Michael's Dispatches

American Arrogance


13 December 2010

There have been many comments about American arrogance.  During my travels to 48 United States and over [65] countries -- most of those states and countries multiple times -- some themes have emerged.

There is a pervasive sense in the United States that we are THE best.  I've seen this in four other countries: Canada, France, India, and China. While many Americans think they/we are THE best in the world (whatever THE best might be to the thinkers of those thoughts), significant numbers of Canadians and French will inform you they are superior to Americans (and to Germans and Brits), while Indians and Chinese are superior to all of us.  Oh, and don't forget Israelis who have a tendency to burst out saying they have the "Most moral country in the world!" (They say that with exclamation mark.) Israelis also say, "We have the most moral Army in the world!"  Wasn't so long ago that the Germans were likewise self-convinced.  Today the Germans are convinced they are superior to Austrians who are superior to Germans.  Both are superior to Turks and Americans, while Polish are superior to Russians who are superior to all their neighbors and to Americans.  Czechs are superior to Slovaks.  Many people accuse Koreans of a superiority complex.  Goes on—in fact, this thought could go on for hours. There are many Thais who feel superior to hill tribesmen, Cambodians, and plenty of others, and Chinese who are superior to Tibetans, (but that's redundant because Chinese are superior to everyone). Except Egyptians and Saudis, who both are superior to Indians and Chinese.  And let's not get started on religion—because the Hindus are convinced they are superior to all, and of course Jews have their own thoughts, as do Yezidis, Christians, and let's not forget Muslims, Mormons, and Rastafarians, all of whom are “the chosen people,” like those found in Saudi Arabia.  The first religion, and therefore most superior, is Yezidism, Hinduism, and Zoroastrianism and only God knows what else.  Muslims look down on Sikhs.  The first people on Earth were Koreans, Africans, Yezidis, and Adam & Eve, though some scientists say we came from monkeys.   Many scientists believe all true science is superior to religions, but apparently this leaves, ironically, anthropology out in the cold, because anthropologists (isn’t that what this is all about?) can’t even make up their minds if they are scientists or not.  Arabs are superior to Persians.  But what exactly is an Arab?  Do you know?  I don’t.  I tried to figure out what an Arab is and got very confused.  In any case, Persians are superior to Arabs, and to Kurds, while Kurds also are superior to Arabs, though Arabs look down on Kurds.  Some Arabs are Sunni Muslims while others are Shia or something else.  Sunni think Shia are dumb.  All Arabs and Persians are superior to Afghans who are superior to Russians and to Pakistanis who in turn are superior to Indians (apparently not realizing that Indians are superior to everyone, except Egyptians, Saudis, and Chinese), while Nepalese are superior to Indians, but again, the Nepalese apparently don't realize the Indians don't care because they will soon surpass China in population! (Which Indians will also say with an exclamation mark.)  Inside Nepal, Brahmans are superior to Sherpas, though pretty girls prefer Gurkhas.  This generation is inferior to that, while writers look down upon photographers and staff are superior to freelance.  Newspapers were superior to bloggers.

Northern Europe is superior to the whole of Southern Europe.   Marines are superior to Soldiers. Oh Lord, I travel too much. Could go on for hours about all the arrogance out there. Just a little more: Aussies are superior to Americans and to Kiwis, while Kiwis are upset when we don't know where they are. Gators are superior to Seminoles, but there is actually truth to this because Seminoles actually are inferior to Gators.  Mammals are superior to reptiles.  And to birds.  And to fish.  Bacteria and viruses are superior to mammals but neither talks about it.

So there.  Top that!

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  • This commment is unpublished.
    Haakon B. Dahl · 11 years ago

    One week of every year is designated National Brotherhood Week. This is just one of many such weeks honoring various worthy causes. One of my favorites is National Make-fun-of-the-handicapped Week which Frank Fontaine and Jerry Lewis are in charge of as you know. During National Brotherhood Week various special events are arranged to drive home the message of brotherhood. This year, for example, on the first day of the week Malcolm X was killed which gives you an idea of how effective the whole thing is. I'm sure we all agree that we ought to love one another and I know there are people in the world that do not love their fellow human beings and I hate people like that. Here's a song about National Brotherhood Week.

