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Author Topic: what makes a country great and patriotism(title changed to reflect conversation)
Strider
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McCain and Palin were in my town today. They did a big event at the local university's sports complex. This area is where I go to run as they have a track as well as some great cross country courses to run on.

I happened to arrive up there today as the event got out and everyone was leaving. I also happened to forget about the big Obama sign on the back of my car. I was reminded of it when the first person beeped at me and yelled, "Obama sucks!" while flailing his arms.

In all i got two "Obama sucks", one "terrorist", and one guy beeped and gave me the finger. It really depresses me that this is how people act. I was actually kind of worried about vandalism to my car while i was out running.

Worth noting, all the derision came from people around 40+. There was one group of younger guys who in a more playful way said something along the lines of, "hey man, don't you know the straight talk express is here! hop on board!" as i was driving by. Then gave a little wave as i passed. That was amusing and made me smile.

The actions of the other people just made me sad.

[ October 10, 2008, 11:57 AM: Message edited by: Strider ]

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rollainm
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I think I may have mentioned this before, but last presidential election we had a Kerry '04 sticker on the back of the car. We came out of Eckerd one day and there was a yellow sheet of paper taped to the window with this scribbled on it:

A vote for
kerry is vote
for terrorist

. Dummy

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Wendybird
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It is disturbing when adults fail to act as adults. How can we possibly expect our youth to grow up to be responsible and respectful citizens when *we* as a society in general don't model appropriate behaviors?
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Javert
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But...Palin doesn't lie! If she says that Obama is a terrorist, then he's a terrorist.

I mean, she's a hockey mom. And she can see Russia from Alaska.

So of course Obama is a terrorist.

[Wall Bash]

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Achilles
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Yeah. She's all mavericky like that.
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The Pixiest
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It all depends on where you are...

Around here I feel perfectly comfortable with my Human Rights Campaign and FSM bumper stickers, but wouldn't feel safe with a Republican sticker.

Back home it would be just the opposite.

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Danlo the Wild
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When I worked at "The Bookstore" a month ago, i had SEVERAL people tell me that Obama IS the anti-christ.

I was hanging out with some people here in Texas, and they agreed, it should be legal to shoot anyone who votes for Obama.

America is the Greatest Country in the World.
Based on its past.

America has kinda sucked the last 10 years.

imo


T

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rollainm
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quote:
Originally posted by Javert:
But...Palin doesn't lie! If she says that Obama is a terrorist, then he's a terrorist.

I mean, she's a hockey mom. And she can see Russia from Alaska.

So of course Obama is a terrorist.

[Wall Bash]

[Wink]
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The Rabbit
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quote:
America has kinda sucked the last 10 years
May be I'm just getting older, but it sure seems that there has been a general deterioration in peoples ability to engage in civil debate on political issues during the last decade. There also seems to be an awful lot more lizard brain thinking in general -- more irrational fear and anger and less rational discourse.

I'm appalled by how many people's political acts are indistinguishable from what you'd see at a football game between cross town rivals. It really saddens me.

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Yozhik
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Back in '96, when I was living in Madison, Wisconsin, we had a "Dole for President" sticker on the back of our car.

We received various derogatory comments. Once someone yelled out "F***** Republicans" and threw a rock at the car. Luckily it hit the body, not the glass. [Eek!]

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Darth_Mauve
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Here are some things to change your mind.

In the middle of a large presidential campaign you showed up with an opponent's support in your car.

The worst you got was a few uncivil words and gestures.

In many places around the world you would have gotten beaten or killed.

In Texas they joke about killing people who vote for the other party.

In many places around the world that is no joke.

In this country, which by most counts is the strongest, greatest, most powerful country ever to exist, it is being run by a person who some consider the absolutely worst President in American history. Members of his own party worry about his dangerous, secretive tactics and manipulations of those he shares power with.

Yet there has not, and I will bet--will not, be a hint of him refusing to surrender all that power peacefully at the end of his term. With a handshake and a gentle word he will surrender power to either a man who has stood against him occasionally, or his main political opponent.

In over 200 years of presidents, some good and some terrible, not a one has tried to violently remain in power beyond his legal limit.

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Itsame
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Maybe you shouldn't publicly announce your political affiliation. What do you think this is? Some country with "free speech"?
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BandoCommando
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quote:
Originally posted by Darth_Mauve:
Here are some things to change your mind.

In the middle of a large presidential campaign you showed up with an opponent's support in your car.

The worst you got was a few uncivil words and gestures.

In many places around the world you would have gotten beaten or killed.

In Texas they joke about killing people who vote for the other party.

In many places around the world that is no joke.

