Patriotism is a funny thing. I’ve found that most everyone gets to be defensive when you criticize their country/people. Some readers have said that I’m too negative about my experience in Ghana. Perhaps it’s true. What I find is that if I vent my frustrations in front of a Ghanaian, then Ghanaians become defensive and provide all manner of reasons why things are the way they are. So I don’t do that anymore and save my rants for this blog.
I’m guilty of this defensiveness, too. Since 2002, I’ve found that I’m often at the receiving end of nearly all non-Americans’ frustrations with the US. Arabs and Muslims don’t like the America’s support of Israel, the Chinese don’t like how the US seems to be trying to humiliate them, and everyone seems to have something to say about America’s recent history of bombing and invading countries. Thank you, George W. Bush. I also find myself trying to explain why Americans only like to play sports that no other country plays, e.g. baseball, basketball, football. Lately, I’ve been listening to conspiracy theories about how a) 9/11 never happened, b) Bin Laden is not dead, c) why Qaddafi was a good leader.
Oddly enough, if you agree with someone who is criticizing your country, then it seems to encourage them to pile on their criticisms. Instead of giving them the green light, it’s much better to halt the flood. Thus, I find myself in the unique position of defending (xiao) Bush’s foreign policy decisions. This is all very strange considering I’ve lived in decidedly blue (Democratic/anti-Bush) districts for all of my adult life.
In a way, I consider it a badge of honor that non-Americans criticize the US. It means that they know something about America and are knowledgeable enough — even if misguided — to have an opinion.
Just think of the opposite situation. I don’t know enough about Latvia, Zambia, nor Paraguay to even attempt a snide remark. On the other hand, I know plenty about France, Japan, and Ghana to make a statement. I’ve visited all three, know a bit about their histories, and even know some people from those places.
For all you haters, this is my way of putting Ghana on the map. Most Americans ask if they can visit and go on safari in Ghana. Some people believe there are lions and elephants walking about. (Most Americans are not even aware that Ghana has beat the US twice in the World Cup!) Everyone takes what they hear from friends or the news to form an impression of another country. Sure, it’s a shame to be made fun of but it’s a crime to be forgotten.
For those of you who think I can only dish it out, my friend posted this link for those visiting America: