Jejudo, South Korea
it seems I am always interpreted as saying such a thing. My question in LR's thread wasn't supposed to be is America a good country or a bad country, but whether it is really so much better than other countries.
The answers so far don't really address the distinction I'm trying to make here:
1. We aren't perfect but at least we are free.
Yes, but so are other countries. America is not the only country that believes in freedom or that is free.
2. We help other countries.
Yes, but so do other countries. On the BBC, it was reported that someone had said that America had helped Europe in the past, but isn't willing to repay the favor in our time of need. This is blatantly untrue. We have always been "late for the wars" as the guy in "Chicken Run" said. We were late because we thought it was their war in both cases. I love Churchill quotes and though some of these are apparently just made up, I still like this one, "Don't worry. America will do the right thing. Once it has tried everything else."
These last two are from Nakdthought:
3. It's not a bad place to live or raise a child.
I agree it's not. I grew up there. But my question was why is it a better place to raise children? There are really good reasons to go to a university in America, but most people seem to agree that the public school system is broken down. Statistically, this is backed up.
4. I wouldn't choose anywhere else.
Fair enough. I'm certainly not trying to reverse the question, I'm not advocating that another country is better than America. I can complain about any country that I've lived in (and I do, just not here. It makes no sense to complain to Americans that Koreans shouldn't be ashamed of the Taegu subway incident, they should fix the problem.). I see no problems with America being the default place to live.
Now, I have an answer, a tentative one perhaps, but still an answer:
Americans are conditioned to be pragmatists and opportunists.
This is the flipside of American lawlessness. We have never been very good at being law abiding because we just don't like other people telling us what to do, we don't like anybody telling us what to do. In Menand's the "Metaphysical Club", the argument is made that what really upset the majority of Northerners wasn't slavery (abolitionists were extremists then) as such but that they were duty bound to round up run away slaves. Why should we listen to the South? And of course, the South had the same problem with the North.
These values may have transformed into strange and counter-productive practices, but I still think it's there. Why do I think this is a good thing? Because in the end we still believe that we should take responsibiity for our own lives, right or wrong. The emphasis is on results though, not on justice, not on fairness.
The problem is that we also, if Bloom and LR following Bloom, are correct have an evangelical side that we are right, not just right to live our lives but right to tell other people what to do. This isn't because we are 'better' than other people but because the 'right' thing to do is obvious.
Was John Brown a terrorist or a freedom fighter?
Curiously, these two tendencies intermingle and may even compliment rather than contradict each other. But I suspect somewhere they have become untethered and are each going their own separate ways.
I think we need a re-union.