US Patriotism VS the Rest of the World

by Xena 107 Replies latest jw friends

  • Abaddon

    I would submit as proof that patriotism in America is "just different", the fact that ‘Honk if you love <insert name of country here> bumper stickers, and a whole plethora of flag related merchandise, are simply not available in other countries, or if they are, come out once a year on a National Day, or are there to be sold to tourists. You have flag salutes and stand far more to the National Anthem and the National Anthem gets played far more often too. No other country I have knowledge of has a catchphrase ‘my country right or wrong’, as in most other countries anyone saying anything like that would be laughed at. The vox pops we see over here show that some people have an absolute regard and respect for the role of the President that we NEVER see in ANYONE over here regarding their heads of state.

    outnfree; interesting post…

    … it's that many non-US posters here seem very quick to criticize our country, while the Americans do NOT criticize their respective countries …

    By that do you mean that Americans do not criticise other countries? I’d say at home, they normally don’t due to the insularity of the USA. If another country ‘gets in the way’ of American interests, then they are subject to criticism – I loved the ‘surrender monkey’ gag in the New York Post (?) about Chirac. Many Americans abroad complain about everything not being the same as in America (due to the insularity); generally in the hospitality industry Americans are regarded as the most difficult customers, followed by the Germans and the English.

    I do think that American Patriotism is different than most countries'. We are almost naive compared to the Old World's cynicism and the Oriental's ruthlessness. I think we find it hard to conceptualize living in a place (like Europe, for example) where the people over the state line, so to speak, are completely different in language, culture and, sometimes, morals.

    Good way of putting it; the naivety is at times charming, and other times worrying, as you guys seem to really believe in politics and politicians.

    Americans truly believe they have something good to offer the world. Not only here in our own country, but anywhere our Armed Forces go. We think of ourselves as fair; the Good Guys. We don't think of ourselves (or our politicians) as heavy-handed, but sometimes we (and they) are. We try not to condescend, but dammit! We've got a good thing going here! And millions agree! That's why they flock to our shores. To the U.S. bashers here I say: Yes, our country is self-serving -- isn't yours? Doesn't your country try to protect its self-interests? Does your country's self-interest never conflict with another country's self-interest? If your country had the means (hard, cold, cash, technological know-how, resources, military force AND diplomacy) would it not employ those means to further its own interests, foster its ideals, preserve its own autonomy and safety?

    The problem is, I think, that America see themselves as the good guys and have the power to do what they see as good, even if other people don’t want them to. America has such power that it can ignore other countries; Kyoto, the World Court, the UN. As the same time as ignoring the efforts of the rest of the world to sort stuff out, they take the lead. It is I think perceived by many people that America’s attitude is “help us achieve our goals” and the ‘our’ means America’s. I think those people feel that the only way we are going to sort some of the geopolitical, social, developmental and environmental problems is to work together to a common goal defined by MANY nations, making accommodations as required to achieve those goals. Often those accommodations would affect larger, richer countries in a negative fashion to help less rich countries in a positive way; with trade tariffs for example.

    For this reason many larger richer countries, and not just the USA (but they get the most flak as they are the largest and most powerful), refuse to make such moves on the grounds of the negative effects they would suffer. I feel, and I’m not alone, that this is all well and good, but short-sighted. By not working together for common goals, problems that could be made to go away over time build up like boils that at some point will need lancing, and solving the crisis that is ultimately engendered is probably as or more expensive than the negative effects one was trying to avoid.

    I’m not talking about social altruism; I’m talking about social pragmatism.

    The problem may be that your country does not have the means, so it must think of itself as a small spoke in the greater wheel of civilization. Your country most certainly has a longer and more illustrious history than ours. You must, nonetheless, concern yourself closely with the other spokes, because if any of them should break, the entire wheel is weakened. What you cannot abide is that the United States of America is an entire wheel in itself. The axle of humanity joins us, and we do not forget that we must co-exist with all of you, but we do not share the same interdependency in many matters. Nonetheless, we must roll forward together in order for the world to progress.

    And this is a good example; the reason other countries do not like the USA is because they are becoming irrelevant, the world needs the USA, but the USA does not need the constituent members of the world, the way of humanity is our way. Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated.

    It’s not surprising therefore that some feel the USA is arrogant; they want to lead the world to a better time. But they break International laws they expect others to obey and hold prisoners in loopholes of legality that would be un-Constitutional if on US soil. Maybe some people feel we don’t need leadership like that. Many people feel that united we stand, divide we fall, and united means a common goal, not the interests of the few and powerful.

