Who Says America is The Greatest Country?


AFRICANGLOBE – I was consulting with a store manager recently, when he blurted this line from out of nowhere:

“America is the greatest country on earth!”

Hell, I had gone into the man’s shop to buy a pool stick, not to chest-bump and sing the “Star Spangled Banner.”

Apparently, he didn’t care. He did what lots of Americans routinely do these days: He poured on a hefty dose of his national pride.

There is certainly nothing wrong with pride for country. But let’s face it. A lot of these yahoo expressions nowadays border on fanaticism.

“America is the greatest country on earth!”

Frankly, I find that statement annoying, and not because I’m unpatriotic.

I share a mutual respect for all humankind. And as an African-American who has long combated subtle and flagrant demonstrations of White supremacy, I am suspicious of anybody bragging about how much greater they are than anyone else.

Strangely enough, many Blacks get overzealous, too. They get right in there and shout with the rest: “America is the greatest country on earth!”

Depending on the source and definition of what constitutes a nation, there are between 189 and 250 countries in the world. (Nations are like fashions; they come and go).

It’s doubtful that even Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, with all her frequent flyer miles, has visited every country on the planet.

So really, who is qualified to say definitively that America is the best of all?

Yet I hear it stated everywhere, and seemingly all the time.

“America is the greatest country on earth!”

And they declare it boldly, like it’s indisputable fact. What’s most disturbing is that the statement almost never is questioned or challenged.

America the Boastful

Of course, there are many aspects to America that are extraordinary. That’s why at any given time millions of people line up, waiting to cross these shores and pledge allegiance.

Perhaps chief among America’s attributes is its allure as the land of opportunity. You know; we got the rags-to-riches story down.

As well, when one considers that many freedoms here are null and void in other nation-states, it’s easier to grasp why folks think America stands atop the world rankings.

But that’s the point: Why are we so compelled to rank?

It might help to know the criteria used to justify the oft-repeated conviction that America is, as they say, “Number One.”

Is it our unique history? In that case, the legacy of slavery alone might bump the nation down a notch or two.

Is it our devastating power? We are the most powerful nation on earth, all right. We’re among the most aggressive, too. Few nations have been involved in more wars, and no other country has dropped an atomic bomb. America’s military might is unparalleled, but is dominance synonymous with greatness?

Maybe when folks proclaim that America is the utmost country on earth they are referring largely to the founding documents that guarantee our many freedoms.

We cherish our liberties, true. Yet the United States imprisons more of its citizens — 2 million-plus — than any other country on earth, including China.

Still, we can proudly tout of our freedom of speech, right?

The answer is yes — if, that is, we ignore the recent petition to deport CNN’s Piers Morgan for speaking out in support of gun control.

I have observed this about the people who feel most driven to boast that America is supreme: Generally, most have traversed only teeny-tiny parcels of the globe.

I am reminded of a friend who once asserted: “America is the greatest country in the world. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.”
“Have you ever been outside the country?” I asked.
“No,” he said. “And I don’t want to.”

Well, I have travelled out of the country. And let me say, I have seen some nations that were pretty cool. In those travels, I discovered that many foreigners are less enamored of us than we are with ourselves. In fact, when describing Americans they tend to use unflattering words, such as “arrogant” and “greedy.”

As well, it is always intriguing to watch the dynamics of people visiting here from foreign lands. For one thing, they seem to get homesick really fast.

One, a South African named Ryland, grew indignant because he kept encountering Americans who seemed utterly shocked when he told them he planned to shorten his visit. He said Americans asked him, over and over, “Why wouldn’t you want to stay here?”

They couldn’t wrap their imaginations around the idea that for Ryland, South Africa, with all its challenges, is the better place.

It’s funny how we often show pity for folks in nations such as Russia. We insist that foreign commoners are being duped, brainwashed by their governments and leaders.

I wonder, to what degree are Americans victims of our own propaganda?

If you ask me, this constant need to publicly flaunt our greatness smacks of a need to compensate for some underlying insecurity. At the very least it is conceited, and at most, dangerous.

Take for instance the notion of American Exceptionalism, a concept that conservatives like to toss around. It’s nothing more than a fancy way of saying God ordained Americans to rule the earth.

I sometimes wonder if there is a link between this exceptionalism business and the constant burning of American flags throughout the world.

In other words, maybe it would help international relations if Americans toned down the fervent drumbeat a bit.

I know: Someone out there will read this column and blow a major gasket. Some super-duper patriot will send an email containing another phrase ultra-nationalists like to sling:

“America: Love it or leave it!”

To that I’d say, “Why would I do that? America is at least in the top 100 of the greatest countries on earth!”


By; Nathan McCall