I don’t take pride in shit I had no part in. I’m not proud of the people who walked the moon. I’m not proud of the production of Led Zeppelin III. I’m not proud of Jordan Spieth. Because for me, pride is an earned emotion. It’s a feeling bestowed upon a person for causing or being an integral part in the success of something.
For example: I’m as proud to be an American as I am of having thwarted the holocaust.
But Rick, (you anti-semitic fuck) you did ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to stop the atrocities that occurred in the thirties and forties in Germany and other parts of Europe. Factual, but I also did just as little to become an American. And yet I’m allowed to bellow the phrase “Proud to be an American” by virtue of tumbling out of my mother’s uterus and onto American soil.
It makes sense that people default to such a phrase when asked about their nationality. From the youngest age possible we’re lined up, forced to put our hand over our heart, and recite words we didn’t write about a flag we didn’t design regarding heavy subjects we have little to no grasp of. For the record, this isn’t a knock against America. Every country tries to force ideals into children’s minds, and if I’m going to have a nation pick my values for me, it might as well be the one with Cox Cable, Disneyworld, and Gogurt. I still get kind of aroused when I hear the national anthem, and also see gogurt. (I don’t know how those wires got crossed)
Why don’t I avoid using “Proud to be an American?” Well, I’ve never voted in an election and the amount of my paychecks that get skimmed by Uncle Sam is not an impressive number. Yes, I may be what’s wrong with this country, but at least I don’t purchase Swedish vodka and Turkish Cigarettes only to say the phrase at everyone in the bar. I promise I’m not a commie, I just wouldn’t say I’ve earned the right yet.
I say “yet” because there are ways to gain that right in my opinion: Pay a large amount of taxes to fund the countless roads and services of the nation, contribute to national parks, educate inner city youth, running for public office (shitty as that sounds), risk your life for our freedom in the Armed Forces, among others. Not ruining the country doesn’t count either; not blowing up cop cars or flailing your junk in front of the nation’s children doesn’t count as civic duty. That’s just called “not being a cunt so other people can get on with their lives.” They don’t give you the keys to the city for that one.
Paying taxes is a good example of this, but it’s also a tenuous one. Sure there’s a chance your money goes to the things you appreciate like building roads or national security, but… let me put it like this: Those of you “proud” of the Patriots for winning the Superbowl probably own a piece of merchandise. Sure the proceeds from that sweet beanie might have gone to help pay for maintaining Tom Brady’s impeccable smile, but there’s also a chance that some of that cash was skimmed by the NFL just to pay Roger Goodell’s egregious salary; a crime punishable by death. Now consider that, but in terms of the greatest sports team of all: America
You may be reading this and think that I hate the country in which I was born. That I think it is a lubed-up orgy of frat boys and reality stars. You’d be right about the lube, but not about the first part. Because this is the country that raised me, and despite its flaws and utter failures in many respects, it is still a damn good place to live, especially comparatively. No amount of going abroad can fix that.
Hey, while we’re on the subject, I’ve got some comments for those of you who went abroad and came back with the “You Just don’t get it, people have it figured out there”, I’d like to posit a brief rebuttal on a country by country basis. They’re alphabetized for your convenience:
Australia: Just to clarify. It’s unnaturally hot, everything is poisonous and can murder you, and the locals speak a nonsensical form of the English language? We have that here in America. It’s called “The South” and it doesn’t cost 40 dollars for a bottle of shampoo there.
Britain: The song “London Calling” is actually about rioting in the streets and burning London to the ground, not about some bewitching aspect to the city. You may want to think twice about what you’re titling your FB photo album. But if it involves pictures of you throwing a trash can through the front window of a Tesco, I’m totes down to give that album looksie. Also: racism
France: Going abroad in Paris makes you cultured and artistic in much the same way going to church makes you a good person, it’s not an unreasonable assumption, but it’s all about how you spend your time there. Quick question, though: What is that giant metal “Eiffel” structure in the back of your photos? I am absolutely infatuated with it. You must post more filtered pictures of it on instagram with word puns.
Italy: What you think you’re doing is learning about one of the most historically rooted food and wine cultures in the world. What you’re actually doing is learning how perverted it can get in a nightclub. The answer is very. Also, the amount of intercourse going on in their nightclubs? Yeah, triple that, and you have their government.
Greece: When their economy took a shit in the mid 2000’s the resulting riots lit the country on fire. ACTUAL FIRE
South Africa: God and the continent of Africa have a tenuous relationship at best. You went to the safest whitest part of Africa. Would you like a medal?
Spain: They take naps every day, what’s not to like?! Maybe the fact that people use wine consumption per capita as a legitimate barometer for a country’s quality. Have you ever drank half a bottle of wine and tried to get shit done? Four people in that country know what the word economy means. None of them are the King.
S.A.S: It’s great to see the popular kids bonding with the unpopular ones through shared experiences in port cities. What’s less great is the half a semester or less it takes for them to resume talking merciless shit behind each others’ backs again.
I’m not saying there are no positive aspects to these countries, I’m just saying that no country is without its flaws. Especially when your brief experience of living there is markedly different than that of the average citizen.
With that out of the way, I’d say it is possible to overdo patriotism. Now, people didn’t fight and die far away from their home just so that some prick like me could censor what you say, but if you’ve never been to a bar or party on the fourth and thought some guy was really overdoing it, to the point of loudly ruining others’ enjoyment of their evening, you were probably the guy overdoing it.
If you’re still not sure, here are some sign posts not to ignore:
-One who says “God Bless America” without having been to church in the past calendar year
-Wears “Back to Back World War Champs” shirt or tank. Thinks this is the most clever statement ever transferred onto cloth. Wears it with amount of pride that suggests he/she personally rammed a panzerschreck up Hitler’s ass
-Assumes freedom is a thing only Americans have
-Hails Budweiser as the most American of beers. Has yet to be told Anheuser Busch is owned by a Belgian/Brazilian company. Might not know that neither of those countries are America
What should the citizen-delinquents I refer to feel instead of pride then? Joy.
I’m fucking JACKED to be an American. I make it seem like there are a lot of detestable aspects to the goings on, political or otherwise (because there are), but I’m kind of okay being a cog in some ever churning patriotic machine as long as this country is a safe and comfortable place for me to drink cold Coors Light and loudly accuse my friend of being a fairweather Warriors fan. I simply think you have to be an active part in something to be proud of it, but not to love the fuck out of it. That counts even if you’re not stoked on all of it. Sure, sometimes America is the world’s trailer park, but it’s a super nice trailer park with like… cable and plumbing and shit.
I’m fresh out of rhetoric for explaining why this country is great, so I’m just going to finish this post the only way I feel how.
The following is a non-comprehensive list of everything that makes our country great: Married queers, shotgunned light beers, red cups, dd cups, monster trucks, monster energy, five dollar foot longs, food that’s measured in increments of feet, utilizing an arcane system of measurement that allows us to measure our food in increments of feet, water parks, flipping the bird, Randy Johnson hitting a bird with a pitch, Shaquille Oneill’s cup size, and the Stanley Cup just to name a few.