There seems to be a sentiment on the left side of the political spectrum that support of one's country in the way of patriotism is not warranted. On the contrary we should I guess be embarrassed by our country's actions in the past. I do believe our country has made some bad decisions over the years. There is no doubt about that. And I am even ashamed by some of our actions: treatment of the American Indians, slavery, detainment of Japanese Americans during World War II. But does there not still remain many things about this nation that makes one swell with pride? When I visited the French memorial to the American soldier in Normandy many years ago I was awestruck. The nearly 10,000 crosses have a visual impact I will never forget. Included there is the son of former President Teddy Roosevelt. The French are grateful for the contribution our country made to freeing Europe from the clutches of nazism. Or when I watched the first man in history to set foot on the moon, an American. No other nation in the world has come close to the U.S. outpouring of money and resources to aid victims of natural disasters throughout the world. When we beat the Russians in hockey at the 1980 Winter Olympics as a huge underdog. These are all proud moments for me.
The point I'm making is that patriotism does indeed still have it's place in the mindset of all Americans. An American flag hangs from the ceiling of my workshop. That flag represents to me all that is right with America. I am proud to be a citizen of this nation despite it's shortcomings. So what would be a good argument to take that flag down and remove that pride that resides in my heart? We have made mistakes and I can only hope that you, the younger generations, can learn from those mistakes and make our country a place that you can also feel patriotic towards.
"phony justification for most of the manifestly unjustified and immoral wars"
This is opinion and not evidence-in-fact. Just because you personally do not agree does not immediately apply to everybody. If you are a self-hating American then you can wallow in that as much as you displease.
"Americans are taught to "LOVE" their country and their imaginary god more than themselves or their families."
The collective over the individual is the very point of patriotism. It means that you should be willing to sacrifice yourself for your country and not be staunchly selfish individualistic.
"We all know: it's "God, country, family," in that order, right?"
For me it's "For the King and Fatherland!", ref. my previous point.
"If we are expected to "love" our country, then why can't we have sex with it?"
Love≠sex. Also, I think many Americans are doing a great job fucking over their country these days, ref. your post...
[BS argument, BS argument, etc...]
"For Americans, our "exceptional" country comes first"
Here I agree. I find this to be quite over-the-top.
"the people are expected to voluntarily be the willing pawns the country deploys in its geopolitical chess game."
That tends to come with the territory of, you know, a democracy. Unfortunately it entails a lot of a majority dictatorship.
"I'm sorry, but my life and that of my family are more important to me"
So selfish needs over country? Bravo sir, you are the embodiment of the narcissistic left.
"I wonder what the millions of young soldiers might have contributed towards the betterment of their fellow Americans had their shortened lives not been spent in needless, patriotic fervor fighting unnecessary wars."
If I recall correctly, for this statement to be true you would have to include the civil war deaths as I do not believe America has seen the sum of a million war deaths if excluded. That's actually comparatively very low.
"They were sacrifices by men, not the state apparatus called "America.""
Quite incorrect. There are a few - very few - crosses around Spain. Those are for men. WW2 was the state apparatus of America in action and not a volunteer fighting force.
"Any money sent by the American government to foreign lands comes with political strings attached, however subtle those strings might be."
String: As close to a western style democracy as the US can realistically expect. What an awful string..
"This post will probably get me on the government's "no-fly" list."
I seriously doubt your government has much interest in your rantings and ravings, whatever importance you personally attribute to them.
Stated beautifully Arcus.
Paranoia much..? :)
I have many more, and much better, reasons I might be on it, yet I seriously doubt a government would waste their time monitoring me. I guess I'm not too exciting to them.
I think this is a case where a little is good, a lot is bad. Unfortunately many people think if a little is good, then more is always better.
Regarding the past, what's done is done. There's no such thing as inherited guilt. Beyond that, every half empty glass is also half full.
Take slavery for example. No doubt the American slavery system pre-Civil War was evil. Unlike slavery in Greece, for example, which typically was an act of charity (kill a vanquished soldier or make him a slave), it was simply designed to use human beings as beasts of burden.
At the same time, most black people today who are descendants of slaves can almost thank their lucky stars for slavery. I realize this is, at least initially, a counterintuitive statement, but consider that, were it not for slavery, their ancestors might have never met. In fact, the odds against the same people meeting in Africa who met in the Old South are astronomical. So, today's American black person would not exist today were it not for slavery, and even if, against the odds, their ancestors had paired up in Africa, where would they be? In Africa where they'd most likely be living in relative ignorance and poverty, not to mention in a situation of far less opportunity.
