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 the Real Monsters (or humans who believe that Humanity Is Superior) 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.
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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..."
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. Optimus Prime, however, does point 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 = mc2". It then turns out that an "electron accelerator" is just flowery Technobabble for an alternator taken from Tim's sedan.
Subverted in the 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."
And then he quickly gives up after seeing that waiting in line is going to take too long.
Naturally, the Psychlos in Battlefield Earth won't shut up about how much better they are than "man-animals" and mock them at every possible opportunity.
The wizards from Harry Potter always act as though they're far better than muggles. At best they're slightly more advanced. At their very worst they are culturally stagnant, have a Kangaroo Court for a justice system, a government as corrupt as any struggling Third World nation, Word of God puts their combat abilities as inferior to even basic firearms, much less trained military, and their education facilities have downright pathetic safety standards which seems to be par for the course, and the fact they are hiding their magical backwards world from muggle society — making their purported superiority over the Muggles in every way a deliberate joke.
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.
Ax does this frequently.
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 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".
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".
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.
The Asgard subvert it by openly admitting that they're more advanced (that's rather self-evident), but they aren't arrogant or condescending about it. They respect humanity for the achievements they've made and see the potential for greatness in the species.
The Goa'uld have also lapsed into this at times, whenever they feel the need to brag, such as Zipacna at the Tollan trial.
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.
Spock and McCoy loved to posture their respective Vulcan and Human cultures to each other.
A minor running gag with Chekov (most prominent in "The Trouble With Tribbles") is where he claims that many things, such as Scotch whisky, are a "Russian inwention". This even pops up in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, where he does this with the tale of Cinderella.
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."
Picard enjoyed looking down on Q, even quoting Shakespeare to him until Q got disgusted and left.
Q, of course, provoked this intentionally.
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.
Wonder Woman TV Series: Queen Hippolyte reigns at Paradise Island, a Lady LandHidden 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 fond 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!
Extremely violent posturing is the rule of the day in interspecies relations in Warhammer 40,000, 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.
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.
This also extends into real life: arguments over which army/race is superior based on canon are EXTREMELY common. It's not uncommon, for example, to see a Blood Angels player berating a Dark Angels one, to the effect of "While we stood against Horus on Terra, you guys were busy blowing up your own planet!"
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 when Commander Shepard kills Sovereign. No wonder Harbinger in the sequel is decidedly less boastful about the Reapers' superiority. Doesn't stop his constantsmack 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. Sometimes he would just spout patronizing things about other cultures entirely at random.
Javik: Did you know that the salarians used to lick their eyes?
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:
Javik: The Commander is a capable warrior as well. For a Human. Who used to live in caves.
Then sarcastically parodied in the Citadel DLC:
Javik: Commander, in my cycle, when we fled combat by falling through tanks filled with aquatic animals, we usually...oh, right, we never did! You are a trailblazer!
Shepard can even get in on this. Every time the Reapers try to lord their superiority over them, stating that Shepard's attempts to delay the inevitable are foolish since Resistance Is Futile; Shepard counters that the Reapers clearly seem to be unaware that most Humans won't even submit to their own people in authority, let alone will simply lay down and let themselves be subjugated without putting up a fight;
Shepard: We will fight! We will sacrifice! And we we find a way! That is what Humans do!
The Turians, particularly in the first game have shades of this towards Humanity, due to residual animosity left over from the First Contact War. The scary thing is that their assessment that both sides could wipe out the other is right. Mordin states in the second game that the Salarian Government did hypothetical projections of what would happens if the Turians and the Humans ever ended up fighting a prolonged war and the best scenario ended with both races likely wiping themselves out, but not before both sides had practically destroyed a quarter of the Galaxy first!
All the Council races do this, in a constant cycle of posturing at each other. The Asari remind everyone that they're so diplomatic and wise, the Salarians want you to know that they're the smartest and the cleverest, the Turians have to point out that they can wipe the floor with everyone else in a straight-up fight, and then the Humans butt in to say they're almost as good diplomats as the Asari, not quite as smart as the Salarians, nearly as tough as the Turians, and they've only been doing this for 50 years, so there.
