Social Question

Pingu's avatar

Are you proud to be an American?

Asked by Pingu (692 points ) January 5th, 2013

I am not. A couple reasons.

1. The genocide of the native inhabitants of this country and the dispossession of the remaining few of their lands; the fact that so much of the American landscape has been paved over to make way for strip malls; slavery; the forced internment of Japanese-American citizens between 1942 and 1945; the CIA’s endorsement of the massacres of hundreds of thousands of Guatemalan civilians between 1960 and 1996; the fact that blacks were still treated as second-class citizens until the 1960s (and, let’s face it, for a long time after that); the refusal at our shores to give asylum to Jewish refugees during WWII; Arizona’s abhorrent immigration policies and medieval views on women’s rights; the Republican Party.

All this is not to say that I think America has not done its share of good in the world too. I just think the bad has mostly outweighed the good.

2. I find that to be proud of who you accidentally are is pretty ridiculous. Should I also be proud of being brunette and wearing size 8 shoes?

So, are you proud to be an American? Why or why not? Or, if you’re not an American, are you proud of the country you are from and why?

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46 Answers

tom_g's avatar

No. But not just because the US is shitty. What would it even mean to be “proud” of being a citizen of a country? I can’t wrap my head around that.

SABOTEUR's avatar

Yes, I would say I’m proud to be an American, though I’m not proud of some of the things Americans do.

marinelife's avatar

I think as countries go this is a good one. I am proud to be an American although I don’t believe in flag waving.

SABOTEUR's avatar

And surprisingly enough, I agree with the premise of your question. It’s illogical to identify with anything, truth be told.

For the sake of communicating I (I won’t speak for others) choose to overlook (to me, at least) the obvious.

Otherwise, there’d be nothing for me to talk about.

hearkat's avatar

I’ve never been proud, because I don’t ‘get’ nationalism.
I’ve always considered myself fortunate to be American, though.

Michael_Huntington's avatar

No, I don’t believe in patriotism/nationalism/tribalism. I’m proud of my own achievements. That doesn’t make anti-american, though, because there are some redeeming qualities of the U.S. Like Slayer.

Coloma's avatar

Neutral to no.
I have always thought patriotism is overblown.
I am a traitor, as a daughter of the American Revolution and having a ling and distinguished family history of patriotic “duty.” I am apolitical and anti-war.

Well…it was inevitable I guess, sooner or later a hippie had to be born into the line of family fire. lol
Here, let me stuff a daisy in your Bushmaster 223 and make you a nice pan of the happy brownies.

RandomGirl's avatar

Yes! I’m proud to say I live in a country where we are free to believe what we feel is right, and to act on those beliefs. I’m proud to say that everyone in my country is allowed to start a campaign and run for office if they think the country is going in the wrong direction. I’m proud to say that you can go to whatever church you want to. These are the freedoms on which this country was founded. I think it’s amazing that, here we are, 237 years later, and these values have stood the test of time!

tom_g's avatar

@RandomGirl – I’m not going to argue with the specifics or bring up “bad things” about the US. However, could you elaborate on exactly what you mean by “proud” in this context?

RandomGirl's avatar

@tom_g: Other countries don’t give their citizens the same freedoms that we have. It doesn’t take much research to see why people go to so much trouble to immigrate here. I’m proud to say that I live in a country that preserves those hard-won freedoms. I’m thankful and amazed at people’s selflessness exhibited throughout American history.
“Proud” is one of those words that everyone just learns the meaning of informally, as a young child. (At least I did.) There are just some words that can’t be defined without using the word in question. This is one of those words. I hope I put my thoughts into words well.

Kropotkin's avatar

No. I’m not an American…

Not really proud of being British either, and my most recent ancestry is Polish, of which I’m also not really proud of… although maybe it helped give me better looks.

Pingu's avatar

While I may not be “proud,” I do believe that I am very fortunate to be here. I try not to take for granted the privileges that I enjoy as an American.

tom_g's avatar

Again, while I disagree with your assessment of the US, I am really just curious about the term “proud”.

@RandomGirl: ”“Proud” is one of those words that everyone just learns the meaning of informally, as a young child. (At least I did.) There are just some words that can’t be defined without using the word in question. This is one of those words.”

