As Others See Us

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Once again I find myself quoting someone else’s words … but sometimes, other people have a way of expressing exactly what I’ve been thinking and it seems so much easier to let them tell the story. Thus, following are the comments made by a contributor to the Pubic Forum of our local newspaper:

We were recently honored to host a group of Canadian family.

I thought it interesting to hear their views on our crazy American situation. Here is what I heard.

  • They do not understand how we idolize the rich and powerful and allow these elites to get away with anything. Where is the common value of law and order for all.
  • They compared the American culture to a Roman Colosseum where the masses are trying to survive everyday while the 1% watch the fights and cheer them on from the stands.
  • They all agreed that it’s odd that the GOP and MAGA want to blame every little thing on Biden and Dems. When in fact the world over has the same or far bigger problems. Like the cost of gas. No president actually has the power to control the cost of fuel.
  • They mentioned the American culture of exceptionalism. Years back this was much more true than it is today. Look at the numbers and America is far behind in many areas like children’s education, poverty, and health care. Many other advanced countries surpass America in these basics.
  • “We don’t get the gun thing”. Yes Americans have a strong gun culture. But they thought our founding fathers did not mean the right to bear arms was above the rights to freedom and safety which are even more important. They had a couple mass shootings in Canada the last 10 years but virtually none compared to us because of their strict gun laws. Laws that did not impose on hunting.
  • Our culture “God and Country” go together with what they see as the ‘White Christian’ majority. The irony is these same Christians absolute opposition to other religions. Our country was founded on freedom of religion.

The contributor ended by saying he’s lived in many other countries, but he still prefers America and urges us to “keep it a strong democracy.”

I agree.

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31 thoughts on “As Others See Us

  1. I do the same, Nan … why re-invent the wheel? If Robert Reich, Dan Rather or somebody else has written a piece that captures my own thoughts and says them as well as (or better than) I could, I share them. As for this post … excellent! I’ve long said that people in other nations, Canada and the UK specifically, see us and our situation far more clearly than we do. I guess it’s like that old adage, “Can’t see the forest for the trees.”

    Liked by 4 people

  2. I agree with that Canadian view of America. Perhaps that’s because I grew up in Australia, before moving here. That gives me a better perspective.

    I remember when Obama was running for the presidency. I though that his time spent in Indonesia was a plus because it gave him a broader experience. But many Republicans thought it a problem and a reason to oppose Obama. Americans tend to be too parochial.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. The above comments are pretty tame, probably in respect for the speakers’ American hosts. As a Canadian, in Canada, I would say take those words and the feelings behind them, multiply by at least 10, if not 100, and then you might get the true feelings most Canadians have about America.
    The problem is that not all Americans fit the bill. Probably most Americans are nice, good people, individually or even in small groups. But collectively Americans have an ugly swagger, “We are the best people in the world, and don’t try to tell us different!” Canadians knowingly admit we are not the best people in the world. Nobody is! Everyone had problems. But listening to people like the writer you recently focused on, Nan, there is no doubt in his mind HE IS THE BEST! And it is people like him we Canadians cannot stand!
    I could go on, but why bother? I’ve said all this somewhere else before, but it changes nothing. I read little comments all the time, by almost all of my American friends, that project that same undeniable arrogance. But if I point it out I get jumped on. More often than not it is what is not said than what is said. It still screams just as loud. And while as I recently said, I think to Jill, I would never move to the USA, I still care about our southern (and a few north-western) neighbours. I don’t want to see America disappear, as in becoming a nation of fascists. Right now the borders between us do not need defending. It is one of the longest undefended borders in the world. No borders in the world should have to be defended. But yet, most are. If America becomes a fascist nation, that border will need to be defended. That is a sad, sad idea. And would be a great loss to both sides!

    Liked by 8 people

    • I do think America is a great country … it has accomplished some noteworthy and momentous things in its past. But unfortunately, as many of us Americans know and recognize, it has changed. And the BIGGEST change took place in 2016. Hopefully we’ll be able to return to our more beneficent ways in the future. But of course, as we Americans also know, it greatly depends on the Leader we choose to lead the way.

      Liked by 6 people

      • “And the BIGGEST change took place in 2016.”

        To an extent I certainly agree. 2016 allowed the ugliness of American white Christian nationalism to come out of the woodwork, and gave it permission to show itself in public. The roots of this problem go back a long way, to at least idiots like Falwell and his Moral Majority, and likely even further. I see DJT as a symptom of the rot at the heart of American evangelicalism.

        Liked by 6 people

        • Nobody asked me, but I think we can go right back to the slaveowners at the dawn of America, as well as the col9nists who decided to destroy the original inhabbitants of Turtle Island. The latter felt they had the divine right to take and own land that the original 8 habitants shared, and the former were too good to do their own menial labour. A civil war was fought over slavery, among other things, but the losers never stopped believing white skin was superior to black skin, or any “colour” of skin, for that matter. It took almost 100 years before the government even officially acknowledged black/white equality in the South, but even that was not acceptable to the white folk who lived there.
          Trump’s America is now trying to bring that America back to life. That so many Americans agree denies the word “great” to the nation. America might have “great ideas,” but the truth of the matter is greatness cannot be bestowed, but has to be earned… and maintained.

          Liked by 5 people

        • I’d certainly agree with you there.

          The MAGAT’s want to take us back to a time when white Christian men controlled everything, and everyone else knew that their place was towards the back of the line. This is the world that many white evangelicals wants to see as they realize they are rapidly losing power in America. I’m sure it’s because they know how badly others were treated while they were in power and they worry that the same will happen to them.

          Liked by 2 people

        • Oh he’s a absolutely..probably began with Reagan. I remember his secretary of interior..James Watt. He was a religious far right nut case and it went from there.

