I love it when someone popular and intelligent addresses a sensitive topic that I've been thinking about for a long time. I've been wondering for the past 8 years or more why we think America is so great right now.
There is a difference between patriotism and nationalism:
- Patriotism: devoted love, support, and defense of one's country; national loyalty.
- Nationalism: same as patriotism but also the idea that your national culture and interests are superior to any other.
While I am patriotic and I can't think of anywhere else I'd rather move to, we can't sit back on our laurels from previous generations and just let this fine country continue to rot in its own arrogance and ignorance.
My husband Butch said it clearly (with copious amounts of swearing, be warned) in his post titled Another Lesson in Differences. Regarding nationalism:
... That is what most people in Amerika consider patriotic: unwavering support for their country & its leaders, regardless of what those "leaders" think, do or say. A bunch of drunk fratboys bleating out chants of "U S A" & "We're Number One" while certainly embarrassing, is neither true or patriotic. Blind faith in anything just means you're willing to abdicate responsibility for your actions to someone you don't even know. That doesn't make you anything but a fucking sheep, which explains the repetitive bleating.
I stole the picture from Butch's post too (thanks, honey). Teddy Roosevelt said it perfectly:
To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.
We are not free like we think we are. We are not the best in anything except arrogance these days. How could we be as great as we think we are when ignorance is considered cool? I'm sure we're number one in apathy though. Yeah, that's something to be proud of.
Hopefully after the worst presidency in the history of America, Obama can start to turn things around. I have a slim glimmer of hope that he'll roll up his sleeves and get dirty, making tough decisions that might not be fun in the short term but will help us get back on track. It's a tall order. I hope for our sake he's up to the task and we can find some vestige of wisdom that accepts the changes we so desperately need.