Because talking heads like Phil Donahue or Alan Colmes argue against an Iraq invasion; because a group of actors scribe an open letter of dissent to President Bush; and because Sean Penn stepped foot on Iraqi soil during a brewing war-many complain that these celebrities “are not patriotic and do not love America!”
Now, for a celebrity to be labeled unpatriotic is dangerous fare-especially in these rabid times. At best, it could damage their careers. At worst, a mob of drunken traitor-bashers might recognize Sean Penn on the street and bludgeon him bloody with tire irons and baseball bats screaming, “Hey buddy, America is the best country in the world. Love it or leave it, pal!”
So, understandably, the conventional reaction of these anti-war celebrities is to loudly declare that, indeed, they adore America and that thoughtful dissent is the essence of patriotism.
Which is so very freaking goddamned true.
But see how the debate was derailed? They were forced into defending their patriotism, and they never get to disembowel the guts of the real debate. So excuse me while I dump all that baggage right now.
Patriotism is bullshit. I don't love America. And I don't care who knows it.
Before you cock your missiles and point them at my house, consider these points: Patriotism is a morally ambiguous concept. According to American Heritage Dictionary, patriotism is, “Love and devotion to one's country.” By that definition, Saddam Hussein is a patriot. Hitler too. Mussolini, Stalin-even the tire-iron traitor-bashers-they all committed their atrocities in the name of the fatherland.
In that sense, patriotism is nothing to admire.
“Patriot” is a word that has been so misused and overused that is has no meaning anymore. Everyone thinks they are a patriot; therefore, nobody is not a patriot. It is a word to throw around to make us feel superior. “Unpatriotic” is an epithet for those with whom we disagree, and, well, I like the existing epithet for those with whom we disagree. They're called, “Stupid asshole fucking jerks.”
Patriotism breeds witch-hunterism. During times of crisis, and in the name of country, the finger-pointing always begins: “Who among us are terrorists? Who are the witches? Who are the communists? That one looks Jewish and that one's a 'coon-who let all this riff-raff into the room?”
Patriotism is a seed of war. Too much love of your own country often causes too much hate of the others; and what is a country but a series of arbitrary, imaginary lines drawn in the sand by people who won the right to draw those arbitrary, imaginary lines by destroying the people who drew the earlier arbitrary, imaginary lines?
I do not love my country. I love the ideas it attempts to adhere to-like freedom.
Freedom is not solely an American ideal. Freedom is bigger than America. America is just a rung on Freedom's ladder. Freedom came from all over the world, throughout history. How very American of us to believe we invented it, that we own it. America does not own the home of the free. It's just renting. The real home of the free is inside the collective human spirit. Centuries pass; enemies become allies and allies become enemies; imaginary lines crumble and shift; maps are a work in progress-but the collective human passion for freedom remains constant.
As for the love-it-or-leave-it crowd, a parting thought: There are 192 countries in the world. Even if America were the best country in the world, how would you know? You are just a bunch of stupid asshole fucking jerks! You don't go anywhere that your rusty Duster won't reach. You never visited the petting zoo in the Republic of Belarus. You never watched those kooky sitcoms of the Federal Islamic Republic of the Comoros. And there isn't a dive bar in the western world that compares with the opium dens of the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.
You don't know jack.
And you compound your jack-not-knowing by criticizing somebody like Sean Penn for daring to step upon enemy soil; daring to get the big picture; daring to shake a hand that may soon become a bloody stump-thanks to bombs Penn's taxes built.
Oh sure, it's more patriotic to stay on home soil during times of brewing war; soak in the U.S. point of view and all that. But visit enemy soil and you inch closer to truth. And, well, patriotism isn't worth the puss inside the boil on Truth's sinewy ass.
So call me a turncoat if you must. Call me a stupid asshole jerk, whatever, just don't call me late for the revolution. And Jesus Crissake, don't call me no patriot either. What an insult. I do not love America. I love truth-everything else is bullshit.