Anti-Americans often trot out the notion that "America is the only country to have used nuclear weapons on another country." No doubt, this is true, but we were sufficiently horrified by the result that we don't even threaten to use nuclear weapons, something which can't be said of countries like Iran, N. Korea, and Pakistan.
People in many countries feel patriotism. It's true that Americans make a show of being the best. And why not?: Chances are, if someone in some other country wants to go or be somewhere, or wants to change their nationality, there's a better than 50/50 chance that they want to come to American and/or become an American. Unless you want to call them deluded, foolish, or stupid (or insult them in some other way), you have to admit they must have some reason for that.
I think patriotism is harmless if it is of the "love of place" sort but it can sometimes be problematic if it is of the "Deutschland, Deutschland ueber alles" sort (substitute some other country). It comes down to what the "ueber alles" part means. Does it mean "I love the country I live in more than any other" or does it mean "My country must dominate all others"?
Beautiful insight and commentary Unseen. I truly enjoyed it.
This may sound like an odd suggestion, but I recommend reading "Caesar: A Biography" by Christian Meier. If one takes the OP's topic in perspective while reading at least the first several chapters, I feel it sheds light on self discovery even in the modern day concerning attitudes towards one's own political, cultural, and national identity.
While in many ways ancient Roman society is fairly alien to us, there are some ways in which we can draw comparisons to what we experience today to the people of then, in shortcomings, atrocities, living in a superpower society etc. An aspect I find intriguing in their cultural mindset is how much they tended to 'live in the moment' in dealing with events as these became in 'the past', and another how they seemed to have a true sense of unified nationality as an ideal even while they were either opposed to or victims of various characters and events on a political and cultural level. That is, they were very capable in the ability to separate their personal identity as a component of the whole from that which they disliked or even suffered at these levels.
I find that a valuable lesson personally. The humanistic tools and freedoms we possess in this country are undeniably rare if not unique in human history. And to be an individual living in this country where, while we have sobering lessons in the past from which to draw, I am still a part of the whole and have an identity as such 'at this very moment', this makes me proud to be the very fabric of it if not incredibly lucky.
I suppose my point is that the two sides of the OP's contrast are reconcilable, as suggested in his conclusion. The greatness and the shamefulness we can draw from the past as a nation and a society both have born where we are at the present moment whether we wish them to be or not. Accepting this, we as individuals can proudly act patriotically while continuously discerning the ways we have acted in the past. One moment at a time as each moment faces us.
"Out of all of the things you could have chosen to illustrate how wonderful it is to live here, the immigrant example is by far the least convincing."
We have friends in a nearby town who own a Chinese restaurant. They immigrated here several years ago from there motherland country of China. They paid a lot more money to have their parents come here as well. They went through all the necessary legal channels and became citizens of our country. They also are a little disgusted at the illegals living in our area who choose to remain here without citizenship.
The point I am making is that many immigrants come here without taking the southern border as the access point. And they do it legally, a novel approach in this day and time it seems.
@Ed: It’s wonderful that your friends are here and that they chose the US. There is no doubt however, that you’ll find similar stories in other countries. The US does not have a monopoly on legal immigration.
"Any mentality that separates people is a mentality
that offers no benefit to society in general."
So I can assume you believe that events like the Olympics and other international competitions would be unwarranted as well. Pride of country in sporting events is but one example where people have an opportunity to feel good about where they're from. Humans are a competitive being.
"Also I believe that it is ludicrous that people have pride in a set of imaginary lines anyway."
The actual border of my country is irrelevant. The fact that America has stood for personal liberty and freedom and renounced countries such as China on human rights issues is something that makes me feel good to be an American. So it's not about imaginary lines but beliefs and the idea that we can & should stand up and protest when something is wrong, without fear of persecution.
All the while fucking the poor and persecuting gay people, atheists, non christians, black people, hispanics, all the while going to war with other countries for profit as well for corporate greed, imperialism, the irrational war on drugs, kicking people out because they crossed an imaginary line "illegally," can be sent to jail with only two "witnesses" without any evidence in some cases (happened to me once and I wasn't even in the same city when the supposed crime occurred.) political and police corruption, king Bloomberg, can be detained indefinitely because someone calls you a terrorist and i can keep going on. TEAM AMERICA, FUCK YEAH!