FANDOM


WikEd fancyquotesQuotesBug-silkHeadscratchersIcons-mini-icon extensionPlaying WithUseful NotesMagnifierAnalysisPhoto linkImage LinksHaiku-wide-iconHaikuLaconic
"You can't mesmerize me. I'm British!"
At The Earth's Core

When a character holds up one culture (often but not necessarily their own) as a shining example of development and progression, by uttering something along the lines of "my people/they were putting the finishing touches on quantum chromodynamics while yours were still figuring out how to wipe their bottoms without getting dirty hands".

Often as historically justified as it is relevant.

Expect the alien who has the opinion that Humans Are Bastards to trot out a similar argument. Compare Can't Argue with Elves - that's when humans for some reason don't mind insults at all. Screw You, Elves happens when they do mind. If this happens between nations, it's Misplaced Nationalism. These four references to other tropes might be actually broader examples of this trope... what other culture do humans (as in you, reader) know but their own human culture? How very meta.

Compare While You Were in Diapers. No True Scotsman fallacies may often occur. When people do this to other cultures it's a Foreign Culture Fetish. Contrast Cultural Cringe.

Examples of Cultural Posturing include:


Fictional cultures

Comic Books

  • The Silver Surfer often compares modern-day Earth to ancient Zenn-La. WHAT IF #41 is a good example.
  • According to the Green Lantern comics, Earth is considered a primitive backwater planet by most other species in the DC universe. Indeed, Abin Sur's last words as he handed his ring over to Hal Jordan were, "Heh. An Earthman. Never thought I'd live to..."

Film

  • From the Transformers movie: "Why are we fighting to save the humans, they're a primitive and violent race". This coming from the race of giant robots with weapons built into their bodies who have been engaged in a millennia-long war.
    • Where one of the good guy's response to all problems is "Shoot it. A lot."
    • Notice that The Hero, Optimus Prime, cuts off the one who said the above line with "Freedom is the right of all sentient beings."
    • Optimus Prime also points out "Were we so different?"
  • Subverted in the My Favorite Martian movie, where Martin starts complaining about his spaceship's "electron accelerator" getting fried, and then tells Tim "I'd tell you what it is, but you think E = MC^2". It then turns out that an "electron accelerator" is just flowery Techno Babble for an alternator taken from Tim's sedan.
  • Subverted in the most recent cinematic adaptation of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. With the life of the last woman in the galaxy hanging in the balance and a monstrous bureaucracy keeping the heroes from rescuing her, Arthur Dent takes a deep breath and announces, "I'm British, I know how to queue."

Literature

  • An example from Robert Wingrove's Chung Kuo series: "Three thousand years of unbroken civilisation - that was the heritage of the Han. Against that these large-nosed foreigners could claim what? Six centuries of chaos and ill-discipline."
  • Some (usually) pureblood wizards from Harry Potter think they're far better than the muggles.
  • Animorphs #26 did this with the Howlers, but it was pointed out that a head start in years didn't necessarily make them smarter. Earlier, #10 did this with the Pemalites vs. the Andalites, which caused some contradiction with "The Ellimist Chronicles" later.
  • The fairies persist in doing this in every book of the Artemis Fowl series.
  • In the Perry Rhodan universe, this is very much the Arkonides' 'Hat' -- traditionally, the actual inhabitants of Arkon look down on their neighbors, all of them look down on other species, and so on. Regarding Earth, the traditionalists' position is that they had starflight while Terrans were still living in caves and digging up grubs and 'Larsaf III' is just a lost colony anyway (Atlantis was in fact one of their settlements thousands of years ago, although the natives were already in place). They don't let the historical fact that Arkon itself turns out to be merely a colony of a colony dating back to Earth's first interstellar empire that was devastated by war some 50,000 years ago get in their way in the slightest, of course.
  • The D'Angelines from Kushiel's Legacy love to wax poetic about how advanced, beautiful, and sexually liberated they are. This is a poorly Justified Trope, since Terre D'Ange is quite the Mary Suetopia, for reasons already listed and because everyone else seems to be stuck in the Dark Ages while the D'Angelines are in the Renaissance.
  • The Martians in S.M. Stirling's book In the Courts of the Crimson Kings are fond of pointing out how advanced they were while earth humans were hunter-gatherers.
  • The Narrator does it in Mort, although his definition of cultural superiority makes it clear it's a parody: Klatch "had 15 words for assassination before the rest of the world had caught on to the idea of hitting each other with rocks".
    • An understated example in Jingo:

 Lord Rust: That's a Make-Things-Bigger Device isn't it? My word, you're up to date; they were only invented last year!