    The fact that American patriotism is the guiding light and sustaining force of such a status quo is the thing that worries some people more than “Honk if you love America” bumper stickers.

  • slipnslidemaster

    I stand up and salute for one thing and one thing only............


  • outnfree

    Darnit, Abaddon!

    I haven't read all of pages 3-5 yet, and I just found this cartoon on the Pledge of Allegiance wording controversy that I thought might lighten the mood for some who were getting very worked up on pages 1-3:

    And then I find your nicely worded and very satisfactorily explanatory reply to my comments. Which made me hesitate to copy it here, but what the heck? *lol*

    I will have to read the intervening stuff and may or may not reply further. But I do thank you for your time and explanation.

    I was told prior to my first visit to France (I am a francophile :) ), that the French hate Americans and that I would find it difficult to get around. I was only a third year French student at the time. I had NO problem at all. I was young, female, made an effort to speak THEIR language to them (albeit with an atrocious accent and a poor vocabulary) and was treated very well, indeed! Always have been, on subsequent trips, too.

    I spent six months in Lausanne, Switzerland when I was younger, too. That's when I paid some attention to world politics and decided I didn't like M. Chirac!

    Since I, personally, don't want to force anyone to do anything the American way, I can't see why non-Americans are so convinced that my fellow Americans wish to pressure them to assimilate. But I understand your fears: A world entirely American would be devoid of much that is beautiful, interesting and good.

    Long live diversity!


  • Abaddon

    outnfree; the tragedy is that it is largely 'marketing'. If American foreign policy was sold as effectively as jeans or hamburgers, there would be less of a problem. Compare Kennedy's 'ask not what America can do for you' speech with Bush's dithering. Stick someone in power who's dumb enough to use the word 'crusade' in the context he did, even if someone else wrote it, reap the whirlwind. I also know that American's I've met, who vary from the more libveral than me to so conservative they are quaint, are just as likely to be good hearted human beings as people from other countries I've met.

    "young, female, made an effort to speak THEIR language to them"

    This description gets you help in ANY country in the world. Hell, I get by without the young female bit (well, I have a young female bit, but that's different) and get by just on trying to speak the langugae; people always like that.

  • Xena

    I'm baaaaaaaaacccccccckkkkkkkk

    gsx -

    Part of the problem is that the "blind patriots" get all the press. They are the ones making a spectacle of themselves and we all know how much the news loves sensationalism. However, that is not America in general.

    Honestly I think that is a big part of the problem with the perception people have of the US.

    Brummie, mattnoel and Englishman - nice to see Brits are patriotic I don't feel quite so bad now about the bit of patriotism I DO have. I don't see a problem in having pride in your country as long as you don't take it to extremes and go overboard with it. Ya know?

    Ven - you have a good point...our numbers in general tend to overwhelm...we probably APPEAR to have more excessive patriots in our country, but when you balance it against how many people in general live here the ratio probably isn't all that much higher than in other countres...ok maybe a BIT higher, but we do have more people.

    JWinSF -

    But, being a U.S citizen, I personally find the arrogance of many from the United States to be repulsive.

    I find the arrogance of a few to be repulsive also....I am curious at what part of the country you are in...and how many people you encounter on a day to day basis that have this attitude...hope you don't mind my asking

    Jayson -

    In order to have a true debate over a concept as important and complex as "patriotism" we need to have a clear understanding what it is and what it is not. Patriotism is not Nationalism. Often these two concepts are confused as the same thing. They are not. More often than not, the differences go unexposed due to ignorance or malice.

    hhhmm didn't even consider throwing nationalism into the just automatically assumes being a patriot makes one a nationalisitic don't they? But when you sit down and think about it, perhaps not...I consider myself to be patriotic to a certain degree, but not nationalistic...I don't consider my nation the best (well perhaps just best for me at this moment, but not best overall)and I am not blind to it's faults. I think that might be a thread all it's own though!

    jurs - I think perhaps they just don't understand us.....not so much that they envy us. lol lets face it we do tend to be a breed apart

    Farkel - Sorry you had such a hard time understanding my post, I will try to do better next time.

    Simon - So it wouldn't bother you THAT MUCH huh? Well I have to admit we are different then...whenever I see people making sweeping generazations about ANY group, especially one I am a part of I tend to try and correct their thinking. If someone had said "many women are bitches" I would have attempted to correct their thinking...If someone had said "many women named Diane are pushy and snotty" lol I would have attempted to correct their thinking....if you allow people to continue in a pattern of thinking that you feel is incorrect and slurs a group of people, ANY group of people, I feel you are helping to breed the very ignorance you have been accused of.

