This is a paper I wrote for my political communications class. For context, in the first paragraph I’m talking about this infamous clip from Newsroom that we watched on the first day of class a long with some of Bill Maher’s smug jargon, and when my professor asked the class for their thoughts, they all mindlessly agreed with the anti-Americanism expressed with some of the most ludicrous, poorly considered logic I’ve ever heard. I don’t know if this essay sucks as much as I think it does or it’s just a writer’s habit of hating everything they’ve written more than a week ago, but I thought it was worth a share with the Fourth of July right around the corner.
Is America the greatest nation? Certainly not according to the Newsroom or our classroom for that matter. Given the political climate of Lasell College, although devastated, I can’t say that I was particularly surprised by the way my classmates reacted to the clips shown on the first day of class. Patriotism is becoming less and less popular in the United States. According to the Pew Research Center, there is a growing generational gap in American patriotism. Less than a third of millennials identify as patriots, or regard America is the greatest country in the world.
Patriotism has become the new religion, in the sense that public sentiments regard it as more of a vice and less of a virtue. It is increasingly seen as an ignorant, blind allegiance and inflated egotism baseless in reality that does more harm than good.
In the video clip we watched at the beginning of the year, the newscaster rattled off statistics in a neurotic outburst that was supposed to prove that America was no longer the greatest nation on Earth. He argued that other countries were free, so that our freedom was void of significance. We were third in this, tenth in that, fourteenth in this. But can the greatness of a nation truly be measured in statistics?
Can you measure the competence or love of a parent by how much they spend on gifts for you yearly? How many times they were late picking you up from school? How many parties they allowed you to attend? Love, like greatness, is not something that can be easily measured.
According to Business Insider, China leads the world in math, science and reading and according to the CIA, labor force as well. However, no sound minded, average American citizen would like to trade places with that of the average Chinese citizen. Why? With as many industries that they lead in, they are monitored and censored heavily by their government (Beina Xu), and according to the Royal Geographical Study, more than 250 million Chinese live on less than one American dollar a day with work weeks that often exceed 50 hours.
China has one of the longest, most intricate histories in the world and thousands of years of tradition. Is it fair to categorize China and what it means to be Chinese as the pollution, working conditions, corruption, socialism, and tyranny that have become so rampant in it? Is it fair to disregard thousands of years of advancement, exploration and excellence?
No nation is perfect or without its flaws. Countries are governed by politicians that are people, and just as human nature leaves us all vulnerable to evil and immorality, every nation is vulnerable to corruption and injustice. Moreover, while it is noble and necessary to promote a dialogue of reflection and constructive criticism for the sake of a nation’s future, it is childishly naive to believe that a global superpower achieves and maintains their status without any questionable behavior.
According to the Newsroom anchor, our freedom was meaningless because other nations were free. Economist Thomas Sowell explains the flaw in his thinking in his famous essay Ever Wonder Why; “Nothing is easier than to take for granted what we are used to, and to imagine that it is more or less natural, so that it requires no explanation…Some people think the issue is whether the glass is half empty or half full. More fundamentally, the question is whether the glass started out empty or started out full… Those who are constantly looking for the “root causes” of poverty, of crime, and of other national and international problems act as if prosperity and law-abiding behavior were so natural that it is their absence that has to be explained. But a casual glance around the world today, or back through history, would dispel any notion that good things just happen naturally, much less inevitably. The United States of America is the exception, not the rule.”
The United States of America is the greatest underdog victory of all time. The first and only nation founded on principle. We showed the world that with resolve, commitment and determination we could not only change our lives but change the course of history. We inspired countless revolutions around the world, and remain a global champion and pioneer of freedom. We’ve made poor decision after poor decision but we have the ability to not only openly discuss and criticize our unfavorable past, but have the political as well as personal agency to ensure that we don’t continue making the same mistakes. The value of American freedom has not and will not depreciate over time, and while we must always actively strive for excellence and not rest on the great accomplishments and victories of the past, we must not let current events, policies or an administration tarnish our views of what it means to be an American.