Klatchian general: I didn't buy this. I inherited it from my grandfather.

    • In Pyramids, in the country of Djelibeybi (heavily based on Ancient Egypt), the High Priest reminds the king that "your family was on its third dynasty before our neighbours had worked out, sire, how babies are made."
  • In one of the Star Trek: Millennium novels, a Bajoran mentions how her people were architects and artists when "Cardassians were still swimming through swamps catching fish in their mouths".

Live-Action TV

  • The Tollans in Stargate SG-1. Were eventually silenced by a planet's worth of bridge drops.
    • Samantha's father (during his stint of being possessed by a Tok'Ra) told her that Earth humanity was an inexperienced race. It wasn't meant to be derisive.
    • The Nox consider humans a race of savages that rely too much on violence for self defense. This falls a bit flat considering that the Nox can cure death and thus can afford to be pacifists when their planet gets attacked.
    • Of course this falls back onto humans being primitive enough to need to be violent.
    • Wonderfully subverted by the Asgard. They see humans as culturally backward and unintelligent, and so they come to them when they need a 'dumb' plan to save them from their arch-nemeses the Replicators.
  • Star Trek had that the Bajorans had a beautiful and advanced civilization and culture--not warp-drive advanced, but still, advanced--back when human beings were still learning to walk upright. Of course, that was before the Cardassians took over.
    • Dukat once says of the occupation that it was obvious the Cardassians were the superior people in every way. Societally, Technologically and Culturally. All that conflict was clearly their fault for wanting to be equal.
    • Then there's Spock and the Vulcans.
    • Apparently the Romulans like to do this - according to O'Brien on Deep Space Nine, there is "not a single piece of technology that they don't claim they had before anyone else did."
    • In Star Trek VI the Undiscovered Country, a Klingon ambassador claims that Shakespeare's work sounds better in "the original Klingon."
    • Picard enjoyed looking down on Q, even quoting Shakespeare to him until Q got disgusted and left.
    • The Founders, ye gods The Founders take this, combine it with Fantastic Racism and ramp it Up to Eleven, although the only people who actually seem to buy it are the ones who are genetically programmed to do so. In fact, even some of the things that they posture about are Informed Attributes at best, their much vaunted curiosity really doesn't ring true, the only things they seem to bother to learn about other races is how to infiltrate them
  • Whenever the Time Lords of Doctor Who appear (in the classic series, at least), they generally have this kind of attitude to non-Time Lords; in one story, a Time Lord dismisses 30th-century Earth technology as the kind of thing his people had mastered "when the Universe was less than half its present size". It's gradually but persistently undercut, however, by increasing revelations that they're stagnant and over-sheltered as a civilisation, incompetent at anything that falls outside their protected little bubble, corrupt and hypocritical, and altogether not nearly as high-and-mighty as they'd like others to believe.
    • The Doctor himself occasionally displays this kind of attitude, but is equally quick to point out the faults of his own kind and sing the praises of other cultures that impress him (especially humanity).
      • Even if some of the things he praises them for are rather trivial (Jelly Babies and Edible Ball Bearings), but he's a bit of a Loon.
        • And that, everyone, is why the Doctor is so awesome. He can go from making embittered rants that deconstruct the superiority of a technologically stagnant culture to singing the praises of gummy candies. Especially prevalent in the Tenth Doctor.
  • Wonder Woman TV Series: Queen Hippolyte reigns at Paradise Island, a Lady Land Hidden Elf Village of immortals, and remembers that Women were slaves for the Roman and the Greek. After some thousands years being an immortal, she is not found of any culture in the patriarch world:

 Queen Hippolyte: … We are stronger, wiser and more advanced than all those people in their jungles out there. Our civilization is perfection!


