Wednesday, July 27, 2005

I Am Not A Patriot

That’s right. I said it. I am not a patriot. Given the rah rah rah nationalism that has swept the land, it would probably be in my best interest to change my identity and move to Papua New Guinea, but first let me explain where I’m coming from.

I don’t hate the United States, although I do deeply abhor the current leadership. I love living where I live. I am grateful that I am able to enjoy the freedoms I enjoy, and I am thankful to (for the moment) have the freedom to fight for those that I am not yet afforded. I love Hollywood, Disney World and Starbucks. But, I have never been able to understand the whole “us” against “them” thing that so many people, American and otherwise, hold so tightly in their fists. I love, passionately, the diversity of cultures and histories on our planet, but histories and cultures almost never are well represented by the government sponsored borders that are somehow supposed to clearly define them. I don’t know that we should totally do away with national maps, but, we should definitely, as people, be more aware of the way borders are used to limit our experiences by those in power. Multi-national (read as: American) corporations figured all of this out some time ago, but the average Joe is still hoping that “we” will kick “their” asses.

Certainly, pride in one’s own accomplishments is a good thing. Patriotism is false pride. It’s not dissimilar to, for example, a Miami Dolphins fanatic who lives out accomplishments vicariously through a team that somehow, purportedly, represents the citizenry of Miami. If the Dolphins make it to the Super Bowl, against the Pittsburgh Steelers, then, people who happen to live their lives within the artificial borders of the city of Pittsburgh become the enemy to Dolphins fans. If the Dolphins win, this is supposed to prove, somehow that “we” are better than “they.” Nationalistic pride just feeds the “us” against “them” mentality that tolerates racism, xenophobia, homophobia and sexism. Complete nonsense.

Last week I visited Pittsburgh, where I grew up. Pittsburgh and Miami are nearly as different as two cities can be. But, really one is not better than the other, they’re just different. Miami has sub-tropical weather, beautiful beaches, amazing sunsets, and a Latin American rhythm. Pittsburgh has rolling hills, picturesque city parks, world-class museums and an Eastern European heritage. They are both great places, filled with wonderful people and opportunities.

Recently, my friend Ann, who used to live here in Miami Beach and now lives in Connecticut, sent me, several other friends and family members the following e-mail entitled FUNNY!:

You gotta love Robin Williams...Leave it to Robin Williams to come up with the perfect plan ..
what we need now is for our UN Ambassador to stand up and repeat this
message. Robin William's plan.(Hard to argue with this logic!)

I see a lot of people yelling for peace but I have not heard
of a plan for peace. So, here's one plan.

1.) The US will apologize to the world for our "interference"
in their affairs, past & present. You know, Hitler, Mussolini, Tojo,
Noriega, Milosevic and the rest of those 'good ole boys,' We will never
"interfere" again.

2.) We will withdraw our troops from all over the world,
starting with Germany, South Korea and the Philippines. They don't want us
there. We would station troops at our borders. No one sneaking through holes
in the fence.

3.) All illegal aliens have 90 days to get their affairs
together and leave. We'll give them a freetrip home. After 90 days the
remainder will be gathered up and deported immediately, regardless of who or
where they are. France would welcome them.

4.) All future visitors will be thoroughly checked and limited
to 90 days unless given a special permit. No one from a terrorist nation
would be allowed in. If you don't like it there, change it yourself and
don't hide here. Asylum would never be available to anyone. We don't need
any more cab drivers or 7-11 cashiers.

5.) No foreign "students" over age 21. The older ones are the
bombers. If they don't attend classes, they get a "D" and it's back home

6.) The US will make a strong effort to become self-sufficient
energy wise. This will include developing nonpolluting sources of energy but
will require a temporary drilling of oil in the Alaskan wilderness. The
caribou will have to cope for a while.

7.) Offer Saudi Arabia and other oil producing countries $10 a
barrel for their oil. If they don't like it, we go some place else. They can
go somewhere else to sell their production. (About a week of the wells
filling up the storage sites would be enough.)

8.) If there is a famine or other natural catastrophe in the
world, we will not "interfere." They can pray to Allah or whomever, for
seeds, rain, cement or whatever they need. Besides most of what we give them
is stolen or given to the army. The people who need it most get very little,
if anything.

9.) Ship the UN Headquarters to an isolated island some place.
We don't need the spies and fair weather friends here. Besides, the building
would make a good homeless shelter or lockup for illegal aliens.

10.) All Americans must go to charm and beauty school. That
way, no one can call us "Ugly Americans" any longer. The Language we speak
is ENGLISH.....learn it...or LEAVE...Now, isn't that a winner of a plan.