In this country, which by most counts is the strongest, greatest, most powerful country ever to exist, it is being run by a person who some consider the absolutely worst President in American history. Members of his own party worry about his dangerous, secretive tactics and manipulations of those he shares power with.

Yet there has not, and I will bet--will not, be a hint of him refusing to surrender all that power peacefully at the end of his term. With a handshake and a gentle word he will surrender power to either a man who has stood against him occasionally, or his main political opponent.

In over 200 years of presidents, some good and some terrible, not a one has tried to violently remain in power beyond his legal limit.

While all this is true, and a reason to have a certain amount of pride in our country, I still find it disappointing that civil discussion of political opinions escapes a large portion of adult society.

I'm indeed relieved to hear that the original poster did not endure physical harm or harm to property as a result of displaying his political choice.

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The Rabbit
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quote:
In this country, which by most counts is the strongest, greatest, most powerful country ever to exist, . . .
Strongest and most powerful are quantitative measures with which it would be difficult to disagree. Greatest is a value judgement and I'd be willing to bet that the majority of the world's citizens would not agree to that statement. Unfortunately, you inclusion of that adjective makes you sound like an arrogant idiot and might causes people to discount much of the rest of what you said. Next time, just leave it out.
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scifibum
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quote:
Originally posted by The Rabbit:
quote:
In this country, which by most counts is the strongest, greatest, most powerful country ever to exist, . . .
Strongest and most powerful are quantitative measures with which it would be difficult to disagree. Greatest is a value judgement and I'd be willing to bet that the majority of the world's citizens would not agree to that statement. Unfortunately, you inclusion of that adjective makes you sound like an arrogant idiot and might causes people to discount much of the rest of what you said. Next time, just leave it out.
Maybe "arrogant idiot" is a bit hyperbolic. "Patriotic" is what people usually say.
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Artemisia Tridentata
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I do believe this is a modern trend. By my observation it started with the election of J. Kennedy.
There used to be a calendar series that was in almost every elementry classroom. It had an oval picture of the president about 12 inches high, and smaller ovals of the past presidents about an inch high set arround in a blue background. (perhaps you've seen one in a museum) Every year, each teacher would hang up the new one. When the Kennedy ones first came out, there were a number of teachers that quit using the calendars. My father was teaching 6th grade at the time and actually had parents complaining about the one in his classroom. The Principal suggested that perhaps a nice Yosemite Falls might work better.
During Clinton's final term of office, we had our then Congresswoman in our little town for the annual Armed Forces Parade. She was a fairly conservative Republican and represented our district well. I had a group of Boy Scouts who were serving as a color guard in front of her car. One of my boys asked me who she was. I said that she was Nevada's representative to Washigton. He then asked her if she knew Bill Clinton. She smiled and said that she did know him. He then excused himself from the group insisting that his parents wouldn't have allowed him to come if they knew one of "that damned Clinton's" friends were going to be in the parade. This kid was probably 14 or fifteen at the time. You can imagine the kind of "political discourse" he had grown up with.

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The Rabbit
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quote:
In the middle of a large presidential campaign you showed up with an opponent's support in your car.

The worst you got was a few uncivil words and gestures.

In many places around the world you would have gotten beaten or killed.

In Texas they joke about killing people who vote for the other party.

In many places around the world that is no joke.

While your statements are factually accurate they ignore the context. Since my childhood I was taught to believe that America was a country that held herself to a higher standard. In fact, as a country we have proclaimed that over and over again, declaring our nation the leader of the free world, the champion of democracy and human rights.

It is in that context, that I am sadly disappointed by the America of the last 8 years. Yes, I am holding America to a higher standard. Shouldn't I be?

I'm not going to be content with America because its more politically stable than Columbia and has better human rights than China and better tolerance for dissent than Iran. You can't hold yourself up as the standard to the world as America has done for the past 50 years and then get by with arguing well at least we aren't as bad as those other guys. We are talking about what is supposed to be America the Beautiful, undimmed by human tears.

Yes, I hold America to a higher standard and yes I am saddened when we fall so far short of that ideal. Shouldn't we all be?

[ October 08, 2008, 06:28 PM: Message edited by: The Rabbit ]

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The Rabbit
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quote:
Maybe "arrogant idiot" is a bit hyperbolic. "Patriotic" is what people usually say.
In many parts of the world in which I've lived, that brand of patriotism is viewed as arrogant idiocy or worse.

I was in Germany during the last election cycle and most of my German friends were absolutely agape at the arrogant claims by both political parties that America was the greatest country in the world. Germans were in uniform agreement that any German politician making that kind of statement would be seen not just as an arrogant idiot but as a dangerous neofascist. This is not hyperbole or Godwin's Law. I was told exactly this by numerous German friends.

