Photo Credit: Flint Hahn
Wikipedia defines patriotism as having a vigorous support of one’s country.
I have long been criticized by many for my refusal to call myself a patriot. It has been said that the way in which i analyze and often criticize my country equates to disrespect or lack of thankfulness.
So let me preface with this:
I am thankful I was born and raised in the United States of America. This is home to me and will most likely always be. Generations ago my ancestors from different European countries (I’m a mutt of different ancestry! 🙂 ) came here for opportunity.
I. Am. Thankful.
I will never blindly follow, praise, or trust anything or anyone. And I think if you do, that is very dangerous.
I voted for Hillary Clinton. Would I have supported every policy or program she put forward had she become president? Abso-feckin-lutely NOT.
I will never be loyal without question to a Democrat, Progressive, Republican, etc. Diet Coke may be the only thing I am loyal to without question.
So, what is my problem with Patriotism?
Well, I think it is imperative to understand that a person’s definition of patriotism and what it means to one can vary. And this is where it becomes problematic.
What does it mean to be patriotic? What is the America you see yourself being patriotic to?
For so many people I know being patriotic means:
- Ridding the U.S. of all religions except for Christianity
- Making English the national language
- White pride
- Anti-immigrant rhetoric
Let’s talk about Jeremy Joseph Christian. The white nationalist that recently fatally stabbed two men in Portland, Oregon in the name of patriotism.
Christian began verbally harassing two African-American women, one who was wearing Hijab, on public transit in Portland.
He made comments such as:
“Get the fuck out!”
“Go Home! We need Americans here!” –> because you can tell they are not American because they are not white, right?? Because a Muslim could not be an American, right??
Two men stepped in to defend and protect the women resulting in a brutal stabbing. Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, 23, of Portland, and Ricky John Best, 53, of Happy Valley, died defending these women.
Christian was recorded saying the following in the police car after his arrest, “I stabbed the two *expletives* in the neck and I am happy now…Think I stab *expletives* in the neck for fun? Oh yeah, you’re right I do. I’m a patriot.”
In court following his arrest, Christian said, “You call it terrorism. I call it patriotism. You hear me? Die.”
It seems that patriotism to Christian meant: don’t be a Muslim. Be white. Oh, and pay your taxes. Because apparently he could tell whether or not these women did by their appearance?
I understand that not everyone that calls themselves a patriot is going to go stab someone on the subway or metro. But these underlying beliefs and this hatred: it matters. Even if you do not violently act out based on your hate, it matters.
This type of violence is becoming more and more common. This is not an isolated incident.
There are wide-held beliefs by many Americans, some would say by our current president, that being American means: being white, having English as your native language (only language?), and being Christian.
We all understand that this land was never all white people for white people right? This wasn’t even white peoples’ land to begin with.
Native language? You want to go that far? I suppose it should be Ojibwe or another indigenous language then, yes?
I work in a multicultural setting and often get asked what is my favorite thing about being American. And it’s an easy question for me: the diversity! I love that you can see people of different races, people speaking different languages, eating different cuisines, sharing different beliefs, in the same country. There is so much beauty in that.
I will never call myself a patriot. And I hope you are thoughtful enough to understand that that does NOT mean I am not thankful to be American. I love this land.
If you are loyal to the United States without question, I worry for you. You will be duped. Perhaps you already have been.
Open your eyes, open your heart.
No one is asking anyone to give up their identity, their beliefs, their religion- or to be ashamed of who they are. No one.
But please- do not blindly follow the blind.
Do you consider yourself a patriot? I genuinely would like to know why. What does that mean to you? What is the United States you see or envision? Does your vision for the U.S. hurt or exclude anyone? If yes, why?
Repeat: you are NOT being asked to change your identity. I am asking you to celebrate others’ identities as well.
Stand up for those around you. Do not be a bystander.
And last of all, as I always say: spread peace and love, y’all.