          Like

        • Don’t wait till we ask, just put it out there.

          For all of our national pride, we have never come near reaching that ‘more perfect union.’ And we can’t throw it up to one political party. The slaveowners were never prosecuted for their sedition and insurrection. I suppose that too many people had closets full of bones. Democracy cannot be achieved while dismissing parts of society as unworthy of equality.

          I’m proud to be an American and my past service. It doesn’t mean I’m satisfied with where we are now. It means I’m willing to be critical of our failures and work for better things in the future.

          “The pendulum of justice moves back and forth and whose version of justice prevails in a society depends on how aligned citizens remain to the call to pursue a more perfect union. Each time the pendulum swings back toward exclusion and discrimination, it becomes the responsibility of that generation to resist the slide backward.”
          Patricia Campos-Medina

          Liked by 5 people

    • You are probably correct, but isn’t it nice that our Canadian neighbors show a measured response? Why incite the mob f you can avoid it?

      Yes, there are ugly Americans.

      Like

  4. Jill, “I do the same, Nan … why re-invent the wheel?”
    Ditto.

    A good commentary that speaks to our present situation is appreciated. It doesn’t have to be first-hand or positive, but we need to know and try to respond positively.

    Thanx, Nan.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I have lived my whole life in New Zealand and Australia and when I was young in the 60’s and 70’s the USA was the prime country to visit, they always appeared to be more wealthy than we were, had all the latest technology, all the latest fashions and fastest cars, movie stars and best music etc (apart from the British and Aussie bands of course). Today the hate filled politics, religious extremism, the arrogance and the gun culture is a complete turn off for most of us.

    Liked by 4 people

    • In those few months leading up to the 2016 election, several of our Conservative Congressmen made a pilgrimage to Russia. I don’t recall what other authoritarian nations they visited if any, but later on, these same people received campaign donations from certain Russians.

      There were also several Christian Nationalists leaders visiting, maybe Russia, but I’m pretty sure Hungary and Turkey were on the list. Soon after we saw an increase in the hateful rhetoric from pols and Christians.

      I suspect that they were all searching for authoritarian actions to add to their playbooks. I don’t think they were there to make Christian conversions. Since then, Putin has embraced the Russian Orthodox Church as the State religion, and I’ve heard that he is now a Christian himself.

      Add to this the fact that 147 of our Legislators voted to overturn the 2020 election, many of them openly support Russia against the U.S. and Ukraine, and several are calling for violence in the streets if Trump is prosecuted. Somehow, these traitors are still in office. No doubt, Putin really wanted Trump to either be re-elected or to have a successful coup.

      It’s like we are sailing through the Straights of Messina in a storm at night. Treacherous waters.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. People who grew up here ~ out in the middle of nowhere Oregon ~ are asking the same questions. When not asking “where did all these weirdos come from and what are they doing to my bird sanctuary?” Then I remember that the first (‘Muirkkkan) commercial enterprise in Central Oregon was not cattle or timber but a mercury mine.

    Funny how those drought maps map the Mad Hatters …

    [yes, yes yes yes, Mexican Vaqueros were running cattle here summers as far north as John Day a hundred years and more before the whites showed up]

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Not my comment, but it makes a good point to think about.

    “You’re putting way too much stock in religion. The GOP doesn’t give a shit about the bible. The GOP is all about keeping wealth in the hands of the wealthy. Whatever keeps commerce flowing and keeps the stock prices high, that’s the _only_ thing they give a shit about. Everything else, from christianity to white supremacy to gun control and abortion, they’re all just marketing tools to keep them in power so they can stay rich.”

    Liked by 3 people

  8. As others see us is also who we are.

    I had some emotional upsets yesterday, watching the unveiling activity at the White House. Remembering what the Obamas have accomplished despite Whitey’s all-out effort to see that they did nothing. It is hard to understand why and how we dropped so far so fast. It will take more than one progressive, honest administration for us to recover.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It will take more than one progressive, honest administration for us to recover.

      Sad, but true. The damage has been horrendous and has infected far too many.

      Like

  9. An older book:
    To Make Men Free
    Heather Cox Richardson

    A new book, available soon:
    American Psychosis: A Historical Investigation of How the Republican Party Went Crazy.
    David Corn

    Like

  10. Hmmm… as an outsider to your culture, I would say, I agree with most what the writer told us their Canadian friends thought. Yet, to me it seems, if not most, a major part of the US citizenry would also agree. The roots of the problems of any nation go a lot deeper, than what is going on at the very moment. As I see it the “manifest destiny” is at the heart of most of these problems. It declares the USA as an exeptional nation and in that reveals a not at all exeptional cause for suffering and misery – nationalism. It is an easy bite for many people, because it gives you the identity of a special person, a sense of community and an excuse to feel entiteled, and all without having to do much. You simply are born to the right crowd, much like when you are born to the right social class to earn a better life, or to the right religion to earn a better afterlife. People can think everything is as it ought to be and as a bonus feature you will have some other people to look down upon. At core it is mere tribal moralism, but among all the other harm it causes, like friction and confrontation between groups (such as racism and war), it also hinders progress for better. It produces and lives off of a sort of conservatism in wich people convince themselves, that near enough perfection has been reached and any suspicion to the contrary is an attack on the nationalist identity of the person and therefore comparable to treason. All nations, but especially empires, big and small, former and current suffer from it and the effects are typically worse, when honest education of history is poorly arranged.

    Liked by 1 person

    • As always, you provide us with a well-reasoned and thought out comment … and leave the reader with many things to think about. Thank you.

      And BTW, I pretty much agree with all you’re written.

      Liked by 1 person

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