It starts at a dreary Crossfire type debate at Northwestern
A student named Jenny asks:
Can you say in one sentence or less, you know what I mean, why America is the greatest country in the world?
Will avoids a serious answer, but the moderator pushes. A woman in the audience has a sign that says: “It’s not. But it can be better.”
Pushed by the professor who is moderating - “I want a human moment from you” - Will’s dam bursts:
It’s not the greatest country in the world, professor, that’s my answer. . .
. . . You know why people don’t like liberals, cause they lose. If liberals are so fucking smart, how come they lose so god damned always?
And with a straight face, you’re going to tell students that America is so star spangled awesome that we’re the only ones that have freedom?
Then he gives a list of statistics where the US is lower than many other countries.
7th in literacy. . . 27th in math . . 22nd in science . . . We lead the world in only three categories: number of incarcerated citizens per capita, number of adults who believe angels are real, and defense spending where we spend more than the next 25 countries combined. . .
. . . So when you ask what makes America the greatest country in the world, I don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about. Yosemite?
But then he gets positive.
We sure used to be. . . and gives a long list of things we used to do.
OK. this is a scripted speech, and the rankings on these scales depend on how the factor is defined and measured. Information Clearing House, for example, also attacked the question of America’s greatness ranking back in 2005, but it says we’re 49th in literacy and 28th out of 40 countries in mathematical literacy.
But the basic premise, that we aren’t the greatest, is important for Americans to hear. Too many Americans believe the myth of our being the greatest country like alcoholics believe they can stop drinking any time. The first step in recovery is getting past denial. Until we recognize there are many ways to be great and we don’t monopolize them all, we’ll continue to slide, just as Rome did, as Spain did, as Great Britain did, to name a few former greatest countries in the world.
And his nostalgia for the past leaves out slavery and segregation and killing off of our indigenous population, the denial of rights for women, American imperialism around the world, and a lot of other nasty stuff.
But the episode is a promising start for a new series brought to us by the people who gave us the Sopranos, Six Feet Under, and The Wire.
You can see the whole episode here.
Thanks to Gryphen at Immoral Minority for posting this video.
I'd also note that while 'America' is a common abbreviation for the United States of America, its use slights the rest of the people who live in the Western Hemisphere in North, Central, and South America.