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Being an American is much more than being “cool”

Being an American is much more than being “cool”

Unsurprisingly, fresh off the Obama victory, an AP reporter who covers “European Affairs” has published a piece about how being an American is now “cool” again. Apparently, all of Europe loves us, all because we were willing to elect who they wanted us to. (Message: Do what we want you to, regardless of how it will affect your well-being, and trendy, hip Europeans will like you. Disobey us, even if it is to your benefit and safety, and trendy, hip Europeans will shun you. HA.)

She was a stranger, and she kissed me. Just for being an American.

It happened on the bus on my way to work Wednesday morning, a few hours after compatriots clamoring for change swept Barack Obama to his historic victory. I was on the phone, and the 20-something Austrian woman seated in front of me overheard me speaking English.

Without a word, she turned, pecked me on the cheek and stepped off at the next stop.

Nothing was said, but the message was clear: Today, we are all Americans.

For longtime U.S. expatriates like me — someone far more accustomed to being targeted over unpopular policies, for having my very Americanness publicly assailed — it feels like an extraordinary turnabout.

Like a long journey over a very bumpy road has abruptly come to an end.

And it’s not just me.

An American colleague in Egypt says several people came up to her on the streets of Cairo and said: “America, hooray!” Others, including strangers, expressed congratulations with a smile and a hand over their hearts.

Another colleague, in Amman, says Jordanians stopped her on the street and that several women described how they wept with joy.

… And it wasn’t the first time I fudged where I was from. I speak three foreign languages, so I have a bit of flexibility when it comes to faking. At various times, I’ve been a German in Serbia, a Frenchman in Turkey, a Dutchman in Austria.

I’m not proud of it. But when you’re far from home, and you’re feeling cornered, you develop what you come to believe are survival skills.

… My children came of age in Europe, and in a hostile post-9/11 world we had to teach them to avoid being too conspicuously American. Don’t speak English loudly on the subway. Don’t wear baseball caps and tennis shoes. Don’t single yourselves out, guys, and even worldly wise Americans can unwittingly become targets.

We didn’t overdo it, but there’s always been that tension. That difficult-to-describe sense of vulnerability. That nagging instinct that maybe we’d better watch it, because our government is intensely unpopular and we’re not entirely welcome.

… I’m a marathon runner, and I have a red, white and blue singlet that I’ve seldom dared to wear on the Continent. Marathons are difficult enough without enduring catcalls and jeers from spectators.

But my best friend and training partner — who is French — just gave me his stamp of approval.

“Will you wear your Stars and Stripes shirt now? You’re allowed!” he told me.

Well hey, that’s great news. Of all the things that America stands for — freedom, generosity, strength, resilience — being “cool” is what’s most important. Of course, isn’t this what liberalism is all about? I don’t know many situations where liberals have ever wanted to do something based on principle or integrity. Liberalism is purely emotion-based, and therefore something as inane as popularity will mean the world to them. Whereas I could give two shits what the rest of the world thinks of us, say, invading Iraq when it’s the right thing to do, liberals are begging for approval from the UN and Europe. It’s like that pimply kid in middle school who is tolerated by the trendy kids in the cafeteria because he’ll do ridiculous things for their amusement, thinking that one of these days he’ll finally win their respect. American liberals are the pimply kid, and Europeans are the trendy kids.

It doesn’t seem to me in reading that piece that the writer was ever proud of being an American, especially considering he’s an expatriate. But now, now that it’s “cool” to be American, he’s all about owning his American identity. Very principled, huh?

Being an American is much more than being “cool”. It means much more. It’s why immigrants want so desperately to be here — because we are the greatest, freest country on the planet, because we are the last best hope, because we are that shining city on a hill. If Europeans find that to be uncool, then that’s fine. I’d rather love my country and be the rejected loser in the corner than disowning America for the sake of inclusion of the trendy Europeans, something this writer — and Yahoo, who gave this story a top headline in the World News column — clearly can’t understand.