Tabletop Games

  • Extremely violent posturing is the rule of the day in interspecies relations in Warhammer 40000, where one side, or usually both, tout the superiority of their own culture and history as they blast their foes to bits.
    • And ironically averted by the Necrons, who predate everyone else- and never speak, let alone posture. They just cut right to the killing.
      • There are Necron lords who speak but they mainly just trick others to get what they want or tell them that everyone would be better off dead without posturing. There's a good amount of evidence to say they're not completely wrong about that.
      • Apparently they got into this with the Old Ones (who's tech was less advanced but supplemented by extremely powerful psychic powers) while they were still the Necrontyr. The resulting war almost sterilized the galaxy.

Video Games

  • Star Control II: "Just over twenty thousand years ago - when your ancestors were learning to chart the course of the moon and stars on animal horns - the Sentient Milieu spanned five hundred light years and included the membership of a hundred worlds." The Arilou like to remind you of their antiquity too, but they do it in a friendlier way.
  • The Morrigi from Sword of the Stars are very fond of this. When your species is so old that interstellar traders and explorers from your civilization created the myths of Dragons in other species in the same galaxy during their stone ages, you may be justified doing it.
  • The Reapers in Mass Effect consider themselves far beyond and above the comprehension of puny mortal races- a viewpoint apparently shattered in ME 1 when Commander Shepard kills Sovereign. No wonder Harbinger in the sequel is decidedly less boastful about the Reapers' superiority.
    • Doesn't stop his constant smack talk, though.
      • Also, Javik, the last Prothean would like to remind you that during his time, the asari hadn't invented writing, and the salarians were still eating flies. Repeatedly. At every conceivable opportunity.
      • He even manages to do this when he's praising you. When you talk with him on the Citadel, he's approached by several aliens who overhear you mention that he's Prothean (among these is a very religious hanar, who worship the Protheans). After he gives them a pep talk, Shepard can reply to the audience asking what he's like by saying he's a good ally to have around. Javik's response:

 "The Commander is a capable warrior as well. For a Human. Who used to live in caves."

  • In the Elder Scrolls series, both the High Elves and Dark Elves go on about their superiority at every chance they get. In addition, the Empire sometimes inspires this sort of behaviour for the Cyrodiilic-dominated Imperial culture - and not always by Imperials, either.
    • High elves' posturing is partly justified, as they're implied to have been the only race that ever understood what the hell the dwarves were ever talking about. Also, they're a Crystal Spires and Togas race, one of whose orders of monks can vanish (possibly in the same way as the aforementioned dwarves did, accidentally) at will, along with their island, and reappear when they feel the need. Finally, their pantheon is the same thing as their genealogy. Provably. Nevertheless, they don't really need to be such dicks about it.
    • In Skyrim, the Nords (Vikings, rather perfunctorily disguised) have an entire political party, the Stormcloak rebellion, dedicated to this. The High Elves have also (in the aftermath of the Oblivion Crisis) been taken over by an elf-supremacist ideology called the Thalmor, who, being ancestor-worshiping arch-nationalists from an island chain who style themselves the protectors of their neighbors (read subjects) on the mainland...are basically Imperial Japan. Except they ban the worship of their opponents' emperor, not the other way around.
  • The Night Elves and Blood Elves of World of Warcraft and the Reign of Chaos tend to have a high opinion of themselves and their role in the world. It's more obvious with the Blood Elves, while you need to look at the political actions of the Night Elves to see it.
    • To explain on the Night Elves: Their first reaction on seeing the orcs harvesting wood was not to warn them the woods were under their control; it was to launch an immediate attack. Once they learned of the Blood Elves, they sent covert teams into Quel'thalas to sabotage their magic. And when they wanted to bring up their concerns about potential Horde attacks on their villages, they did so by crashing a memorial for human soldiers.
    • It's worth pointing out that the Night Elves got a LOT less xenophobic in the transition from Warcraft III to World of Warcraft. This probably had a lot to do with them going from being their own faction in War3 to being part of the Alliance in WoW. Oddly, the same thing didn't happen with the Undead joining the Horde... at least, not right away.
  • Sir Roderick Ponce Von Fontlebottom The Magnificent Bastard from Jade Empire. His exact culture is unknown, but he dresses like a Spaniard and talks like a Brit (not hard, considering he's voiced by John Cleese) and seems to represent western 17th-century imperialism in general. Of course, he doesn't just stop at posturing, he goes on right into trying to educate all ignorant foreigners of the Jade Empire to his way of thinking. Anyone who disagrees gets blasted with his musket, while Sir Roderick declares moral victory.