    Oh, the white folks hate the black folks,
    And the black folks hate the white folks.
    To hate all but the right folks
    Is an old established rule.

    But during National Brotherhood Week, National Brotherhood Week,
    Lena Horne and Sheriff Clarke are dancing cheek to cheek.
    It's fun to eulogize
    The people you despise,
    As long as you don't let 'em in your school.

    Oh, the poor folks hate the rich folks,
    And the rich folks hate the poor folks.
    All of my folks hate all of your folks,
    It's American as apple pie.

    But during National Brotherhood Week, National Brotherhood Week,
    New Yorkers love the Puerto Ricans 'cause it's very chic.
    Step up and shake the hand
    Of someone you can't stand.
    You can tolerate him if you try.

    Oh, the Protestants hate the Catholics,
    And the Catholics hate the Protestants,
    And the Hindus hate the Moslems,
    And everybody hates the Jews.

    But during National Brotherhood Week, National Brotherhood Week,
    It's National Everyone-smile-at-one-another-hood Week.
    Be nice to people who
    Are inferior to you.
    It's only for a week, so have no fear.
    Be grateful that it doesn't last all year!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Jesse · 11 years ago
    And Starbucks is superior to...
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    Olavo Ferreira · 11 years ago
    Mr. Yon,
    This text above´s the most special demonstration that EVERYBODY´S WRONG....
    It seems we´re living in a hospice. Would it be a kind of syndrome?
    The only thing I believe it´s all about is...
    When I created the world I didnt mean all this thing could hapen.
    signed.... GOD.... lol (everybody has the right to be a little crazy, but we shall not abuse of it)
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Ernest Lane · 11 years ago
    You're wrong about the Seminoles and Gators.
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    Rick · 11 years ago
    fighter pilots are superior, any nationality or gender (except perhaps Egypt, in my experience)
    ..and we do the decent thing and try to protect you inferior types from each other
    Cue the whining from the mud-movers.
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    Raine Walker · 11 years ago
    Dear God,
    If I could find heaven on a map I would come and take it.
    ~Raine, ROT
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    Kevin Baker · 11 years ago
    Members of every culture - where "culture" is defined as a group of people in a geographic region sharing a set of beliefs - MUST believe theirs is superior to all others, or that culture will change. It's part of human nature. I, being a member of the American culture do indeed believe that ours is superior to all others. But I have evidence to support my belief: how many people are leaving America for China, India, Austria, Germany, England, France, Canada, etc. as opposed to people leaving their native lands to come here?
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      Choi · 9 years ago
      Pffft.. All those countries you mentioned except China and India have better living standard than US. And btw, that is the main reason behind immigration, not culture or whatever.
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    Charles Maxwell, CDR · 11 years ago
    Mike, Good post. I think you could sum up this most human of conditions like this; Man is the best defender of his own self interest! That removes the borders altogether. The same quote might also clear up a few myths regarding the political blame game we play respecting the two divergent economic philosophies we argue today. The argument goes something like this . . . All capitalists are greedy and that's why we are witnessing global economic collapse. In fact, the alternative, collectivism, is historically proven to be no better. Why? Because the two systems share a common core, human greed and arrogance! Those who be at the top of either system are no different even though they share a vastly different economic philosophy. To generalize . . . Both seek to improve their own condition at the expense of those less fortunate. The idea that seldom makes it into the dialogue is, man is his own best defender of self interest! Stay safe. CDR Max
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Jeff Stanley · 11 years ago
    Our esteemed host and all his readers, in pointing out and recognizing the many conflicting superiorities that exist among the human race, truly give the world a glimpse of the inner workings of the best minds on earth... :P
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    KingsKnight1 · 11 years ago
    The anthopoligists would tell you that the Arabs are those people who speak Arabic. But that's not very scientific.
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    MAJ Tony · 11 years ago
    ...but unlike the Flyboys, we don't think we're God. We merely borrowed his "Smite" button. (I couldn't resist).
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    dilligras · 11 years ago
    If you look for the cause of this curious behavior, you have but to review the fundamental purpose of the human mind -- survival.

