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You know how people will say that romantic people look at life through rose-colored glasses? Well, I have a similar theory about America/the entire Western world and how we perceive world events and problems: 


In my lifetime, I have heard many comments about the United States of America and other countries that aim to make the USA seem superior. I call this the American Complex. I would further define the American Complex as a way of viewing the world only from an American point of view. Similar to the rose-colored glasses of romanticism, the American shaped goggles alter the way we, as Americans, perceive the world around us. 

Photo via Pixabay on Pexels

I know that the American education system has failed us in the past and taught us inaccurate histories of how The United States came to be. I think that’s some of where our ignorance has started, but I don’t think it is the only reason. The main reason is that the colonists who came in pursuit of a new life did not regard the indigenous people as real people because they were so different. The way our history has been documented has affected how our government has been established, what we learn in schools, and what we think is important. Throughout my primary education, I only took maybe two classes about world history, but even in those classes, I wasn’t learning about any eastern historical events and how their civilizations and different governments developed. Instead, I was learning a little about important historical events and then how it related to America. It always came back to America/the Western World. I understand that some people will find nothing wrong with this since we live in America and this information will be more relevant to us, but I think that this idea disregards who established this country–immigrants. 


The United States of America was founded by immigrants and immigrants are still attempting to come to America. However, people want to make it harder for these people to legally come here. Making it harder to come here and criticizing the people who are working in any way to get here, by default, reject the “American Dream” and the basis on which this country was established. At one point (if your family is not indigenous to America or were not forced over here from where you were content) everyone’s family was an immigrant family to this country. We have bastardized those initial ideals and the government keeps working hard to restrict access to this country that was once called a ‘melting pot.’ This is what the American complex has done–it has created an exclusive and impenetrable group of people who think they are better than people from other countries.

Sign Immigrants make America Great

One of the silliest and most 2020 examples of this is the Corona-Virus pandemic. Many people have said that the pandemic is an American government ploy to rig the presidential election. They believe that the virus isn’t real and after the election, it will disappear. I can maybe see where these people would get this idea if it were just an American issue and the disease was only in the United  States. But since it is not, the idea that the whole world is in on a scheme to work against one small group of people is quite silly.  Again, this American complex results in this kind of narrow view because we are consistently taught one narrative and a handful of real events. 


I am pretty sure that I learned early on in elementary school that the United States was founded based on religious freedom. Yeah, the colonizers were probably majority Christians or Catholics, but it still stands that the First Amendment is that, as citizens of the United States, we have the right to believe or not believe in any religion we desire. This goes hand-in-hand with Thomas Jefferson’s separation of church and state for the country. Many politicians, however, make some of their claims and maintain their fan base by making their issues based on Christianity. The problem with this is that under governmental law, the church and states are separate and we should not base laws solely on Christian ideals. Not everyone is religious or believes in the Christian God, so it is worthless to make any wide-spread argument for something with the basis of religion. This may not necessarily fall underneath the American complex, but it is definitely one of the bigger problems that America has.

Two women wrapped in American flag
Photo by Courtney Hedger from Unsplash

One of my biggest pet peeves is when someone is speaking anything other than English and someone feels the need to say that “in America, we  speak English.” Again, America is supposed to be a melting pot and a country for immigrants all around the world. Therefore, we have no official language. It is hard for me to formulate a cohesive argument for this because the type of people who think the USA has English as an official language are so wrong. Not only do we expect people to come to our country and speak English to us, but we also expect people to know English in other countries and be able to help us on our vacations. These double standards are completely a characteristic of the American complex.


I know that, as Americans, we were kinda set up for failure when we think about our history or other countries presently. We were taught that the whole world basically revolves around us, but it is still our responsibility to unlearn that idea. The world works together as a unit and, yes, we are primarily affected by threats to our nation, but sometimes those ‘national threats’ aren’t really threats. We need to relearn how to show compassion and actually care about other people instead of worrying about narrow-minded ideas. It is time to abolish our American complex and see the world as an entire unit, just trying to survive day by day, and full of opportunities to do better. 

Mandilyn McMillan

Louisiana Tech '20

I am a Senior at Louisiana Tech University and I have spent my years studying Literature and trying to learn some Spanish. I enjoy sneaking around with 'non-scholarly' books in my purse wherever I go and having strong opinions where they matter.
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