I am not a huge Micheal Moore fan. In college I took a PR class in which I was forced to watch Bowling for Columbine. My professor was a former PR executive for a tobacco company, and he spent the majority of his life telling people that cigarettes really weren’t that harmful, and selling them to kids with cartoon characters (back when that was still legal.)
The guy really admired Micheal Moore, whom he claimed could “spin anything” to say what he wanted. I figured if someone as scummy as that teacher could like him, well, I didn’t think much of him.
However, I want to bring up the film “Where to Invade Next.”
The premise is that the solutions to all of the problems in the US already exist elsewhere in the world, and we simply need to co-opt them from the countries where they are already in place.
Obviously, I feel that way about Single-Payer Healthcare. I loved my care in Thailand, and also in South Korea. It was faster, more efficient, and friendlier than anything I ever experienced in the US.
But it’s more than that.
Iceland jailed it’s bankers and bailed out its citizens, instead of bailing out its banks and fucking over its citizens. And its not like their economy collapsed. It’s doing great.
So really, it’s 100% true that the rest of the world has a lot of better ideas.
The problem is, if you say this, people get upset.
At first I didn’t understand why. I had seen the better things. I had lived the better things. When I came home to visit, I simply wanted to tell people about the better things. I thought they would be excited to hear about how things were better other places, and they would then want that for themselves.
I hit a wall.
That wall is American Exceptionalism, or, the belief of all Americans that we live in the greatest country on Earth, and people from other countries desperately want to come to America.
Let’s forget the fact that visa applications have dropped and illegal immigrants left after the 2008 housing bubble burst.
No one wants to come to America anymore, but no American is ready to hear that yet, no matter how true it is.
So let’s instead talk about specific things people like to hit me with when I say American Exceptionalism is an outdated myth.
Example: “America is great because we have freedom. It’s the most free country in the world.”
No part of that is true.
First, we actually have the highest incarceration rate in the entire world. The second-highest is Russia, and after that South Africa. But we are number one. We have the most people living in substandard hell-holes. We have the least free population by percentage in all of the world.
But what about some of those key ideals?
Well, most countries have freedom of the press. Some, (not us of course) even have truth in media laws. So not only can the press print anything they want even if it is critical of the government, but they can’t print propaganda; just facts. Freedom is at its best when people are educated and have accurate facts.
How about more personal examples?
Well, when I lived in South Korea I enjoyed drinking outside stores or in parks. You pop in to a Family Mart or 7/11 and get a bottle of Soju or a Cass, and you sit down and drink it. You do not have to wrap it in a paper bag or hide it in any way. You do not have to drink it only in a bar or your home. You are free to drink it anywhere you please, as long as you are polite and respectful of others.
And if you happen to get too drunk and stop being polite and respectful of others, a nice police officer will come and escort you safely home. He will not beat you or put you in jail. He will not hurt you or arrest you. He will take your arm, and while apologizing, he will take you home where you can sober up.
So what exactly do you define freedom as? Because whatever it is, I promise you that it is not unique to America. And in fact, there are freedoms out there that you don’t even know about.
It really is true that there are countries with no Nation Debt and a surplus of money. It really is true that other countries have better healthcare. It’s true that other countries have more freedom. It’s true that other countries have lower tax rates on the lower and middles classes. We are not the best at literally anything worth being the best at.
But, we do have the biggest army, and we do invade the most countries and kill the most people. So go us?
American Exceptionalism is an outdated myth.
While I know you all had to stand and pledge allegiance to a flag, please try to let that go. And while you all get teared up when you hear the national anthem, try to let that go too. Try to be objective and really look at the USA for what it is: a country that needs improvement.
Where to Invade Next got very poor reviews, and lots of news organizations shouted it down as just something that loser Michael Moore did. But you should watch it. You should learn about the stuff in there. You should travel and see how true it all is.
In the meantime, here is the correct order of things when there is a protest: