by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Of all the obscene pleasures Americans share an interest in, our penchant for apologizing for our Americanness while denigrating our birthplace is the most insufferable. Whether right-wingers moaning about the loss of an America that never existed or left-wingers explaining to a Bosnian farmer on Discord how the U.S. is literally a fascist hellscape, it’s shamefully egotistical to announce to the world our foibles as if they’re novel or the least bit interesting. There is very little reason to believe that life could be any better anywhere at any time than in this country today, and those saying otherwise are Francophile dorks or selling something.
Maybe the most frustrating example of this behavior is online in comment sections, where Europeans and Canadians grouse in error about us while fellow Americans celebrate the abuse or even facilitate it. American travelers, typically the wealthier ones, who pretend to be Canadians are just one more example.
But why do we do this? J.J. McCullough, a Canadian columnist for the Washington Post and a culture analyst on YouTube, recently posted a considered investigation of our national neurosis. …
… McCullough breaks the reason for our disdain into four parts:
1. Noxious political rhetoric
2. Mainstreaming conspiracy theories
3. Foreign criticism (“malevolently well-informed”)
4. Capitalism (availability of anti-American products and advertising)
What McCullough gets precisely right is how our mania expresses itself — we reward vendors, politicians, and foreigners for saying what we feel to be true. But fool’s gold and the critiques of a random Greek guy on Facebook aren’t causing us to act this way. Rather our self-obsession and feelings of wrongness are the cause — the same way that it’s impossible to convince a mom that her kid is ugly unless she suggests it herself, at which point you pity the child while reviling the mother. Her vanity and loss of perspective make it a hideous, anti-maternal display. Such is our case.