    What I have seen personally in this thread is people communicating and learning about each other and dispelling some possible myths about their respective countries. It as been refreshing and enlightening to me personally...but unfortunately I have also seen some people who appear to not to want to let go of their bias regardless of the information presented to them..and that in my opinion is just sad.

    Pleasuredome - Thank you for the information. It is interesting to see how other countries celebrate their heritage and land....I envy ya'll your history!

    Realist - (queing Disney music) It's a small world after all...It's a small world after all...It's a small world after all..It's a small small you can thank me later for putting that music in your head

    I live in Austin, Texas. Hey I sent you a PM, I hope you don't mind...I rarely sent them to people I haven't met before, it just feels invasive, but I am curious about your stay in the States.

    OK late for work again....*sigh*...

    Nice to see you joined us Abaddon

  • Simon

    I think the reference to Nationalism is interesting:

    I consider a lot of what people label "patriotism" as misplaced "nationalism" and people are being taken advantage of.

    Here in the UK we have the BNP (British National Party) who exhibit intense nationalism but I doubt anyone would describe them as being truly patriotic.

    From what I've seen, Canadians are fiercly patriotic but do not show the same level of nationalism as I have seen in the USA.

    Sometimes, true patriotism involves criticising your own government (or accepting criticism) and saying "hell... this is not good enough or unacceptable. We expect and demand better"

    Nationalism rarely caters for any deviation from a fixed 'party line' and viewpoint and accepts no possibility of being wrong.

  • outnfree

    Ok, I've had time to read the rest (and to notice the red X -- I'll figure that out later, ).

    First, E-man and Dana: Isn't it amazing what absolutely incredible work can be done with stirring music and changed lyrics? *lol* Such inspiration!

    Now, then:

    As I stated in my original post, it does come across as ignorant because I don't believe Americans have the same opportunities to experience/learn what other countries have to offer, so in that case, how can they logically declare that America is the bestest country in the whole wide world? - Prisca

    I will have to point out that I never actually stated that "America is the bestest country in the whole wide world"? I said that it was my belief that we had the best form of an imperfect form of government. I said that we believe we have "good" things to offer to the rest of the world. I also said that "millions flock to our shores."

    One of the reasons Americans don't travel as widely offshore as others is because there is so much of the United States to see, and its geography and regional culture is varied enough that there is plenty to admire and learn about right here. Another reason is that so many foreign countries have sent thousands of people here, that we are able to learn traditions, customs and some smattering of history of their respective nations from those immigrants.

    It is my opinion that it is those immigrants who say things about America being "the bestest" or "superior." And they instill that appreciation for the opportunities they have discovered on our shores in their offspring, contrasting their present way of life with the hardships, poverty, or political/religious/class persecution they experienced in "the old country."

    My "Papa" (grandfather) was Danish and came here to make a living as a young 15 year old boy -- maybe even as a stowaway -- and did well enough as a butcher (his trade and day job) and odd jobs, including as a trainer of Great Danes for show, to support his six children and my Nana's son from a previous marriage. During the Great Depression, they moved themselves from Union City, NJ to farmland in Pennsylvania so that they could raise animals and vegetables to be able to feed themselves. When things got better, they bought a ramshackle home in a suburban New Jersey town which they fixed up and where they could still keep a few chickens, horses, etc. and plant a garden. The children all lived at home until they were married, and during WWII the daughters left behind with young kids were welcome to stay at the "homestead." After the war, two of the returning veterans took advantage of the GI bill to build new homes for their families. My one uncle sent three of his four children to Annapolis because they could go for cheap (free?), since he was a Navy veteran. My Nana wasn't born in the States, either.

    On the other hand, my father's side of the family goes back to the Mayflower passengers. (hehe -- I could be a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution.)

    This is why I think Teejay is wrong when he says:

    I think it’s also important to remember the age of our country compared to others. The world can like it or not and admit it or not, but advancing from what amounted to a wilderness 2 centuries ago to what is now the unchallenged world power is nothing short of miraculous. This achievement has brought with it a certain hubris—a pride of self and the belief that we are somehow better than the rest. Of course the fact that none of us now living actually had much to do with earlier achievements is not given much thought. Since we consider ourselves one big happy family—a Melting Pot, as it were—the achievements of this or that one is considered “our” achievement and, vicariously, “my” achievement.