    In order to survive, the mind perceives correctly that accuracy, or being right is paramount. Accuracy, or being right in the placing of things in their proper category, whether food or threat to life and limb. Accuracy in recognizing one's surroundings and circumstances, in order to best facilitate said survival.

    It is in the striving for this "rightness" that we find the seed that will blossom eventually into the full-blown arrogance of self-imagined superiority, for surely, there should be some reward for having attained a higher level of this commodity than others.

    I know, I know.............. don't call you Shirley.
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    Shari · 11 years ago
    We could choose to call this arrogance, but I see it as a healthy sense of national pride. I can imagine the failure of any nation that sees itself as markedly inferior to everyone else. Whether it is measurably true or not, it is a good thing for peoples and nations to have pride in what they do and who they are. That is the drive that makes the world great. We could argue that in some sense, each nation is right in claiming they are the best. We all have gifts, talents, and superiority to bring to the table.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Antonia Shusta · 11 years ago
    Arrogance? hmmm, why is it that virtually everyone who wants to move anywhere wants to move to the US? I've found that when I lived in India, traveled to China, other parts of Asia, and Latin America. I was annoyed and then amused by vocal, often high ranking government officials who would criticize the US - and then I'd find out their children were studying, living, working in the US or trying to get there.
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    Roger Carroll · 11 years ago
    We should never forget that the Yankees are far superior to the Red Sox.
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    Pat Glass · 11 years ago
    Michael, a brilliant illustration of the little discussed character defect known as False Pride... Pride in it's intended application is a good unifying emotion. The application of False Pride is in fact arrogance, a detestable character defect...sometimes masquerading as Patriotism.

    Pat Glass
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    dilligras · 11 years ago
    How careless of me.

    I forgot to mention the obvious, that Texans are indeed superior in every facet of human endeavor, to all others who endeavor to be human.

    Of course, courtesy requires that I not indulge the urge to point to any possible candidates for the title of "best war correspondent," n'est-ce pas? ; )
  • This commment is unpublished.
    nellie · 11 years ago
    ....it's just that extending this belief to imposing your values and culture on people that don't want either, is when the resentment (and worse) set in. You'll never win the heart & mind of a man whose house you have bombed flat because it was a good move tactically - strategically you lose whole communities that way. Likewise he doesn't want Western values plastered all over the place because they are held by the faction with the upper hand. Why not leave folk to sort their own counties out, and feel superior in their own way........?
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    Jason Mann · 11 years ago
    We can't forget the SEC is superior to all other conferences.
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    david · 11 years ago
    America is a unique experiment. I believe it is the first created Republic. The American constitution, is the longest operating government in the history of the world. Sure monarchies have had long runs, but every new ruler was a new government. America was the engine of progress for the world for over a century, until we decided to start cutting our own throats.

    So America was once the best, most prosperous, most free country in the world, we have been brought down over the decades by our own stupidity. We have the potential to raise again, but it won't be easy and it is not a given.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Steve Gough · 11 years ago
    ...that you don't know where we are because we are everywhere. Opsec, under the radar, just the way we like it. :-)
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    Craig · 11 years ago
    Very cute. I think, if you'll allow me to get serious for a moment, that it's important to differentiate people from culture. One people is not "better" than another, but cultures certainly are, and nations can be.

    Arguably America is the "greatest" culture and country in history, because it's the first and only based on founding ideas rather than tribalism or geography, and because it has generated more health, wealth and freedom than any other. Clearly most Islam-based cultures are inferior due to their misogyny and antiquated beliefs.