Web Comics

Web Original

  • Dee in Tales of MU gives her less-evolved friends a glowing picture of her subterranean elven culture as a "structured meritocracy" where everyone has a place and all contribute to the common good. Side stories that show what's happening while she's on the surface indicate that she has a very one-sided view of her culture.

Western Animation

Real cultures

Anime and Manga

  • Feliks/Poland in Axis Powers Hetalia holds his culture to be better than the other nations and tries to make Lithuania live like him.
    • All characters in Hetalia have this to some extent. As embodyments of nations, they all think their country is better and more advanced that any else.
      • However, the one that does this the most has to be Korea, who uses the line "X was intented in Korea, da-ze~" as a Catch Phrase.

Comic Books

  • In an issue of The Invisibles where King Mob travels back in time, this exchange occurs:

 Lady Manning: I am Lady Manning and my family can trace its ancestry all the way back to the Norman Conquests.

Mr. Skat: My family goes all the way bock to the Dogon people in Africa. Six thousand years ago, we opened the door to the outside, and let the Nommo in. My ancestors were trading with the Shining Ones when yours were daubing reindeer off the walls of the family cave.

 Deadpool: "Super English! Imagine it! None of the negatives! Just the positives! The nobility, the heroism, the grit and pluck, the honesty... the strange, paralysing inability to finish off a completely helpless foe. Because it just wouldn't be 'proper'. Damn."

Comics

  • In a comic in Cricket Magazine, a cat praised the Chinese because "They were making great porcelain while the rest of us were still on clay pots." (This is part of a lead-in to the punchline "But bird's-nest soup? What were they thinking?")

Film

  Gus Portokalos: "There are two kinds of people - Greeks, and everyone else who wish they was Greek."

 Gant: The bastards are still wearing armour!

Graham: Yes, and when the Irish were still comporting themselves in loincloths, these chaps were already the most sophisticated warriors on Earth.

    • If you actually know Japanese history, this is also hilariously wrong, though it makes sense that a slightly snobbish Englishman would say it.
  • The film Wolfen is pretty low key in this regard until the last act, when the protagonist arrives shell shocked at a Native American bar after his friend was mauled by a wolf. The Native American characters (one of whom is a Latino) begin rapid fire exposition/cultural posturing as they affirm their way of life is better, the wolf spirits are above our morality, white man's technology has failed him, and he's basically facing gods dishing out divine punishment. Light handed, it was not.
    • Amusingly, the only two Native American cultures with legends directly comparable to werewolves ("skinwalkers", yee naaldlooshii in Navajo and popwaktu in Hopi)...consider them to be Black Magic that can't even be used without crossing a Moral Event Horizon (the Navajo usually say by incest or fratricide, the Hopi by incest or cannibalism). Both tribes' gods have major ceremonies for warding off such witchery.
  • The Big Lebowski, regarding Jews.

 Three thousand years of beautiful tradition, from Moses to Sandy Koufax. YOU'RE GODDAMN RIGHT I'M LIVING IN THE FUCKING PAST!

    • Especially hilarious since the character saying this isn't of Jewish descent, but converted to Judaism for his (now ex-) wife.
  • Appears in Ghost World, where a Greek store owner rants about how his people "invented democracy" to an obnoxious customer.
  • In Ivan the Terrible, Ivan does everything "For the sake of the great Russian kingdom (Ради русского царства великого)!"

Literature

  • H.P. Lovecraft, an avowed Anglophile, did this in Real Life and fiction.
    • Although this is certainly present in many of his works, it's sometimes averted as well. As in The Rats In The Walls, a story where an elitist anglophile discovers that his highly esteemed ancestral line is actually directly related to monstrous, cannibalistic sub-humans.
  • The Silver Skates does a more light-handed version of this for the country of Holland, although written by an American. Enormous chunks of the book, including a lengthy side-story only slightly related to the main plot, are devoted to describing the history, culture, and geography of Holland in very favourable terms. However, American Cultural Cringe is avoided.

Live-Action TV

  • In Doctor Who, the Doctor does this by occasionally poking fun at the national pride of other nations, since he feels he stands above them all as a Time Lord. In one episode, a Brigadier is discussing Great Britain's responsibility for managing a stockpile of nuclear codes:

 Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart: Naturally, the only people who could be trusted with this responsibility was Great Britain.

