Friday, February 22, 2008

Iceland: The greatest nation ever to occupy the island where Iceland is located.

In an otherwise hackneyed posting about Barack Obama’s wife, in which the usual lunatic fringe invective gets indiscriminately pepper-sprayed around a mostly empty room, local blogger Daniel Short included this observation:

Most of us are proud of the ole USA no matter who is in control. Most of us believe it is the greatest nation on Earth.

Since I enjoy being a gadfly, I responded.

The only question is this: Why does it matter?

Daniel’s answer, in part, read thusly:

You see Roger, a lot of liberals do not really like America. I suspect that given your affection for Europe that you deep down harbor ill feelings toward America. Liberals believe the U.S. is the cause of the world's troubles, that we are war lovers and mother nature haters. It matters because if someone doesn't believe in the idea of America, how can they govern a place that is that idea?

A brief discussion followed, with my cohort Bluegill making a few typically concise points, and John Manzo contributing a brilliant exposition of the liberal/conservative wartime dichotomy. You can follow the above link to read all of it.

As for me, I can’t help observing that in a time when the Euro zone is shredding the efficacy of the dollar, the charge of being a Europhile apparently now carries as much negative impact as Communist, humanist and atheist.

It’s cartoonish to suggest that there are Communists lurking through New Albany’s foggy pumpkin patches. As for the other three perceived denigrations, I’m right there, although not thumping my chest like a child. Things like that are embarrassing, don't you think?

My purpose here is not to speak for Daniel, who is quite capable of digging his own deep holes without requiring me to dirty my hands helping with the shoveling.

Rather, it’s simply to say that discussing “the greatest” anything is an exercise in futility, that I’ve never understood the chest-thumping impulse, and that I agree with the athlete Edwin Moses, who I recall eschewing the contrived, flag-waving Hollywood pageantry of the ’84 Olympics to insist that he regarded himself as a citizen of the universe.

Funny, then, that a Christianity which incessantly professes to be universal in application must ultimately rest on the armed “might” of a particular “greatest” nation, at least in the minds of so many Americans. It’s hard indeed to fathom any Prince of Peace accepting that particular syllogism.

But what do I know. I’ve not been indoctrinated, have I?

However, when it comes to patriotism and religion, the re-education camps are never very far away, are they?


Randy said...

It Can't Happen Here.

John Manzo said...

Christianity, at its core, is not about nationalism. Jesus certainly wasn't. Constantine was but he was using Christianity for his own needs and the Christians who went along with him were growing weary of serving as food for the lions.

Jesus was, at best, indifferent to nationalism. His famous "render unto Caesar," line demonstrated a very sharp division, in his mind, between God and Rome. Actually, through much of the Bible, Caesar, in his various forms, is often a figure for ridicule and even folly.

Love of country is a pretty subjective thing. I attended college in New York state, on the St. Lawrence Seaway, directly across the river from Canada. We went back and forth a great deal (it was easy in the mid-70's) and got to know a good number of Canadians who loved their country and were proud to be Canadians.

During my college years we had a French girl live with us one summer who was proud to be French and loved her country. I still keep in touch with her and she eventually married a man from Spain and they lived in Spain for several years, started a family, etc. A couple of years ago she was thrilled to move back to France.

Stephen Ambrose in his book, "Band of Brothers," said that the soldiers were amazed at the Germans. Once the battle had passed through their town leaving little except rubble, the German people began cleaning the rubble and rebuilding. Despite it all, they were Germans and they loved their country. They were often ashamed at much of what their country did, but it didn't diminish love of country for them.

I delight in people who love our country, but I also recognize, and delight, that other people love their countries as well.

Matt Nash said...

"Doesn't it just grate on you that liberals in general are not proud of their country, period? Doesn't it grate on you that they're embarrassed; that they hate the country; that they dislike it"

Guess the quote.

Daniel Short said...

Roger, I am the one that has not been indoctrinated yet. Twelve years of public school and going on seven of college and I came through it all with my core beliefs ( a feat not many can testify to). Anyone from any country can believe their homeland is the "best", but I believe history shows that even with our flaws we truly are. John, the Frencch thank us for their continuing native language, and not having to speak German. It's OK with me if you believe that all the world is fantastic, heck maybe it is, but there is no other place I would want to call home.

The New Albanian said...

Daniel wrote: "Anyone from any country can believe their homeland is the 'best', but I believe history shows that even with our flaws we truly are."

And, to be blunt, you've yet to offer a coherent or compelling reason as to why it matters.

The burden is yours. You're advancing a positive claim, and now you must back it.

Jeff Gillenwater said...

After several days and debates, Daniel hasn't offered a cogent argument substantiating any of his claims nor given any indication that he agrees that doing so has value.

That might help explain how someone would take the position that core beliefs are formed before education takes place and therefore aren't something developed by education but rather something to be defended from education.

