Patriotism is such a loaded term.
If I say I’m not patriotic, people with star spangled wind chimes and confusion regarding the nature of medicare will grumble and utter nonsense like “love it or leave it.” If I say I like America, people with fair trade arugula salads and romantic notions of camping in one’s own filth will assume I have bake sales to fund more CIA renditions.
It thus seems prudent to define the term as I intend to use it. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a patriot is “one who loves his or her country and supports its authority and interests.” It also, in my subjective opinion, connotes pride in and personal identification with a country. To me, “I’m a patriot” means “I’m proud of the fact I emerged from my mother’s vagina within the confines of an arbitrary, invisible and shifting set of lines we call borders. I now intend to define my life at least in part according to this accident.”
This is why I’m not a patriot. I consider my American citizenship an accident. I see no reason why I should value a Minnesotan I’ve never met over a Manitoban I’ve never met who was born three kilometers farther north. I don’t ascribe my countrymen with any special characteristics whatsoever. I will not support my country when I think it’s doing something stupid and I refuse to look at things (which countries are) as anything more than tools. So no, I don’t love America any more than I love soap or a well made set of wrenches or a comfy pair of underwear.
Of course “America” is capable of and has perpetrated pretty terrible things. Americans were awful to South Americans in general for the better part of a hundred years. The Vietnamese would certainly be justified in resenting the United States and the average Iraqi is not exactly being ungrateful if he doesn’t want to fly the stars and stripes off his front porch.
However, none of those things are “essences” of the United States any more than murder is the essence of a shovel. True, you can murder someone with a shovel, but the tool is morally neutral. Further, like most good tools, the US has been good for the world.
So, without further adieu, here are 5 things this non-patriot really likes about the United States:
1. Immigrants. I like the fact that the US has been brain-draining the rest of the world since before it became a nation. I like the fact that this has prevented the formation of proud ethnic heritages and prevented fossilization. I like the fact that nobody takes the notion of “Floridian pride” seriously, I like the fact that a pure bred American is only slightly easier to find than hens’ teeth.
2. A hard-on for royalty. I love the fact nobody gives a shit what Chelsea Clinton thinks. I love the fact that we don’t have an archaic tax-payer funded fuster-cluck like the House of Windsor. I smile when I remember the US doesn’t have a multi-billion dollar fetish for the masters of inbreeding.
3. The first amendment. I love the fact that Nazism is allowed out in the sunshine, right next to Marxism, Satanism and the works of Ayn Rand. (Sorry, I had to.) I love the fact that Americans believe stupidity exposed dies quicker than stupidity suppressed.
4. The Marshall Plan. I love the fact that two world wars’ worth of ashes gave birth to a peaceful EU, a free and rising Africa, first-world Asia. I am delighted by the fact this happened in part because Americans preferred to do business with successful neighbors rather than establish imperial control over stricken rivals.
5. Cultural Imperialism. I like the fact that when America most successfully controls other countries, it’s because America is really good at making things those countries’ citizens want to buy. I love the fact this flows both ways. I really love the way this makes cultural preservation a farce globally.
What are your favorite things about your country?
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