Strikes me kind of uneasy...


I’ve been watching the webcast this morning, and listened to what the Secretary of Commerce was talking about. As I listened, I began to think of how disrespectful his speech was to our visitors from other countries as he kept saying how America is the greatest country in the world, and on and on. Gauranteed our economy is top-notch, but I dont think an international competition is a place to gloat and promote America’s potlitical stature. Being a proud American, I can only imagine what it must’ve felt like to be sitting there, from another country, and have to listen to that; however, If I was in their shoes, I would’ve felt disrespected. I know FIRST needs political support to grow, however to talk so highly of our country in front of others shows us how egotistical as a country we really are.
Just my $.02


Greg et al,
I really don’t want to turn this into a political debate, so please, before you respond remember, this is just my $.02.
Consider the source. You said it was the “Secretary of Commerce”. His job is our economy. He is a politician.
If he started bashing our economy, which anyone with any sense what-so-ever can see is booming, and running down our country, my guess is you would not have appreciated that either. Our international guests may have been left with the impression that our country was tearing it’s self apart from the inside. All in all, that would have been a far cry worse than what he did.
Yes, this organization could definitely benefit from the support of our government and it’s various entities. Just remember to consider the source when their “support” is given.

Thats exactly what I said. I was watching him talk and I was thinking…there are more than just US teams. I agree that it’s his job to make sure the US is in good shape, so there would be a small reason, but I didn’t think that it was necessary to elaborate that much on it.

Not much you can really do about it anyway. But I agree that it was a little bit over the top.

OK, now for my 2 cents. I’ve been debating with myself about posting because I don’t generally enjoy political discussions, because whether anyone likes it or not that’s what this is.

It has become a disturbing (to me) trend over the years for Americans to feel guilty about being American. This guilt manifests itself in several different ways as in cringing when a political leader touts America’s greatness in public. Is it in bad taste? I don’t think so, even if it takes place at an international competition. This is an American speaking proudly of America’s greatness on American soil. I would expect no less. Everyone should be proud of their nationality and what they bring to the world stage. I have been to several countries where they not only brag about themselves, but also denigrate America. That is the international community’s favorite past time. Why? Because we are the greatest country (by any number of methods of keeping score) the face of the earth has ever seen. There are plenty of people out there that hate us for our greatness without us feeling contrite about it. The argument that we are disliked because of our “arrogance” is invalid. If we were a third-world country any display of arrogance would be of little consequence to other countries. There is nothing wrong with being great and being proud of it. There should NEVER be anything wrong with it. When American citizens begin to feel guilty about being Americans, there begins the erosion of our greatness.

Ok, I will try on someone elses shoes.

Let say FIRST is not an American thing. Lets say FIRST was founded in Japan, and the Championship is held every year in Tokyo.

Im sitting there in Tokyo at the opening ceremonies, there are 330 teams from Japan, 4 from Canada, one from Brazil, two from england, one from Israel, one from Africa

and one team from the US.

The speaker points out what a great country Japan is. Would I feel upset?

Not a bit!

After all, if I had traveled thousands of miles with 20 HS students to attend an event that only happens in that country, I would have to agree with him: “You got some really great things going on here - thats why we are here!”

It’s just not very gratiously professional in my opinion.

And that self-righteous attitude is the reason why they “denigrate” us. Whether or not we actually are the “greatest country the face of the earth has ever seen” is inconsequential, but the reason a third of the world hates America is because we try to rub it in everyone’s faces, showing them how much “better” we are than them. If we truly were the “greatest country,” we would have learned a long time ago that our political leaders and diplomats need not go around bragging this to everyone at any given chance, but rather spend that wasted time doing something more productive, such as proving to the world through actions, not meaningless, unbased words. You can always say you are great, but unless you prove that on a continuous basis, the words mean nothing.


On an unrelated note, could we have this moved to the Chit-Chat forum, or perhaps even Moderated discussion to prevent any problems that may arise?

Now for my 2 cents Canadian.

I am use to politicians getting up and being blowhards. That is almost expected. I do however take offence to someone in FIRST telling me that the US is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Yes there are a large majority of great Americans that do not rub things in our face. In fact I would say that 99% of Americans in FIRST are great people that look at others for who they are and not what nation that they come from. They symbolize what is good about FIRST. Changing society for the better. I believe that if more people were like Woodie and let their actions speak for themselves we would be much better off.

And please don’t forget that others believe that their country is the best in the world. Even in FIRST there are bigger regionals than anywhere else in the USA. :smiley:

There is a flip side / other shoe here that no one has mentioned.

99% of the people in this country can trace their family back to two people who lived in another country (mostly Europe) and came here at some point with little more than the clothes they were wearing

and the reason they came here is they were either destitute, or they were unwanted in their own homeland.

My grandparents came to the US in 1921 from Germany with nothing but hope for a better life.

So, yeah, we do walk with a bit of a swagger in the US, because when you get down to it, we are the rejects the other countries discarded, and instead of floundering the the ‘wilderness’ of N. America, we prospered instead.

Prospered and surpassed the nations that had no use for us.

I feel better if this is what others believe as well. It just made me feel really bad cause I wouldn’t like it.

One of the great things about FIRST is that it gives the students real world experiance.

The speech by the Secretary of Commerce is no different. Many times when a politician speaks he has an agenda or political message he wants to get out.

In this case his motivation seems fairly straight forward – His job is to promote commerce in the US. To do so, he needs to portray a picture of economic expansion. To do otherwise would be counter productive. Imagine if he, instead of talking about US success, talked about the US economy tanking (hypothetically). If he did so, it would be front page news in the New York Times and Dow Jones would probably lose 200 points. So he will not talk poorly about the economy unless it is absolutely needed.

