Saturday, September 24, 2005

God Bless America

Patriotism is a dangerous thing.

To declare love for one’s country creates a certain sort of vulnerability, a branding, if you will. Every other country in the world assumes that Americans are a prideful people. Each time I go to Europe, I am more and more attuned to the way that Europeans refer to us—it’s always, “You Americans…” as if we are a single unit and not millions of independently thinking people. This generality is usually followed by some scornful remark about our pride and stupidity. The fallacy of this label is that most Americans don’t give a shit about their country. They just like their material things.

Foreigners know Americans to be three things: rich, loud, and pushy. While most people living in the US would refute this character affront—and loudly, at that—when compared to the rest of the world, the labels are true. Everyone knows where America is on the map because we are noisy, large, and powerful. While our government may be pushy and brash, most citizens are too concerned with their own fixations to care much one way or another.

If Americans truly love their country, then they should closely examine its past and present activities. There are many history books that will never be found in a classroom because they tell the full truth about past events and America’s world involvement. The majority of our citizens don’t know the contents of the Bill of Rights, but they are perfectly willing to display “Kill Osama” stickers of the back of their trucks.

My point is that
most Americans go along with whatever information the TV feeds to them—hate this person, buy this brand, fight this war, love this leader. I believe that love and patriotism, which are closely entwined, have to do as much with understanding as with loyalty. Americans appear fiercely devoted to a government that they know very little about. How many foreign assassinations have we planned? How many wars have we initiated, and how many innocents have died at our hands?

If we are willing to love our country, then we must take partial responsibility for its actions.

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