WaPo's Jacoby: American Coverage of Olympics 'Profoundly Anti-Intellectual,' Proof of America's 'Arrogant Provincialism'

February 24th, 2010 10:40 AM

It's no secret that America's going through a difficult time - sky-rocketing debt, a struggling economy, and the highest unemployment rate in two decades - but, according to Susan Jacoby, we have bigger problems. Our nation's "greatest failing" - our nation's "social disease," she says, is our patriotism.

On the blog "The Spirited Atheist," which is co-hosted by the Washington Post and Newsweek, Jacoby wrote that NBC's pro-American coverage of the Winter Olympics is just another example of our "provincial, reflexively nationalistic mindset." To Jacoby, the Olympics isn't a time to wave the American flag and proudly sing the national anthem; it's a time to wipe out our "delusion" of "superior American morality."

"American television has unwittingly, by omission more than commission, presented a portrait of a nation clinging to the stories it tells itself about the superiority of American morality, culture, and education," Jacoby wrote. 

Jacoby railed against American announcers who have been tallying the American medal count and incorrectly pronouncing foreign Olympists' names, calling it proof of our "arrogant provincialism." When NBC zoomed in on the Americans that won silver and bronze in the Men's Super-G event but panned over the Norwegian gold medalist, Jacoby labeled it "profoundly anti-intellectual."

It's this "cultural narcissism," Jacoby said, that "prevents any realistic assessment of American weaknesses and strengths." Not surprisingly, Jacoby's "realistic assessment" of America couldn't uncover a single strength but she managed to write paragraph after paragraph expounding on our weaknesses. Christianity in America, Jacoby said, treats other religions as "inferior"; we view Europeans as "secularly corrupt"; we stubbornly refuse to "learn" from other countries - most notably in terms of universal health care; we proudly say "God Bless America," and we fight to publicly display the Ten Commandments.

It's these "illusions," Jacoby wrote, that we must squelch if we want to attain true "national excellence." Like, say, Belgium?