It is possible to love one home land and be loyal to it with out claiming your nation is greater than everyone else.

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scifibum
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Well, I think it's at least a bit more plausible for Americans to say it, if still arrogant. I really don't think it's "idiotic."
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Sterling
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I don't know... Does people making rude gestures and throwing rocks at cars or otherwise defacing vehicles with opposing political points-of-view really say that America is more tolerant of political speech than some places? Or just that people are still fearful or legal or physical consequences of more direct violent action against those who hold those opinions?

No one's likely to report someone for a gesture, and someone who throws a rock can get out of sight pretty quickly. But if you throw a punch at someone, and there are witnesses, you can face charges... And you never know who has a concealed carry permit.

Maybe we're just afraid in different ways.

In any case, Strider, the people who insulted you ought to be ashamed of themselves. It's terrible how words like "freedom" and "democracy" can quickly become little more than buzzwords. ("Now with whitening, foaming action, and 25% more democracy!")

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The Rabbit
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quote:
Originally posted by scifibum:
Well, I think it's at least a bit more plausible for Americans to say it, if still arrogant. I really don't think it's "idiotic."

Having lived for extended periods in Germany, I'd argue the opposite. In many ways (though certainly not all), Germany is a greater country to be in than the US.

What do you mean by greatest? Highest standard of living, no that award goes to Norway? Most generous? No that award goes to Luxembourg, the US is 19th on the list? Safest, no Norway leads that list too. Stablest? No I think that award would go to Switzerland. Biggest, No that award goes to Russia. Best human rights record, not anymore. Best food? Best scientists? Best musicians? Best air quality? Best medical care? Define what you are talking about.

Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of really wonderful things about America, but there are wonderful things in other parts of the world too. Some of them are in fact better than what we have in the US and we could stand to shed a little of our arrogance and learn from other places in the world.

Heck, even Trinidad and Tobago has superior toilet technology.

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Sterling
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Heh, yeah, I want to import a half-flush toilet from New Zealand. [Smile]
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Kwea
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quote:
Originally posted by scifibum:
Well, I think it's at least a bit more plausible for Americans to say it, if still arrogant. I really don't think it's "idiotic."

People would also have a bigger issue with the German's if they started saying that again...the last time they did it cased the largest number of deaths of any war in history and caused irreparable damage to entire cultures.

If you think patriotism makes you ignorant and stupid that is your problem, not mine. Keep in mind that I have been critical of Bush more than most, and I can't wait for his last day in office.


Yet I don't feel that makes me any less patriotic.


That doesn't mean I think that other countries suck, mind you. [Smile] There are people who use "patriotism" so mask hidden agendas, and I have a HUGE problem last election cycle when Cheney basically told the American people that people like me were Un-Amercan.

But I don't think that someone who thinks the US is th greatest country is an idiot just because of that view.

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The Rabbit
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I never said that patriotism makes you stupid or arrogant. I said claiming that "America is the greatest country in the world" without clearly defining what you mean makes you look arrogant and idiotic to much of the world. I think it is at least worthwhile to understand how other people see us when we make such claims.

If you don't care whether or not Germans think Americans are arrogant idiots, then you don't have a problem. But I can see there point.

It is more than possible to be Patriotic without thinking your country is the greatest in the world. Perhap in your mind failure to loudly proclaim that America is the greatest country to ever have graced the earth automatically disqualifies one as a Patriot. In mine, it does not.

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The Rabbit
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quote:
People would also have a bigger issue with the German's if they started saying that again...the last time they did it cased the largest number of deaths of any war in history and caused irreparable damage to entire cultures.
But why do you think American's shouldn't be held to the same standard. We saw the results of German Uber-Nationalism too. How can you possibly believe that it was bad for German's to believe that their country was the greatest in the world but its great , even necessary for patriotic loyal Americans to believe our country is the greatest in the world. If that attitude really was an important factor leading to the atrocities of WWII, then shouldn't we be avoiding it like the plague. Just because American Nationalism hasn't caused a world war and a halocaust yet, doesn't mean it might not in the future.
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The Pixiest
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Rabbit: You're an expat, right?
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Strider
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Dan, I think you make some solid points that are worth remembering. Having immigrated here with my family to escape a communist country, one that was already predisposed to treat us badly because of our religion at that, I'm very much aware of how much I have to be grateful for about living in this country. I know how much worse it could have been, and anyone who watches the news should know how lucky they are to be in this country as opposed to many others. Or even being around at this particular moment in time. If I was standing up for civil rights 50 or 60 years ago I would very much not have been safe proclaiming that in front of a large mass of people who thought differently.

