America! Fuck No!

October 24, 2008 — 15 Comments

Something really strange is happening in America in 2008: American’s, their leaders, and the press seem to have woken up to the fact that the rest of the world doesn’t like them quite so much anymore.

The references to America’s standing in the world have been peppered throughout the election campaign, most regularly from Obama, but also in the recent slew of newspaper editorials as well. The NY Times in support Obama had this to say:

The United States is battered and drifting after eight years of President Bush?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s failed leadership. He is saddling his successor with two wars, a scarred global image….

Both presidential candidates talk about strengthening alliances in Europe and Asia, including NATO, and strongly support Israel. Both candidates talk about repairing America?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s image in the world….

There would appear to be a shift away from the America! Fuck Yeah! ethos so nicely put in Team America World Police, a blind idea by all Americans that they are the best of the best, superior to the rest of the world, and that every other country should be like them.

For once, some Americans at least now care that the world thinks less of them.

The shift isn’t huge; the acceptance that America needs to play nicer in world affairs and earn respect hasn’t fully replaced the blind ideology of American supremacy over all.

Oddly enough, it’s Obama who calls upon this idea of American supremacy more than McCain, at least in the speeches I’ve seen from both.

I cringe every time Obama says that his story would only be possible in America, because it’s so patently untrue, and so patently populist crap pandering to base nationalism. Obama’s story could have been possible in any number of countries, from my own Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, western Europe, South America (economically less so, but the racial mix most definitely)…and numerous other places.

There is of course nothing wrong with being proud of your country, but there is a difference in blindly believing that your country is the best of the best, and that you a superior in every way, and that others do not share or enjoy the same freedoms and benefits you do.

The numerous times I’ve been asked on my trips to the United States when I’d be moving there (honestly) I’ve responded that I am happy with the country I live in, and although I like visiting places, I don’t feel an urge to leave because some how (in at least some of these people’s minds) that America is better.

The difference is in grounded reality. I love Australia, but I know it isn’t perfect, for example these words could be blocked soon from being seen by my fellow countrymen due to our Governments inability to understand free speech. But there are many positives as well. Americans tend to overstate the positives and ignore the negatives, or downplay them more than people in other countries. One small example: homeless people aren’t an issue regularly discussed there, but every time I visit I’m horrified by the huge number of beggars in some cities on every corner.

Health care: how exactly can the richest country in the history of the world not look after every person? It’s not socialism to keep people alive: it’s loving thy neighbor, it’s looking after everyone because you should morally do so.

It’s a positive trend that the United States is finally taking into account how others see it. It may also be reflective of looking inwards, and realizing that all is not perfect in the land of the free. There’s still some way to go, but finally America might be saying Fuck No, we can and should do better, and that we are not perfect.

15 responses to America! Fuck No!

  1. Here's the thing, that I've said repeatedly in various forums. Just the very fact of Obama winning the election is going to make people happy, worldwide. It's going to resemble VE day, a one-time lift to all economies worldwide.

  2. Nice post, while mindsets are changing for sure, there is still along way to go. Probably too far infact to ever make a serious shift in the entire population. Big city residents have long worried about the US on the world stage. The small town, or I guess “real americans” as they are called today dont care to look much further than main st.

  3. I love the Team America reference 🙂 There is no doubt that many Americans are too inward-looking and have, seemingly, drunk the Kool-aid. However, if you think that this is going to change even a bit, you are deluding yourself. When confronted with the fact that America is disliked by many all over the world, they will respond with a resounding, “Fuck'em”.

    I can't say that I blame them. They are so far away, both geographically and ideologically, from “those foreigners” that there are few reasons for them to care. While we can sit here and say, “they should care because X and Y,” the reality is that they don't and it's unlikely to change. I think that similar people can be found in all countries, including some interesting interviews I've seen of Australian “common folk” 🙂

    Aside from that rather vocal minority, I do believe that we will see/are seeing change in those who are less segregated from the rest of the world by means of profession, interests, travel, heritage, and so forth. America is and continues to be a nation of immigrants, to the tune of about a million each year. This results in an ever diversifying populace that increasingly has connections to countries other than America. However, if you think that you are going to see a politician saying that Americans have to be more caring and understanding to the needs and desires of the rest of the world….nope. You will see more talk about working together with other governments to meet our goals..yadda, yadda, yadda.

    I've been particularly chatty today. Take care and a hearty “America! Fuck Yeah!”

  4. Good challenging post Duncan, I agree with what you have written. How America is portrayed has changed under Bush and it will take time to change that view. Is either candidate capable of spear heading that change?

  5. The attitude here predates George W. Bush by several centuries, going back to “Manifest Destiny” or even “a city on a hill” – namely, the idea that the United States was founded and settled based on an ideal, rather than a search for gold or a place to establish a penal colony. Even though the original ideals of spreading Christendom to the savages have long since died off, you can see how the concept survives, in various forms, in the philosophies of Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush. Each of the Presidents that I named believed that the U.S. had something special to offer to the world, and by God we were going to offer it whether the world liked it or not (Kennedy saving Vietnam from the Communists, Carter saving Iran from the Shah, etc.). However, through much of our history, there has been a battle between isolationism (George Washington) and internationalism (every President since FDR). While the isolationists have been in the minority since World War II, they have still been very vocal (U.S. out of the U.N., etc.), the pendulum could swing back toward isolationism, in which the question “Should we send Americans/aid to [foreign country]” becomes “Why would we WANT to send Americans/aid to [foreign country]”?

