Patriotism: Too Much Of A Good Thing

We Don't HaveTo Act As If Our Country Were Better Than Others At The Olympics Even If We Know That It's True

I'm as proud as anyone to be an American but you may have noticed I don't wear an American flag in my buttonhole.

Not only that, I wish we weren't treating the Olympics as if it were an American event. It's an international event and it's rude and boorish of us, as the host country, to act as if we were the most important part of it.

We're puzzled over why so many people in the world hate us, then, next thing you know, we're saying to them "Our Country is better than your Country Yaaaa."

The television reports from Salt Lake City were dominated by information about how Americans did:
  • “The United States has won its first medals of the winter Olympics on this the first day of competition."

  • "Shannon Bahrke of Taos City, California came in second in women's freestyle skiing moguls; she earned the silver medal."
They didn't report who won the race because the winner came from a foreign country. Awk!

It's as if we were deliberately setting out to make the rest of the world dislike us.

We're always being embarrassed by bumptious Americans who act as though they made this country what it is today.

Well, none of us living now had anything to do with how great this country is. We're lucky to have been born here or to have been accepted into the country. If we've contributed even a little bit to keeping it as good as it is, we can be proud of ourselves but we didn't make it as good as it already was when we got here.

I'm not easy, either, with the people, the companies and the charitable organizations trading in patriotism by using the tragedy of the terrorist attacks as a way of calling attention to themselves, to a cause or to their product.

I get fund-raising letters every day of the week that mention Sept. 11 just as if their organization had some special connection to the tragedy.

One tacky outfit calls itself the First National Reserve Limited. Historical Ground Zero Vault Recovery. They're trying to turn the tragedy into cash by selling $1 worth of silver they claim was found in the World Trade Center basement for $50 — plus $20 shipping.

Major companies are trying to increase sales by associating themselves with the tragedy.

During the Super Bowl halftime, I left my seat because I was uneasy about the show that featured the names of 2800 people who had died. Some people were touched by it. I found it too close to using the emotion evoked by recalling the event as entertainment.

In our personal lives, we're influenced by other people's appraisal of our behavior. If the friends we hang out with don't like something we do, we usually stop doing it.

The rest of the world doesn't like the way we behave as if no one else's country is as good as ours and we ought to stop acting that way — even if we're right.


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  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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