And then there are the krogan. Krogan bluster mostly comes in two forms: "we are bigger and tougher than you and that is why we are better" and, as a subset of the first, "none of you would survive Tuchanka for more than ten seconds". Thankfully, Wrex has grown very disillusioned with his people over the past thousand years or so, and Grunt was mostly "raised" on glorious legends and videos of old battles with no actual emotional connection and responds to his first sight of Tuchanka with a wordier version of "what a shithole", so you're mostly spared this from your teammates.
InThe 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 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' first god-emperor, not the other way around.
It happens a lot with Imperials or Empire-loyalists towards the local Nords, who love to point out how their glorious cosmopolitan empire is superior to the barbaric, frozen wilderness of Skyrim. Note that this isn't Fantastic Racism because it's the Nord culture that is looked down upon, not the actual Nord race. Best summed up by General Tullius, the military governor in charge of bringing Skyrim back under Imperial control;
General Tullius: If it wasn't for the Legion the provinces would descend to barbarity and anarchy, including Skyrim! Especially Skyrim!
Alduin and most of the Dragons often seem to invoke this towards the Dragonborn. It's shown that they view the protagonist as a Humanoid Abomination, repeatedly berating them for having the sheer audacity to take the name of "Dovahkiin" for themselves, despite the fact they are clearly not a true member of "Dragonkind".
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 World of Warcraft. 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.
This is an Informed Attribute of the Kingdom of Rhodoks in Mount & Blade games; they consider themselves superior to the other nations of Calradia because they are the only nation to choose their king by Elective Monarchy. As one of your followers points out, Rhodoks is Not So Different from the other kingdoms in spite of this; it still ends up with a king, a ruling class of lords, and a downtrodden peasant class.
In Dragon Age, most other nations in Thedas, particularly Orlais, consider Ferelden to be a barely-civilised backwater, populated by people only above their barbarian origins, who stink of wet dog! The typical Ferelden response is to become angry that their dogs were being insulted!
In Dragon Age II, Free Marchers tend to get in on this towards the Ferelden refugees in Kirkwall, displaced by the Blight.
Jokingly invoked by a Snarky!Hawke, who decides to let a fellow Ferelden who's been caught stealing from their mine off the hook, by claiming to their Orlesian business partner that they were coerced into the theft, by someone who threatened their wife, children and killed their dog;
Hawke: They even killed his dog to prove a point! His dog, Hubert! You know how important they are to Fereldans!
Spore is actually able to weaponize cultural posturing: in the Civilization stage, Religious vehicles are able to convert an entire city by way of gigantic hologram sermonizing the town into submission, rather than bombing them into oblivion or literally buying them out completely. Once you reach the Space stage, nearly every single hostile NPC message (and about half of the neutral/friendly ones) are peppered with it.
8-Bit Theater: A major part of Thief's role in the comic is to illustrate that elves aren't nearly as awesome as they claim. He loves pointing out the supposed superiority of Elf civilization and culture, to the point where he refers to almost everything as elven, including common sense and memory. In one comic he starts in on how ancient Elf civilization is, only to be asked by Red Mage why, with a 9000 year head start, they are only as technologically advanced as humans.
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.
The Mooninites in Aqua Teen Hunger Force are quite fond of this, saying things like "Our race is hundreds of years beyond yours." and "Some would say that the Earth is our moon, but that would belittle the name of the moon... which is the moon." This is rather bizarre, since there only appears to be three of them, who have no discernible culture to speak of (unless nonstop, unfocused jerkassery counts as a culture).
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 embodiments 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 invented in Korea, da-ze~" as a Catch Phrase.
Poland/Lithuania case is a reference to when durning the union, Polish nobles were prone to this.
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."
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?")
Gus Portokalos: "There are two kinds of people - Greeks, and everyone else who wish they was Greek."
The Last Samurai has this exchange, an incorrect summation of Japanese versus Irish history:
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.
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.
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.
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."
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, occasionally the Doctor's fondness for the British shines through such as in "The Empty Child", where he admits to greatly admiring their courage and continued defiance during the Second World War, even against all odds.
Doctor: 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". A mouse in front of a lion. You're amazing, the lot of you! I don't know what you do to Hitler, but you frighten the hell out of me!
In Star Trek, Pavel Chekov claims that Scotch whisky was 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).