    For many, MANY Americans, the achievements of our forebears ARE directly related to how we are raised to feel about our country. And we are raised to feel GOOD about our country!!! It was a land of opportunity, and it IS a land of opportunity, still.

    My husband's parents are also immigrants. They ended up in a three-family home in an older urban neighborhood. My mother-in-law worked as a seamstress in a factory when her children got older. Before that, she was a homemaker. My father-in-law was an auto mechanic. Their sons and daughters are now professionals: one civil engineer who owns his own business; one mechanical engineer who works for a large corporation; one CPA who works for the IRS, and an RN. (Heck! I feel absolutely "small" next to them!) They are hard workers and their parents' grandchildren have never known hunger or hardship.

    So yes, Sadie and Amazing are correct when they state that Americans don't really think no other country in the world has anything to offer its citizens or us Americans. Of course, they do. But most U.S. citizens (not the Native Americans, of course -- who, yes, have been treated horribly, and African Americans who came as slaves, or indentured servants who were largely criminals forced to come here) have ancestors who elected to come here to have a better life than the one they left behind. And, for many, they found it.

    That's what makes our country "great".

    (How're my marketing skills now, abaddon? )

    outnfree for President

  • Robdar


    Good article on Anti American. Thanks for posting it.

    At the peace rally Saturday for the first time we had police on the scene. The reason? Because the Bush supporters showed up last week and started roughing up some of the "peacenik, hippies". Everything was peaceful and police free before until the others showed up to whup a little ass. The funny thing is that now that the police are there to protect our basic liberties, the Bush supporters are not showing up. Nobody in the peace rally harrassed the police and the police were cordial and seemed happy to be there.

    We had several people that are and were in the military at the rally that oppose what is going on in Iraq. This was surprising to the pedestrians that strolled by and told us to be ashamed and that we should be supporting the troops.

    I was discussing with another protestor that if the people that are coming by to spew hate (and there are quite a few on certain days) knew how their faces contort and how ugly in appearance that they suddenly become, they might try a little harmony and understanding. Hate is an ugly thing and it literally transform the appearance of the one doing the hating.

  • outnfree

    LOL -- I think I just (very wordily) restated what E-man said on Page 1 of this topic!


    From what I've seen, Canadians are fiercely patriotic but do not show the same level of nationalism as I have seen in the USA.

    After living 7 years in Canada, I can tell you that Canadians are waaaaay more laid back than Americans about just about anything! Unless, of course, you're speaking about how their politicians speak to one another in Parliment! I could not BELIEVE the rantings and insults! LOL

    Sometimes, true patriotism involves criticising your own government (or accepting criticism) and saying, "hell... this is not good enough or unacceptable. We expect and demand better."

    I agree. I think this is what robdar and her "mates" were doing at their peace rallies! Isn't it nice Robyn DOES have freedom of speech here? Although I do think it was nationalism and not patriotism that she ran into with "some" Bush supporters. (I am a Bush supporter on the war, but I will defend ANY American's right to express dissent on the matter. And I wasn't in Missouri last Saturday. Promise. )


  • Abaddon

    Actually, I think we need to get semantic here (deep joy). All definitons Mirriam-Webster;

    pa·tri·ot·ism Function: noun Date: circa 1726: love for or devotion to one's country.

    Nothing wrong with that, is there?

    na·tion·al·ism Function: noun Date: 1844: loyalty and devotion to a nation; especially : a sense of national consciousness exalting one nation above all others and placing primary emphasis on promotion of its culture and interests as opposed to those of other nations or supranational groups.

    Now that sounds a little worrying; "exalting one nation above all others and placing primary emphasis on promotion of its culture and interests as opposed to those of other nations or supranational groups". Under this definition, nationalism can be called wrong, as no country would want another country to be nationalistic towards themselves.

    jin·go·ism Function: noun Date: 1878: extreme chauvinism (1 : excessive or blind patriotism 2 : undue partiality or attachment to a group or place to which one belongs or has belonged) or nationalism marked especially by a belligerent (2 : inclined to or exhibiting assertiveness, hostility, or combativeness) foreign policy.

    Now that sounds very worrying. I think that a foreign policy "inclined to or exhibiting assertiveness, hostility, or combativeness" is how many people see the USA. I'm not saying they are, but obviously that's how some see things. And as their perception is their reality, this is a problem even if the USA is "not like that".

    So, I think we can all agree that there is nothing wrong with patriotism. I think we can also agree that nationalism and jingoism (which was termed to describe excessive patriotism in England) are quite probably bad things.

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