The first time I heard the term ‘Ugly American” was when I was in the Army and saying goodbye to my Mom as I was headed to spend three years in Germany. She explained to me what the “Ugly American” was, and her final advise was for me to not be one. She suggested I get to know the Germans and the culture and learn from the experience. I took that with me, and still do whenever travelling anywhere.
Wikipedia defines is thusly:
“Ugly American” is a pejorative term used to refer to perceptions of loud, arrogant, demeaning, thoughtless, ignorant, and ethnocentric behavior of American citizens mainly abroad, but also at home.
That description pretty much aligns with my understanding of it, as explained by my wise Mom.
It gained popularity from a book and a movie by the same name in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, respectively.
So why do I bring it up now?
Because, if you haven’t guessed where I’m going with this yet, it seems to me that President Trump epitomizes the “Ugly American”.
It’s like he extends his own personal narcissism to the entire United States, so that as Trump is a narcissist to other people, the Untied States is now a narcissist to other nations. His ideas regarding “America First” exemplifies this concept. It’s one thing to speak to our own citizens in the U.S. at campaign rallies and speeches promising that he will put America first in making policies, but approaching every international interaction with that same attitude just makes us look like jerks…like “Ugly Americans”.
Don’t get me wrong, it is highly important and appropriate to make our own interests a top priority when dealing with international affairs, but it can be and should be done in amiable, cooperative, and mature ways, rather than an arrogant “in your face”, “we’re America, bitch…if you don’t like it, shove it” demeanor.
Is it any wonder why many nations and the people within them around the world have a dislike of America? Here we are, the richest, most comfortable, most free people in the history of the world and our leader is out there whining about how unfair everyone is treating us.
Make no mistake, the way that Obama ran around the world apologizing for and erroneously blaming America for the world’s problems was frustrating and embarrassing. The critique that I, and most conservatives, heaped upon him for that was well deserved. But what Trump is now doing is not the remedy to that. It is not the opposite of it. It is not strength. It is not “Making America Great Again” and restoring our respected status and leadership in the world.
Consistently maligning our allies while praising and excusing brutal dictators does not garner respect. Arrogantly and obnoxiously bullying our way though every foreign (and domestic, for that matter) encounter, and then acting like a spoiled, petulant child when called out on it makes us weak and pathetic.
It’s ironic that we actually now do have reason to apologize to a number of our allies around the world.