Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Patriotism, a Man Made Nuisance?

Over the weekend I enjoyed the small town fireworks display over the harbor in Lexington, Michigan. Despite the Michigan economy, and small size of the municipality, they were indeed grander than anything I had seen off of Navy Pier in Chicago. My girlfriend, my mom, my brother and I all settled into watch from my mom's sailboat moored on the dock. Across the way a fellow decided to plug in his electric guitar and amp to his boat and play his rendition of Jimi Hendryx's rendition of the Star Spangled Banner over and over and over and over again, with a little Freebird riff here and there. Needless to say, it was pretty annoying. Now I'm sure he had the best of intentions, to entertain the masses from the surrounding townships on Holiday with 4th of July themed music, but it did cross beyond the border of irritation, and people around us expressed their loss in appreciation of his gesture, but he was oblivious. Certainly in the patriotic zone. This scene, the day after witnessing people at a concert in the park whoop around with high pitched wails, accompanied by over the top salutes while a cover band played "Proud to be an American" led me to the conclusion that maybe, just maybe, those who try to revel in their patriotism, might be perhaps, the most....annoying people? Is this a terrible thing to say?

I certainly appreciate my country. There are many freedoms I do enjoy, and hearing the daily world news, there really is no other place I'd rather be. Europe maybe, some parts. But when does whooping around like an animal or playing monotonous riffs to get underneath one's skin in the guise of patriotism become an honorable trait? Look at the Tea Partiers and their tooting of the constitution to an almost self destructive level. Or the Committee on Un-American Activities and McCarthyism? Or Nazism? Patriotism in moderation is a good thing. Loyalty is a great thing. After all, in order to make this beast of a nation work, people can't be giving up on it. But excessive patriotism makes baboons on ecstasy look chill, reasonable. And to make democracy work we cannot just be blindly singing its praises. We must question it. Hold it accountable. Checks and balances (with reasonable thought, not just to toot a party horn). Maybe when our country doesn't try to fuck over teachers, when it stops giving out handouts to major corporations which gamble recklessly on credit default swaps, when congress stops playing party thumb wars, when american industry stops shipping jobs overseas, will it be cool to crush a can of "American Beer" on one's skull and catcall. Being a citizen is a little more of a responsibility than rooster screeching for a sports team. Yet "team spirit" with taunts against opposing teams is often an identical twin to patriotism. Am I terrible in expressing such thoughts? Am I a terrible American? Atleast I can be thankful that I live in an America where I can post such crabby rants on "over american activity."

God Bless the U.S. "ay" - insert Canadian dialect


Anonymous said...

the thing about being an american is that you're supposed to have the freedom to feel and express things like that. or so i've been told.

The Igloo Oven said...

Thanks. It felt good ranting this little piece out. Still have Freebird stuck in my head. Free country though, the freedom to impose tunes into repetitive mind loops.