The Doctor: Naturally. I mean, all the rest were foreigners.

    • However, the character's quintessential Britishness leaks through, such as this rather slightly ahistorical assertion in "The Empty Child":

 "Right now, not very far from here, the German war machine is rolling up the map of Europe. Country after country, falling like dominoes. Nothing can stop it, nothing. Until one tiny, damp little island says 'No. No, not here.'"

      • Especially unjustifiable given that there's a good chance neither World War would've happened if Britain had taken a firmer stance earlier on—everyone knows about Neville Chamberlain, but the Central Powers in World War I only invaded Belgium because the Labour Party had just taken Parliament by running on an isolationist/pacifist ticket.
  • In Star Trek the Original Series, Pavel Chekov claims that Scotch whisky was invented inwented by a little old lady from Leningrad, the Garden of Eden was just outside Moscow, and "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me" is an old Russian proverb. While such clownish national pride would be considered a little insulting in modern times, the show was written at the height of the Cold War, and was thus a rather big step up in the depiction of the Russian character.
  • Commander Susan Ivanova invokes her Russianness repeatedly on Babylon 5. This is usually played for laughs, showing the lighter side of the workaholic, near-neurotically professional officer (e.g., other characters' comments expressing a depressing worldview are generally met with some form of "that's very Russian"). Her Jewishness (she's a Russian Jew) is rarely mentioned, although it does seem to inspire her spirituality (she often makes asides to a God who seems to have a very late-Old Testament sense of humor, and she is very moved when she sits Shiva for her father) and pepper her language (she says "what am I, chopped flarn?" and "for this, you wake me up?" within five minutes of one another in one episode).

Radio

  • Spontaneously parodied in an episode of I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue, by having the subject of pride be completely daft. Humph mentions the traditional Leeds folk song "On Ilkla Moor Baht 'At" and mumbles that he doesn't know what it means. Barry Cryer -- regular panellist, and born in Leeds -- speaks up.

 Barry: Without a hat. Baht 'at -- on Ilkla Moor without a hat.

Humph: ...Well, why can't they just say 'without a hat'?

Barry: 'Cause we're the salt of the earth, that's why!

Theatre

  • In Street Scene, an Italian-American and a Swedish-American get into a heated argument over whether Christopher Columbus or Leif Erickson was the first man to discover America.

Video Games

  • The "Cultural victory" condition in the Civilization series is all about winning the game by being more cultured than everyone else. In Civ V for example, it's earned by accumulating enough Culture points over the course of the game to build the Utopia Project wonder before anyone else. If you manage this, it's game over no matter how puny you might be in terms of military or occupied land area compared to the other Civs.
    • And then there's Culture Bombing: You move a Great Artist unit up to the borders of an enemy civ, select the Culture Bomb action, and suddenly a ring of their tiles become your property because of how very cultured you are!

Web Original

  • Kismet and her friends in the Whateley Universe. Kismet is Belgian, and her group at Super-Hero School Whateley Academy is so pro-European (Western Europe at that) and anti-American that they are known around the school as the 'Beret Mafia'.

Western Animation

Real Life

  • During a debate in the British Parliament, a young Benjamin Disraeli was heckled with the cry of "Jew! Jew!". He replied "My people were kings and princes, when yours were galley slaves." (For the record, he's giving a bit of a Rose Tinted Narrative -- the Kingdom of Judah also eventually became a Roman dominion.) In an open letter to the Times of London he remarked "Yes, I am a Jew and when the ancestors of the right honorable gentleman were brutal savages in an unknown island, mine were priests in the temple of Solomon." [1] Ancient Greeks and Romans never used slaves as rowers; if they were so short-handed they had to crew their ships with slaves, they freed them first. Rowers, after all, were a part of the warrior caste—imagine asking 19th century Hindus to fight alongside Untouchables, if you want to know how Romans felt about using slave-crews.
  • This is an Irish joke (the person being addressed was Daniel O'Connell, the first Irishman elected to Parliament). O'Connell had previously written that Disraeli was the "worst possible type of Jew" and continued:

 "He has just the qualities of that impertinent thief on the cross, and I verily believe, if Mr. Disraeli's family herald were to be examined and his genealogy traced, that same personage would be discovered to be the heir at law of the exalted individual to whom I allude."

