Feb 142010
Authors: Ian Bezek

If you are like most of the people I’ve run into over the years, you are probably quite excited for the start of the Olympics and, unless you are an international student, you are undoubtedly rooting for American athletes to win early and win often.

And, if you’re like many people I’ve talked with, you’ve also never asked yourself why you want Americans to win. I have asked this question to both myself and others and have found the results interesting.

By far, the most common response is that we cheer for Americans because we ourselves are American. Just as a person born in Colorado cheers for the Broncos while a native Californian more likely cheers for the hated Chargers or Raiders, we are loyalty to America because we are natives.

But is this really a good reason to pull for Americans? Unless you immigrated to the U.S., you live here because the so-called “genetic lottery” rolled that your ball would turn up American.

If the genetic lottery had rolled that I would be North Korean or Iranian, I hope I would still be reasonable enough to not pull for my country, either in the Olympics, nor in more important nationalist events such as international warfare. Just because I was born in an immoral and rogue nation wouldn’t mean that I had to have blind unquestioned loyalty to it.

That said, there’s nothing wrong with America per say, but we also certainly aren’t the world’s best nation by any stretch of the imagination – unless your definition of best is merely most powerful; we do have an alarmingly large stack of nuclear weapons.

Whether you sort us by education (pretty mediocre), the U.N’s Human Development Index (13th) or even something we excel at, making money (we’re 9th in per capita income), we aren’t the world’s leader. And in public opinion, we are way down there among the world’s nations; our foreign adventures have certainly dinged our reputation.

While America is a good nation, we are a nation with many deep flaws, and the general trend of our recent past as a nation has been down. If you lived in a poor nation and had the opportunity to immigrate to any nation of your choice, you probably wouldn’t pick America in 2010, though you certainly would have in 1910.

The rest of the world realizes our faults to a much greater degree than we do – we are, of course, blinded by our own proximity – and is getting tired of our self-centeredness.

It’s not enough for Americans to have the world’s biggest army, the world’s most important currency, the world’s most important language and a whole list of other things. We must win everything, even every little Olympic event. Go America!

If America is to retain her greatness, we must also regain our humility. It’s OK for other people to win things too. It’s not fair of us to treat the rest of the world like third-class citizens because they didn’t win the genetic lottery and ended up born elsewhere.

The Olympics are, of course, only ceremonial, and it’s only natural to go for the home team, especially when the TV coverage is so decidedly pro-American. But at what point does our nationalism go too far?

It’s one thing to want to win a war, it’s another thing to go around poisoning other nation’s economies to keep ours on top, passing laws, as many localities have done, to ensure that English will be our nation’s only language, and even dumping unreal amounts of money into training for the Olympics to ensure that America can skate its way to another blowout medal count victory.

So, I, as an American, confess that I am not rooting for America these Olympics. Despite having lots of snow and good athletes, the Canadians have not managed to win a gold medal in the Olympics either time they’ve hosted them recently.

As a nation that is nearly indisputably better than ours, be it in terms of education, governance, foreign policy or economy, Canada deserves to get some overdue Olympic gold, and I, for one, am pulling for them to take it home.

Editorials Editor Ian Bezek is a senior economics major. His column appears Mondays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 2:40 pm

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