It takes a peculiar sort of narcissism to persuade yourself that your nation is so important, it could keep the whole world in line just by being nice. This delusion runs amok following a major terrorist attack, as partisans of the “Blame America First” school of thought come out of the woodwork. “Repent!” they tell us, “and we will all be saved!”
Foreigners, you see, are not really responsible for their atrocities. Thinking over the bad things we’ve done (from drone strikes to Monsanto to heinous carbon emissions), these Americans find that, actually, they do have some common ground with radical Islamists! They hate themselves, too.
When You Agree with Terrorists, They Win
If you’re a civilian, projecting this hangdog attitude is probably your most effective means of letting terrorists win. Radical Islam is a whirlwind of furious nihilism, and wherever it goes, its soldiers have a canny way of targeting the liveliest nerve. In the Middle East they destroy churches and murder people for their religious beliefs. Here, they strike at the heart of our economic and military power. In France, it’s cultural hot spots that find themselves in the crosshairs.
Why do they do this? Well, in the first place, terrorists are evil. They’re hoping to make us suffer by destroying what we most love. But there’s a strategic angle here, too. If you aren’t strong enough (yet?) to win through conventional warfare, it helps to undercut and demoralize your enemies. Poke their insecurities. Strangle and demean their greatest sources of confidence. Persuade them to think of themselves as the kind of people who don’t really deserve to win.
Judging by the president’s recent speech (and my social media feed), this strategy is paying considerable dividends. Quite a lot of people seem to be of the opinion that the world’s problems are more or less exclusively our fault, such that the only responsible course is to take full responsibility for the mortal enemies who terrorize us and our allies.
Stop Showing Weakness
I’m proud to be an American. That doesn’t mean I have an idyllic, Pollyannaish view of America’s role in the world. Of course we have defects. Of course we’ve made mistakes. It could hardly be otherwise in a fallen, uncertain world. Nevertheless, the weakest and most vulnerable are still better off when America is strong, confident, and willing to stand up to bloodthirsty men who would rule the world through fear.
Paris is grieving. We know ISIS has America in its sights. Our current president is obviously unserious about responding to this wanton aggression. What we really need now is strength, not self-indulgent simpering masquerading as introspection.
Therefore, I call on all my self-loathing compatriots to find another outlet for their insecurities. Here are some good, cathartic suggestions for those who are not so proud to be American.
1. Skip the Turkey
Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday in which we remember the people who risked everything to help build a free society. If you’re not pleased with the results, why celebrate? Put down the pumpkin and convert Thanksgiving into World Cultures Day, when you can enjoy some borsht, paella, or Szechuan beef while reading excerpts from the Quran or Bhagavad Gita.
2. Burn Your Sports Paraphernalia
Americans have created some amazing sports, many of which are now beloved the world over. Basketball has made substantial inroads into Europe and Asia. The World Baseball Classic has proven that top-notch baseball is played in many countries across the globe. Meanwhile, the homeland remains the stronghold of the world’s single greatest sport: American football.
If you’re ashamed of America’s influence on the world, you’ll probably want to avoid these. Burn the jerseys and the No. 1 fingers! Quit your fantasy teams! What kind of person takes pleasure in a signature accomplishment of the Worst Nation on Earth?
3. Boycott Small-Town Parades
This is especially imperative on the Fourth of July. You know the sort of thing: ticker-tape floats with beauty queens, high-school marching bands and kids waving tiny flags. To an anti-America American, small-town parades are a disgusting cesspool of Americana. Skip them and curl up with a Theodore Dreiser novel instead.
Also to be avoided: flea markets, bowling alleys, and state or county fairs.
4. Shun Chocolate Chip Cookies
Did you know that this little piece of heaven was created right here in the good old U.S. of A? Ruth Graves, owner of the popular Toll House Inn in Whitman, Massachusetts, included it in her restaurant cookbook in 1938, and it quickly became beloved nationwide. Put the cookie down, America-haters.
Other forbidden foods on the Blame America First diet: barbecue, bourbon, apple pie (especially if baked by mom), Coca Cola, brownies, hot dogs (double demerits if eaten at a ball park), cold-climate fruits, peanut butter, cheeseburgers, s’mores, and root beer. Also, no drink refills of any kind. That’s insanely American.
5. Quit the Kiwanis Club
Americans have always distinguished themselves by their penchant for voluntary associations. Alexis de Tocqueville noted this, and while voluntary associations may have fallen off a bit since Tocqueville’s day, we still have an impressive number from the American Legion to the Knights of Columbus to Little League. We also have lots of voluntary giving of time and money. If you’re souring on the United States, show it by sitting out the next Parent-Teacher Association meeting.
6. Stick To Opera
America is a paradise of amazing fusion music. We can thank the American South for jazz and blues, while bluegrass combined those influences with Celtic instruments to make another spirited American musical style. Rock, hip hop, techno, barbershop, and gospel music should probably also be stricken from your playlists.
7. Lighten Up On Personal Hygiene
Americans are a very clean people. Multiple immigrant friends have told me how startling it was to them to learn that they were expected, in the United States, to shower every single day. We have an ongoing love affair with deodorant. We frown on (public) bodily emissions that many other cultures take far less seriously. If you’d like to be less American, try skipping a shower, or getting some distance from your Speed Stick.
8. Stay Away From Texas
You might be able to hunker down in certain enclaves of Austin, but basically, Texas oozes America from every pore.
9. Spit On A Tree
Americans aren’t the only nature-lovers in the world, of course, but we are awfully enthusiastic about it. Multiple times I’ve found myself abroad, explaining in broken Foreign (aka, some language that isn’t English) that yes, I’m looking for a trail just for the walking! It’s not about getting to a particular place! (Not every culture appreciates hiking.) Or I might be trying to explain that yes, we actually want to sleep outside under the stars and cook over a fire. Americans do this for fun!
It makes sense that we would appreciate our Great Outdoors. From the Shenandoah Valley to the Grand Canyon to the majestic Rockies, we have a lot of beautiful nature on these shores.
10. Don’t Smile Too Much
You notice this traveling abroad: Americans are very smiley. We grin at strangers on streets and beam at cameras. A stranger is a friend you’ve never met! Except not for you, anti-Americans. Turn that smile upside-down. You’ll feel that angst draining out of you in no time.
11. Watch a Telenovela
You could also do “Spirit of the Beehive” or “Flowers of Shanghai” if that’s more your speed, but sitcoms, Hollywood films, and musicals are obviously offensively American, along with Westerns and a host of old standards. Hitchcock? Sinatra? Forget about it. Anime, anybody?
Drawing on this list, America skeptics should be able to vent their hostile feelings without running for office, or leaving motivators sprinkled all over the Internet for foreign terrorists to enjoy. No need to help terrorists ruin things for everyone. It’s easy enough just to ruin them for you.