Monday, April 21, 2014

I'm a patriot, dammit!

I consider myself a patriot.

I have an American flag in my backyard, but that's only because I got one for free at a pro-gay marriage rally. My son has played with it almost to the point of ruining it, and I haven't really made a very big deal out of it.

I don't like saying the Pledge of Allegiance. Why? Because it's nonsense right from the get-go. "I pledge allegiance to the flag..." Huh? I don't pledge allegiance to a flag. Pledging allegiance to the Constitution might make more sense, but if our Constitution was amended to, for instance, take away the rights of certain people, then I wouldn't pledge my allegiance to THAT either. Besides, allegiance pledges just aren't my thing in general.

I detest Lee Greenwood's "Proud to be an American" song. It's filled with a bunch of jingoistic blather that perpetuates the myth that every soldier who fought in a war was somehow fighting for our "freedom". Did some of them in some wars? Yes. Were some of the wars we fought for just causes? Arguably. Are the men and women in our military the ones who are going to lay it all on the line should this country ever be legitimately threatened? Absolutely. Should we take care of and respect those who have fought for our country? Definitely. Is Code Pink a bunch of nutters for picketing recruitment centers? Hell yes. But let's stop pretending that napalming the Vietnamese jungle to stop a bunch of rice farmers from becoming communist was somehow about protecting my freedom over here in California, okay?

Toby Kieth's "Angry American" song? Give me a break. I'm an angry American because a doofus like that shares the same nationality as me.

I don't wear American flag-inspired clothing (unless you count my Captain America T-shirt), I don't think that my country is always on the right side of history, and I don't think that my country is necessarily greater or "more free" than every other country on the planet.

Now, before you think that the first line of this - "I am a patriot" - is to set this all up as an exercise in irony, let me tell you that I sincerely believe that none of the above disqualifies me from being a patriot. I find things like the pledge, cheesy songs, unjustified wars, and tacky clothing to be things that are detrimental to my country. In other words, I care about my country, and I don't like things that are bad for it.

Want to see the patriot in me really come out? Let some person from another country (from my experience, mainly certain Europeans are guilty of this) accuse America of having "no culture" (as though such a thing was possible.) My defense of my country and its very rich, important, and diverse culture will come pouring out from every vein in my body. Seriously, I can't stand that particular meme - especially when it's from somebody who enjoys American music, movies, and television shows. For Pete's sakes, where do they think rock and roll came from? It sure as hell wasn't Germany.

You'll also see me brimming with pride when I talk about the American craft beer scene. Did you know that there are brewers in various European countries (including Scotland and Germany, based on some articles I read some time ago) are looking toward what's going on in America in order to get their customers excited about beer again? Yeah, sure, the most popular American brands are pure swill, but the best stuff is now being brewed here - which just goes to show, when we set our minds to it, we can make some great stuff.

I realize that beer isn't everybody's thing, so how about outer space? While I realize that the United States isn't the only country whose inhabitants have led to an increase in understanding about the cosmos, it was an American who first stepped on to the moon. How cool is that? That's right - I belong to the tribe that got a guy from the big blue marble on to the little grey one.

I'm also a fan of comic books and superheroes, and while both of those have their roots in older art forms and mythology, the comic book superhero is an American invention, and from what I understand, the movies based on them are doing quite well overseas, so it's not just us who likes them. (In Europe, superhero comic books aren't the most popular genre. What outsells them are Disney comics. I think that there's something vaguely American about them.)

I could go on, as I genuinely love my country. However, I don't feel that I need to repeat mindless chants over and over again to prove it to anybody. I also don't think that it means that I have to downplay what's great about other countries or somehow think that my country is the best. Nationalism? That smacks too much of unquestioning religion as far as I'm concerned, so that's not for me. But feeling good when the people of my country do the right thing and caring enough to speak out when we're doing the wrong thing? That's patriotism to me.

P.S. U.S.A. is #1

1 comment:

Andrew Nolan said...

Love it or leave it, man. Love it or leave it.