourselves. But, the ideas that we’ve adopted seem to have transmogrified into America herself within American thought.

The idea that “all men are created equal” is an American idea? Odd, I thought it was a universal one, that did not have a nation. Which ideas add up to make America itself the best idea? Why isn’t France the best idea? What does America have to offer that Norway, Britain, ZImbabwe, or Thailand, can’t? It makes no sense on the face of it.

I don’t know, and what’s more I think that sort of language is too religious for my taste. We’re just like everyone else and, frankly, I don’t think we can consider America the ‘best idea evahhhh’ without considering our checkered past with slavery and general discrimination towards the poor and other groups. That part of the idea hasn’t seemed too hot.

Perhaps part of the reason why we feel we must cave into this jingoistic fantasy is because we feel that if we level criticism at our country’s history and politics we’re somehow less patriotic. So, we say America is SO great in order to remove an argument our critics may try to level at us.  For example, they might call me an America hater because I’m offering this criticism.

To this i say that the ultra patriots are still giving America too much credit. America has a good set of ideas and institutions and we need to foster and develop those, but  I neither love nor hate it because America is just a word applied to a geographic region. I’m agnostic towards it, while still wanting to bring out the very best within my community.

No geographic name has a monopoly on the best that humanity has to offer.

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