How to Love Your Country


“Love it or leave it.” What a foolish quote. As is the tired “You hate America” retort, uttered frequently to anyone who doubts the president’s sincerity. Is anybody else bored with these baseless smears? Their project—to squash dissent one citizen at a time—is rather transparent. Dissent equals treason. Question nothing, unless of course “you hate America.”

Suppose I don’t like that I can’t take my laptop to Canada without my government copying all its contents into its databases. If I complain about this in public, I’ll catch scowls from strangers, dirty looks galore. I can tell what they’re thinking, what they want to say to me:

“If you hate your country so much, why don’t you move to Uzbekistan?!”

Well, uh, because…

What the fuck does that have to do with anything? They boil people in Uzbekistan. I don’t want to live someplace where they boil people. I want to live here. Is your point that I have to choose between domestic spying, and… being boiled!?

That sounds like a Nazi ultimatum, doesn’t it? Yet in many cases it’s the keynote counterpoint for the anti-civil liberties crowd. Love it or leave it; conform and comply. Such is the degenerated state of political dialog here in the freest country in the world.

If someone’s words offend you, why not attack the contents of what they actually said? Our freedoms are great and wonderful; we should be glad people still want to enjoy them. It should comfort all of us–even the gung-ho pro war cowboys–that someone loves America enough to take an unpopular stand on its behalf. To say they need to move to Europe is pretty much the lamest, least intelligent response I can fathom. It is the “Oh yeah? So is your mother!” of adult American political discourse.

Besides, that sort of bullying doesn’t work indefinitely. King George III discovered just that, some 232 years ago, when fifty-six colonials signed a Declaration that sent the mother ship sailing home for good. If we Americans truly are the great and strong and proud peoples we proclaim ourselves to be, then ultimately we will—we must—start behaving more like those founding fathers again, the men we celebrate (or say that we’re celebrating) on the 4th of July. Not like gutless cowards who stayed home in the Old World content to continue being persecuted. The rich and powerful can manipulate “allegiance” for a little while with small-minded appeals to abstract “patriotic” ideals. But eventually the public realizes they’re being brainwashed, the shot-callers are hypocrites with double standards. When that epiphany finally happens, even our most impotent citizens will stand up for what’s right. Blind obedience is not a bottomless salsa bowl, soon there won’t be anymore free refills.

Or maybe I’m just being a “moran.”

Some Americans, of course, truly don’t care about the country. But we never call them on it, because they’ve decorated themselves in jingoistic costumes. Most of them are psyched to celebrate Independence Day; but they hate it when you ask them to recognize what it stands for. Don’t mention the Founding Fathers to Bill O’Reilly, the Declaration of Independence to Rush Limbaugh, the U.S. Constitution to George W. Bush—they don’t want to hear about it. Phony patriotism may fly like vomit from their mouths, but patriotic principles are dead inside their cold hearts. They’d just as soon erase from the historical record all the tiny details of 1776 that don’t fit with their agendas in 2008.

Chris Satullo wrote a powerful column in the Philadelphia Enquirer, honoring the founding fathers and encouraging us as ordinary citizens to be more critical in our thinking; to speak out against atrocities perpetrated by the Republican and Democratic jokers we elected; to do more than simply wave our flags and watch the pretty fireworks explode. We’ve failed, collectively, to do our duty as citizens. And so, Satullo concludes, America doesn’t deserve to celebrate its birthday this year.

As we learned during the Iraq WMD scam and throughout the Patriot ACT fiasco, ignorance screams louder than reason. It was unrealistic to expect dumb people to read Satullo’s column and “get it.” Wherever there’s a logical voice, a band of dense polar-thinkers follows, to silence it, to bang war drums and take up the cause of uncritical thinking, spectatorship and thick naiveté. Bust out the fake patriotism!

Blog reactions to Satullo were harsh, if laced with ignorance and embarrassingly simple. The conventional “love it or leave it” litany spewed predictably from 3rd-tier pundit Michelle Malkin (whose 15 minutes of noteworthiness in life are now winding to a close), as well as from several other weird Right Wing bloggers, including Pam Geller and The Rude News–all of whom appear to think they’re Rush Limbaugh. And all appear not to have gotten the point, or not to have tried. The tunnel-visioned bloggers zipped over the whole part in Satullo’s column about the Constitution and inalienable human rights—neither of which seemed especially important to Malkin and the other Hate Junkies. Together with their uneducated readers, they sprayed Satullo with redundant middle school zingers and the usual slew of meaningless tags (“pussy”, “traitor”, “bin Laden”, etc.).

It really is fascinating to watch dumb people get all flustered when enlightened people make valid points. That they resort to flicking turds around the room is to be expected. What’s somewhat alarming though is to see just how profoundly and deeply the very act of turd-flicking resonates among dumb people, especially among this brand, unquestioning citizens who share a common blind spot.

Bloggers who blasted Satullo’s column found readers lining up to kiss their asses in the comments sections. One reader even told Geller she was a “special person”… for what?? Managing to fit the phrase “big pussy” in nearly every sentence of her incoherent rant? Whatever.

