The US (and much of the west) in general likes to paint the rest of the world as conservative, totalitarian, or lacking in human rights. Americans love nothing better than to believe that the rest of the world can’t go to sleep but toss and turn in desperate jealousy of American freedom, democracy, and bravery.
They hate it when someone tries to tell them we don’t give a shit about American freedom. They hate it super-extra bad when you point out that citizens of your country, which may be non-western or categorized as “third-world”, enjoy greater rights than Americans in some or even many areas.
- abolished slavery bloodlessly
- granted voting rights to men and women at the same time
- makes oral contraception available without prescription (there are two sides to this, but not requiring prescription does mean you aren’t forced to deal with judgey medical people)
- universal healthcare
- lifted the ban on LGBT people to serve in the military in 2005 (the US dropped Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in 2011)
- female prime minister (current)
- 45% of senior management positions are held by women. The USA? Why, a honking 15%, which is well below the global average. More information here. 30% of Thai CEOs are women
- 1.92% unemployment rate in 2011; our highest was 5.43%. The US right now? 8.3%
- far, far better treatment of trans people–also far, far from perfect, but much better than in the USA (and many western Christian countries)
I could go on like “abortion’s illegal except from rape/cases where it’ll cause harm to the woman, but at least nobody’s ever tried to pass a bill forcing women to carry stillborns to term” but that’s really, really low bar, don’t you think? Or “our military doesn’t go bombing other countries to bring them democracy.” Again, fucking low bar, man.
So! What about you? In how many ways (and I know it’s a lot of ways) does your non-western country kick the USA’s ass in progressiveness? Go! No, I do not want to hear about how your western country is more progressive than the USA, because you get to do that thanks to the heaps of privilege you’ve got through economic power developed on the back of colonialism, so shut the fuck up. Cheers.
EDIT: let’s clarify a bit. It is true that the demographic that indulges in gloating over American “superiority” tends not to value progress. However, I see very many self-identified liberal westerners (and USians particularly) who regard the “third world” with colonialist condescension thinly masked as humanitarian, infantilizing pity. The “third world” is a synonym for poverty, communist/totalitarian terror, and 24/7 violation of every human right known to man. It’s why when we apply for a US visa we’re treated like criminals; US officials believe we will overstay and work there illegally, because surely if you’re from Thirdworldia you must be chomping at the bit to escape it. We must be hungering for US liberty. We must be so envious.
The reality is that a “third-world shithole”–the fantasy westerners like to maintain in order to bolster their faltering superiority complex–is exactly what many USians are living in; the prevalence of this fantasy even among self-identified progressives is exactly why it’s ironic, and worth pointing out, that citizens of many countries like mine in fact enjoy greater rights than an average US citizen. If the US is in the godawful state it is and still gets to call itself “first world,” then what does “third world” mean?
Not having an army? Lacking the power to resist US hegemony and bullying? That’s really what it is about. It’s not about civil rights. It’s not about being jealous of western democracy and freedom. You’ll find remarkably few people who are.
Note: many westerners consider, say, Japan conservative/regressive even though it is very much “first-world,” hence my “non-western” qualification.