This post might piss some people off. Just letting you know in advance. See, there I go, being all American and politically correct and not wanting to offend. Be offended if you feel like it.
What I'd like to know is what is it that makes us (Americans) display the level of patriotism that we do. I'm not picking on Beth (I love her and she's an amazing and loyal friend) when I point out that she commented that she was 'thrilled' to be an American. I think a lot of people would say the same thing. And then there's the whole flag thing. But I want to know WHY we say and do things like that.
I've been living away from the US for 11 years and I've never once heard anyone of any nationality other than American say something like that. Or seen a flag hanging in front of a house.
Today in class my students worked an on article from theeconomist.com about Obama's speech from the other night and the race issue and we started talking about patriotism and related issues. I questioned them about their own patriotism. They said it was something they felt but didn't show unless it was a regional thing (think Corsica, Basque, Provencal, Breton etc). They also tried to distinguish (but couldn't) between the notions of being chauvin and patriotique.
Le chauvinisme est une manifestation excessive et agressive du patriotisme et/ou du nationalisme. Il est le reflet d'une admiration exagérée, voire trop exclusive, de son pays. (From French Wikpedia)
Chauvinisme is an excessive and aggressive form of patriotism or nationalism. It reflects an exaggerated or even exclusive admiration for one's country.
I think there's something there. I don't think we are patriotic, I think we are chauvin. To an extent that eliminates our capacity to see other points of view. A cultural egocentrism that gives us a serious kink in the neck.