I fully stand by what I said though, and like Kwea points out, agreement of everything that goes on in this country, be it actions by our citizens or by our government, isn't a necessary condition for being patriotic. It makes it actually hit even harder because we have so much promise and opportunity to be a truly great nation. And when we don't live up to that standard it feels more disgraceful to me than otherwise. I have issues with patriotism in general though. Rabbit touches on it when she talks about football cross town rivals. Nationalism, patriotism...taken to the extreme is very dangerous. It creates a false barrier between you and members of another nation, and it creates issues similar to problems between religions, tribes, sports teams, and groups of any kind. We're all in this together as humans. Also, what did I do to make this country great? I just happened to be brought here and given citizenship. If I was a citizen of some other country I'd be expected to be patriotic to that one. I don't know if I'm making a case for military or civil service here, I haven't thought this through, but something about the idea of being so gung ho about a group you're a member of through happenstance strikes me as odd.

Sterling also bring up an interesting question of is it more civil and safe today because we as a society(and the individuals within it) have progressed morally? Or because there are now more widespread systems in place to deter that kind of activity? Things like the events today tell me that the impulse is still there. The impulse that leads to violence is the same one that causes someone to yell profanities at someone else just because they have a sign in their car. Is the only reason i was safe today because the government is better able to protect its citizens, or at least has been given a moral imperative to do so? Coupled with the fact that I live in relatively nice area and was out in the open where people couldn't have gotten away with violent actions. It's worth thinking about.

Also, another thing I was thinking about was I wonder how much the animosity had to do with the fact that they just got out of the rally. They just listened to their candidates riling them up about their candidacy and most likely rallying against Obama. I can see that having a psychological effect on the people coming out of that arena. Doesn't excuse it, but may help explain it.

okay...no more thoughts.

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katharina
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quote:
In Texas they joke about killing people who vote for the other party.
Oh, please. I heard that if you go to New York, you automatically get mugged on the Subway. And if you got to San Francisco without wearing an "I love boobies" shirt, you'll be cornered on street corners by men wearing garters and too much lipstick.

---

Nothing makes me feel more patriotic than voting and peaceful transfers of power. We usually get the government we deserve, especially on a local level. Add to that the Bill of Rights, and there are plenty of reasons to wave the flag.

It isn't actually necessary to mean "We are better than everyone else" when you say "I love this place and we are fabulous."

It's not like people are different elsewhere. Very few people are trampled to death at soccer games here.

---

Considering this thread was started by someone disgusted with the epithets hurled at him, the personal insults in this thread are particularly disappointing.

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Darth_Mauve
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Strider, I do not mean to belittle the partisan rudeness and bad behavior of those you met. Your thread title was "Sometimes this country makes me sad." I was just trying to point out that there are some good parts.

I am much amused that Bando disagreed with my calling the US "Greatest" while no one commented on Thor's "Sucks".

However, I was using the word slightly incorrectly, but I was hoping the context would make it clear. The US is the strongest super-power at the moment. When I said Great, I meant not in terms of moral superiority or some genetic or cultural boast, but Great as in big, strong, powerful, bully-if-we-desire, size of influence type great.

Since it was taken differently by some of you the fault is mine.

While I do not appreciate the term Arrogant Idiot, I prefer it to the label Patriot, if all you mean by Patriot is someone who goes on the internet yelling "USA IS THE GREATEST".

Strider was more of a patriot, for he was more than willing to let the Republican campaign take place without hindering it, even though he was an Obama supporter. Then when some tried to subvert the political process with threats, intimidation, and public humiliation, he did not attack back, but calmly went on his way.

Is the desire to strike out at the opponent still in us? Sure.

Do we refrain because of some nobility in the American spirit? Not really.

Do we refrain because of the abilities of our police departments to arrest us? Not really.

We refrain because the cost of such tactics are to expensive for the lack of results they would result in.

If Senator McCain were to show up at the next debate with a shot-gun and shoot Senator Obama, do you think he would get elected? If Senator Obama hired thugs to beat up Republicans trying to vote, do you think many people would vote for him?

Every sneaky plot, abusive plan, and dirty trick that the politicians do pull are held against them. Do you think Gonzales will ever hold public office again, after what he was ultimately responsible for in the Justice Department?

The system is not perfect, and I am rambling. However, the fact that everyone, right, left and middle, finds the actions of those people who treated you wrong to be wrong, means that maybe there is hope.

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Strider
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quote:
Strider, I do not mean to belittle the partisan rudeness and bad behavior of those you met. Your thread title was "Sometimes this country makes me sad." I was just trying to point out that there are some good parts.
oh, i'm with you. And I saw your post in that light fwiw. I didn't mean to imply that I thought you were suggesting i take back my words, or that you were trying to repudiate me.

Obviously my post was about what disappointed me, so I left out the things that I'm grateful for and respectful of. I appreciate you pointing them out and wanted to clarify that I valued them too.

quote:
Is the desire to strike out at the opponent still in us? Sure.

Do we refrain because of some nobility in the American spirit? Not really.

Do we refrain because of the abilities of our police departments to arrest us? Not really.

We refrain because the cost of such tactics are to expensive for the lack of results they would result in.

assuming you're correct, and you very well might be, I was just running with some thoughts before. I mostly agree with you. But take your conclusion as a given, doesn't that just then turn it into a cost benefit analysis? Are we only decent and civil because it's in our best interest to be? Isn't the goal to have people be decent because it's the good way to be. Because it's how they would want to be treated themselves. I mean, I do think it's a good thing if people refrain from activities because they realize the futility of engaging in them. That resorting to violence won't actually accomplish anything useful. But maybe it's just that your wording can be taken to mean more of calculated withdrawn reason for making that decision. Which wouldn't necessarily hearten me.
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Humean316
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quote:

Nothing makes me feel more patriotic than voting and peaceful transfers of power. We usually get the government we deserve, especially on a local level. Add to that the Bill of Rights, and there are plenty of reasons to wave the flag.

Reminds me of a conversation I heard on Star Trek: DS9.

Worf: "Tell me what you think."
Ezri: "Okay, but I'm not sure you're going to like it."
Worf: "Tell me."
Ezri: "I think the situation with Gowron is a symptom of a bigger problem. The Klingon Empire is dying. And I think it deserves to die."
Worf: "You were right. I do not like it."
Ezri: "Don't get me wrong. I've very touched that you still consider me to be a member of the house of Martok. But I tend to look at the empire with a little more skepticism than Curzon or Jadzia did. I see a society that is in deep denial about itself. We're talking about a warrior culture that prides itself on maintaining centuries old traditions of honor and integrity but in reality is willing accept corruption at the highest levels."
Worf: "You are overstating your case."
Ezri: "Am I? Who was the last leader of the high council that you respected? Has there even been one? And how many times have you had to cover up the crimes of Klingon leaders because you were told it was for the good of the empire? I know this sounds harsh but the truth is you have been willing to accept a government that you know is corrupt. Gowron's just the latest example. Worf, you are the most honorable and decent man that I have ever met. And if you're willing to tolerate men like Gowron, then what hope is there for the empire?"

Hmm...

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Reshpeckobiggle
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On occasion, I will be sitting in class at Colorado State University, and a political/ideological comment will be made by a professor or student that sends a murmur throughout the class. The comment is always from a liberal point of view, and the quiet (and sometimes not so quiet) murmurings are in agreement.

I know that a decent proportion of the student body and faculty is not aligned with this view, but rarely is this differing POV expressed as we do not wish to cause the disruption that inevitably results when someone is stupid enough to praise McCain or make a disparaging remark about Obama. It's pretty frustrating. So I sympathize, Strider.

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Trent Destian
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I have a extreme dislike for professors that force their views into the class forum without the intent to discuss it. I would have less issue with this if it was prefaced with a simple "In my opinion or how I see it". Instead I see it introduced most times as a snarky aside or a declaration of undenieable truth without supplying an environment where the students feel like they can comment. How they say one of those "funny" comments and looks at the class to join in on their joke. Concerning the election, it would seem that Obama is the cool thing on my campus, and nothing grates me more than a whole class, including the teacher, ganging up on the poor student who decided to voice his support of the opposition. This is not a friendly environment to exchange thoughts, but a school yard with bullies surrounding the kid with suspenders. My seething is only compounded when these Obama-students make such elementary arguments, only highlighting that they are bandwagoning the cool thing on campus, to the point where I feel the need to defend the opposition(much to my chargin). I'm not to entirely sure where I was going with this, but I feel better now.
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pH
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quote:
Originally posted by Humean316:
quote:

Nothing makes me feel more patriotic than voting and peaceful transfers of power. We usually get the government we deserve, especially on a local level. Add to that the Bill of Rights, and there are plenty of reasons to wave the flag.

Reminds me of a conversation I heard on Star Trek: DS9.

