Is the US the “greatest country in the world”?

Fascinating Op-Ed by Neil Gabler on the Boston Globe website questioning the reflexive statement of the superiority of the US made by almost all politicians and media in this country.

I’ve lived in the US for over 20 years now (with small stints overseas) and this has always bothered / mystified me.  I understand all about patriotism and jingoism – almost every country has it – but for it to be so overt and so ubiquitous is really strange.  Yes, it was said that to be born English was to have won first prize in the lottery of life (quote from either Cecil Rhodes or Rudyard Kipling – not clear), but that sentiment always seemed either Victorian or somewhat dodgily racist (google directs you to Stormfront on the first page when you search for it) or both.

I’m extremely grateful for the opportunities I’ve had in the US, and I’ve made my home here for better or worse.  I have many friends here, it doesn’t always rain, and the landscape is fantastic.  New York is one of the great cities in the world, the education system is innovative and good, opportunity abounds….

But things could be better – couldn’t they always?  Are there no ideas, concepts, or things from other places that could not make a positive difference?  I don’t think it’s an admission of defeat or lack of love or respect to say “this is great, you know what would make it even better?”  Imagine JFK with Kuala Lumpur’s express train from downtown to the airport; New York City with Amsterdam’s trams and bike lanes; the US with NZ’s no-fault accident compensation commission?  There are thousands of examples.  Does that mean I should “go live in Europe if you think it’s better”? No.  I think we should work together to improve things here – I just fail to see why that is wrong.

A couple of commentators to the original article chime in with interesting perspectives:

“reminds me of something i read once: “liberals love this country like a grown-up, they see it for what it is and try to work on making it better. Grown-up love means actually understanding what you love, taking the good with the bad, and helping your loved one grow. Conservatives love this country the way a 6 year-old loves his mommy, everything mommy does is right and anyone who disagrees with mommy is bad.”

“We have people here who imply the US cannot learn from other countries. If that’s not a sign of mental deficiency, I don’t know what is.”

and, of course:  “There is a simple solution to this Mr Gabler Move!! We dont need your American Hating types here. Be thankfull for what you got, and for what our forefathers fought for.”

About Raoul

With a fairly unusual first name, this is where I have to stress VERY STRONGLY that these posts are my personal opinions and in no way reflect anything at all to do with my employer. For employer-approved content, take a look at my work blog.
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