"The Statue of Liberty is no longer saying 'Give me your poor,
your tired, your huddled masses. She's got a baseball bat and she's yelling,
'You want a piece of me?'"

~~~If you agree with the above forward it to friend...

If not, and I would be amazed, DELETE it !!!!!

I suppose being immersed in American suburbia has deadened her sense of right and wrong so much that she didn't think that many on the receiving end of this garbage would be offended. I know she's not a bad person. She's actually an incredibly compassionate and loving human being. It just scares me to think that this kind of hate in the name of country has become so normalized that she didn't even think twice about it. My partner of nearly four years, from Argentina, was "illegal" for the first two years of our relationship. We went through, and are still going through, hell to make sure that we're allowed to continue building a life together here. She knows this, and still she thought I'd get a chuckle out of this. Instead she got a "reply all" fuck you from another friend. Unfortunately, she thought that was the offensive part of the story.

Oh yeah, I didn't think Robin Williams would say something so ridiculous either...


hofzinser said...

Patriotism is one thing, nationalism is another.

I believe in patriotism. This is one hell of a country and we should be proud. We should also continue to critique everything about it, especially whomever happens to be in power.

Nationalism, on the other hand, is not so good. It fosters the US v THEM. The Axis powers all had one thing in common... nationalism.

VegasGustan said...

What about #7? I think that one makes some since. I don't know enough about that particular issue to make an informed decision, but that sounds okay to me. I agree with the Nationalism thing though. It can become quite a scary thing.

The Un-Apologetic Atheist said...

7 makes no sense because our economy would crash overnight, and Saudi knows it. We depend on that oil influx from OPEC not only for our cars, but also to keep our undustries running and our electric lights "on." Because we've set ourselves up this way, screwing with SA would be economic suicide.

I got so many of these stupid, simplistic, jingoistic letters from my family and associates thereof that I started sending out detailed, polite explanations of why their ideas were not only bad ones, but dangerous ones... like I just did, above. It took about a month of back-and-forth before my family declared me "hateful" and "angry" and wrote me off. The bright side is I stopped getting those letters from my family-- the downside was I stopped getting any letters from them. Such is the way of the USA today, I suppose.

Cyrus said...

Hof: I purposely used the terms "patriotism" and "nationalism" interchangably, to highlight how the difference in connotation between the two words has been totally erased in recent years. And certainly, Nationalists have always found a comfortable following in the good ole' US of A, and continue to do so.

Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:

I think we all know that the vast majority of people who stick those Red, White and Blue ribbons on the back of their gas-guzzling SUVs aren't saying "I am proud of the ideals of democracy and equality that our nation believes in." *cough, cough* They're saying "fuck them A-Rabs!"

Vegas: #7 does seem like a viable option, but Un-Apologetic's answer is dead-on. As long as we are addicted to oil, the dealers will be able to charge what they like. Addicts are never in a position to bicker about price. Plus, the tyrants of Saudi Arabia have always been such good people to our leaders, it just wouldn't be nice, on our part.

VegasGustan said...

You guys are right. I stand informed and corrected. Thanks.

hofzinser said...

Oh, I got your point by you using them as synonyms. I guess my point is only an extension of yours. I hate that it has come to this.

The only good thing about the new Star Wars movies is they show how quickly freedom can die in the face of an outside threat.

Do you rememeber talk of national ID cards? (shudder)

My personal politics can seem complicated until you realize I believe in one thing absolutely... the less power a government has the better.

I believe in the ideals of the founding of our nation and the silly optimist believes that, over time, we may actually reach closer to them. Our biggest obstacle can be summed up by some of my favorite quotes:

"No man's life or property is safe when the legislature is in session."
-Mark Twain

"It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg."
-Thomas Jefferson

"Mistrust those in whom the urge to punish is strong."
-Friedrich Nietzsche

"It is the besetting vice of democracies to substitute public opinion for law. This is the usual form in which the masses of men exhibit their tyranny."
-James Fenimore Cooper

"You can't get rich in politics unless you're a crook."
-Harry S Truman

"Never believe anything in politics until it has been officially denied."
-Otto Von Bismarck

"The more you read about politics, you got to admit that each party is worse than the other."
-Will Rogers

"Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build a bridge even where there is no river."
-Nikita Khrushchev

"People start parades - politicians just get out in front and act like they're leading."
- Dana Gillman Rinehart

"When I was a boy I was told that anybody could become President. I'm beginning to believe it."
- Clarence Darrow

"It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government
except all the others that have been tried."
- Winston Churchill

"When governments fear the people there is liberty. When the people fear the government there is
- Thomas Jefferson

"The Democrats are the party that says government will make you smarter, taller, richer, and remove the crabgrass on your lawn. The Republicans are the party that says government doesn't work and then they get elected and prove it."
- P. J. O'Rourke

"Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys."
- P. J. O'Rourke

"The mystery of government is not how Washington works but how to make it stop."
- P. J. O'Rourke

And, perhaps, my favorite:

"When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things to be bought and sold are legislators."
- P. J. O'Rourke

Jackie said...

I'm here! I'm here! I'm not going away. Don't worry.
I appreciate your sweetness.

I think people's problem is that they don't feel any empathy for anyone else. When you watch someone's face melt because of the way somebody is verbally or nonverbally treating them, you can feel their heart breaking. There is no "me" or "you" when it comes to pain. It's "Everyone."

I think we all have so many common denominators that people don't think of.