  • American Senator Judah P. Benjamin made a similar observation on the Senate floor: "It is true that I am a Jew, and when my ancestors were receiving their Ten Commandments from the immediate Deity, amidst the thundering and lightnings of Mt. Sinai, the ancestors of my opponent were herding swine in the forests of Great Britain." Unfortunately, he was defending slavery at the time.
    • Harry Turtledove has Benjamin make a similar comment in The Guns of the South when, as Confederate Secretary of State, he's negotiating with his U.S. counterpart Ben Butler, who is not really a racist but uses anti-Semitic comments to try and rile Benjamin up. In this case however he rather more accurately refers to Hebrew civilization in contrast to Germanic hunter-gatherers in Europe, what with the Anglo-Saxons not having reached Britain at that point.
  • One common real-life version of this is referring to a foreign concept in relation to one's own culture (for instance, Moliere, Calderon, and Alexander Pushkin have been called the French, Spanish, and Russian Shakespeare respectively).
    • There's even a comment on this in Snow Crash to the effect that while the Yakuza are called the Japanese Mafia, no one ever calls The Mafia the Italian Yakuza (although some Japanese works do use "yakuza" as a catch-all term for organized crime).
    • The 1980s Dolph Lundgren Punisher movie puts a reversal on that. When the female yakuza boss addresses the room full of mafioso, she says "While your ancestors were screwing sheep in the Mediterranean, mine were the crime lords of Asia." Which is inaccurate—both the yakuza and the mafia date to the early 17th century.
  • World War Two is a favorite source of Cultural Posturing among several different countries, usually among those from the Allies, and especially among the "Big Three" (United States, United Kingdom, Russia/Soviet Union). Many people from these countries don't want to share the credit for winning the war, even though it took all three Allies to beat the Axis. Russia and the United States would have been in big trouble if Britain hadn't held the line. Neither Britain nor Russia could have carried on without American logistical support and command of the Pacific front.. Without the Russians holding most of the Nazi attention on the Eastern Front, Britain and the United States would have had a much bloodier fight on their hands.
    • Whenever Americans and British people get into arguments, it often will involve the American reminding the Brit that "We bailed you out in World War Two!". It happens in both real life and in fiction.
      • In Friends, Ross's father does this while arguing with his fiancee Emily's parents.
      • That argument was subverted in a future episode of The Simpsons. When Moe tells Lisa's English fiance that they bailed them out in World War 2, he responds by reminding him that the English bailed the Americans out in World War 3. Moe admits that this is true.
      • Exaggerated in another episode of The Simpsons, where the family goes to Britain and Homer tries to shame a local telling him out of the blue that the Americans saved the Brits' ass in Vietnam.
      • A Fish Called Wanda has Kevin Kline's character randomly spouting this when annoyed. "If it wasn't for us, you'd all be speaking German!". He says this right after claiming that Britain would be "the smallest fucking province in the Russian Empire."
      • The obvious retort to the line "If it weren't for us you'd be speaking German" is "If it weren't for us you'd be speaking Dutch".
    • On the other hand, British people will turn America Wins the War on its head by either claiming that it was Britain that shouldered the lion's share of the work while America stayed out of the war and reaped the benefits (in an equally offensive Britain Wins The War type argument) and/or claiming they owe more to the Russians than to the Americans.
      • In an episode of Steptoe and Son where 'arold and his father into a fight on a plane; when an American tries to stop it/join in, dad pushes him away with a contemptuous "Late again!"
      • To quote the English Comedian Eddie Izzard: The Americans were apparently watching old cavalry movies, because they came to the rescue in the nick of time. "Dun Dun Dun DUH! HERE COMES AMERICA! AHHH I Love the smell of Europe in the morning! Now, what's for brunch?" "WHAT? Where have you been! We're bloody knackered!"
    • Russians also have their own form of The Soviet Union Wins The War, arguing that since the Nazis suffered 80% of their casualties on the Eastern Front as well as being the only ones present at the Battle of Berlin, the Russians won the war all by themselves. It might not be easily noticeable compared to American and British attitudes, but it can and will pop up anywhere World War II is being discussed.
  • It's somewhat rare for the American Revolution to be brought up as an instance of American Cultural Posturing. Whenever it is, it's almost always followed up by a Deadpan Snarker reminding everyone that the Americans had help from the French. Sometimes this even gets turned into French Cultural Posturing instead, suggesting that France carried all the burden of freeing the Thirteen Colonies, even though the French needed the Americans to carry some of their own objectives. Lafayette was leading an army of Americans, after all--and when the English tried to pass over Washington and surrender to Rochambeau, he called them on it.