So, what other things are you “proud” of? Are they personal accomplishments or merely chance? For example, are you proud of your eye color or the fact the fact that you have worked really hard to graduate from college? Other than the fact that you are a US citizen, what other patterns do you see when you are applying that word? This might help explain what it is you truly mean by “proud” in this context.
Seriously interested. Not trying to give you a difficult time. Thanks.

Coloma's avatar

Personally, I think the vast majority of people just follow their programming, what they were taught to believe in their family of origin, culture, society, state, church…etc.
Parroting rote conditioning is not the same as actually teasing apart ones beliefs systems and actually coming to ones own conclusions as an independent thinker instead of a cog in the wheel of conditioning.

RandomGirl's avatar

I’m proud of my accomplishments, such as the 100% I got on a test the other day. (I’m still in High School)
I’m proud of the changes I’ve made in my life in the last year or so.
I’m proud that I can say I’m working hard in school.
In a broader sense, I might say I’m proud of my family. (Except I wouldn’t, because they keep doing stupid things of which I’m not proud. But you get the idea.)
In an even broader sense, I’m proud of our troops whofight to preserve our hard-won freedoms, and the freedoms of those in other countries. (But that’s another discussion for another day.)
Similarly, I’m proud of those who are convicted enough in what they believe to run for public office. Even those outside of my party who are genuinely doing what they can to see that the country goes in the direction they feel it needs to go deserve kudos. I might think they’re wrong, but acting on your beliefs in the face of opposition is an amazing thing, wherever you land on the political spectrum. There are people like that on both sides of the aisle (along with people who are just there for the money or power – both sides of the aisle).
Looking back through history, I’m proud to say that I live in a country with a history of standing up for freedom.
Do you get the idea?

@Coloma: What if I told you that I’ve been “teasing apart my belief system,” as you say, for the last few years, and I happen to have come to the same conclusion as my parents have been teaching me all my life? Would you tell me I’m just brainwashed? Or would you believe that I did objective research?

Pingu's avatar

@RandomGirl Your last response is positively overflowing with hopeful idealism. I was like you once.

tom_g's avatar

@RandomGirl – Thanks. The reason I ask is really because I am not sure I understand the concept of “pride” or being “proud” the way many people understand it. You seem to be implying that you take pride in your own accomplishments and the fact that were lucky enough to be born into (what you perceive to be) a great country.

I’m going to keep digging in this concept of being “proud” to see if there isn’t a more appropriate word. The best I could come up with seemed to be “fortunate” or “thankful”. But this doesn’t seem to carry the same weight or meaning as “proud”. I definitely understand feeling fortunate and thankful. But proud. I have some digging to do still. I don’t get it.

And @RandomGirl, I know I am biting my tongue on the content of your analysis of the US. Let me just say that you will likely be exposed to a whole bunch of other perspectives on this – at least when you are in college. Be open to them and do your research. You might just find that your current perspective is insufficient.

ucme's avatar

That song of the same title…barf! ;¬}

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

No. I’m embarrassed and often ashamed and disgusted.

Every other wealthy, developed country has universal health care, pensions, affordable post-secondary education, paid holidays and vacations, child care, eldercare, decent housing, and simple income tax systems.

This country’s generally has disdain for anyone who’s poor, hungry, weak, or homeless. There’s such a prevailing attitude of “survival of the fittest” and dog-eat-dog.

Coloma's avatar

@RandomGirl

How could I possibly know the extent of your personal growth work? If you say so, then who am I to dispute your conclusions. We all inhabit our own realities. :-)

Pachy's avatar

Totally unlike the commenter atop this thread, entitled as he is to believe whatever he wishes and to express his opinions, I’m very proud to be an American, feel fortunate to have been born here, and do not regard my country as shitty… though surely capable of doing shitty things, just as any country. I would respectfully suggest that the aforementioned commenter try living in a country which does not encourage freedom of belief and speech.

Blackberry's avatar

I’m thankful that by random chance I was born in a more developed country. It could have been Switzerland for all I care.

ucme's avatar

Cheese, cuckoo clocks, alps, watches & Roger Federer…what’s not to like?
Okay Federer is a bit of a tw@, but still.

jonsblond's avatar

I like living in the United States. There are worse countries I could be stuck in. If someone gives me a little flag to wave at a parade, I have no problem waving that flag.

tinyfaery's avatar

“America. Fuck yeah!”