  6. I still say America! Fuck Yeah! and am voting for Obama. I believe the US has a lot of strengths that are not going away. There is also a lot of room for improvement too but I don't think Obama is going to be able to make much headway in reforming a government that is fueled by special interests and directed by lobbyists. The new boss is going to be pretty much the same as the old boss. I don't share your concerns regarding America's image, worry about its critics, or think that any other society should abandon its culture and adopt ours. I have a lot of Australian friends that I respect but I don't think Obama?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s story could have been possible in Australia today. Racism is still too prevalent there.

  7. Great post. Balanced and well argued. As you write, it is all to easy for those of us living elsewhere to blame the world's ills on the US.

  8. I think the homeless people issue is a good point. I, too, find it quite disturbing when I visit an American city and am confronted with a huge number of homeless people. There is, of course, homeless people in Australia, but the number doesn't really compare at all.

    I've also spent time living in Swedish cities and nearly had a heart attack one day when I saw a beggar. A beggar? In Sweden? Extremely unusual. Yes, yes, I know, bloody socialists.

    @scott, yes of course there is racism in Australia, but that's not the reason why he'd struggle to get elected. He'd struggle to get elected because we don't really do speeches — it's a bit too showy and big-headed for our liking.

  9. America is still influential, argueable the most influential, in the world. Such countries tend to be inward looking. That is not an American trait, it is how people are. If the US could break out of that before their influence dwindles (as will happen in a few generations), that would be unique. However, seeing history as it goes, that is highly unlikely. It is the way of the world and so far no-one, and certainly no country, has been able to escape from it.

  10. I can't imagine an Aborigine running for president, even a mixed-race person, in your bloody wonderful country. If it could have happened there, why hasn't it? Because America is the only place this is possible. When was the last English PM a man or woman of color? Fat bloody chance one would even risk running. God forbid she/he approach a soccer stadium full of English sportsmen. In my months in Europe traveling, I always felt the love/hate relationship in every country. I haven't been to OZ but I know enough about how your tribe treated the natives to know you are no better than us, and in some ways worse. America is only a potential, as it always has been. It could be the best place on earth and real Americans are striving to make it live up to its ideals.

  11. someone on Bill Maher said it very well, to paraphrase,

    the rest of the world loves America for its optimism. They hate the current administration largely because they've stolen that diamond-like flame that burned so brightly in the USA in better (pre Bush) times, Democrat or Republican.

  12. We're not perfect, no one is. But I still don't give a flying fuck what any other country thinks of us. Nope on single bit. And yes, I travel, in fact Australia is just about one of the only places I have not been.

    Obama is a Marxist, liar and a tool of the extreme far left mafia. I have sat and watched as his camp has taken over the airwaves with Saudi Arabian like state tv tactics. Where anyone questions The One, they are silence with his team of a thousand lawyers. Truly frightening that 50% of my country wants to elect the least qualified presidential candidate in the history of my country. The only redeeming value Barry has is he looks good in a pair of board shorts.

  13. Hear hear! This is a great post. This sentence especially rings true for me: “There is of course nothing wrong with being proud of your country, but there is a difference in blindly believing that your country is the best of the best, and that you a superior in every way, and that others do not share or enjoy the same freedoms and benefits you do.” There's a big difference between loving your country and thinking your country is superior to all the other countries. I've always been uncomfortable with how nationalistic some Americans are (I'm not American myself but I love living here in Silicon Valley).

    Even though Obama does use the standard “America is the greatest nation on earth” rhetoric (I think presidential candidates *have* to, unfortunately), I'm positive people around the world will rejoice if/when he's elected, because he represents a more nuanced, international and multicultural face for America. Even the Chinese love him! http://www.atimes.com/atimes/China/JJ28Ad01.html#

  14. Hear hear! This is a great post. This sentence especially rings true for me: “There is of course nothing wrong with being proud of your country, but there is a difference in blindly believing that your country is the best of the best, and that you a superior in every way, and that others do not share or enjoy the same freedoms and benefits you do.” There's a big difference between loving your country and thinking your country is superior to all the other countries. I've always been uncomfortable with how nationalistic some Americans are (I'm not American myself but I love living here in Silicon Valley).

    Even though Obama does use the standard “America is the greatest nation on earth” rhetoric (I think presidential candidates *have* to, unfortunately), I'm positive people around the world will rejoice if/when he's elected, because he represents a more nuanced, international and multicultural face for America. Even the Chinese love him! http://www.atimes.com/atimes/China/JJ28Ad01.html#

  15. Hear hear! This is a great post. This sentence especially rings true for me: “There is of course nothing wrong with being proud of your country, but there is a difference in blindly believing that your country is the best of the best, and that you a superior in every way, and that others do not share or enjoy the same freedoms and benefits you do.” There's a big difference between loving your country and thinking your country is superior to all the other countries. I've always been uncomfortable with how nationalistic some Americans are (I'm not American myself but I love living here in Silicon Valley).

    Even though Obama does use the standard “America is the greatest nation on earth” rhetoric (I think presidential candidates *have* to, unfortunately), I'm positive people around the world will rejoice if/when he's elected, because he represents a more nuanced, international and multicultural face for America. Even the Chinese love him! http://www.atimes.com/atimes/China/JJ28Ad01.html#

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