Hat Tip: Newsbusters

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  • Mat says:

    To expand on that, the campus newspaper at the university I work at had on their frontpage in big letters “Obama Wins, Students Rejoice”.
    I’m so glad I took the night off from working there because I probably would have told one of those superindulged little twits to go eff themselves and thus starting a riot. This leads me to a question that I haven’t seen in the media. What if, for some reason, McCain won? Would those same students (who danced, chanted and actually sang the Star-Spangled Banner now that it was hip and cool to do so) have rioted? I’m of the belief that they would have and I think that’s the main difference between us conservatives and the liberals. We lost, and yes we complain, but that’s the extent of it. If Obama would have lost, then you would have seen mass rioting. I think that speaks volumes for the maturity level among liberals (thus going back to your comment about liberalism running purely on emotion).

  • Benson says:

    I love the United States because of the ideals upon which it was founded. We saw the practical application of those ideals last night.

    I have spent the last eight years watching the current administration piss on those ideals. Misleading the populace, perpetrating war crimes, circumventing the rule of law, and undermining constitutional checks and balances. The abject disregard for American principles was a violent action against the people of the United States. I am ashamed to have myself associated with the liars and fucking thieves that have run this country into a ditch.

    This is not about being “cool”, as you suggest. Emphatically, it is also not about inconstant love for our shared country. This is about my (our) overwhelming satisfaction at the election of someone who actually represents the ideals of this country. We are all exceptionally fortunate to be Americans. I have always been proud of my country (or, rather, I have always held dear the ideals that the United States represents). As of last night, I am also PROUD to be associated with our newly-elected leaders. You conflate pride-in-country with pride-in-leadership at your peril. (As the previous commenter noted, it makes you look “retarded”.)

    I am especially optimistic about Obama’s RATIONAL faculties. I am confident that he will face the complexity of the world and wrestle it to the ground (more often than he doesn’t, anyway) He far outstrips the current administration in this context. You may proclaim that liberals are purely emotional, but this is as false (and as true) as it would be to make the same claim about conservatives.

    It’s a convenient fiction to paint liberals as whiny, overly intellectual sissies. (I know it’s a fundamental belief of your political-social tribe.) So which is it? Are liberals emotional or intellectual? Are we tall or short? Can I kick yer ass or can’t I?

    (Never mind that last question. I already know the answer.)

  • Daniel says:

    I find it telling just exactly who is excited about this. But hey, I’m OK with it – this is what he wanted, let’s see him back up his big talk.

  • Daniel says:

    Oops – almost forgot…

    PALIN 2012!

  • benson says:

    Liberalism is based purely on emotion? Is this in contrast to those bastions of steady, rational discouse: Coulter, Hannity, O’Reilly? The fact that you can write a sentence without breaking grammatical rules doesn’t mean that the statement is true.

  • Steve L. says:

    This story is so heartwarming. I sit at my desk all day long worrying about what Europe thinks of me.

  • jjmurphy says:

    I am glad to see someone write about that article. I saw it as well, and was completely disgusted, especially by that last line: “Will you wear your Stars and Stripes shirt now? You’re allowed!” Gee, thank you for your permission.

    What a sorry excuse for an “American” that reporter is. He exhibits perfectly the liberal hatred of the USA. They are all just junior high school students who so desperately want to be in the “in crowd”. Ideas such as independence or self-confidence are just too scary to contemplate.


  • jjmurphy says:

    Oops. Put in the wrong URL. Sorry.

  • happy says:

    This is actually great news! So, when it all comes around again, when a conservative wins back the white house, he/she simply needs to present a cool image and policies. Then the world will still love us and we can proceed with impunity to kick the crap out of those that need it around the world!

