Don’t go there…

I think everyone is familiar with this concept:

I can bag on my mom and you can bag on your mom. But under no circumstances can YOU bag on MY mom.

Lately I’m feeling that way about the U.S. and its international relations. I’m not super thrilled about everything they do, but I understand where the decisions are coming from (mostly), because I get who the players are and what motivates them. But when people from elsewhere spout off about how stupid and wrong the actions of the U.S. government are, I get very uncomfortable. I occasionally have to suppress the urge to shout, “Why don’t you stop talking out of your ass?” And if you’ve met me in person, you know just how out of character that is.

As TQE says, I’m an expatriate, not an ex-patriot. Anyone else experience patriotism flare-ups?

16 thoughts on “Don’t go there…”

  1. Frau Dietz

    I think I’m the only one Brit-bashing round here at the moment; the Germans are all too busy worrying about what’s going down on this side of the Channel to worry about the mess my homeland’s in ;) However I do get thoroughly wound up when people start talking about British food being bad. Thoroughly wound up. In fact, I can feel my blood pressure rising just mentioning it now.

    1. Sarah

      People still talk smack about British food? I’m assuming these are people that haven’t been in Great Britain for at least 30 years. Because I eat like a lunatic when we’re in the U.K.

      1. CN Heidelberg

        Agree…one of the biggest things I look forward to if I’m going to the UK is British desserts…heaven!!

        I get super defensive about the US when people start knocking some that I think the US actually IS better at. I get a little insecure on behalf of my country because I know we really are worse at a lot of things – vacation time, health care coverage, etc. But we DO get some things right – college life and university professor quality come to mind at the moemnt – and if non-US people start knocking on those things…then I really get riled up.

      2. Frau Dietz

        Yes. Yes they do. But thank you, you have calmed me :)

  2. shoegirl

    I’m having a hard time watching everything that’s been going down in the states in the last couple years since we left, so it’s hard to imagine who wouldn’t bag on the US. At the same time, once you spend time somewhere, you do start to understand more of what’s behind the headlines, both over here and in the US. Perhaps I’m still so enthralled with the shiny-newness of my German life, I almost feel more defensive about that (if I could tell you how many asinine Hitler or Nazi comments came from people back in the states…sheesh). It’s all about perspective.

    1. Sarah

      It is hard (occasionally even mortifying) to see what passes for rational discourse and action from the U.S. lately. But I get to bust on it because, as an American, I understand the culture and our political landscape. I just hear and read people from other places griping about how stupid ‘the Americans’ are and it makes me livid. It is behavior as ignorant and ill-considered as what they’re condemning.

      P.S. This isn’t about Germans, specifically.

  3. Mandi

    I totally hear you. While I’ll be the first to criticize the U.S. for a lot of reasons, I get pretty testy when uninformed people start talking smack — especially if those individuals have spent absolutely no time whatsoever in the U.S. and whose opinions are solely based on what’s fed to them in the media.

    1. Sarah

      I’m glad you’re picking up what I’m putting down. I was feeling a little lonely out here with my righteous head of steam.


  4. G

    I talk smack all the time about the US because I actually know what I am talking about. I can talk smack about my country, which I love and support and attempt to help become better.
    The smack I hear from Europeans is, mostly, completely ill-informed and makes me think less of their ability to actually do research. You would be amazed at how many Germans think the US is the size of Germany and as homogenous.
    When I hear a European discussing US issues as strongly as this blog:
    and with as much knowledge, I will respect their smack talk. Until then, I point out that they call my husband an American when he mentions that attaching pictures to a cv supports racial and age discrimination (he’s German).

    1. Sarah

      You’re saying exactly what I’m saying. I’m glad I’m not the only one that feels that way. There are just so many wrong-headed assumptions people make.

      Thanks for the link. I’ll have to check that out.

      1. G

        It’s funny, because, like I said, I can ream my country right out. But the ill-formed opinions just make me top their knowledge with my own which I then twist into the 99% of the actual issue that they don’t know or understand. Such as, MA has a universal health care option. That the US has multiple states where gays can actually marry, as opposed to the unions (without inheritance rights) that Germans have. The difference between a state and federal power… and so on. I am angrier at my country right now then any foreigner can actually be and my anger has real understanding behind it. So don’t give me your facile lack of knowledge key word false liberalism… ok. You got me wound up. I need a drink.

  5. Sherah

    I don’t have as much of a problem with people talking about America (although it is annoying and I have to live with my in-laws who can’t stand America or Americans – for that they got two Americans who married into the family) as I do people talking about Israel. People have no idea what the real history is, they only know what they have been fed by the media and by popular opinion. I don’t agree with a lot of things going on in Israel, but at least I know first hand what is going on. And I really don’t like it from both ends, from the ultra-liberals who suggest that Israel is an apartheid state to the ultra-religious christians who think that Israel can do no wrong.

    1. G

      Whereas I generally support Israel’s right to defend itself and do what needs to be done. I’ll complain about its behavior when Hamas removes the murder of all Jews being the prime goal from its charter.

  6. tqe | Adam

    I was much, much less sensitive to people bagging on America until Obama took office — ever since then, I’ve been more defensive, although when somebody accurately hits the target, I acknowledge it.

    When I say that I’m not an ex-patriot, I am mainly focusing on the things that make me an American, like, oh, paying taxes (as I have income in the USA) — unlike tea partiers — believe in diversity (all men are created equal) — unlike those in the Arizona and Alabama legislatures — and so on… to me, patriotism is much more nuanced, and certainly not about waving the flag.

    I’ve certainly, as an adult, never intentionally littered the streets — unlike one “patriotic” American I witnessed leaving their trash in the middle of the road at a stoplight.

  7. CN Heidelberg

    I just experienced the opposite yesterday – a couple of people I was talking to wanted to go on about how great some aspect of the US was. None of them has ever even been there and I could have rightly argued…but hell no. I just sat there to enjoy it, sitting up straighter in my seat with every word. I’ll take whatever compliments my country can get. ;)

  8. Ellie

    I was in a situation where my German’s best friends stayed the weekend and refused to talk to me for most of it, but when they finally did talk to me- they started trash talking America. It didn’t go down very well. I know we don’t have the most amazing country in the world, but it’s my home country and that has to count for something. We have our problems too, and that’s something I can admit to, but for some reason Germans and the French seem to think America is a whole lot smaller than it actually is. I’ve had to say many times, um…. you do know America is much bigger than your country right? If you don’t know the size of a country, you don’t know the politics either. Pffffaaaa! Anyway, totally understand you.

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