Pingu's avatar

COMIN AGAIN TO SAVE THE MOTHERFUCKIN DAY YEAH

JLeslie's avatar

Yes I am. My grandparents and great grandparents emigrated here depending on what side of my family you look at, and America provided opportunity, even though some of my relatives had extremely difficult poor lives. Stiil, America was paradise. Significantly less antisemitism, for the most part they did not feel discriminated against at all, school for their children, life was overall safe and they were content, and I feel the same, safe and content. The ideals of America from it’s creation, a new country, a democracy, freedom for all, equality, no state religion, freedom of religion, people taken on merit, not family name. We don’t perfectly live up to that ideal, not even now, but I feel it is what my America is. I hope we don’t drift too far from the ideals of the founders.

As far as what happened to the Native Americans, Japanese Americans and not opening our doors to all the Jews who needed asylum (I often what would have happened if all the Jews had come here rather than create Israel) and our history regarding slavery and segregation. I do think those are all awful. What country did not go through some wars and strife? On a micro level, if an ancestor of ours was a horrific murderer, do we live with that mark? No, not if you are America, each person is an individual, so in that vein on the macro level, those schmucks who though slavery was ok, I have nothing to do with them, my people throughout history were the slaves. Many countries did not help the Jews. All I can hope is we get better and better, although it does feel like we are slipping backwards in some ways some times.

Anyway, the ideals I speak of, that is what I am proud if, because I hold those ideals myself. I am pretty sure when the US was created there was no other country quite like it. Other places in the Americas had immigrants coming into those countries, but our democracy and separation of church and state was pretty unique for it’s time.

The US is so large, it is like evaluating all of Europe based on Italy or Russia or Norway. You can’t. Too many people, too many opinions. Too many large movement that contradict each other within in the country.

I also love our national parks, interstate system, and the scientific discoveries we have had.

Pingu's avatar

@JLeslie You make a good point – there is no country on earth whose human rights record does not bear some low marks. But I would not be proud to come from those other countries either.

I guess I mostly feel disappointed in the way I see things heading for our future. I have zero confidence in our politicians, our supposed leaders who seem to specialize in creating problems rather than solving them. I’m discouraged by the inability of our schools to graduate students with even adequate math and science skills, which I think is a huge disservice to our country’s youth. Every time a politician decides to have an opinion about rape, I am invariably disgusted and appalled and left with serious doubts about the system that got them elected in the first place. I’m worried that we are accelerating the process of global warming significantly with our greenhouse gases, to which we contribute an inordinate percentage of the global output. Our healthcare sucks. Etc. Etc.

bossob's avatar

I’m lucky, not proud, to be an American. I’ve always assumed that the citizens of most countries feel as lucky to be citizens of their country as I do of mine. I’ve never understood the arrogance that many American tourists are known for exhibiting in foreign countries. It’s no different than the family sperm lottery: Some of us are born into poverty; some of us are born into privilege.

There are definite advantages to living in the U.S.; there are definite disadvantages as well. We can only recognize the relativity of the pros and cons by contrast to other countries. When I do so, I feel lucky…most of the time.

JLeslie's avatar

@Pingu I worry about a lot of the same things. I figure things will probably have to get much worse to get better. Americans aren’t very good at making change until things get very painful. It’s unfortunate. I think all the people screaming Obama is a socialist and that the rich should get richer and don’t care about the poor push our country closer to socialism, the opposite of what they think. Eventually countries with almost no middle class risk voting in someone like Chavez in Venezuela, because the majority begins to feel like they can’t catch a break. They can work all week and still live in an unsafe, bad schools, neighborhood, and they think someone who promises them housing and controlling the wealth will be better.

Coloma's avatar

@JLeslie Most PEOPLE are not very good at making changes unless they become very painful or they are forced to. If the average persons odds of becoming self aware, self actualized and semi-“enlightened” are so dismally small, well…not much hope for the collective. lol
Okay…this good ol’ American Mikes Hard Lemonade is for you all! :-)

spykenij's avatar

I’m also not proud. In fact, I’m embarrassed and ashamed of it when I’ve thought about this. I am not proud for the reasons stated above, due to capitalism (aka extremist greed), the more recent war mongering of our “leaders”, how the vast majority of people in the south are, how far behind we are from so many other countries on so many different levels… It’s not about our country being better than third world countries, it’s about how shitty it is compared to the better ones. Yeah, it could be worse (complete cop-out), but it could always be worse. The whole point is – it could be better. That’s like saying life isn’t fair. Well, no one ever said we couldn’t try to make it more fair. There’s always room for improvement, just like there’s always room for jello.

livelaughlove21's avatar

Meh…

Land of the free? Equality for all? Psht, my ass!