Daniel Short said...

According to the Arni Magnusson Institute for Icelandic Studies, the largest political party in Iceland is called the Independence Party. They are a right wing party that emphasizes the freedom of the individual. That party holds between 33 and 40% of parliament. Iceland also used to practice citizen policing and paid a fee to anyone that turned in a thief. Sounds like a cool place (pun intended).

Daniel Short said...

Also, my core beliefs were instilled by my parents, not a village. As stated earlier, America is in a pure sense an ideal. Freedom, Liberty and everyone having a chance to become what they choose. We can all agree that with many other countries on this planet, that is simply not the case.

The New Albanian said...

Irrelevance as an argumentation technique. Hmm.

If I had time I'd document the history of American phenomenons like slavery, lynching and other representations of the values we're perpetually being asked to "return" to.

Iceland sounds like Bermuda by comparison.

Daniel Short said...

Roger, for the longest time Iceland held homocide as a civil offense. Just pay a fine and your off the hook. Look out, rich gun toting conservative nut jobs on the loose :). Every nation has its warts. You are also a big fan of Germany - spotless human right record there. Lynching, slavery of Jews, destruction of any race save for blue eyed, blond haired Arians. Give me another country you fawn over and I can do the same for them. Humans sometimes are not nice to each other. Americans show this everyday - as does the rest of the world.

Jeff Gillenwater said...

It's interesting, especially given recent presidential campaign jabs about "just words", how powerful a suffix can be.

C: My country is great.
R: Mine is, too.

C: My country is greatest.
R: Screw you.

Three letters. Just a part of a word. The difference between peace and conflict.

Randy said...

I, too, had found enlightenment before entering the public schools. By the age of six, I my core beliefs were a settled question. Since that time, by diligently rejecting anything that did not fit those core beliefs formed in my first 80 months of life, I have held firm.

My relationship with my God has not altered since that day. To the extent that I knew God's will then, nothing has changed now.

Nothing about the history of civilization, peoples, cultures or ideas was able to dent my core beliefs.

None of the people I've met through the public schools has been able to influence my core beliefs. Not the white kids I started school with nor the black kids who weren't allowed to go to my school then.

Of the present group, apparently, only Mr. Short and I can "testify" to that feat.

But then I could be testifying and committing perjury. Which should I be proudest of? If the above is true? Or if it's not?

Randy said...

I'm as guilty of typos as the next guy; but I'll admit that in all my public schooling I never learned about homocide. What is it? Is it like germocide?

Daniel Short said...

Must have been a slip. Try homicide.

Daniel Short said...

My core values by age six, sounds crazy to some I know. You see I watched my father come home from busting it 10 hours in a factory and then farm the land so his family could benefit - that taught me the core value of hard work. My mom was waiting when my siblings and I got off the schoolbus - that taught me the value of family. Then she would help us with our homework and make sure we understood it so we would succeed - core value of education. I watched my dad and mom stick it out through tough times - the value of real human relationships. Finally, my parents took us to church and read the Bible to us and related those words to real life situations - the value that there is something bigger than us that is worth living for. Children learn values early by watching their parents. That's a very important job for us - if any of you have kids you will know what I mean.

Christopher D said...

In all of my Catholic school education, I was brought up to believe that God is wonderful, our ocuntry is great, and that all people are together on this little blue chunk of rock and water.
But it would appear to me we have a re-incarnation of Eric/ericka in the flesh and blogging blood here.
But being new to all of this what would I know.
If you would please axcuse me, I have a lunch date with Mondale and Clinton to further advance the destruction of the American way of life though independent thinking.

Iamhoosier said...

So? Basically, I come from the same scenario. I believe Roger does too.

Tell me, how are we so different? Are you saying that I don't work hard? Are you saying that I don't value education? Are you saying that I don't value family? Are you saying that I do not value religion--well, you got me there. But I do have respect for people who do. As a matter of fact, I deeply love one, my wife.

The New Albanian said...

Precisely, Mark.

The only difference in the scenario is that my parents didn't insist on a particular religious persuasion and I was encouraged to explore all or none.

Jeff Gillenwater said...

Not me. I started working toward cultural elitism almost immediately-- right after I got finished wrecking concrete forms, loading the truck for the next day, and carrying creek rock to the house so Dad could lay them in the dark while Mom held the light.

Now that he's retired, we're going to a hot rod car show tomorrow. I think we're going to read 19th century French ecstatic poetry and vote for our favorite George Bernard Shaw play if anybody wants to come.

ecology warrior said...

i vote for sweden being the greatest country in the world to live in. I am sure some in this community would wish me a fond farewell

ecology warrior said...

I am also proud to say that when I chaired the stormwater board I did not recite the pledge of allegiance as part of the official procedings or say the lords prayer because I believe in the separation of church and state

edward parish said...
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