No, As a Matter of Fact, I Don’t Love America

Because the right wing likes to play the patriotism card so often, liberals and progressives are constantly having to prove their loyalty to America, trying in vain to assure people that they really do love this country of ours. On this July Fourth, I’d like to state that honestly, when it comes down to it, I can’t say I do love America.

Oh, I don’t hate America, or wish any ill upon it, but America doesn’t hold any kind of special place in my heart. Should it? It’s purely an accident of fate that I was born here. Had I been born in, say, Finland it would be odd for me to declare my love for the United States. Cheering for the place you just happen to already be seems kind of stupid. The portion of land on the northern hemisphere of Earth between 25° north and 50° latitudes doesn’t have any particular hold on me.

We had an American flag flying in front of our house when we first moved here, but at some point someone stole it. We thought that was kind of an odd thing to do, but you know, if they needed a flag that bad, fine. We never got around to replacing it. I don’t particularly want to. I don’t worship the American flag, and while I’ve never burned or otherwise desecrated one, I don’t have any desire to exalt one either. A flag, in and of itself, is a piece of cloth, and no piece of cloth is overly dear to my heart.

What should be what endear America to me are its beliefs, its society, and its people. These days, though, how on Earth can I be proud of these things? This country was founded on the principles of freedom, tolerance, equality, respect, democracy, and liberty. And yet, a mere two hundred years later, these beliefs have been cast aside. We’ve given up freedom for false security, practically begging the government to keep us safe through non-stop surveillance and suspicion of its own people. A large portion of us (and certainly an influential one) have abandoned tolerance, demanding that all conform to their religion and way of life. Our society is hopelessly racist, sexist, and generally unkind to anyone who deviates from the perceived norm in any way. We’ve become self-absorbed, rude, greedy, wasteful, callous, arrogant bullies demanding everyone else cater to our whims. And as for democracy — the more elections that go by the harder it is to believe that, even if they are fair, they make a difference at all, since the deck has been so stacked in favor of a small portion of the country. In addition, the Age of Enlightenment that spawned our nation would shudder at the ignorance and superstition that has only seemed to increase.

We torture our prisoners who were captured in a war based on lies, where our soldiers kill innocent civilians. Our leader has put himself above the law, happily ignoring anything that stands in the way of the cabal of rogues who run things for their own benefit from behind him. Any dissent is met with shouts of treason on one side and yawns of apathy on the other. Scientific achievement is stunted by an anti-intellectual society that still embraces ridiculous mythology. We demand satisfaction from the rest of the world through threats of violence and economic blackmail. Entire countries act as our sweatshops to feed our insatiable desire for cheap garbage we don’t need. And if you happen to be black and poor and far from oil, feel free to rape and murder and hack each other apart with machetes; we can’t be bothered to care.

Why the hell should I be proud of this? What is there to be proud of? Exactly what am I supposed to be celebrating today? That we haven’t completely abandoned democracy and freedom yet? That we still at least go through the motions of elections every few years to decided which wealthy Christian white men will lead us? That, for the moment, we’re allowed to speak, assemble, worship, and print as we like? That we made it through another year without completely slipping into theocracy, fascism, or monarchy?

So no, America, I’m sorry. Happy birthday and all that, but I don’t love you. You’ve been coasting for quite some time now, and if you want me to respect you, you’re going to have to start doing a lot better than you’re doing. It’s your 230th birthday. Isn’t it time for you to start growing up?

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6 Responses to No, As a Matter of Fact, I Don’t Love America

  1. My cousin sent me an email about this, which I posted. She’s a lawyer here in Houston, and has done some pro bono work for the ACLU. Her email’s pre-Tom DeLay ousting, so that’s at least one thing getting better:

  2. David Thiel says:

    Um…Dave specifically said that he didn’t hate America. Right up there at the start of paragraph two. Contrary to popular view, there isn’t a fine line between love and hate. There’s a whole lot of room in there. You can love the ideals America professes, and hate the way it practices them. (Or doesn’t.) Yes, this country is still his…and mine. But that doesn’t mean that we must be satisfied with the status quo, that we shouldn’t demand that America live up to its hype.

  3. Blasterhappy says:

    As some people seem to love taking stabs at the ass-end of America let’s not forget with out her you would not have the freedom to write such a an article. Love her or hater this country is still yours as well as mine.
    What is this perfect insight you have into war? Have you been there or are you one of those that takes the news like being spoon fed. There are always situations in war where civilians are killed, it’s tragic and sometimes pointless I know….I have seen it first hand. The American soldier is not to blame they are just following orders and trying to survive. Do you know what it like to receive the order “Do Not Fire Unless Fired Upon!” I do! It gives the enemy the upper hand. Don’t make out the American Soldier to be a Bush Stooge because they are not.
    Who gives a shit if the President is a Christian. This whole country was founded on God and Christian Principles. Though I don’t really consider myself a Christian I could care less if the President was Catholic or worshiped that damn locust you posted days earlier.
    The President isn’t America…We the people are America. Enjoy the Freedoms you have in a country you Hate!

    10 Year Military Vet
    Trey Frederick

  4. Vicky says:

    Let me admit up front that I have no great insight into war other than stories I heard from my Father and Uncles about their service during WWII. That war, like this one had its share of atrocities. You can only be shot at for so long before something snaps.

    With that said Trey, I think that you are missing the point of Dave’s article when you concentrate on the one line concerning the war in Iraq. The point is that we are heading down a slippery slope which is leading to the freedoms you have faught for slowly being taken away. Everyday this administration tries to erode the constitution a drip at a time hoping that nobody will notice. Unfortunately this tactic seems to be working now just as it has in other countries in the past. That is why Dave, and anybody else that doesn’t agree with what is happening needs to speak out to make sure we don’t lose our freedoms. Arguing that because we live in a free country this shouldn’t be done is not only illogical it is detrimental. I fear that your last line should have read: Enjoy the Freedom you have while you still have it.

  5. Dave says:

    There is a difference between admiring the values for which America supposedly stands and admiring America. I do not admire America. I think it is behaving poorly, specifically because it is not respecting those values. If it were another country I would have problems with how it’s behaving; it doesn’t get a pass just because I happen to have been born here. I’m not “taking stabs” at America, I’m desperately trying to rehabilitate it. The values that this country was founded on (Christianity and God not being among them) have been set aside so that a few petty people can use the country to further their own selfish ends, which includes sending troops into where they shouldn’t be to die for a cause that isn’t real.

    It is true that in America I am free to point out what I believe to be flaws in the government and society without being thrown into prison…yet. Of course, since we’re right at the beginning of an ill-defined “War on Terror” that seems to allow the government to do whatever they want and not have to answer to anyone for it, how long until anyone who doesn’t toe the line becomes an “enemy combatant”? Nevertheless, America has no copyright on freedom; there are plenty of other places that also enjoy freedom of the press, freedom of speech, and so forth that don’t also come with dark warnings abotu what might happen to you if you decide to use them.

    I don’t hate this country at all, but I also don’t love it unconditionally just because I live here.

  6. Blasterhappy says:

    Maybe there isn’t a fine line between love and hate but there is between DISLIKE and HATE. I must confess I took Dave’s comments out of context to evoke a reaction from other readers of this site (the usuals that post). I was curious to see what comments came up after my post and I appreciate them very much. I deliberately came off angry to evoke further explanation of Dave’s views as well as other views. I do actually agree with most (but not all) of Dave’s comments. I am a 10 year military vet and I have seen the ugly face of war. I do have a problem with “our soldiers are killing innocent civilians” I believe it should be “innocent civilians are being killed in a war based on lies”.

    ’nuff said