    • The West Wing is one of the rare examples of this: After trying (and failing) to get the support of Lord John Marbury, the new British Ambassador to the United States, to support a new missile shield defense system that Leo is supporting, Leo takes him aside at a dinner party pretty much for the sole reason of snottily reminding him who kicked whose ass at the Battle of Yorktown in the American War of Independence.
      • In another episode, the same two characters memorably avert this, when Marbury concisely defines the "original sins" of their two nations: Ireland (UK) and slavery (US).
  • Canadians, on the other hand, are always quick to brag about the War of 1812, treating it as a Curb Stomp Battle in Canada's favor--as exemplified in claims that Canadian forces "burned down the U.S. capital." They forget one thing: The action was in retaliation for American forces burning down Canada's capital during that same war. Not to mention that the forces involved in the burning of Washington, D.C. were about as Canadian as those who won the Battle of Waterloo [2]
    • Broader examples involving the War of 1812 are the assertions among Canadians, British, and Americans that their people were the ones who won the war. In reality, the war was more or less inconclusive ("status quo ante bellum"); none of the sides involved got what they really wanted, and in fact holding the line and not giving up territory to their enemy has become a point of pride for both the Americans and Canadians (paradoxically).
  • Modern-day Arabs often pull this on Westerners, claiming that, historically, Muslim nations gave more rights to women and the condemned than western countries, and that there were long stretches of history where Muslim countries had more advanced empires and science than western nations. There's definitely an aspect of bit of wishful thinking to it, however, since one of the major reasons Islamic countries had these things was that the religion spread among the extremely well-developed societies which and experienced numerous advanced civilizations and cultures.[3]It's also a case of cherry-picking examples they liked and comparing them to an extremely simplistic if not outright Flanderized view of "Christendom." One of the Arab princes brings this up in Lawrence of Arabia. Lawrence immediately uses it for his own ends to incite an Arab revolt against the Ottomans, saying in effect, "You had all those great things once, and now it's time for you to be great once more."
    • Westerners retort by saying the Arabs took many of those things from other civilizations, pottery from the Chinese, archetecture from the Assyrians, chemistry from the Egyptians, etc. Hence they can no longer progress because they can no longer simply just appropriate knowledge.
      • Westerners sometimes also retort that Islam has always allowed men sexual rights to their slaves, while both Christianity and Judaism never have (apart from the American South)—and those who know about recent discoveries regarding medieval European society like to point out that 12th-century Frenchwomen owned property, practiced trades, filed lawsuits, and voted in any assembly men could. 12th-century Turkish or Arab women, not so much (though for that matter, neither could 12th-century Byzantine women).
    • For their part, Iranians pull this a lot on Arabs, citing the ancient Persian civilization (going back to Cyrus) compared to the relatively recent Arab one. Arabs get understandably annoyed.
  • Goethe did it on behalf of the Chinese, when he observed "These people were already writing books, when we were still forest-dwellers."
  • An old joke features three people having an argument on which of their cultures is the superior one. The first is traditionally an American, who gives a list of all of America's achievements. The second is German, and he does the same. The third is Chinese, with this guy proceeding to list all of the things the Chinese achieved while Western culture was in its infancy. The American replies, "But what have you guys done lately?"
  • Some descendants of Irish immigrants from the days of colonization of the United States joke about being immortal. This is because Ireland is geographically in the same place as Atlantis is in the non-Irish Atlantis stories, but aside from that the assertion doesn't have any real basis aside from the red hair not graying as fast.
  • Mahatma Gandhi's famous comment on Western Christian civilization: "I think it would be a very good idea."

Notes

  1. Unless he was asserting that the heckler was descended from Byzantine criminals, no, they weren't galley slaves.
  2. They were British troops, recently brought over from Europe. The Canadians, for their part, were all still up in what would later become Canada.
  3. It is true, however, that Islam was remarkably Fair for Its Day compared to Arab paganism regarding women's rights, and that contact with these advanced civilizations eventually wore down the original vision, leaving Muslim women in a worse situation than they were under the earliest Islamic state.
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.