Spontaneously parodied in an episode of Im Sorry I Havent A Clue, by having the subject of pride be completely daft. Humph mentions the traditional Yorkshire 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.
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.
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!
Culture Bombing is the Ascended Meme version of a trick used in previous games, where you sent a Great Artist to one of your cities and had them create a Great Work. Suddenly your city's Culture shot up, and because that controlled how much territory that city controlled, its influence leaped as well.
Assassin's Creed III has Shaun's commentary in the notes constantly snarking on Americans, their history and government, while extolling the virtues and superiority of the British. Not that the French get let off.
We British have a day to celebrate our victories over the French. We call it every day, all year.
Kismet and her friends in the Whateley Universe. Kismet is Belgian, and her group at Superhero 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'.
In the American Dad! episode "Spelling Bee My Baby", Mrs. Yoshida claims she'll win a fight with Francine since they'll be fighting with traditional Asian weapons and it's "part of [her] culture." Cue a substantial loss of confidence when it's revealed that Francine also has an Asian background thanks to her adoptive Chinese parents.
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."
Despite what some say, the "unknown island" comments are an an Irish joke; the target was Irish nationalist MP Daniel O'Connell, made in response to O'Connell writing that Disraeli was "worst possible type of Jew". Actually, worse than that; in the same missive, O'Connell 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, Molière, 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 LundgrenPunisher 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 II 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. It gets especially annoying when nobody in the argument is even old enough to have been around when the war happened let alone actually fought in it.
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."
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!"
In Chicken Run, Fowler complains that Americans are "always showing up late for every war." At another point he calls them "overpaid, oversexed, and over here", which was a derogatory phrase in World War II-era Australia.
Not the Nine O'Clock News had a comment on the bellicose nature of the US under Reagan as "trying to make up for being late to the last two world wars by being really punctual this time".
Russians also have their own form of The Soviet Union Wins The War, arguing that since the Nazis suffered 80% of their losses on the Eastern Front (fighting with armies of no less than three million men at all times for a total turnover of 8 million Soviet and 4 Million German soldiers dead, whereas Britain and the USA fielded a couple of million men with losses of less than a million put together) as well as being the only ones present at the Battles of Stalingrad, Kursk, and Berlin (the biggest of the war), the Russians won the war all by themselves - never mind the effect of Anglo-American lend-lease aid (which accounted for as much as 25% of all Soviet war-time production!) and the efforts of the Ukrainians, or the Cossacks, or the Belorussians, etc etc. It might not be easily noticeable in the Anglosphere, compared to American and British attitudes, but it can and will pop up anywhere World War II is discussed.
The Napoleonic Wars can often cause the same kind of posturing as World War II. Considering how often alliances changed, the sides are less clear-cut, but to this day which nation deserves the lion's share of the credit for beating Napoleon will usually depend on what language the history is being written in. The British are proud of opposing him for twenty solid years and racking up huge naval victories, the Russians are proud of crushing the Grand Armee during Napoleon's invasion, and the Germans/Austrians can boast some of the only field victories over the man himself.
During World War II, propaganda efforts took this tack occasionally. For example, the Japanese leaflet◊ from this collection says in English: "Our history is ten times older than yours. While your ancestors were roaming around as savages, Japan was already civilized. We are civilized much more than you Americans."
Strangely for all his racist arrogance and claims of superiority, Adolf Hitler actually inverted this on the Germans when drawing comparisons with the Italians. He was annoyed that his lackey Himmler tried to dig up Germanic tribal artifacts from archaeological sites, and mocked him by stating that the Romans were already highly civilized when the Germans were still living in huts. Also a subversion of the inversion because he got around the problem by arguing that the ancient Romans were actually "Aryans" carrying on the "Nordic-Greek culture".
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 British North America's administrative hub - admittedly, this came as they were forced to turn back and abandon their attempt to annex the area in the name of the USA. Not to mention the fact that there was no such thing as 'Canada' at the time, the whole place simply being British North America - the forces involved in the burning of Washington, D.C, moreover, were regulars of the British Army (as opposed to local militia, who conducted most of the defence against the US Army on now-Canadian soil). Many of the people living in British America had great-grandchildren who would come to live in what we call 'Canada', but almost everyone living there identified as British at the time.
