From time to time I have encounters with fellow American citizens who faithfully display their Fourth of July & Memorial Day flags. It is ostensibly a show of patriotism but I wonder. As I have grown older and wiser, in my mind anyway, I believe the attitude of "America- Love It or Leave It" is a slogan that no longer applies or, perhaps, should never been used in the first place. What does a citizen mean when they say we are obligated to love one's country else hit the border and not return? The United States of America has many reasons for it's citizens to feel patriotic. But it also has many reasons for it's citizens to rightly drop their collective heads in shame. Our treatment of the American Indians, American Japanese, African Americans, members of the LGBT community, non-Abrahamic faith groups, atheists, etc has left a lingering question mark on the societal engine that drives this country. Would many of the disservices to entire classes of people not been eradicated sooner without this "love it or leave it" attitude? Do we not have a responsibility to seek change and never become jaded with the status quo? Living in the deep south of America gives me opportunity to see firsthand the ongoing mindset of many locals, still flying their Rebel flags in the front yard, that "the South will rise again." What the hell does that mean? If given the opportunity would we revert back to the days of slavery and white bigotry?

I feel compelled to challenge these "Love It or Leave It" citizens to define and justify their position or stance. Our country's citizens should not be pigeonholed into accepting things as they are and damned be those who dare speak up. Thankfully our culture is changing, albeit too slowly, and hopefully we can cast off these attitudes that seem to have their foundations in illogical religious dogma.

Should not the new slogan of our country rather be "America - Love It Through Change"?

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Maybe I should check out Denmark, maybe I'll find someone I like. I have a Danish last name. Maybe that might help. But I also don't have the money and I don't know the danish language. Oh well.

Well I'm certainly happy with my choice, New Zealand. Health care SHOULD be free, but, while hospital care is free, we still pay a nominal fee for a doctor's visit. Education should be free, but at least we have reasonable tuition and interest-free student loans.

Although our current government is the major right-of-centre party, even they are to the left of Obama and they would never get away with removing things like free hospital care. Unfortunately they, the National  Party, bend over backwards chasing the American way of life. Every time the Police say they want some new power, they pass legislation giving them Carte Blanche. And, of course, they regularly make decisions (like allowing deep-sea oil exploration) which are directly driven by multi-national corporate pressures.

One factor that weighed my decision was that we speak English.  

Mike, I see no trollery in your question.

Four years in hardball politics (about water and land values in Arizona) opened my eyes to a reality no school board will allow into the schools. I set out to learn about America. I will summarize and perhaps draw a charge of cynicism.

The middle class are required to love America. The poor have to survive America and the wealthy use America.

Here, two of my many sources are Alexander Hamilton and John F. Kennedy.

In the 1787 Constitutional Convention. On June 18, Hamilton said he wanted the rich and well born to govern. Put his idea into JFK's famous words and we get the following:

Ask not what the rich and well born can do for you.

Ask instead what you can do for the rich and well born.

Hamilton had allies in the Convention. One of them, James Madison, was candid. On June 26 he put his own words into the record:

In framing a system we wish to last for ages, we should not lose sight of the changes the ages will bring. An increase of population will increase the proportion who labor under all the hardships of life and secretly sigh for a more equal distribution of its blessings. These may in time outnumber those who are placed above feelings of indigence. According to the equal laws of suffrage, the power will slide into the hands of the former. No agrarian attempts have yet been made in this country, but symptoms of a leveling spirit have sufficiently appeared in certain quarters to give notice of the future danger. Landholders ought to have a share in the government, to support these invaluable interests and check the other. It ought to be formed as to protect the minority of the opulent against the majority.

Hamilton had opponents but they did not prevail.

Wow. Thanks so much. Shit! Now I have to take the time to rethink the entirety of American history. What is cynicism but telling of unfortunate truths. 

This means America was NEVER the place that everyone was taught (indoctrinated) that it was. Are you saying, then, that the Right has pretty much always had the ascendence? Could this cynicism build upon itself. Perhaps FDR was really an oligarch who re-built the labour force just to ensure a well-fed and therefore more productive workforce. Gotta go away and think. Thanks again for that.

Archy, I honestly meant no offence or disrespect. I recommend that smileys be heeded. Despite this it seems that I've inadvertently provoked a bit of the irrational patriotism I was looking for. Thank you. I, too, marched in the 60s. I, too, served (USMC) during the Vietnam war. 

"exactly what else do I need to do"

Let's turn that around. Am I suppose to salute your display of love for your country? Will you not return my salute because I've chosen a different country in which to reside?

"who chose not to stay and fight"

With whom would you have me fight to defend a country - ANY country - tangibles, please. Are those just over the border in Mexico not worth fighting for because they're not part of the same country? Does fighting those same evils in New Zealand make me a lesser person? I left America PURELY because I judged the move to be better for my family - not because I hate(d) America. Was your foray into Mexico caused by a lack of patriotism?