  • Mat says:

    Ok Benson,

    Practical applications such as, oh, I don’t know…ACORN? Ok, if you say so.
    Misleading the populace? What has Obama done in the last year or so? We still don’t know about large portions of his college years, which would have probably shown him to be a Weatherman symp.
    Sorry, but what I heard about what happened on the campus that I worked for was exactly an inconsistent love for this country, i.e., that it’s ok to sing the Star-Spangled Banner only when your side wins. Otherwise it’s silly and superficial (hey, your side is the one who made those ground rules up).
    He hasn’t even been inaugurated yet and already you’re comparing him as a cut above Bush. Why don’t we wait a few years to make that judgement, ok?
    Oh yeah, liberals are overly emotional. Sorry, but it’s the truth. It’s one thing for Hannity to go on the air and passionately emphasize a point, a fact. It’s entirely different to vote for someone on pure emotion. I would actually call it pseudo-intellectual.

  • Cylar says:


    Get the hell out of here, you fucking moonbat. You’re not going to win any converts here. Seriously, get lost.

  • NB says:

    I’m so comforted that it’s once again acceptable to where a star spangled singlet.

    HA! What a tool. And a coward. Glad he’s an ex-pat. We don’t need any more of his kind in the US. I only wish more people who felt like him had the courtesy to go to any of the countries they admire so much more than their own.

  • Benson says:


    By bringing up ACORN, am I to believe that you think the election was stolen? You write well. I don’t think you’re that cynical or naive.

    I’m a gun owning Eagle Scout. I saw the pledge and sing the national anthem. I think any time new leadership is installed without violence is reason to reflect on our fortune at being Americans.

    I will be the first to admit that I didn’t feel celebratory in 2000 or 2004. From your tone, I understand that you’re not feeling particularly conciliatory. Nevertheless, it’s pseudo-intellectual to suggest that cartoon characters and fake people showed up to vote against McCain. ACORN had a few dipshits (kids) who behaved in ways that were criminal. The McCain campaign had a dipshit girl who carved a [backwards?] “b” into her face. Dumb shit happens.

    You’re absolutely write that my judgement about Obama is largely premature. I haven’t seen him in action as a President yet. I’m optimistic. I make no apologies for optimism.

    For every “liberals are overly emotional” statement, I see your bet can raise you one, “conservatives are incapable of nuanced thinking.”

  • Glenn says:

    Benson is not worth talking to so why bother?

    A few kids at ACORN….LMAO that’s a good one!

  • DMacP says:

    I went to Europe many times under Bush, and I never had anyone turn down my money for a room, meal or anything else I wanted to buy.

    A lot of Europeans are arrogant, smug, self-important pricks. A lot of them aren’t. I know the French like us better than my German friends that travelled with us. I know everywhere in Europe they don’t like the French. Italians are rude pigs to everyone from what I saw.

    On the whole, I have felt better as an American in Europe than as a conservative in Frisco.

  • CaptDMO says:

    “Will you wear your Stars and Stripes shirt now? You’re allowed!” he told me.

    Really? Not by [i]savvy[/i] Americans that know the US flag is NOT to be used as clothing.
    Hurrumph, what absolute GAUL!

  • CaptDMO says:

    Not by savvy Americans…..

  • RogerCfromSD says:

    Liberals ARE whiny, overly intellectual sissies.

    They perpetuate a welfare mentality and foist shame of country on us all.

    Screw that. If I wanted to live like Eurotrash, I’d move to Europe.

    This is America, and I will fight to protect and uphold the Constitution whether liberals like it or not.

    By the way, libs. You deride President Bush all the time for supposed loss of freedoms. What about Barack’s plan to infringe on freedom of speech and self-expression? Fairness Doctrine, my tanned behind.

  • Mat says:


    Actually, I’m quite cynical by nature. I probably embody that word. I have no problem looking at an issue critically and picking it apart to see what the angle is.

    However, as much as I would love to make an issue over it, no, I do not think ACORN stole election. Obama won by too many votes. Did it help pad the election by giving him more illegal votes? Absolutely, though the naive idiots in the Millenial Generation helped him out too. Oh well, it’s their future. My job’s pretty secure no matter what happens.

    I must say that comparing a group of ACORN people (they themselves said probably 30% of the registers were illegal, that’s hardly a few) to one screwy girl is apples and oranges. That dumbass simply hurt McCain. I would argue that ACORN gave Obama all sorts of free votes in the end. But hey, whatever works out, right? It’s all for the greater good. At least, that’s what the left keeps telling me.

