A friend–whose perspective I value–challenged me yesterday on my dark view of the Fourth of July celebration this year. I decided to expand my answer into a blogpost. At issue (I believe) is whether I could make more of a difference in improving the system by aligning myself with my neighbors and fellow citizens in love of country. Throughout my life I have been a decidedly patriotic person, both by disposition and as a student and teacher of history. I have largely approached my teaching from a sympathetic perspective to the nation that America has tried to be. I flew and wore the flag and had a patriotic-themed wedding on the fourth of July. But everything has changed for me across the past five years.
I find my patriotism–and any sense of allegiance to my nation–destroyed by:
- the hate-filled, racist Trump years;
- the systemic racism that seems to only get worse, not better, to the point that now some Republicans are openly running as white-nationalist candidates;
- our utter disregard for the environment and our concomitant destruction of the planet for our children and grandchildren;
- the gross economic inequality of capitalism and its disregard for marginalized members of society as wealth increasingly flows to the top 1%;
- our failure to provide universal health care;
- our racist, hate-fueled response to our Southern border,
- the savage inequalities of our schools;
- the January 6th treasonous attack on our capital and our democratic election;
- the terrifying recent restrictions on our freedoms by SCOTUS, the corrupt actions by Justice Thomas and his wife, and the presence of Brent Kavanaugh on our highest court.
- our refusal to consider gun reform: choosing instead to continue to allow the slaughter of our innocents in their schools, concerts, theaters, churches, and parades.
So do I still believe in America? No, I do not. My patriotism has died a thousand deaths; it died at Sandy Hook and Uvalde; it died watching the life being snuffed out of George Floyd; and it died on the night of November 9, 2016 when I realized that enough Christian voters in electoral swing states had voted for the pussy-grabbing candidate to carry him to the desk of Abraham Lincoln.
Most of my right-wing family and friends have unfriended or unfollowed me, but if you are reading this and disagreeing with me, PLEASE don’t bother to tell me, “if you don’t love America, leave.” That is an incredibly inappropriate response to the pain I am feeling, and not an option when this has been my home for sixty years, when my much-loved house, job, and community are here. The “America: love it or leave it” mentality is a significant part of the problem; it needs to be “America: love it or fix it.” But is that even still possible? The selfish greed at the heart of capitalism suggests to me that we cannot, as do the disreputable and racist policies of the Republican party, and a wretched and bitter two-party system which is based ONLY on the destruction of the other party.
I don’t know whether the end of America lies with the 1980 election of Ronald Reagan, the rise of Fox News, the hijacking of Evangelical Christianity, or perhaps, most likely, the 2008 meeting held by Mitch McConnell in which he openly stated that the sole focus of the Republican party across the next four years would be to ensure the failure of the Obama presidency. I believe that in that moment he set the course for the end of our Republic.
So no, I don’t see myself celebrating “Independence” Day for the foreseeable future. Someone please surprise with a reason that I should be more optimistic than this. Because I am not.
One thought on “An Obituary for my Patriotism”
I feel much the same way, but I would encourage to read the book I mentioned as the author lays out very clearly that we are on the edge of totally loosing our democracy. The 750+ footnoted book is we’ll documented. But he ends that book with ideas on what we need to do to save our country. There is hope but these right wing bastards must be called to account.