While platitudes and mutual back-patting were abundant among these hounds of angry thought-cops, any substantive attempt on their part to challenge Satullo’s main point was tenuous at best. In fact, the more they typed, the more they proved Satullo’s depressing point: some Americans really do suck at being citizens.

The other comments basically went like this: One of the readers called the writer a “leftard” and a pussy and a traitor; another accused him of being communist terrorist who hated America; a third offered to help pack the U-Haul and drive Satullo to the airport (which I’m not sure technically made sense–do they allow U-Hauls on international flights?). After these generic sound bites had been regurgitated, new visitors to the blog had nothing really new to say. Some of them simply complimented other readers on their universal wit and brilliance. Others offered the lord’s blessings to anyone who hated Arabs and had voted for Bush both times.

And of course they all agreed to pray for the troops. That’s key–pray for them. And who says the bumper-sticker contingency never does anything concrete to “support the troops.” What could be more concrete than folding one’s hands and bowing one’s head and subliminally communicating one’s wishes, which may or may not be granted, to an all-powerful deity who may or may not be a figment of one’s imagination?

Great idea: pray for the troops. That, along with picking better presidents, just might qualify as “support.”

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~ by Matthew Frederick on July 9, 2008.

17 Responses to “How to Love Your Country”

  1. I am proud to be from Wisconsin, because we have Russ Feingold as a senator. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russ_Feingold

    I am proud to be an American because there are people like you who will get pissed off and write things like this. (and because there are blogs like Jonestown that will let me make any half-ass comment I like)

  2. I envy you, okjimm.
    If only there were more Feingolds. I’m watching him on C-Span right now, he’s one of the few U.S. Senators that still represents the people. You should indeed be quite proud.

  3. A great post. There are indeed many idiots in the land. I believe there are many thoughtful people as well. Perhaps one is more likely to find idiots on the Philadelphia Inquirer blog.

  4. You don’t think getting ‘big pussy’ in a blogpost is special? Man, do you hate America. Our founding fathers didn’t throw off the shackles of tyranny for us to not use such phrases.

    It truly is akin to talking to shit-throwing monkeys with these clowns. Even children would formulate better arguments than these jokers. I mean, URAFAGSUXORSPWND! (I hope I got that right)

  5. by increasing manufacturing base

  6. I use that “America: Love it or leave it” slogan as an example of the false dichtomy fallacy in my comp and rhetoric classes. Dumb.

  7. Fierce. Solid post. Loved it.

    I share the envy, Okjimm. I’m stuck with Lieberman.

  8. well, I’m not real smug….Wisconsin also blessed the nation with Joe McCarthy……hopefully we are on an upswing.

  9. Shit, I have everyone beat, our beloved senator of note is none other than Mitch “My lips left along with my personality” Mc Connell.

    Okjimm- Don’t forget, you cheeseheads also gave us Dahmer.

  10. Fairlane, Dahmer was ok….he was such a sick fuck he only ate Republicans. Word is he liked rotted meat.

  11. Sorry Fairlane, but I think NY holds the Senatorial King next to DED’s Ace…we have Hilary.

  12. My Senators are John McCain and Jon Kyl. Hint: Kyl is actually worse than McCain. Whenever some politico e-mail asks me to write my Senators I think, What’s the point?

  13. Sparty- I still think I’d take Hillary over Mc Connell. If for no other reason, than because his wife is the Secretary of Labor, talk about conflict of interest.

    That’s akin to having a Nazi run the “Office of Jewish Affairs.”

  14. Okay fairlane – I give.. You hold the other ace.

  15. I forgot to mention, MFV, this has to be one of your best posts.

    And, you’ll be happy to know, we’ve had a few visitors stop by from Motel Malkin.

  16. That’s outstanding, I love it when we broaden our horizons. Maybe they’ll honor me with their next Big Pussy Award.

  17. It’s nice to hear somebody talking about a real issue. I am from Canada, and I just can’t get into the lifestyle; the cold, the isolation, the western mindset, the red tape. I’ve decided I am going to live in a country with a tropical climate, in a community where people help each other out.

    Unfortunately, there is a lot of planning that needs to go into this. “Like it or leave it” is fine – I’ve made up my mind that I don’t like it. But where to go is the greater conundrum. I am currently researching countries to live in (that are as far away from American and British intervention as possible), and with the greatest likelihood I will be accepted.

    Believe it or not, I’ve been reading articles on ‘How to divorce your husband’. Even though I’m a heterosexual male, leaving your country contains a lot of the same struggles and pitfalls. In these articles, they generally say to keep it to yourself while you quietly make a budget and save money. So that is the plan.

    Having few ‘skills’ makes it harder, as re-entering the workforce in a new country is yet another obstacle. This venture of starting life in a new country is a great financial undertaking. I can see how if you can do this, you can do anything.

    It’s unfortunate that our own countries, however free some proclaim them to be, effectively trap us within their own borders. Although there is no direct threat to leaving, there are many indirect financial obstacles that stand in the way of even the bravest adventurers. I find it is government and the importance of money that inhibit our mobility freedoms, and I would like to see this change in my lifetime.

    Thanks again (to everyone) for contributing and take care!
    N

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