Worf: "Tell me what you think."
Ezri: "Okay, but I'm not sure you're going to like it."
Worf: "Tell me."
Ezri: "I think the situation with Gowron is a symptom of a bigger problem. The Klingon Empire is dying. And I think it deserves to die."
Worf: "You were right. I do not like it."
Ezri: "Don't get me wrong. I've very touched that you still consider me to be a member of the house of Martok. But I tend to look at the empire with a little more skepticism than Curzon or Jadzia did. I see a society that is in deep denial about itself. We're talking about a warrior culture that prides itself on maintaining centuries old traditions of honor and integrity but in reality is willing accept corruption at the highest levels."
Worf: "You are overstating your case."
Ezri: "Am I? Who was the last leader of the high council that you respected? Has there even been one? And how many times have you had to cover up the crimes of Klingon leaders because you were told it was for the good of the empire? I know this sounds harsh but the truth is you have been willing to accept a government that you know is corrupt. Gowron's just the latest example. Worf, you are the most honorable and decent man that I have ever met. And if you're willing to tolerate men like Gowron, then what hope is there for the empire?"

Hmm...

Wins the thread.

-pH

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Jhai
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quote:
Originally posted by The Rabbit:
quote:
People would also have a bigger issue with the German's if they started saying that again...the last time they did it cased the largest number of deaths of any war in history and caused irreparable damage to entire cultures.
But why do you think American's shouldn't be held to the same standard. We saw the results of German Uber-Nationalism too. How can you possibly believe that it was bad for German's to believe that their country was the greatest in the world but its great , even necessary for patriotic loyal Americans to believe our country is the greatest in the world. If that attitude really was an important factor leading to the atrocities of WWII, then shouldn't we be avoiding it like the plague. Just because American Nationalism hasn't caused a world war and a halocaust yet, doesn't mean it might not in the future.
I too have lived in Germany for a decent amount of time, and you know what struck me? German culture is different from American culture. Just because a belief by one culture leads to a certain outcome doesn't mean that that belief by a different culture will lead to the same outcome.

Now, if you could point to many examples where belief that X nation is the best country in the world led to something as horrific as the Holocaust, I might think that you're on to some human-species wide truth. But I'd be quite surprised if most countries' citizens didn't believe that their country is the greatest in the world - and yet, they aren't all committing Holocaust-esque events. Germany is a major outlier here, frankly.

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Mucus
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I think you might be overstating your case that most citizens in the world think that their country is the greatest in the world.

Living in Canada, I've never really come across a citizen saying that they think Canada is the greatest in the world. We're aware that we are a mouse in bed with an elephant, we don't have the world's richest economy, or the most land, or the most resources or any of that. Most of the time its more of a muted "Yay! we're doing pretty good, better than those Americans at least. But ... "

There are editorials every Canada Day complaining that Canadians aren't patriotic enough and don't display the flag enough.

Here is the latest example of this kind of thing:
quote:

If ever there was an innately Canadian response to a crisis, the national reaction to the credit crunch must be it.

Thus far Canada appears to be in better shape than other western economies caught up in the backwash of the U.S. meltdown. Far from taking comfort from the fact -- perhaps even exhibiting a little national pride -- Canadians seem intent on punishing the government for not being panicked enough.

Look at what’s going on elsewhere:

The U.S. itself has all but nationalized much of its mortgage market, crafted a bailout of mammoth proportions, watched the financial titans of Wall Street crumble and a string of banks collapse or be swallowed by competitors. Britain yesterday launched a partial nationalization of its banking sector; Spain created an $80 billion bailout fund; European finance ministers tried (and failed) to organize a coordinated response; France imposed restrictions on executive paycheques and Iceland, facing bankrupcty, pleaded with Russia for an emergency loan.

Compare that to Canada. There is no talk of a banking bailout, and no suggestion one is needed. Canadian banks say they remain well capitalized, and -- as reported in Wednesday’s Financial Post -- have been approached by the U.S. Federal Reserve to help in its rescue operations.

...

It’s very Canadian: We can’t accept that we’ve done a better job at staving off disaster than other countries have. Maybe we’ve been a little bit smarter, a little bit better prepared. Nah, couldn’t be. If they’re in crisis, we must be in one too. Give us a bailout now -- we’ll figure out what to do with it later.

http://network.nationalpost.com/np/blogs/fullcomment/archive/2008/10/08/kelly-mcparland-give-me-the-bailout-i-ll-supply-the-crisis.aspx

My other experiences are mainly with Hong Kong and China. I don't get the impression that people in Hong Kong were particuarly impressed by Britain as being the greatest and neither are they with China. Its usually more of a resigned "well, they're doing better now, we can definitely do business with them, if we *have* to be part of the same country and all."

The people in China are very much aware that they aren't the greatest in the world. Don't get me wrong, they definitely think that China was at one time (and will be in the future) the greatest nation in the world, but not so much now.

