Saturday, July 16, 2011

One Nation, Under Fraud (Polemic) by Alison Ross

Let's just get this out in the open once and for all: Patriotism is stupid. As my boyfriend said, it's one of the more nefarious notions besides religion. And if you think about it, patriotism IS a religion - a dogmatic insistence on the superiority of one's own country. I mean, who conceived of such a superficial ideology, wherein one's country is held to be sacrosanct above all others?

It's one thing to simply appreciate elements of one's country. One can appreciate one's culture, one's government, and so on. There is no harm in that, and indeed it can be a healthy thing. Granted, if one's government is malevolent, then one should not invest blind love for that government, naturally.

But when you deconstruct the notion of American patriotism in particular, it's all about allegiance to the government and the illusory ideas that we are a "free" people, the most liberated and enlightened on earth. With respect to the latter, especially, we are perhaps the LEAST enlightened of the western countries, anyway, and less enlightened than many other countries; and with respect to the former, we are certainly less liberated than we like to think we are.

As Americans, we have certain freedoms, to be sure, but those freedoms are no more unique than the freedoms that exist in other countries. And we certainly don't enjoy the freedoms we think we do - the ubiquity and enmeshment of corporate influence in our government precludes that.

And anyway, that we are a "free" and "self-made" people is just pernicious propaganda propagated throughout the life of the United States. For true freedom does not entail indulging in imperialistic rampages across the world, ones that oppress populations for our own greedy gains. And that is what the history of the United States government is littered with - copious instances of brutally suppressing other cultures (the Native Americans, Latin Americans, Chinese, Koreans, Indonesians, Cubans, Vietnamese, Cambodians, Libyans, Sudanese, Yugoslavians, Iraqis, Afghanis, others) in the guise of benevolently "assisting" those countries and "protecting" the US citizenry from "evil forces."

And these militaristic misadventures and their attendant economic bolstering have fueled the national hallucination of America being this grandiose paradise of opportunity, where the masses migrate in order to build themselves up by their own bootstraps. Sure, the masses have migrated here in order to seek opportunity for self-enrichment (and by enrichment I merely mean making a living), but it is a laughable LIE that ANYONE is capable of thriving without the support of others. The "self-made man" ideology is a caricature of good sense; absolutely no one makes it on his or her own. Humans are innately reliant on each other for their successes in all areas of life. (Most other cultures apprehend that, but American brains have been purged of this very rudimentary idea, and replacing it are utterly vapid sentiments about individualism triumphing over collectivism.)

And anyway, the masses have migrated here because many of them have been - guess what? - oppressed by the American government in their own countries! It's a bitter ironic twist that the very country that has helped corrupt other countries is also the one that coddles the people affected by this conspiracy of corruption. And of course "coddling" is to sweet a sentiment, really, because the American government is not interested in helping anyone; rather, it has benefitted from the cheap labor that the immigrants so eagerly provide. And this eagerness is informed by desperation, not some noble sense of fidelity or altruism.

So now that we have established the innate inanity of patriotism, let's take a moment to brazenly bash that moronic mantra of American patriotism, the Pledge of Allegiance. It just DRIPS with patriotic platitudes; it's as though it was written as parody.

I mean, it's bad enough that the pledge exists to begin with. But to FORCE people to say it in schools...well, that's just wicked. Sure, these days kids are allowed to opt out for reasons of conscience, but most kids don't, because they have not been taught to have a conscience - and teachers and adults are REQUIRED to say it, in order to act as a model for the kids.

If you want your citzenry to be patriotic, you don't IMPOSE it on them, first of all. Patriotism, if it is to exist (and I don't invest in the idea that it should, as I have made clear), must be voluntary in order to have integrity. Secondly, isn't forced patriotism tantamount to the fascism that so many American politicians are always decrying?

So, below (culled from some website that now I cannot find the link to), is a dissection of the Pledge of Allegiance.

I pledge allegiance - I promise my loyalty
to the flag - to the symbol that stands to represent
of the United States of America - each and every of the 50 states that form the united nation of America
and to the republic - a country where people choose their representative to form the government and represent them
for which it stands, one nation - the flag that stands for one country
under God - there is one Supreme entity for every citizen
indivisible - a country that cannot be divided
with Liberty - complete freedom of life and living being given to the citizens
and Justice - fair treatment being promised by the law of the land
for all - for each and every citizen of the country.

About the only thing that smells of any sense is the latter part - it is nice to entertain the idea of liberty and justice for all citizens, and indeed is something we should strive for. Of course, as history so nastily narrates, the US has hardly been a beacon of liberty and justice for all. Besides, the rest of the pledge reeks of balderdash. Flags are empty entities and to pledge loyalty to them as symbols for our government, which in the end only harbors democratic elements, rather than being the embodiment of pure democracy, is beyond absurd. And don't get me started on the theocratic bullshit embedded in the Pledge. Church and state are constitutionally disentangled, and yet the Pledge recklessly invokes the Christian figurehead. Yay.

So yeah. Count me out of reciting the Pledge. I refuse to be a model of irresponsible behavior for the youth of America. The best way to cultivate conscience in kids is to resist the artifices of the mass mindset in favor of authentic living.

Fuck the Pledge, and fuck patriotism.

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