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).
Example: Due South Fraser mentions it to a class of schoolkids. "your country invaded our country and we sent you packing".
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. This is based on the great amount of scientific research conducted by various Arab scholars from Ibn al-Haitham to Jabir ibn Hayyan, though it ignores the reality that Europe was advancing as well - the so-called Dark Ages were not nearly as dark as they are commonly depicted, and there was trade all the way from Europe to China, though the Middle East, being in the middle, did enjoy a position as a center of trade. However, how "advanced" it was relative to Europe was quite questionable - while there were transient, temporary technological differences between the two, trade quickly evened these differences out. Numerous wars occurred between the Christian and Muslim empires and kingdoms of various eras, and land changed hands continually between the two, with the Europeans forming several Christian nations in the Holy Land and the Muslims eventually sacking Constantinople, albeit only after it had been sacked by Crusaders. The end of the Reconquista, the discovery of the New World, and the Industrial Revolution all caused a gradual erosion of Muslim power relative to Europeans.
Westerners sometimes 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.
Persian posturing is quite ironic, as the Achaemenid Empire used Aramaic as the language of the court, a semitic language close to Arabic. In fact, Persian were always influenced to great degrees by their Semitic-speaking neighbors, and this didn't simply start with Arabs (of course the reverse is also true to a degree).
Get a bunch of Americans from different states together and there will inevitably be some state-pride based posturing.
Goethe did it on behalf of the Chinese, when he observed "These people were already writing books, when we were still forest-dwellers."
The British once ruled the largest empire ever, and have never let anyone forget it. Ever. Especially Americans, usually along the lines of 'You're just a jumped up colony that we used to own.' Today, the majority of the land in the modern-day United States was never under British rule.
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."
Israeli Jews pull this a lot on their Arab neighbors, who do the same to Israel. Of course, given the state of affairs between them, it's not surprising. This plays out very much like the Western world (where Israel is a convenient proxy for the West, being more culturally Western than Middle Eastern, or Asian for that matter) vs. the Arab world mentioned above: Israelis and their supporters see themselves as a bastion of civilization in a barbaric Middle East, while the Arab world accuses Israel of stealing everything culturally distinctive from elsewhere.
Georges Clemenceau once said: "England, that French colony that turned out bad." (Angleterre, cette colonie francaise qui a mal tourné.)
Flemish people who know their history will point out that many of the artists and scientists who contributed to 'the Golden Century' which made The Netherlands a Proud Merchant Race were actually refugees from Antwerp and other cities caught in the crossfire between the (Spanish) Habsburgs and the Dutch, trying to escape the chaos of 'The Dutch Revolt'.
Some "Third Culture Kids" tend to display this attitude towards the communities and countries they live in, whether or not such arrogance is perceived or intentional. Compared to other examples, these tend to flaunt their constantly changing environments, travels and more globally-minded worldview at the expense of the locals.
They often prefer the place they have moved to over their home country, because they are better off due to work covering housing and expenses, the international schools they go to are full of people just like them (not judgemental), and, if they come from England, chances are the country they move to is bigger and has more of a sense of adventure to it. It is very rare for somebody to move to a country and prefer their home country, unless they are a patriot.
On a similar note, writer and world traveller Pico Iyer noted the ironic tendencies of people like him to embrace this trope, just from another angle.
"We tell ourselves, self-servingly, that nationalism breeds monsters and choose to ignore the fact that internationalism breeds them too. Ours is the culpability not of the assassin, but of the bystander who takes a snapshot of the murder. Or, when the revolution catches fire, hops on the next plane out."
Very common in Mexican culture (and sometimes, some Latin American ones) because the only better examples they have are the U.S. and Canada, and partly because their laws, traditions and ethics are different to the Latin American ones.
In Mexico, sometimes this is raised Up to Eleven between Mexicans themselves, as besides U.S. and Canada, they also compare Mexico with Japan. In fact, for driving the point home, there's something in Mexico is sometimes called The American Newspaper Box Syndrome, who is the explanation why in Mexico there's no newspaper boxes in Mexican streets, completely ignoring the fact in the U.S. those newspaper boxes are also problematic as well, regarding the existing laws.