Or maybe we could say, “Good for the Chinese”

November 19, 2011 | By | 1 Reply More

When someone from another country does something impressive, Americans are well-trained to be threatened. We are teaming with ressentiment. Here’s an example from the July 18, 2011 edition of Time Magazine. Notice the photo on the right. It is an image of a brand new extremely long bridge, the longest sea bridge in the entire world.  It is more than 26 miles long.  It’s extremely impressive.  It is something that reminds me that the Chinese people have excelled in many ways.

But notice the text under the photo. Especially notice the line: “The Jiaozhou Bay Bridge is yet another Chinese nose thumbing.”

Where does this writer get the idea that the Chinese have built the world’s longest bridge to make the United States look bad?  I hear this attitude all the time, exemplified by statements like this: “America is the world’s greatest country.”   Despite the fact, of course, that there is much room for improvement in modern day United States.

Many of these comments I hear uttered by Americans are aimed at the Chinese; for many Americans, anything impressive done by Chinese people is a threat to America.  More disturbing, I fear that this ressentiment of outsiders builds into paranoia about outsiders and fuels the “need” for exhorbitant and irresponsible warmongering by the United States.  I remember that in the months prior to 9/11, there was intense building hostility aimed at the Chinese.  Then we got distracted by the Middle East.  It seems that Americans intensely need an enemy, and that if they don’t actually have one, they invent one.   That is a destructive technique most of our politicians use to maintain power and obeisance of the governed.

I’d recommend that Americans, especially those involved with the American media industry, work harder to keep their ressentiment in check.   Time should have reacted to this amazing bridge by saying something like:  “That’s amazing engineering and construction!  Well done, Chinese people.”   I’m afraid, though, that this attitude of being happy for the successes of others has become thoroughly un-American.


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Category: Ingroup/Outgroup, Journalism, Psychology Cognition, Technology, World politics

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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  1. Erich Vieth says:

    According to The Nation, the U.S. is upping the military ante re China:

    In a move that could prove as momentous—and dangerous—as President Truman’s 1947 decision to initiate a cold war with the Soviet Union, President Obama has chosen to commence a military buildup in the Asia “Pacific region aimed at reasserting US primacy and constraining China. Announced in Canberra, Australia, on November 17, the buildup will include deploying 2,500 US marines at Darwin, on Australia’s north coast, and an expanded naval presence in the South China Sea. Along with this shift is a fresh US drive to bolster alliances with countries on China’s periphery, including Australia, India, Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand. None of this is explicitly aimed at China—indeed, Obama insists he still seeks good relations with Beijing—but it is impossible to avoid the conclusion that the White House has decided to counter China’s spectacular economic growth with a military riposte.”


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