    What you've identified here is our basic tribal nature. Not surprising, since we evolved in tribes. We have to feel a certain loyalty and "espirit de corps" to make them work.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Doug Laybourne · 11 years ago
    The truth is, that they are all very wrong. We, whatever race, colour or creed; are all equal. That's because we are all 'infinite consciousness' and as such are like but a drop in an ocean. Seen for a short 'time'; then once back in the ocean (Infinite Consciousness) - indistinguishable from anyone or anything else.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    ALDEN PYLE · 11 years ago
    Point taken, Michael, oh, and one more thing, Marines ARE superior to soldiers, airmen and squids :-)
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    Gregg · 11 years ago
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    IronMike · 11 years ago
    Some culture has to be superior to the others in a number of important ways. One way to decide the "who's better" question is to look at immigration patterns. Surely people would not move from a superior country to an inferior country. And who leads the world in immigration applications? Lets just say its not India or China. Or Canada or Germany (although they both do relatively well). And not South Korea, and certainly not North Korea (who have to kidnap Japanese to have any immigrants).
  • This commment is unpublished.
    William A Yon · 11 years ago
    Every day AMERICANS are not arrogant anymore. We elected a manchild president and he has cornered the market on arrogance and narciissism.
    He travels the world telling anyone listening of our arrogance. By the way you have been to 50 states in our great country, He said he has been to 57.
    Without his teleprompter he is about as brilliant as Joe Biden.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    woodNfish · 11 years ago
    Why do you title this American Arrogance, when it is obviously a universal human trait that is not unique to Americans? You could have just titled it "I'm Better Than You".
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Kevin Subra · 11 years ago
    Excellent use of using the absurd to point out the absurd, Michael.

    People are inherently prideful, in a wrong way. However, I think that the key difference is truth vs. fantasy (fiction, perception). There are absolutes which trump our perceptions. I might think I can fly and launch off a building, but gravity IS superior to that perception. What we think and what is true can be different, but our thoughts and perceptions do not affect what is true.

    A fighter jet flies because of what is known to be true about physics, not by the ego of the fighter pilot. A nation can be great (morally superior) because of what they do or don't do (not how they think about themselves). Some care about people. Some couldn't care less.

    America still has a residue of moral propriety in our international endeavors. We do our best to avoid civilian loss. We avoid attacking places of worship. We help to supply, to build, and to rebuild. That's worth something on the scale of measurement. It doesn't make each of us better by birth or DNA. It does make a difference in a way that those without such values cannot make.
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    May 15th Prophecy · 11 years ago
    "He who exalt himself shall be abased, and he who abase himself shall be exalted"!
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    Neicey from CasaDelS · 11 years ago
    You had me until you got to the part where you mistakenly stated the Gators trumped the Seminoles. ::sigh:::: So sad to be so bright in many areas... yet so dim where it counts :-)

    Proud as I can be of you and your accomplishments, Michael :-)
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    Mary · 11 years ago
    You forgot one. Islam GUARANTEES Muslim superiority/supremacy through Sharia law.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Claudia S. Brown · 11 years ago
    Great post, and great comments too (though some are superior to others). I would only add that Britain also used to consider itself superior to pretty much everybody, and it was pretty much true. And even when the overstretched Empire began to shrink, it had taught the lessons of democracy to (and cricket) to every corner of the earth it had touched. Within today's increasingly Islamified Europe, Britain is probably unique in that its identity is threatened mostly because much of its populace is actively self-loathing regarding its imperial history. Very sad. On a more serious note, even my Navy son would probably admit that his Marine brother is in the superior service branch, but the Navy has flashier toys (including his personal F-18) and more room for his ego. Marine dress blues are definitely superior to all other military uniforms. And if you want to be part of my family, you will acknowledge that the New England Patriots are God's team.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Claudia S. Brown · 11 years ago
    People who read Michael Yon are superior to those who don't. Or at the very least, have far superior knowledge of world affairs than anyone else in the world.
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    Kristi · 11 years ago
    Diet Dr. Pepper is superior to Diet Coke and, in the all-important toilet paper battle, under is superior to over.

