Arrogant and Proud of It

July 7, 2016
Posted by Jay Livingston

Gersh Kuntzman in the New York Daily News (here) listens to “God Bless America” in yet one more seventh-inning stretch and argues that it’s time to take it out of the ball game.

The song still embodies great things about America, but also our worst things: self-righteousness, forced piety, earnest self-reverence, foam.

The song, says Kuntzman, offends: some believers; atheists of course; and the folks who think that baseball games should be about baseball. Also foreigners.

I once went to a Brooklyn Cyclones game with a British guy named James Silver, who smiled when “God Bless America” was being played. “It’s exactly what I expect from Americans,” he said. “The self-righteousness, the patriotism. It’s always nice to see my opinions confirmed.”

One comment from one foreigner at a Class A game* is not exactly persuasive evidence. But many others have voiced the same opinion, and conveniently, last week Pew published its report on “America’s International Image” (here). The Brit Brooklyn baseball observation seems to be the consensus.  When people are asked if they associate the word arrogant with Americans, the majority in most countries say “yes.” That includes Americans.

Intolerance is the flip side of arrogance. It’s not just that we Americans, blessed by God, believe that we are the best, but that those who differ from us are wrong.

Americans view themselves as tolerant, more so than do other countries except Poland (what’s up with Poland?). Clearly, people in those other countries are wrong. But where could they have gotten that idea? Maybe from politicians like Marco Rubio, who at the last Republican convention, said of proposals like Obamacare, “These are ideas that threaten to make America more like the rest of the world instead of making the rest of the world more like America.”

Or maybe they were thinking about the pronouncements, to great applause, of a more recent and more successful candidate for the office of president.

* For those not familiar with the baseball, Class A may sound good but is in fact fairly far down in the minor league hierarchy.

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