    As for no violence during a transition, I think it’s pretty safe to say that there would have been rioting on a mass scale if Obama lost. Always something about that mob rule thing…

    Of course I’m not going to be conciliatory. Why should I? I spent eight years watching the left not just “loyally oppose” Bush, but actually demonize him to the point of making him out to be something inhuman. Now, granted, the guy was a bit of a dipshit (especially at the end, since I can’t figure out what he’s doing rationally anymore), but making him out to be a Hitler? Please. I mean, it was positively rabid. I have to admit that it’ll be great fun watching the liberals and leftists trying to defend Obama’s policies. Since you’re the self-appointed geniuses, have fun running the country for a few years. I have much faith in the Leftist Triumvirate that is coming (Obama, Pelosi, Reid).

    As far as being nuanced, I’m afraid there’s nothing nuanced about how al qaeda hates us. They want us dead, so by all means gut the military a la Barney Frank. Just remember that those guys hate your guts especially. Same with the economy. His policies will put us in the crapper. Simply having a “we’ll get those evil rich pricks” attitude won’t make things any better. But then you’ll have plenty of time to figure that out when the Messiah puts us into a deep recession. Cheers.

  • PrivatePigg says:

    Yeah, I wrote about this, too, and linked you. What a ridiculous article.

  • Jason says:

    You know what’s funny (and by funny, I mean ironic) about all of this? Europeans might not think we’re so cool once they break down the vote count a bit. White Americans didn’t vote Obama in, blacks and Hispanics did. The same socially conservative ethnic groups that, by the way, helped ban gay marriage (I assume, not cool by European standards) in several states. So, whites voted against Obama, but were more supportive of gay marriage. Blacks and Hispanics voted for Obama, but opposed gay marriage. This election wasn’t a victory for liberalism, it was a victory for identity politics.

    Although, who knows? Maybe Europeans may find identity politics pretty cool. I know I don’t, and if that makes me uncool by European standards, well, I’m pretty cool with that.

    Think about this, though: McCain lost ground among blacks, whites and Hispanics compared to Bush four years ago. Yes, blacks and Hispanics voted more strongly for the socially conservative, stubborn, warmongering Bush than the socially moderate, bi-partisan McCain. And his loss among whites is most likely due to conservatives staying home instead of voting for someone they viewed as not being conservative enough. So, near as I can tell, McCain lost because he a) was not seen as conservative enough, and b) minorities voted for identity over policy (for the record, I find this understandable, though I hope this is the end of it). Again, not exactly a stunning rebuke of conservative policies in favor of liberal ones. There’s no mandate for “change” here, except to the extent that “change” means “Black President”. We voted for a President not because he’s liberal, but because he’s black (also note, Obama, with the the aid of a compliant media, successfully hid his liberalism from voters).

  • spike says:

    what a load of condescending drivel that article is…first off, it plays off that ‘silly naive foreigners’ stereotype, which is the biggest load of malarkey i’ve ever seen (outside of the whole ‘obama will save the world’ hype from the libtards)…i suspect that the entire thing is completely made up
    secondly, the biggest reason why SOME Americans get ‘the business’ when they are overseas is because they PERSONALLY are acting like d##kheads…amazingly, people around the world expect other people to act like adults…who knew? i lived in europe during the reagan years, and NEVER even considered trying to hide the fact that i’m an American-and i never was treated rudely, or with any unfriendliness, even when discussing politics-people in other countries are intellectually and emotionally capable of understanding the difference between the government’s policies and the individuals’ personalities-only liberals seem to have a problem grasping the concept

  • I know nothing about blogging or much more about getting the word out, but We were at the Tea Party in Jacksonville Florida. We got little media coverage. I think if Americans would immediately change their party afilliation from Republican to Independent and from Democrate to Independent, This woud send an Immediate message to Congress and the House then in 2010 we can be organized to start getting the sorry unamerican bunch out because they are not going to change, clean house and start over. Somrone write me back.

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