I didn't mean to test your patriotism, per se. Mine was an invitation for others to explain why they love America and what it is, exactly, that they love. Clearly patriotism, like God, can bring tears to the eyes. I just want to know why, even in enlightened segments of the society, people, even those who see the folly of theism, can still put their hand on their heart and shed a tear for their Country (whatever THAT means).

My only problem Mike was your assertion that I was not a "real" American, whatever that is. I lived in Mexico because I wanted to see what was on the other side of the mountain.

MikeLong:

...the Right has pretty much always had the ascendence? ... Perhaps FDR was really an oligarch who re-built the labour force just to ensure a well-fed and therefore more productive workforce.

During a progressive period, Teddy Roosevelt president, many reforms became law (child labor laws, pure food laws, truth in labeling laws, etc). FDR's conservative opponents said he was a traitor to his class.

About eight years ago I asked an ACLU attorney who argued cases before the US Supreme Court when the Court would give meaning to the Constitution's Ninth Amendment. He replied "Not in our lifetimes."

Read the Amendment. Check it in Wikipedia and think on its implications. The Right fear it. The 1965 Griswold ruling, which made birth control legal for married couples, mentioned it in passing but depended on an implied privacy right which the Right have always opposed.

I should have addressed this, Mike, while I was here, but I'll make up for that now:

With whom would you have me fight to defend a country?

Its corrupt politicians and special interest groups, the ones from whom a country has far more to fear than from outside invaders - and no, it makes no difference which country you're in, they're everywhere.

Except for Aaron Burr --

I've said it before and I shall say it again. Humanity, rationality and individuality are far more important things that "patriotism".  Swearing allegiance to a country is sometimes just as deluded as swearing fellowship to a religion. 

Keith: yes, yes, a thousand times yes.

One of France's kings said he was the country. I hope he was among those who went to the guillotine.

When I was a child (before the government added those two words), I pledged alliance to a flag.

When I went off to war the government made me take an oath to defend the Constitution. I went along.

Now that I'm older, I'm supposed to pledge allegiance to a piece of cloth?

I'm better informed about the Constitution now and I'm okay with pledging allegiance to it. Are you?

If not, why in the hell not?????

"If not, why in the hell not?????"

Where do I start? How about with the word "Allegiance". My Google dictionary (affirming my understanding) defines it as, "Loyalty or commitment of a subordinate to a superior". I'm happy to show loyalty and/or commitment to a person (where it is due) but not to a document. The Constitution does not even consist of laws but rather guidelines for laws. There are bits of the Constitution with which I agree and there also large hunks with which I disagree. For instance, the Second Amendment was clearly meant to say, "The Federal Government shall not infringe the States' right to form militia", but the author tried to get flowery in his phraseology and, as a result, he inadvertently left a tiny crack through which arms peddlers were able to crawl. The idea that these smart men actually wished to prevent States from passing laws prohibiting people from walking around in public places with deadly concealed firearms is patently absurd. Time has marched on. Jefferson expected this "first draft" of the Constitution to last no more than 19 years before it was superseded by another more up-to-date document. The Electoral College was out-of-date when men stopped carrying their states' election results to Washington on horseback. Yet here we are trying to crowbar 21st Century circumstances into a document written for an 18th-Century world. What's to "Love"?

If people were to accept this document as their superior, they could well feel constrained from even questioning its provisions - much less changing them. Allegiance goes hand-in-hand with patriotism. Both hand-on-heart, tear-in-eye tools for controlling a populous. I'd rather objectively and rationally examine and discuss provisions of a Constitution and laws as they affect individuals and the society without swearing fealty to them regardless of WHAT they might say.

Love of God and Love of Country fire the same synapses. Both purely emotional responses force-fed to innocent children at the very first opportunity. A brain scanner could probably not distinguish between them.

Mike, first a bit of fun.

Ah, a dictionary battle. Your Google says allegiance means Loyalty or commitment of a subordinate to a superior. To those same words, my New Oxford American adds or of an individual to a group or cause. The dictionaries will shake hands and at the bell....

Getting serious. Mike, you raised exactly the issue I knew some people would.

A piece of cloth has the meanings people choose to give it. People who pledge allegiance to the flag can leave themselves all the escape hatches they will ever want.

A constitution has the meanings a court gives it. People who want certain positions in society are required to take an oath, and an effective oath leaves few if any escape hatches.

The issue is the number of escape hatches people leave themselves.

With regard to the Second Amendment issue you raise, the guy (actually the 1787 Convention's Committee on Style) who tried to get flowery provided a lot of income for lawyers.

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