“I. I believe. I believe that. I believe that we will win! I believe that we will win! I believe that we will win!” Thousands upon thousands of American fans chanted these immortal words at the USA v. Belgium FIFA World Cup match this past Tuesday. The atmosphere was electric; even watching from my couch I could feel it. The fight we put up was valiant, the loss heart-breaking. I was proud of team USA for coming so far in a sport that is usually overlooked here in the States.
Unfortunately, one thing I couldn’t be proud of was the level to which some Americans took their patriotism. There is a fine line between pride and arrogance, and all too often that distinction is bulldozed into extinction. Some of the remarks I saw on social media during the USA’s foray into soccer simply embarrassed me as an American.
Statements like, “At least we are back to back World War champs,” “If you don’t support the US, you’re a communist/ terrorist,” and “Belgium better get ready for some freedom!” peppered my Twitter feed. I couldn’t help but wonder if the Americans who tweeted these thoughts out to the world had any idea how they were portraying the country they so dearly love.
The World Wars are notable for the complete destruction and loss of life they caused, certainly not something to brag about. And we certainly didn’t win them singlehandedly, hence the term “world war.” Secondly, calling someone a communist or terrorist because they didn’t root for the US screams blind ignorance. Every single person who lives in the states can trace their roots back to a foreign country, and attacking someone’s political party or comparing them to a terrorist because of who they cheer for in a soccer match is simply ridiculous. Also, Americans don’t have a monopoly on freedom, and it’s certainly not a weapon with which to smite the rest of the world.
I recognize that most of these expressions of American patriotism are all in good fun and come from a place of genuine pride for our incredible country. And we truly do have a lot to be proud of. The democracy, equal rights, freedom, and diversity that are established here in the States are truly accomplishments that much of the world is still striving to achieve. But does this really give us the right to shove America down everyone’s throats like we are doing them a favor?
From personal experience, I have found that those people who are most passionate about the US’s superiority are simply revealing their own ignorance and closed-mindedness. They have no desire to travel or to learn about other cultures, languages, and customs. They simply expect the rest of the world to bow down to football, hotdogs and the American flag. I wonder how anyone can claim something as the best when they have no experience with the competition.
With the Fourth of July upon us, I can only hope that the excessive patriotism I have seen won’t rear its ugly head again, but I have little hope. The Fourth is supposed to be about celebrating our independence, not about looking down on the rest of the world. I too will dress in red, white and blue, and sit on the beach to watch fireworks with my family. But what I won’t do is accuse anyone of being less than me simply because they aren’t American.
The fact of the matter is, the world does not revolve around the United States of America. We depend on other countries just as much as they depend on us. Most importantly, we must learn to become part of a global community if we are to survive. I doubt the global community will want much to do with a population of conceited and uninformed Americans. We are the land of the free and the home of the brave. Let’s show it by daring to love this country modestly, with grace and with respect.