Land of the Free(est?).
Without trying to read too much into a simple expression, this is often said in a tone of voice that transpires pride, patriotism and even a sense of exceptionalism. It may at times make you feel that wherever you come from cannot be as free as the United-States.
If you pursue the question and ask Americans what makes their country so special, most will say that it is their assurance that “
As a Western European, it is hard to fathom how my everyday life is any less free that of an American. Without getting into a controversial political debate, one could even argue that the difference, if it ever existed has almost completely vanished since 9/11 and the beginning of the “War on Terror” anyway. In reality the difference has constantly diminished since the 18th century and is not longer relevant. Yet most Americans are still hung up to the idea that their country is the freest.
This article published in the German Financial Times Deutschland (via Watching America in English) makes the point that this idea that
draws its pride and the perception of its special calling, at least as much from the achievements of its founding fathers. This manifests itself in monuments like the Jefferson Memorial in the capital, U.S. , and in the way they carefully maintain the physical condition of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence, both of which are ranked as nearly divine in the Washington DC . United States
Which shapes not only the way Americans see their country but how they see the rest of the world as well:
Anyone who listens to the way Americans discuss themselves is surprised at
's implicit self-comparison, less with real foreign countries than to another, mythical, abroad. And it's this imaginary abroad which is manifestly ruled by an unrestrained monarch where no constitutional court dominates state and government, and where people are not equal and less free than the citizens of the much-blessed America . United States
It appears that the abroad against which theThe article also argues that this cult prevents Americans from seeing reality - an idea that seems quite relevant to me - :
established and still defines itself is none other than the United States of religious persecution lead by King George. England
, the collective image of foreign countries is a mythical one, preserved as if in formaldehyde, handed down from the time of the founding fathers with the America circa 1776 unconsciously serving as the main point of reference. Kingdomof England
This allows the
to persist in describing itself as the freest country on earth, although by nearly every objective criterion, most European nations are more liberal and free than the United States . One only has to recall the repressive American culture of prohibition and punishment. United States
It is in this way that the tradition-arrested Americans protect themselves against the pressure to compare their own achievements and social structures against real foreign examples. Thus the myth and collective emotion stabilize society. But this happens at the expense of critical thinking and lessons learned. It is a double-edged phenomenon that has worked its way into every aspect of American public life.
To finish on a more sarcastic note, and to make sure the myth is debunked, it is worth keeping in mind that when the words of the poem “Defence of Fort McHenry” were written in 1814, with the famous line “O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”, the land was full of slaves and slave owners and women or landless men still couldn’t vote. But of course this poem only became the official national anthem in 1931 – long was gone slavery but the land was not as free for everyone either. It is all a question of perspective, isn’t it?