On pride and patriotism

Image result for statue of liberty protester

CBS News image

A black female protester climbed the base of the Statue of Liberty today. In the image above, it looks as though she is about to be crushed by the foot of Lady Liberty — fitting symbolism for the many who aren’t thrilled to be Americans on the Fourth of July (or on any other day…).

Polling outfit Gallup reports:

This Fourth of July marks a low point in U.S. patriotism. For the first time in Gallup’s 18-year history [of] asking U.S. adults how proud they are to be Americans, fewer than a majority say they are “extremely proud.” Currently, 47 percent describe themselves this way, down from 51 percent in 2017 and well below the peak of 70 percent in 2003. …

Gallup provides this graphic:

Record Low in U.S. Are Extremely Proud to Be Americans

Note that “patriotism” went up after 9/11 and during the run-up to and during the Vietaq War (I’d say that it was more fear and vengefulness than “patriotism”), that “patriotism” remained fairly stable during the Barack Obama years, and that “patriotism” has declined since the 2016 presidential-election campaign debacle and “President” Pussygrabber’s hostile takeover of the Oval Office.

Gallup continues:

… While the 47 percent who are extremely proud to be Americans is a new low, the vast majority of Americans do express some level of pride, including 25 percent who say they are “very proud” and 16 percent who are “moderately proud.” That leaves one in 10 who are “only a little” (7 percent) or “not at all” proud (3 percent). …

The demographics of the poll’s findings are interesting.

Fifty-four percent of whites say that they are “extremely proud” to be Americans, while only 33 percent of non-whites, whose experiences can be very different from their white counterparts’, are “extremely proud.”

Age, too, matters: Fifty-eight percent of those aged 65 years old and above say they are “extremely proud,” while only 33 percent of those aged 18 to 29 are “extremely proud.” Older adults, having grown up and prospered in the nation’s most prosperous decades, have had it much better than have today’s young adults, who have inherited nothing but debt, climate change and overall a colossal fucking mess from the baby boomers, so that’s no shock.

And education is a factor: Thirty-nine percent of college graduates are “extremely proud” to be Americans, while 52 percent of non-college graduates are “extremely proud.”

So, the older, the whiter and the less educated you are, the more “patriotic” you’re likely to be.

I put “patriotic” in quotes because of course I don’t agree with Gallup’s apparent definition of “patriotism” (which is pride in being a member of one’s own nation).

To me, patriotism isn’t about donning red-white-and-blue made-in-China crap at Wal-Mart and drunkenly loudly proclaiming that We’re No. 1! We’re No. 1! We’re No. 1!

Patriotism is “devoted love, support and defense of one’s country; national loyalty.” How proud you are or are not of your nation doesn’t necessarily coincide with how much “devoted love” and “support” you have for it and how much “loyalty” you have to it.

Indeed, the deeper your love and support for and loyalty to your nation, the more ashamed you might should be that “President” Pussygrabber is in charge.

I, for one of millions, am ashamed to be an American right now. I wouldn’t want to identify myself as an American in any other nation, I don’t think. (Thankfully, I never travel.)

That isn’t my fucking fault and it’s no measure of my patriotism. I am embarrassed that uber-buffoon Donald J. Trump is “president” of the United States, and I am still angry that the choices that were put before us — well, that we put before ourselves, apparently — in November 2016 were two evils, Pussygrabber and Billary Clinton. (I voted for neither, as I don’t vote for evil.)

Even if we had an actually democratically elected president who weren’t an embarrassment to me, I still would hesitate to say that I am “proud” to be an American. To me, you can be proud of something that you have accomplished. If, say, you became a doctor or a lawyer or a concert pianist, you probably could be proud of that achievement.

But just having been born as a U.S. citizen? That’s no achievement. That’s an accident of birth.

And what have you, as an individual American, done to better the United States of America? More likely than not, you’ve just coasted as a beneficiary of the work that others have done (especially if you are a baby boomer).

Finally, spiritual maturity means conquering rank tribalism. If I’m “proud” to be an American, does that mean that I’m better than, superior to, those who are from other nations? Are nations not, in the end, just artificial politico-social constructs?

Are we human beings first or are we Americans (or Mexicans or Russians or Chinese or Canadians or Indians or…) first? I consider myself to be a human being before I consider myself to be an American; therefore, another human being’s human being-ness is more important to me than is his or her nationality.

The United States of America has gotten a lot right, but, it seems, for everything that it got right, it got something wrong. It’s a mixed bag at best.

I probably wouldn’t say, if pushed, that I’m not “proud” to be an American at all, but I’m not nearly as proud as I’d rather be — proud not that I simply was born on U.S. soil, but proud that from what I could tell, my compatriots were doing everything in their power to make the nation live up to its promise and its promises, including “liberty and justice for all.”

That would be something to be proud of.

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