Kali Holloway has an article at AlterNet about how America compares to the rest of the world.
…The conservative American notion that people with far better healthcare, civil rights laws and gun control “hate our freedom” is a wishful imperialist delusion. Worse, it’s not fooling anybody at this point.
That said, if all the world’s a stage, America is a prime player: a rich, loud, attention-seeking celebrity not fully deserving of its starring role, often putting in a critically reviled performance and tending toward histrionics that threaten to ruin the show for everybody else. (Also, embarrassingly, possibly the last to know that its career as top biller is in rapid decline.) To the outside onlooker, American culture—I’m consolidating an infinitely layered thing to save time and space—is contradictory and bizarre, hypocritical and self-congratulatory. Its national character is a textbook study in narcissistic tendencies coupled with crushing insecurity issues.
How to reconcile a country that fetishizes violence and is squeamish about sex; conflates Christianity and consumerism; says it loves liberty yet made human rights violations a founding principle? In conversations with non-Americans, should the topic of the U.S. come up, there are often expressions of incredulity and bewilderment about things that seem weird when you aren’t from here. Talk and think about those things enough, and they also start to seem objectively weird if you are from here, too.
That perception is held even by countries that share similarities with America. The Pew Research Center rounded up surveys from recent years that point out some of the ways American and European attitudes diverge, not infrequently widely. Obviously, there’s plenty of cultural difference among European countries, and surveys aren’t necessarily nuanced in describing how the citizens of entire countries see the world. But these polls do tell us something about the things large swaths of those countries agree on, as well as how those popular ideas tend to differ from pervasive notions and sensibilities within America.