May 052009
For years, my personal beef with al-Qaeda was that after 9/11 I had to put up with all this uber-patriotism being shoved down my throat.  Every time I went to the ballpark to watch a baseball game and had to sing God Bless America instead of Take Me Out to the Ballgame during the seventh-inning stretch, I wanted to kill those bastards.  I cussed them every time I saw a gas-guzzling SUV with a “Support our Troops” bumper sticker on the back or whenever I had to endure politicians wearing American flag lapel pins on TV.  I purposely resisted all the empty patriotic blustering.  I refused to salute the flag and insulted the office of the presidency every chance I got.
It was important for me to separate myself from the xenophobic lemmings about me.  I have never considered myself a patriot and am not insulted when people accuse me of being un-patriotic.  I hope I am.  According to the dictionary, a patriot is a person who undertakes efforts to further or strengthen the power of a centralized government.  I have enough of a libertarian streak that I have no wish to participate in any of that nonsense.  I believe in using the government as a tool to achieve certain aims, but I always distrust it the way I do poisonous chemicals.  They can be effective, but indiscriminate use can be fatal.  Too much patriotism leads to fascism.  Me and authoritarianism get along like dingoes and babies — which wouldn’t be so bad, except the government always gets to be the dingo.  I rant and rave when I have to give my fingerprint to get a driver’s license, but in the end I submit because Big Brother calls the shots.  At the airport, I am as hostile as I can be without qualifying as “uncooperative.”  You can, by the way, tell the screener what you think of what they do — as long as you let them scan you.  Anyway, I don’t believe in giving the government one inch more of authority than it needs.
Last weekend, though, I was visiting the evangelical horde and I made a sarcastic reference to the secession movement.  My operating assumption is that all rational people (i.e. non-extremist radicals) concede the ridiculousness and foolishness of the secessionist twaddle.  This is a given.  My friend, however, threw me a curve ball.  Secession is the way, he said, if our country continues on its march toward socialism.  I couldn’t even talk.  I was beyond angry.  He was smug in his sedition.  I told him if we didn’t change the subject, I would leave.
On my way home later, I wondered about how angry I get at the secessionists.  What they’re talking about is treason!  They’re threatening to tear our country apart!  It infuriates me.  And then it dawned on me:  Deep down inside, I love my country.  It has nothing to do with stupid flag pledges or blind allegiance to the government.  When push comes to shove, ideologically speaking,  I am committed to our country and the Constitution.  As much as I make fun of it and disrespect it, I also hold it dear and the serious proposition of undoing it, is untenable to me.
I am, in fact, a patriot.  Who knew?
 Posted by at 5:04 pm

  One Response to “Historiophiliac Finds Her Patriotism”

  1. Umm… I guess it’s not helpful if I tend to feel that it might be a mighty fine thing if the secessionist states go. The downside of that, though, is that there would be Taliban-style raids northward. The plus side, though, would be a steady stream of the most talented heading northward.

    Right. Sorry. Not constructive. My apologies.

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