Saturday, June 21, 2008

For Shame

I was just reading about the attacks on Michelle Obama’s patriotism or supposed lack of it. Most of this slime comes from those who took exception to her statement "For the first time in my adult lifetime I'm really proud of my country." There’s something wrong with that? What? Maybe people should re-examine what pride means. Pride usually means that you, the proud person, had something to do with what you’re so proud of. Proud of your children. Proud of your career. Proud of your garden. That’s because you own the responsibility for everything that you’re proud of. You changed the diapers. You worked the long hours. You pulled all of the weeds. And when the weeds take over? Are you still proud? Not even. So if I were to be proud of my country, I would have to take on the ownership of it all; the flowers and the weeds. The weeds? No thanks. Now I did nothing at all to become an American. Not a blessed thing. It simply happened. Fate. God's choice. And unless you’re an immigrant, you did nothing as well. So where’s the pride come from? Have you done something for your country lately? Ever? Something that will make you proud? (Paying your taxes doesn't count) Or are you grabbing some pride just because you think that no one will notice that you don’t really deserve it?

Technically, I did something for my country. I joined the Navy and served my 6 years; active duty and reserve. But I was paid for it. I could have been proud, but only if I had served without pay. But I took the money and the benefits. So where’s the pride in that? (OK, I do have some pride; I survived boot camp. They don't pay you enough for that.)

I know a few things that do not make me proud of my country and one of them is the fact that we are now scared, once again, to have an opinion that doesn’t match the mainstream. Afraid of not being ‘patriotic’ enough. Afraid of not wearing our flag lapel pin. Doesn’t anyone remember ‘National Socialism’? At that time in world history, Americans vowed that they would never let something like that happen to them. Yet, within less than a decade, we were allowing and even celebrating the fact that a drunken Senator was using rumors of less than perfect patriotism to ruin the careers and lives of those he chose to pillory. Exactly the same thing as National Socialism. Fascism.

And last; let me return to Michelle Obama. Here is a woman that grew up being black in a nation where she was treated as a second class citizen because of her skin color and her gender. Yes, she was and yes, she still is. It doesn’t matter that discrimination is and was illegal. It happened then and it continues to happen today to anyone who isn’t lily white and a man. Yet we demand that she be proud of being an American. Why?

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