I tend to think there are only a handful of countries whose citizens would honestly claim that they're the greatest in the world, the US, England, Russia, some theocracies, and some isolated populations like North Korea.

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Jhai
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Perhaps I should rephrase it to "greatest in some (very important to the people) way". For example, Indians' think that, as the largest democratic country in the world, they're great. Most every country has a claim to something that makes them the greatest at it - and it always matters very much to the people.
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Danlo the Wild
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I am the King of America. I love this country. It is my flesh. My bone and my blood. To say we are the Greatest, Strongest, Super Power is foolish. IMO

We BORROW trillions from China. If OPEC cut off the spigot to the black gold that is oil, HOW STRONG and SUPERPOWERED would be be?

I don't see how how depending on China for money and NEEDING OIL from other countries makes us the 'STRONGEST and ONLY' super power.

Up to 50% of all of our real estate could be FOREIGN OWNED.

We had a Great chance after World War II to be the Beacon of Light that leads by example, we've made some poor, poor choices since then, and have been rapidly deteriorating since 1999.

1/2 our country hates the other 1/2, we've enriched some of the richest men in the world with our resources, only 3 of the top 20 richest men in the world are Americans, all of these men saw a +20% increase to their wealth in the last year.

We are slaves to a perpetual debt. We've seen our working class become treated more like China's workers.

In the last year that I worked for Borders books, they cut all our benefits other than pay. They make us work from the day after Thanksgiving to January 30th with NO TIME OFF. And before memorial day, they stopped paying Holiday pay.

Even when our economy was decent, we did not take care of our workers, when a new CEO comes to a company, the first thing he does is 'save money' by cutting employee benefits.

I love this land, and want to see it return to greatness.

But what have we done SO great in the last 10 years?

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ClaudiaTherese
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I distinguish between "greatest in some characteristic" and an ontological "greatest." Judging whether a given individual is claiming one or the other isn't usually something that interests me. As for the larger concepts, I do find that contrast interesting.
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Mucus
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Jhai, thats probably correct.

But I don't think that The Rabbit is claiming that the kind of Canadian "We're not invading people and we can really drive in the snow" greatness is dangerous. I think he really means the attitude that one's country is the greatest, full stop, is dangerous. The sort of "We're #1! USA! USA!" attitude.

CT: I didn't quite follow that last sentence, which larger concepts in particular do you find interesting?

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ClaudiaTherese
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quote:
Originally posted by Mucus:
Jhai, thats probably correct.

But I don't think that The Rabbit is claiming that the kind of Canadian "We're not invading people and we can really drive in the snow" greatness is dangerous. I think he really means the attitude that one's country is the greatest, full stop, is dangerous. The sort of "We're #1! USA! USA!" attitude.

CT: I didn't quite follow that last sentence, which larger concepts in particular do you find interesting?

I think the distinction between a country being "greatest at (some) X" or "greatest with respect to (some) characteristic Y" and that country being "the greatest" -- as an unqualified statement about ontological categorization*** -- to be interesting.

---

Edited to add: But I find a discussion of what almost any given identified person means when he or she says "the greatest" (i.e., is it a qualified or unqualified statement? how does she or he really mean it to be taken? what is he or she really thinking about when that statement was made?) to be particularly uninteresting at this time.

Haven't any issue with other people discussing it; I'm just not interested in that aspect, myself. I find it both oddly tiresome and unproductive for me to reflect on that topic, at least for the foreseeable future.

---

Edited again to add: *** I equate this with what I think you mean by "the attitude that one's country is the greatest, full stop;" i.e., as an unmodified and uncontextualized claim about essential being.

[ October 09, 2008, 02:02 PM: Message edited by: ClaudiaTherese ]

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Tatiana
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I haven't lived in a lot of other countries, or even visited that many, but there are a few senses in which I would call the US the greatest. Feel free to correct me.

I think this is the least racist and least sexist country in the world. The civil rights movement here, and later the women's rights movement, succeeded wildly at changing our society to one in which there really are very few barriers to the success of women or of people of any nationality or ethnic background. I love that about my country.

We've got the best system of roads in the interstate highway system.

We have the most reliable and consistent utilities: electricity, phone, water, sewerage, mail. We invented the internet.

We seem to have the most friendly environment (legally and culturally) for new business start-ups, new entrepreneurial ideas and new enterprises. We're among the least corrupt in terms of government requiring bribes in order for people to do business, etc. We have a LOT of work here to do, to battle corruption and have a system that is truly fair, but my feeling is that it's better here than almost anywhere else in the world. (I hope I'm wrong and there are places far better than us in this regard.)

