As every other year, this Independence Day saw the usual, fleeting public outpour of gratitude for living in this country. Some folks were bluntly patriotic, and others were a little reserved with their appreciation, which such phrases as, “Though America has its share of problems, I have to admit that we have many opportunities that others do not,” or whatever. That type of thing irks me. That “I love this country” thing which is so prevalent. I don’t love this country. I’m not a patriot. I could care less about a flag or a border. Many people rebuttal and say, “But you have to admit, the American quality of life is better than most other places. You’re lucky.”
The so-called quality of American life is dependent upon no great morality, no “good fortune” of geography. It’s the centuries-long systematic consumption of resources both foreign and domestic — almost always with considerable human cost. The economic might of this country, and its political history, are steeped in the protection of a trade that undermined the humanity of millions, legacy of which continues to corrode. American capitalism maximizes production and minimizes humanity. Our foreign policy centers around protecting hegemony and has little to do with spreading “democracy”, which is often a smokescreen for geopolitical ends. We’re still arguing over whether the Confederate flag is about slavery or not, blacks are still being shot in the streets, people still think Mexicans are “stealing” jobs and “ruining” this country. The idea of a woman president, while more popular lately, is still considered a social “achievement,” and Obama has been overtly or subtly called a nigger since he took office. What’s there to be proud of?
There’s no delusion here, though. I’m firmly American. The culture is mine because it’s all I know, but I make no idiotic assumptions or proclamations that this particular organization of society is inherently superior.
Often, I’d joke about how glad I was that my direct ancestors were slaves because, “God, if I was in Africa, I would be fucked.” It’s definitely an off-color line, but I stand by it. Both historical outcomes were and are shitty. The lie would be in assuming that I haven’t benefited from American imperialism, even if indirectly. Directly? I benefit from the struggles of the black Americans that came before me and strived and died so that I could be literate enough to type this and paid enough to drink while I do.
Every great American liberty that I enjoy was given to me begrudgingly since the end of slavery. Women can tell similar stories, as can homosexuals. The trans community still has a very long way to go, for no reason other than being different.
Where would my patriotism come from? What psychosis would I have to possess, or what brainwashing would I have to succumb to to be grateful to one of the most historically violent, undermining, and disrespectful societies in history?
No, I’m not a patriot; no, I don’t love America. But I love people. There are a lot of them here and elsewhere, and that is my sociopolitical compass. I don’t always get it right and I don’t know nearly enough, frankly, but that is how I judge all policy, all initiatives, all laws, all decisions, and every piece of news. How will this affect people? Specifically the ones without money? This interest, this focus, is without borders. It has nothing to do with who is or is not an American. Nationalism is divisive and exclusionary by nature and I will have no part in furthering or subscribing to something that has been the root cause of so much destruction.
The only exceptional thing about America is the lengths to which she will go to ensure her supposed dominion over the earth.