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

No. But I don’t think nationalism and patriotism are necessary.

Supacase's avatar

Proud? Well, I’m not walking around handing out cigars, but I’m not ashamed of being American. I am proud of the things America stands for, but those are not personal to me so I can’t take the credit. I am proud that I stand behind and attempt to uphold those ideals. I respect my homeland. i am fortunate to live here and would not choose to live elsewhere.

All countries have blemishes on their histories. Being a relatively young country, America’s are easier to toss out as common knowledge than looking through history books to find the scoop on what some other nation did 500 years ago.

FutureMemory's avatar

No. The idea of being proud of something you have no control over is dumb.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

Sometimes yes, sometimes no.

wundayatta's avatar

I don’t think of myself as a proud American. But then, I don’t think of myself as a proud anything. I’m not even proud of myself. I think pride is a dangerous thing to have. It gets you full of yourself and makes it hard for you to see things clearly and completely. It helps you make mistakes. Pride is for high school, I think, more than anything else, and I didn’t like it back in high school, either.

I do think there are some things that are good about America, and there are some things we should fix. I’ve spent most of my life trying to make America a better place. I’ve done a lot of political work, but I’m not proud of that, because I don’t think it made much difference.

America is a place where most of its citizens do not agree with me. However, it is a place where I can work against the will of most people and not be thrown in jail for it. So that’s good.

In my opinion, the American government makes a lot of mistakes in terms of how it relates to other nations over the years. I hope that will change, and at least we have an administration now that has been doing better than past administrations. But there’s lots of room for improvement.

Some of my ancestors came here a long time ago. Others came here about a century ago. Or a little longer ago.

But I feel more like a citizen of the world. I don’t believe in national borders. I think national borders should be eliminated, and we should all feel our first allegiance to the world, not to a nation. If that could happen, I would feel some pride, I think.

spykenij's avatar

@wundayatta – If not for a gay youth group teaching me and many other teens about gay pride and to have pride in myself for being different from everyone else, I and many others would be dead. While I agree it can be dangerous, it can also be life saving in moderation.

wundayatta's avatar

@spykenij You’re lucky you can feel pride. I was basically taught nothing but shame.

spykenij's avatar

@wundayatta – How so and why? You are an individual, unlike any other. You could probably benefit from cognitive-behavioral therapy. It’s basically learning how to analyze the accuracy of your thoughts and beliefs, especially about yourself and relationships with others. I used to feel like I was a horrible person. In analyzing that, I learned my verbiage was all wrong. I THOUGHT I was a horrible person because horrible person is not a feeling. Then, I asked myself who was a horrible person. Hitler was a horrible person. Am I like Hitler? No; therefore, I am not a horrible person. That’s kind of a generic example, but it helped me a lot.

JLeslie's avatar

Pride is tricky, can be good and bad. One of the seven deadly sins. Not that I am religious or anything, you know I’m not, but there is something to be said for those seven sins, some logic in there I think. When I say pride I don’t mean better than, I don’t feel that all other countries suck. I very much dislike when people refer to the US President as the Leader of the free world. I feel that is very consceited and condescending. I use pride as feeling good about an accomplishment or good in general I guess. Happy with oneself, and in this case feel good about many things regarding my country. Actually, I rarely use the word pride though in all honesty, and didn’t hear it as a child.

Pingu's avatar

Pride, like ice cream, is best taken in moderation.

tom_g's avatar

@Pachyderm_In_The_Room: “I would respectfully suggest that the aforementioned commenter try living in a country which does not encourage freedom of belief and speech.”

cute. Not relevant to this discussion in any way possible, but cute. Why not…

“I would respectfully suggest that the aforementioned commenter try living in a country which does not have oak trees.”?

AngryWhiteMale's avatar

I’m fortunate that I’m American; just the luck of the draw. It’s a wealthy country with a rich history and a lot going for it. However, I’m not proud of its government, or its actions, or many of the things that have happened in American history. I’m not patriotic, or wear my patriotism on my sleeve. I’m not ashamed to be American, nor am I proud of it. It just is what it is.

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