    Love ya, Michael! :-)
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    Warren · 11 years ago
    Is the fact that Marines are superior to soldiers still in doubt? I was surprised to find it on the list considering it's practically a physical law like gravity or the fact that the sun is hot. Cheers....
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    Russki Top · 11 years ago
    Beautiful, brother.
    Keep yer head down.
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    Paul in RI · 11 years ago
    The book of Job is my favorite. Man is shown his place.
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    Patriot · 11 years ago
    You forgot Texans my friend! Whether it's a Texan President, a Texan General, Texan Fighter Pilot... you get the idea.... if your Texan of course!
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    Bob Croft · 11 years ago
    Perhaps the most reasonable way to sort it all out would be the defnintive "pretty girl test", as in "Inside Nepal, Brahmans are superior to Sherpas, though pretty girls prefer Gurkhas."
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Bill Best · 11 years ago
    And the DUCKS are superior to everyone and especially the Tigers! QUACK!!!!!
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    Radio Jiahd · 11 years ago
    You want arrogance look no further than the 5th Pillar of Islam - the Hajj in Mecca. It is illegal for ANY non-Muslim to set foot in Mecca and Medina Saudi Arabia. The Qur'an supports this Islamic Apartheid and in fact requires it -“O you who believe! the idolaters are nothing but unclean, so they shall not approach the Sacred Mosque after this year; and if you fear poverty then Allah will enrich you out of His grace if He please; surely Allah is Knowing Wise.”
    —Qur'an, Sura 9 At-Tawba, ayah 28

    Extrapolate that out to most every Mosque in the U.S. and abroad that supports the Hajj Apartheid rules, most every Muslim accepts the 5th Pillar of Islam so they support the Mecca and Medina Apartheid. So give America a break and address this Islamic Apartheid as one of the worlds greatest hate events that dwarfs the South African Apartheid wrong that was finally obliterated as it should be.

    America Akbar
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Anni Golden · 11 years ago
    When I was 2 - 6 my playmates were African, Chinese, Indian, Dutch, and British. We admired each others' arrogance and enjoyed our differences.
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    Marggaret Foenander · 11 years ago
    As A Mormon and an Aussie,I need to correct you on a few things.we have never said we are the chosen one and are told never to look down on others or think we are superior than other religions.
    And yes,we are superior to the Kiwis,half of their country lives over here now.lol.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Tony · 11 years ago
    Anyone who feels a need to claim superiority is trying to prove something, whether to themselves or others and is therefore inferior.
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    Bill Brent · 11 years ago
    Mr. Best is, at best, delusional. Methinks a duck can never be superior to a tiger.
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    Alaska · 11 years ago
    Dear Texas,
    Size does matter!
    Sincerly, Alaska
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    Tommy Barrios · 11 years ago
    Having been to several turd world countries and seen what trash has come out of the rest of the world, this country, the US of A, is the best place on earth by far, PERIOD! I give second place to the Swiss;-)
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    Donald J.Wagner Jr. · 11 years ago
    Michael, I think you have mis-labeled the subject. The United States of America is the best nation on the face of the earth. I grew up as a military dependent lived in taiwan, japan and italy. Spent four years in the US Army- vietnam and germany. My dad is a WWII and Korean war vet. I believe strongly that our country provides the best environment for a person to thrive and prosper. To paraphrase Bill Bennet, I also subscribe to the "open gate theory", i.e. if we opened our borders to everyone, what do you think would happen? We are exceptional...just ask the folks trying to come legally or through other means.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Todd Gates · 11 years ago
    The bottom line? Us 'uns is better than you 'uns. It's just human nature

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