FIRSTers have the advantage of being able to listen to these politicians and learning how to filter the retoric from the substance.

In this case the filter would be an impermeable membrane. All rhetoric, no substance.

I’m Canadian. I’m American. I happen to be a dual citizen. So, I can see it from both sides. And, remember that saying that goes something like “A truly smart person realizes how stupid they are.” No country is the “best,” but the States has some advantages, some disadvantages, so does Canada, so do other countries. I prefer Canada, but I don’t walk up to people and say “Canada’s the best country in the world,” I might say “Canada is so much cleaner than the States.” Likewise Canada’s unemployment rate is higher than the States’. So, even if I am technically American too, it offends me to hear this, because it has to be one of the most arrogant things to say, and is in particularly poor taste in an international situation, why do you think the “arrogant American” stereotype came from? Why does the guy need to even say this? He could talk about international cooperation, global markets, education, and it would have been just as applicable to the multinational audience.

Personally, I feel that even though this was the Secretary of Commerce’s job, this wasn’t the place to say things like this. “Great” is a relative term and even Einstein said, “Relativity applies to physics, not ethics” (see signature for emphasis).
It doesn’t matter who thinks what, unless you want to hear all sides of the story from all parties, making an assertion like this should not be done…especially not here.

Of course, this is over now and we can do nothing about it (or can we?).


Since Secretary Gutierrez is one of those people who came from another country himself and is now the Secretary of Commerce (!), I’ll cut him some slack…

I’m impressed that he came to talk to us, and recognizes the importance of FIRST

I agree with you that he has the right to be proud of his country; I am too. But he needs to realize that he is speaking to not just Americans, but to people from around the world. At the very least, he could have acknowledged the fact that FIRST is an international competition and there were teams present from around the world. I guess he didn’t notice all those flags of other countries hanging right above him. There is a difference between pride and arrogance. It’s no wonder so much of the world hates America. There was a time when people around the world dreamed of a better life in America; now in a lot of the world people burn American flags in the streets.

My team was sitting right behind a team from Israel when the secretary was speaking. I could tell they did not enjoy listening to the secretary. I hope, in the future, the speakers are properly informed that there are teams form other countries present.

Amen to that!

Alright, I will admit that both the Secretary of Commerce and a senator on Saturday did make some aggressive comments regarding America, though I feel that much of that was not meant to bash other countries, but rather to encourage the majority of the community: American youth. They spoke at a competition which is highly regarded as the organization which is making huge progress towards bringing in the next generation of engineers, most of whom were American. Perhaps some comments could’ve been edited, but for the most part, they were accurate and not demeaning. They were speaking in America, to mostly americans, and intended to encourage this majority who will build america

Secondly, I would like to note one of the major driving points Dean created FIRST for. Yes, FIRST has exploded, and as a result other nations have joined in, but the original purpose, that we still see integrated into FIRST speeches by FIRST founders, is that FIRST will bring America back to greatness. At kickoff we hear speeches citing stats regarding the number of U.S. versus American engineering degrees. We hear about Americans making it to the moon and accomplishing great things in the past, and that we are the next generation to create these wonders. Dean himself made the point, though carefully, that industrialized nations, have a huge new amount of competitors.

Tact and courtesy are always important on the international stage, but we must remember: FIRST is not an internationally devoted competition, in the sense that it’s run out of America, with mostly American money, and with mostly American interests. In truth, major U.S. contributors (NASA, GM, Ford, Delphi, Google, GE, etc…) expect their money to return to them in a tangible way, and not just by making the whole world smarter. They want America smarter.

I’m sorry if I’ve offended anyone from other countries, but FIRST is, at it’s roots, american. However, a huge amount amount of growth has been generously encouraged by new countries, and for this, we are very grateful. Our community is always ready to welcome new members, even from different countries, but regardless, we still intend to serve our original purposes. Though ready to help others, Americans should stay intensly proud of what they have.

I agree with what Greg (thread starter) is saying. It does show how egotistical America is. However, since the Secretary of Commerce probably isn’t “current” with FIRST happenings, I’m not sure he felt, or even knew, that there would be as many international teams as there are.
I want to know how the teams from other countries feel about this.

I mean no disrespect to the Secretary when I say this.

I’m glad other people feel as I did when I heard that speech. I felt it was highly inappropriate and disrespectful. It’d even irritate me if FIRST was only a United States competition. I simply can not put up with this brand of supreme arrogance and cockiness that has unfortunately been with this country since the late 1800’s.

In the United States I’ve grown so tired of the idea that being proud to be an American means you have to criticize all other nations and say that the United States is the greatest country ever. What gives you the right to say that? Oh, you were born here and have (most of the people saying crap like this) never experienced much if anything at all of the world outside of the United States. If you only ate cabbage your entire life and only knew about cabbage, besides always smelling bad, you would be ignorant of all other foods. When you had the opportunity to embrace the variety of nourishment available to us, you would rather push them away and spit on them. It’s the government’s job to keep people ignorant and patriotic and to let them believe everything they say. He happens to be an employee of the government. Guess what his job is?

It’s going to be our own undoing one of these days.

PS: Please do not get the wrong message here. I am not attacking Americans, I’m attacking arrogance usually spawned by ignorance. Most of the last argument would not apply to him since he was born in Cuba and lived in Mexico, but it was mainly me venting about people who HAVEN’T experienced other nations yet try to bash them and throw the United States in their faces.