On This July 4th, I'm not proud to be an American. Not right now, and not until some of the wrongs have been made right.
I used to be proud of us and what we were collectively as a nation, what we stood for, but that's really taken a beating in light of what we have been in the eyes of the world community and the people in our own backyards. I have friends from all over and they talk to me often about how our country is perceived abroad as a result of our policies and actions in the past 7+ years, and it makes me sad - because I couldn't agree more in most of the cases. The shame I feel in knowing what I know about our policies and actions (not just diplomatically, but within our own citizenry) and how I won't feel that incredible sense of deep love and honor to be an American has begun taking a toll on me, one that I am placing limits on because if I didn't I would get despondant. This is why the spirit of today's national holiday will be lost on me, and why I'm afraid I won't feel it again until these wrongs have been made right.
I had nothing to do with actually being an American citizen, I defaulted to being one when my American parents sexed in 1970 and I happened to be born here. It never fails that the people who squawk the loudest about patriotism and American pride are in the same boat as me, having actually done nothing to earn their citizenship. I had an argument not long ago with someone on this very subject and about today's national holiday where the song by "God Bless The USA" Lee Greenwood was quoted. I was accused of being a traitor, a Communist, an America hater, and told I should leave the country and live in France. Yeah, I know - lame. I drew the line at being told I didn't support the troops because I didn't support the war in Iraq. I told the person that to begin with, it isn't a war - it is an occupation, and an unlawful one at that. I asked how many troop casualties and deaths had occurred (quoting them a number when they failed to give me an answer) and what the largest number was for casualties per month since the occupation began which consequently was June of this year. Of course they had no answer. I asked about the soaring number of suicides and cases of PTSD from the enlisted, the numerous and overextended tours of duty, the lack of adequate care received by returning troops and veterans, including outright neglect. I mentioned Retired Major General Antonio Taguba, who in an army report on the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib stated:
"There is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes, the only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account."Don't get me wrong, this could have been anyone - even a John Birch Society member I once went similar rounds with. My entire point was to put your money where your mouth is and be responsible for statements about others with whom you may not agree. Words mean things. Clearly this was a Fox News watching, GOP Kool-Aid drinking type of 'patriot' who was having none of my 'Merica hatin', commie-pinko-librul ways. Which is fine. The real heat came down when my support for Barack Obama came up, and then it was the standard "HE'S A MUSLIM! FLAG LAPEL PIN! EATS CHRISTIAN BABIES!!" rhetoric. I only have one response to that, which is I'd rather have a President who wipes his ass with the flag than one who wipes his ass with the Constitution. It was quickly turning into "Don't agree with me? Well FLAG, FLAG, FLAG, FLAG, FLAG!!" That's where I ended the discussion as it were.
The Bush administration has ruined the America I love, and John McCain promises further that legacy of abject failure. I mourn that loss until or unless it is resurrected. Until that time, the flag is just a piece of cloth, the Star Spangled Banner just another song, and the accompanying nationalistic bravado just another uniquely hollow American sentiment. My relatives, friends, and all American servicemembers who fought for my freedom to say such things did so of their own accord, and for that I am truly grateful and humbled - but their actions are mere vanity for those who will not take care of them and their families when they need it most and do not mourn them when their lives are cut short. I'm not one of those people. I know how many servicemembers we lose in senseless death and how many are left maimed and each one of them diminishes me as a human being. Anyone can have a standard, but not everyone can maintain them.
So I'm not proud today, and I won't be tomorrow either. I'll let you know when I am.