We're no longer in the forefront in high-energy physics, in space, or in scientific research, as we were for much of my life. We've let slip our lead in industry and almost all areas of technology, though we retain a few. But overall I'm happy here and proud to be an American.

Bush and his cronies tossing the constitution out the window really worried me, but it seems we are correcting those things in the upcoming election, so I'm not contemplating moving away just yet. [Smile]

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ElJay
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From the time I've spent in Canada, which is not insignificant over the last few years, they are much less racist and sexist than we are. Like, blew me away less sexist.

(Added: Granted, I have not yet tried to work there.)

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ClaudiaTherese
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I think America is great in many ways. If I were making highway system comparisons, I'd probably first look to Germany and Switzerland, maybe Dubai and the United Arab Emirates. I haven't a really good sense of what I'd find, though.

Looking at sexism in the workplace via gender wage gaps and other tangibles would probably start with some international groups, including the WHO (link is to a warehouse of links from a gender studies center at Radford College, listing those with scores exceeding the US in the areas of Political Empowerment & Economic Participation and Opportunity, and some below the US as well).

Same for ethnic diversity and opportunity, and I'd probably look first at the UK and Canada (which I believe now have more visible diversity than the US, at least in British Columbia for Canada).

My primary experience outside the US is Canada, and there is where I would first look for a comparison of utilities. I've not seen a distinction anecdotally, although Canada has hydroelectric reserves and other sources & system differences that have made for fewer brownouts and systems overloads (e.g., Canada often is called upon to sell additional energy to the US, such as when there were rolling brownouts from system overload in Southern California). A good bit of that is luck in national resources, though.

CNNMoney.com ranks New Zealand as the most friendly country to small businesses, with US in second place. That's from last year, though, and I haven't dug through their criteria (and I don't know how good I'd be at assessing them), but this is consistent with what I've heard from New Zealanders.

---

None of this is to diminish the role of the US historically or misrepresent the fluid and subjective nature of such rankings. Not only are countries constantly shifting in such lists, but the criteria used are up for discussion as well. However, what I do take from this is that such questions aren't clear-cut in the favor of the US, and that is excellent incentive to become familiar with what other countries are doing, study it, and see what we can take from it.

I'm more concerned with a path of continual reassessment and improvement than I am with a static snapshot rating.

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Tatiana
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ElJay, I felt that way in Toronto, but when I did a lot of work in the smaller towns of Canada, I felt differently. Maybe I was biased by just one person I met who went on and on to me about how Canada should be preserved for "REAL Canadians", by which he meant White European Canadians, and all these dad-blamed immigrants, by which he meant more recent immigrants than him and his folk, and all these dad-blamed natives, by which he meant earlier immigrants than him and his folk, should go hang. (He actually used more colorful language than this). Anyway, there could definitely be some slant in my opinion due to just that one guy, but I got a similar vibe from some others as well. [Smile]

It might be that the work I was doing, engineering start-up work, could have had a selection bias effect. I definitely loved Toronto's multiculturalism, and the feeling in Kingston, Ontario was similarly great.

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ClaudiaTherese
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quote:
Originally posted by ElJay:
From the time I've spent in Canada, which is not insignificant over the last few years, they are much less racist and sexist than we are. Like, blew me away less sexist.

(Added: Granted, I have not yet tried to work there.)

I've worked here for about a year and a half all told, and that has been my experience as well.
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Tatiana
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I'm so glad that you both found less sexism there! I'd love to experience that.
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ClaudiaTherese
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quote:
Originally posted by Tatiana:
ElJay, I felt that way in Toronto, but when I did a lot of work in the smaller towns of Canada, I felt differently. Maybe I was biased by just one person I met who went on and on ...

I don't know how that would compare to small towns in the US, though. I've been through plenty where that sentiment seemed predominant. I think in this case, I'd be most comfortable with aggregate data, such as collected in the page I linked initially for the outcomes measures assessed for sexism.

[Regarding sexism against women] Here is a summary chart listing for Political Empowerment, Economic Opportunity, and Economic Participation (page has definitions). Of note, the (typical in this area of research) categories of Educational Attainment and Health & Well-Being are not on that chart, but they should be not too hard to find elsewhere.

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ClaudiaTherese
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quote:
Originally posted by Tatiana:
I'm so glad that you both found less sexism there! I'd love to experience that.

Of course, I'm sure individual experiences vary, and -- as I noted above -- these things are always in flux. But for judging systems and whole countries, I think clear systemic outcomes measures are the way to go.

I hope all of us continue to experience less sexism, wherever we may be. [Smile]

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Tatiana
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CT, looks like Latvia is the place to go according to your list.
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