Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Why It’s Good To Hate America

Yes they are too unpatriotic. They most certainly are. It’s like a sporting event. You want a team to win, or you don’t. You cheer at good news, you are downcast at bad. Your emotions are involved – your passions. You are invested in the outcome of any conflict, any tradings, any negotiations. You want your side – your side – to come out ahead. There's a First Place, and a last, and you want to win. You’re a fan, or you’re not. And you are a patriot, or you are not

For my part, there is virtually no professional sport that I care about. I am utterly indifferent to the entire industry. I lack the sport-watching gene, and I maintain a sort of droll indifference to all these spectacles. I’ll ask who won the American Foot Ball Super Bowl, or the, uh, Basket Ball Super Bowl, but only to make polite conversation. I do know the Angels (a regional "Bass-Ball" association) won the "World Series" a few years ago. I only remember it because somebody explained to me that they won because they reverted to an old-fashioned notion of teamwork, rather than the current model of prima donnas tending after their stats. I liked that, so I remembered it. But you see that I am not, in any way, by any possible definition, a fan. I am an unfan. I am unfanatic - almost every other form of entertainment is superior to professional sports.

Is there shame, in this? After all, it’s not very manly, is it. But there are all sorts of unmanly things about me. I don’t drink beer. Never tasted it. I’ve never purchased pornography – although I suppose the internet makes that notion obsolete. Hm. Well, I guess that’s all the unmanly things about me – so it wasn't all sorts of things, but it’s a few. My point is, golly, I’m really manly. Well, that’s one of my points. My salient point is that I am in no way, at all, to even the slightest degree, uncomfortable or apologetic about my unfanaticism. If somebody called me an unfanatic, I'd agree with them and secretly think I’m better than they are for it. Get it?

So why do the moonbats cavil at the charge of unpatriotism? They do not root for America to win, and do not cheer when we do. They celebrate our failures and broadcast our shames. Is this hyperbole? They argue against our excellence. They argue for the superiority of virtually any other country, over this one. Am I wrong? They rejoice in the claim that patriotism is the refuge of scoundrels. So the question is, what evidence of any sort do they exhibit, in even the slightest degree, of patriotism?

Patriotism is more than an abstract principle, or an undifferentiated feeling of wishing things were going well. It isn’t merely a fondness for some idealized past or imagined future. It’s not a romantic, regionalized adoration of snow-peaked mountains and dramatic gorges. Patriotism loves what exists now, in the actual world of human experience. It is current events as much as history or prediction. Patriotism accepts the manifold flaws of a nation, because it understands that a nation is simply the symbiosis of citizens and the institutions they have crafted for themselves. That means that no nation can be anything other than a reflection of human nature – deeply flawed, sometimes noble, always complex.

A patriot embraces this necessary inelegance. And rather than focus on what is paltry and ugly, imagining this nation embodies such imperfections more thoroughly than all others, a patriot looks beyond what is commonplace and petty and finds something to admire – finds very much to love. We do not endlessly rehearse our failures, but strive rather to learn their lessons, that we may excel – always understanding that more failures will come. At the same time, we celebrate our victories, our glories, our excellence – as we might cheer the success of our children, in their competitions. We do so not for love of the game, but love of the players.

When I had a wife, she was the most beautiful woman in the world. To me. Others would have disagreed. Perhaps they would have said that honor was claimed by their own beloved wives. And they, too, would have been right. God bless the French patriot. May Great Britain always be great. As long as a civilized country is loved, it is worthy of love. Oh, Nazi Germany, you object? I didn’t say as long as an insane racist regime is loved, now, did I. And I did say, a civilized country. But you see my point. Why do I love my family? If for no other reason, because it is my duty. And insofar as a nation is good for its families, there is a duty to love that nation.

Of course, that’s the root of the matter. Families. We do not argue by etymology, but we find insight there. Patriotism. From the Greek root patrios, “of one’s fathers.” Ah. Fathers. Well. Framed like this, of course the wingnut would absolutely rejoice in being called unpatriotic. Those brutish, nasty, hairy men! They’re so, uh, manly. If only we could be more, um, matriotic. Or at least a waxed and plucked metrosexuotic. But I grow silly.

I’ve made an observation about liberals, that is virtually diagnostic. They will, eventually, inevitably formulate some version of the sentence, "Americans are bad." Selfish, wasteful, violent – some negative generality. If I’m feeling sociable enough, I’ll ask, "Don't you mean to say that people are bad?" The hard lefties say, "No! Americans!" The moderate, or sane liberals say, "Yes, I meant people." The goats separate themselves from the sheep, the unpatriots from the patriots. When a liberal can examine himself, and correct himself, as I’ve seen happen, he’s that much closer to becoming a patriot. And good welcome, to him.

Oh. Why is it good to hate America? So that we may know who the enemy is.


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